Summer Fly-Fishing in Michigan
w/ Hoppers and Streamers
Fly fishing with Hex patterns is done, brown drakes long forgotten. Steelhead and salmon are still out in the Great Lakes growing fat and happy eating forage fish but not yet available to the average fly fishing enthusiast. What is the avid fly fisher supposed to do during July and August? If going out west for two months isn’t in the cards; summer fly fishing in Michigan provides lots of fly fishing variety and entertainment.
If we are having a cool summer like this year, keep fly fishing
your normal haunts. I’ve had clients take many fish on streamers
early and late in the day even when the water is low and clear.
Use bright colors like white, yellow, and chartreuse in smaller
sizes. Fish them tight and move them quick. Sometimes large brown
trout just can’t resist the temptation to smash them. My
favorite patterns are Rattlesnakes, Zoo Cougars, and Hawk's Nutcracker (pictured here, fly recipe below)
If we get a day or two of rain in summer it’s time to call
in your chips with the family and the boss and take a couple of
days off. If the rivers get high and have a little color the streamer
fly fishing can be fantastic. Try and get on the water early in
the storms. If you wait too long, the fish can be full from all
of the worms and other food sources put in the water by rainstorms.
Summer fly fishing’s best producers are terrestrials like
the ones pictured here. They are fun to fish and quite productive.
When fishing ants, beetles, and hoppers etc. make sure to fish them tight
to the structure and move them. Yes, I said wiggle them. A small
twitch here and there can elicit some startling strikes at times.
Another effective method to fish in summer is the hopper/dropper
presentation. Hang a dropper off the back of a large terrestrial
like a Chernobyl Hopper (pictured below)
and fish it with some movement. My favorite nymphs for this are
Isonychias, Pheasant tails, Prince Nymphs and Hare’s Ears.
Good fly fishing can be had this way as long as water temps stay
less than 70 degrees. If your home waters stay below that, fish.
If they go any higher I encourage you to do something else. Trout
that fight an angler and are then released back in water above 70
degrees have a much higher mortality rate than fish released in
An often-overlooked summer hatch in Michigan is the Tricos and
small Blue Wing Olives of summer. I’ve yet to see and really
big fish eat Tricos, but I have caught lots of average fish early
in the morning in July. Many times you’ll see large numbers
of Blue Wing Olives on cloudy days in summer. If you want to try
taking fish on size 18 to 22 dry flies go buy some 6, 7, and 8x
tippet and have at it. It is harder than you think.
If your trout water gets too warm a great alternative is smallmouth
bass fishing. They just get going when the temps hit 70 degrees.
Local waters like the lower stretches of the AuSable and Manistee
rivers and Grand Traverse Bay have outstanding smallmouth bass fisheries.
Stripping streamers and crayfish patterns can produce outstanding
results. We have many days that we roll 50 smallmouth bass in a
morning. The key to smallies in the rivers is structure. Look for
wood in 3 to 5 feet of water and throw and chartreuse and white
Clouser on a sink tip. If you find one fish there are likely others.
Keep moving until you start seeing fish.
These are just a few of your Michigan summer fly fishing options.
Instead of hanging up your gear in July get out and explore. In
Michigan there is something to pursue with fly tackle all year long.
You can reach us at 231-228-7135 or email Chuck directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hawk Sculpin Recipe also called the "Nutcracker" learn to tie this pattern here
buy your nutcraker by clicking here
-Hook 9394 Tiemco size 4
-Choice of rabbit stip for a tail
-A couple of strands of Krystal Flash over the Rabbit Strip
-Marabou (color of choice 2-4 plumes, wrapped around hook)
-1 barred wood duck flank feather, strip one side and wrap as a
-Spin a head out of the appropriate color deer hair and trim
Best colors are white, ginger, olive/white, yellow/brown, black/white,