Spring & Summer Fly Fishing in the Upper Peninsula

A short overview of fly fishing opportunities when the warmer weather finally shows itself in the U.P.

· Resources,Featured

The flavors of spring and summer fly fishing are many in the Upper Peninsula. Huge steelhead and smallmouth kick off the fishing season by making their spawning runs from Lake Michigan, then our brown and brook trout rivers start coming alive with big bugs and big fish as we start seeing the biggest hatches of the season. (Note: words can't do this time of year the justice it deserves so be sure to flip through the photos above to get a feel for all the fly fishing we have to offer during this amazing time of year.)


Steelhead start their migration into the Upper Peninsula tributaries to spawn. This is a great time to swing flies as these fish are supper aggressive and ready to pounce. We'll nymph with leach, alevin, stonefly, caddis, hex and egg patterns as well as swing big sculpin and intruder style patterns that attract a lot of attention. When these fish hit a swung fly it feels like a lightning bolt. These steelhead are so strong. They'll peel off 50 yards of line before you can blink and then they'll battle you for the next 10-15 minutes up and down the river. The right fly fishing gear is a must when taking on these bruisers.


Something we've come to absolutely love and anticipate all year is the start of the Upper Peninsula smallmouth season in May. We are blessed to have several rivers that get explosive smallmouth runs with monster fish exceeding 20+ inches. Our tactics vary with the flows and temperatures. We'll start off ripping large streamers such as D&D's, flip flop flies and baitfish patterns on 7-8wt rods with sinking tips. As things warm up, steelhead also show up, we'll usually grab the two-handed rods and swing something like a spey bugger or sculpin pattern for both. We're also finding it deadly to dead drift a big woolly bugger under an indicator. After one trip you'll be hooked on our incredible smallmouth fly fishing.


Last but not least, our exceptional Upper Peninsula trout fishing really gets going on full boil from May to August. We have so many amazing rivers and streams in the Upper Peninsula that offer fantastic brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout fishing. In the early part of spring fly fishing season with the cooler water the streamer and nymph fishing are most effective. We'll use 6wt rods and sinking lines to throw zoo cougars and triple doubles along the banks and through the deeper holes and currents. We also love to nymph early in the season with large stonefly patterns.

The fish are hungry and eager for a big meal after ice off and throwing big stuff is just the ticket. June starts spring's transitions to summer, and along with the warmer weather and longer evenings comes the amazing bug hatches that offer incredible fishing, including: caddis, sulphers, yellow sallies, march browns, brown drakes, hendricksons, and stoneflies. Anglers come from all over to experience a one of a kind brown drake hatch in the middle of June.

There's also fantastic hopper-dropper fishing as the summer warms up in July and August. During this time of year we also love to get into the backcountry and fly fish for brook trout on small spring fed creeks and tributaries.