Wolfe Outfitters Fishing Report – May 22th, 2017

It is hard to believe that most of the steelhead have now left the rivers in northern Michigan. This spring was definitely one for the books: we had a great run of healthy fish, and lots of them!

We are now switching gears, focusing on fly fishing for trout. Last week, indicator fishing and streamer fishing on the Manistee river was excellent. Lots of active fish were still targeting smaller egg presentations, and smaller white streamers were working very well. We are seeing some hatches of Dark Hendricksons, and even seeing a few early Gray Drakes, which have allowed a limited amount of dry fly opportunities. Spending most of the time indicator fishing is working very well. The water is still hanging around 58 degrees.

Most of the larger browns have been coming in the faster water areas. We are still getting some really good quality at the tail-out of steelhead gravel, and even seeing a few stray drop backs! We have also been finding some larger browns in the wood tight to the banks in 3-7 feet of water. The middle part of the day has been good for streamer action in these areas.

This is a great time of the year to get out and enjoy quality river fishing with little to no competition. The Wolfe Outfitters team is looking forward to seeing you on the river!

Wolfe Outfitters Website Report – May 8th, 2017

River fishing has been, and continues to be, spectacular here in northern Michigan. Large numbers of steelhead entered the system this winter and spring. Amazingly, we are still catching adults! The drop-back fishing should continue to produce well into mid-May on the larger rivers.

Brown trout fishing is really starting to pick up on the Manistee River. Whether you would like to strip streamers, or fish conventional tackle, these fish can be an absolute riot to seek and catch! Larger browns are being found tight to banks in heavily wooded areas as well as at the tail-outs of active steelhead spawning gravel. The river temperatures are bouncing back and forth in the mid-50s.

With trout season now underway, it opens the door for many anglers to hit the smaller streams in our area. Reports have been very good for most of the streams in Northern Michigan. Cooler evenings this past week have slowed the bug hatch, but anglers using fly and conventional techniques are still finding active fish.

This is great time of the year to get young anglers on the water, the pressure is low and the trout bite yields heavy action for kids of all ages. Get out and enjoy some of our beautiful streams and rivers in northern Michigan. We look forward to seeing you on the water!

Wolfe Outfitters Fishing Report 04.01.17

Northern Michigan’s 2017 winter and spring have provided one of the best runs of steelhead seen in quite a few years. We have been consistently finding fresh fish in area tributaries for the past 3 months. Just when we think the run has hit its peak, a heavy rain moves more fish into the rivers. The weather has also played a vital role – warm weather moves fish around that have entered the system and brings new fish to the rivers. Colder evening temperatures have been keeping the rivers at a mid- to high-30-degree temperature.

Last week’s warmer temperatures have increased the water temperatures to the low 40s, and this change has initiated the steelhead spawning process. Great numbers of active, hungry fish have been coming into the faster tail-out water of spawning gravel.

Water depths of 3-5 feet, depending on the river, have been an excellent depth at which to find steelhead. The inside and outside seams of faster moving water covering spawning gravel beds has produced the best results. Steelhead seem to have left the slower, deeper winter water holes – working their way to higher, faster sections of water. Both the inside and outside seams of these sections of river have been productive as stated previously.

Trout beads, stoneflies, and hare’s ears nymphs have been working well on both fly rods and conventional gear when tied as a tandem rig. Indicator and float fishing with beads and spawn have also been very productive. Even in dirtier water, 8mm beads have produced the most fish. Colors like sun orange have been the most successful, with the clown egg a close second. Any given day may have a different color preference for beads, and these steelhead getters are a tremendous way to get fish to bite that are feeding on eggs.

So far, April has been a tremendous time to be on the water, and we are hopeful that the remainder of the month should remain stellar as well here in northern Michigan. As the waters and the weather warms, we look forward to seeing you on the rivers!

Wolfe Outfitters River Report March – April 2017

Spring is slowly making its way to our region, the weather is gradually warming up and the ice on most lakes has disappeared. Wolfe Outfitters has been hard at work taking advantage of some excellent spring fishing opportunities. Listed below is a sneak peak at what species have been active, and what to look for when hitting the rivers.

Steelhead fishing has been excellent on the Lake Michigan tributary rivers like the Muskegon, Manistee River, and even the Boardman River up in Traverse City. River water levels have fluctuated greatly this month. One week has low, clear conditions, and the next has high, muddy conditions. This is going hand-in-hand with the up and down weather we have been experiencing as well. Winter just doesn’t seem to want to let go! With colder night temps, and days in the 30’s and 40’s, the fish have been taking their time finding spawning gravel. Most sections of our top tributaries have fish; both lower and upper river areas have been fishing very well. With a big warm up this past February came a big push of fresh fish in most rivers, this has spread good catchable amounts of fish throughout all systems.

Successful techniques have consisted of float fishing with spawn as well as trout beads. Bead sizes have mainly consisted of 8mm and 10mm. The best color has definitely been the Clown and Fire Orange, both with UV. Bright colors with an opaque finish have been producing. We have also had excellent luck fishing the deeper tail-outs of spawning gravel, using a bottom-bounce technique with beads, stone flies, and assorted nymphs. As the water warms, this technique will only continue to be more effective; the brown trout fishing will really heat up at the tail-outs as well. The old stand-by jig tipped with a wax worm will also see its day to shine as the cold waters warm slightly.

When the fish do hit their spawning beds, make sure to let them do their deed. April can be a great time to target drop-backs which have already completed the spawning process and are actively feeding and hungry! There is some natural reproduction on many of the area rivers (the Betsie River being 100% natural reproduction), and letting spawning fish go can help to assure a dynamite fishery for years to come. Trout season is just around the corner, and we can’t wait for all the great fishing to come.

We hope to see you on the water!

Manistee River fishing report – Nov 18th

The king salmon finally finished up spawning over the past week or so on the Big Manistee River. There might be a few stragglers here and there still, but for the most part they’re done. We were lucky to get some high water in October which brought in quite a few steelhead. The steelhead fishing was very good at the end of October with the fish almost exclusively lined up behind the spawning salmon eating eggs. There were quite a few skippers in that first push of fish. Skippers are steelhead that weigh one to three pounds or so. They have probably spent less than a year in the big lake. The line gets blurry when they hit that four pound mark, but either way, they’re still steelhead. Towards the end of October we were hooking two to three skippers for every large steelhead we hooked, and the large ones were very difficult to land.

While the salmon were in the river we had success both fishing egg patterns under indicators and using chuck-n-duck rigs. By far the most successful egg pattern for us while the salmon were in the river was an 8mm trout bead in the color “peachy king roe.” We caught a couple fish on sun orange and a few other colors, but 95% of the fish wanted peachy king roe.

The last couple weeks have seen the water levels drop back down to normal and the egg bite slow way down. Fish are still being taken on egg patterns, but hex nymphs, stoneflies, and basic attractor nymphs have started to play a bigger role under the indicator and on the chuck’n’duck rig.

There are more bigger fish moving through the system now as well. They can be found all the way from the lake to Tippy Dam. Swinging streamers has been productive on days when you can find active fish in water that hasn’t been fished yet, but casting plugs such as Wiggle Worts and Hot’N’Tots has been the most productive method since early November. The hot baits have been black with white spec Wiggle Worts and copper and orange Hot’N’Tots. Casting these diving crank baits allows you to not only elicit a strike from a lethargic fish, but it also allows you to fish places where other people cannot. We’ve been finding fish mostly behind and actually in logjams, places where it is difficult to back plugs into from a boat, to drift flies under a float, or really to fish effectively any other way than casting diving crankbaits. We’ve done some streamer stripping on heavy sink tips targeting these same areas, but have yet to connect on a stripped streamer this fall.

Currently the steelhead fishing is as tough as it’s been since early October. There are fish in the river, but you need to work to find them and they are rarely in the mood. Another good shot of rain will help things dramatically and some weather moving through, even if it doesn’t produce a lot of precipitation, will also help.

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Manistee River, Pere Marquette River fishing report – Oct 3rd

We’ve had a couple cold mornings over the past two weeks, several below freezing, and in addition to the pumpkin, my bird bath has been frozen over. But the sun has been making some spectacular appearances and shining strong but low through clear blue skies. And we’re at about peak fall color right now with some really vibrant oranges and reds this year. We don’t expect these vibrant colors to last long, so get up here now if you want to see them and if you want to get in on a nice mixed bag of salmon and steelhead fishing.

More and more king salmon are moving up on the gravels to spawn in both the Manistee and Pere Marquette Rivers. There are still great numbers of fish staging in the holes on the Manistee as well, but numbers on the Pere Marquette are on the low side.

We’ve been fishing the Manistee up and down from Bear Creek and up from the mouth mostly. There were gobs of fresh fish still moving in from the lake on Sunday. Most of the good holes in the middle river are absolutely stuffed, particularly those below tributaries. While we have picked up a few bright fish, most are pretty dark. There are spawning salmon from Tippy dam on down through all the gravel bars into the lower river and folks fishing egg patterns behind the salmon are doing quite well on steelhead. We have yet to target them specifically, but that will be changing soon as the Thunderstick/crank bait bite starts to slow down.

We expect the Thunderstick bite to hold on for another week or so, but it’s been tougher and tougher to pick up fish in the late morning and afternoon. It has been important to be on the water well before first light casting cranks in good water. Not only does this help you secure a good hole, but the fish are much more aggressive in the dark and as the first light just starts to get on the water. We’ve been meeting clients at 5am and 5:30am. We know It’s tough to get going that early, but it really pays off.

I’ve been running some trips down on the Pere Marquette and things are somewhat disappointing there, particularly on crowded days. There are good numbers of fish around, but mostly in only the grade-A spots of the fly water and middle river. The river is running very low again and fishing pressure was high last week, but pressure should start to drop off now that hunting seasons are getting under way. Fluorocarbon leaders and tippet has been a must in the low, clear water whether fishing holes or spawning salmon on the gravels. Also, a stealthy approach has been important as the fish are quite spooky. There are also decent numbers of steelhead showing up on the Pere Marquette in addition to a couple really nice lake run browns taken here and there.

Let’s hope the salmon run on the Pere Marquette is just late and not small this year.

We’re coming into our favorite time of year: less fishing pressure, fresh chrome steelhead, and the crisp days of autumn. We still have some great days open for October and November steelhead. Drop us a line if you have any questions or want to book a trip: matt AT wolfeoutfitters DOT com

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Manistee River fishing report – Sept 18th

Despite the record low lake and river levels here in NW Michigan, the king salmon finally started to push up the Big Manistee River and Betsie River last week in good numbers. And we finally received a good rain, healthy shot of rain yesterday which is currently bumping river levels enough to get fish moving up in good numbers.

Temps are cooling down, days are getting shorter, and the rivers are on the rise: it is time for salmon season to finally get under way.

Ben and I scouted the lower Big Manistee last Friday September14th and Manistee Lake was stacked with fish, and with boats. How people fish down there with all the competition is beyond me. But they do. We moved up-river and went 2 for 6 pitching both fire tiger and more natural silver/white bait fish crank baits. The fish were all super chrome and fresh. We also stuck a few nice smallmouth and one very early steelhead. We were off the water by 11am. It was a great morning of fishing.

There was a tremendous amount of angling pressure on the Big Manistee over the weekend but there were fish to be caught. Most days the bite was best right at dawn, though we did stick fish in the late morning and even a couple in the early afternoon on Monday. Mad Flash Fire Tiger Deep Diving Thunderstick Jrs. have been by far the best crank in my boat.

As I said, we received a huge shot of rain yesterday and over night and the Manistee is currently on the rise. Even before this rain, fish were streaming up from Manistee Lake by the hundreds yesterday in the early afternoon. We’re expecting great things on the river this week.

The Platte River was stacked with coho below the lower weir over the weekend and more are certainly on the way. Please do be respectful of other anglers. It is a small river and angling pressure is very high. Give each other some room, please.

Also, please do refrain from fishing at the mouth of the Betsie River in Betsie Lake. The sand bar there is quite difficult for the salmon to get over and many fish are beaching themselves and dying as a result. The Michigan DNR will be closing that area to fishing as soon as possible.

We have a few great guide dates still available for salmon season so don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you’re thinking about getting out: matt AT wolfeoutfitters DOT com

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Betsie River and Platte River fishing report – Sept 6th

We finally got a shot of much needed rain here in northwest Michigan a couple days ago and the levels on the Betsie and Platte Rivers jumped up nicely bringing in a fresh push of fish. King salmon are scattered throughout the Betsie River from the mouth to Thompsonville. The numbers aren’t great yet with most good holes only holding a few fish. Homestead dam concentrates them as you can see in the picture below, but it also concentrates the anglers and it’s been quite crowded around the dam lately. Fish are just starting to spawn above the dam but are pretty shy and scoot off the gravels quickly if you get too close.

Ben and I floated a section of the lower river the other day with Jeff, the head of security at Crystal Mountain Resort. We saw quite a few fish moving through, but very few holed up and staying put. We hooked several fish but they were tough to put in the net, as is the case this time of year. Most fish came on a small black woolly bugger drifted under an indicator. We floated a section above the dam yesterday and saw quite a few fish but only hooked a couple. We got on the river in the afternoon and I think those fish had been worked over earlier in the day and were quite skittish.

We did manage to catch a nice resident rainbow trout on a Comet while fishing to some salmon. It’s really nice to see healthy resident trout in the Betsie.

The Platte River has had several dozen salmon move up already, not sure if they’re kings or coho, and they are sitting at the hatchery weir. Fishing in Platte Bay hasn’t taken off yet. The channel was dredged this past Tuesday and the channel markers are in. There has been some significant boat traffic and a few people surf fishing every day without much to show for it.

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Manistee River fishing report – August 28th

King salmon have been in the Manistee River for several weeks now, though exactly where the fish are on any given day is sometimes tough to predict. We’ve been finding fish between High Bridge and Rainbow Bend, though fish are surely making their way towards Tippy Dam as well. With the good north wind we’ve had over the past few days, new fish are also stacking up in Manistee Lake and will be trickling up the lower river every day.

The Manistee has been running near all time lows for the last week or so. As of the posting of this report it is running at 1170cfs, which is 200 cfs below average for this date. We’ve come within 10cfs of new record lows a couple times over the past week.

To get  new fish up the river we need some high water. Similarly, the Betsie River is very low and while there are fish in the river, we really need a shot of rain to get the fish moving. The Platte River is currently at a new all time low, 91cfs, beating the old low of 94cfs set in 2000.

The Big Manistee is certainly your best bet for finding fishable numbers of chinook salmon right now. We’ve been catching them primarily on fire tiger Thundersticks, both the standard and the Mad Flash versions. We’ve also picked up a few on large inline spinners such as the Classic Vibrax in a #4 fire tiger.

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Wolfe Outfitters was founded in May of 2012 by Ben Wolfe in cooperation with Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa. Matt Dunn was brought on as head guide for Wolfe Outfitters and fishing specialist at Crystal Mountain in May 2012.

We’re proud to offer the best in both fishing and lodging in northern Michigan and would love to get you out on the water.

Please check back here for fishing reports, how-to articles, and other things related to fishing, northern Michigan, and beyond.