Streamer fishing has been very good lately as the fish have continued to feed before the spawn. Some sections of river are seeing heavy spawning activity but many area’s are still a few weeks out. I typically chase the prespawn bite as late as possible and try to avoid areas with heavy spawning activity. Water temps are starting to make the turn below 50 degrees so look for smaller fish to become less active. Nymph fishing becomes the name of the game on sunny days to contact a few fish. Slump busters, black ghosts and similar type streamers will also pull a few fish in the sun. As the water temps cool your presentations should slow down to match the speed of the prey. On the upper AuSable a floating line works very well to keep your fly in the proper location with out snagging bottom. A sink tip in this situation will hinder your presentation because the fast fall of the line will not allow for a proper stall time before the fly line snags bottom. A short, light sink tip will work in this situation also but you fly will need to be tied a bit lighter, perhaps bead chain eyes or a cone instead of lead eyes. One of the most important things is to find a sink tip and a weight of fly that will work for your given situation. This changes by river, section of river, when water levels rise or fall and many other situations. Each of these situations can require different line and fly choices for ideal presentation.
Fly choice has been day to day but dark colors have seemed to work best in the clouds, as usual. I like to tie my flies dark flies with a hint of color on the head to make for easier tracking. I’ve caught fish on chart, yellow/olive, yellow, white, black and olive the last 3 days. Many days it’s hard to notice a difference between colors but we had a day this week where we moved fish on 3 different colors and didn’t land any half way through the day. We tied black on and that made the difference as we ended up boating 3 nice fish that ate the fly without hesitation.Color made the difference that day as I spoke to many other anglers out who had little to no success but black flies didn’t hit the water. I typically find on falling barometer days that dark flies fished slower and deep will greatly out produce bright flies or fast retrieves.
In the sun this week we had our best fishing early in the fog and landed one good fish as the fog was burning off. Fish were aggressive early and willing to come up and eat the unweighted fly. As the fishing slowed and the sun got higher I had my client switch to a weighted fly and a slow presentation and we began moving fish again. We were able to land one big brown and missed a few others that day but a good day for first time streamer fishermen. The guys had their shots and that’s what this type of fishing is all about. For people just starting, it’s always the hook set that costs them the fish. Strip set is key, rod lift usually end with heart break. One tip to help hook sets can be taken care of during the cast. If you are making straight line casts you will have less slack in your line to set the hook through. The goal is for your fly to move immediately when you strip line. You will get more bites because fish will look at the impact and see the bait move, this triggers many bites. You will also have direct connection to you fly so that when you strip set you are digging the hook immediately and not just stripping the belly out of your line. The longer the cast the more important this is.
Had my first walleye dinner of the fall a week ago. Water temps were in the upper 50’s which means turnover. It will only get better as the water cools. Fish were in the weeds the day we were out. We caught a couple on a jerkbait and some on a jig and worm in the few short hours we fished. Perch have been schooling up and are available every day. Deep water has been key for finding the biggest bass lately as they are frequently in 30 to 40 feet of water.
Musky fishing has been good as some of the smaller lakes have completed turnover, as water is clear and hovering around 50 degrees. The big lakes are still holding temperature deep and surface temps are around 55. Both casting and trolling are good options this time of year on the big lakes.