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Springtime on Northern Michigan's Rivers
Spring is one of my favorite times in Michigan. The woods and waters of northern Michigan are coming back to life after a long winter. All the critters are out enjoying the warmer weather and the fish are plentiful and hungry. It is time to get out and enjoy everything the beauty of our area has to offer.
April is primetime for steelhead in Michigan. This year we should have fish well into May. There are several tactics available for us to chase steelhead in the spring. We can drift fish (chuck and duck), indicator fish, swing nymphs on floating lines to fish in the shallows, swing big flies with spey rods, and even strip streamers. April is not just about fishing to spawning fish either. Concentrating in the mid and lower sections, we can target fresh fish moving up river and drop-backs (fish that have spawned and are moving back to Lake Michigan). Drop-back fishing is exciting; these fish feed heavily after they spawn and go totally crazy when they're hooked. They also respond very well to streamers and swinging flies on spey rods. Remember, they are no longer thinking about spawning, they are thinking FOOD!
Mid-April through May is prime streamer time for brown trout. Every year, some of our largest browns are taken in this time period. There are a few reasons for this. First, rising water temperatures trigger these fish to feed and feed hard. Second, this is the beginning of the season and the fish simply have not been targeted very hard yet. Streamer fishing is some of the most fun you can have fishing. Casting large streamers and putting them in that perfect spot along a log or underneath a tree is sometimes rewarding in itself. Twitching the streamer just right is awesome as you watch your streamer swim as you bring life to it. Once you put the streamer in the perfect spot and bring life to it, a huge brown trout takes notice, charges and crushes your fly right in front of you, giving you the opportunity to watch it all happen. You cannot beat that-- it's certainly an exhilarating way to fish.
May also kicks off dry fly fishing. Some really incredible hatches occur in May including Hendricksons, Mahoganies, Light Hendricksons, and March Browns to name a few. Hendricksons are king in mid-May. The Hendrickson hatch usually starts around 7:30 and continues until dark. Truly large fish will feed on this hatch because it is the first large mayfly of the season and many times they are not hip to our game yet. This hatch is one of my personal favorites because it is steady, predictable, it happens during daylight, and the fish have not been pressured yet.
So get up here and fish! There is too much to do and the options are endless. Besides, it was a really long winter this year.
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