Welcome to Paradise
Come fly fish Michigan's Upper Peninsula! We are blessed to have some of the most beautiful fish, scenery and water in the upper 48 -- and we fish it year round. Whether it's targeting fiesty backcountry brookies, chasing big browns during an evening hatch, or tangling with monster steelhead, lake run browns, king salmon or trophy smallmouth. Check out our seasons below and see for yourself -- then let us introduce you to this magical fly fishing paradise.
Spring & Summer Fishing
The flavors of spring and summer fishing are many. Huge steelhead and smallmouth kick off the season by making their spawning runs from Lake Michigan, then our 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 that we have to offer during this amazing time of year.)
Steelhead start their migration into the Lake Michigan 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 fish 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 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 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 fishing.
Our exceptional trout fishing really gets going on full boil from May to August. We have so many amazing rivers and streams offering brook trout, rainbows and browns. In the early part of spring 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 chase brook trout on small spring fed creeks and tributaries.
As the temperatures start to drop in September and October the bugs disappear and the leaves turn their bright fall colors. Trout feeding habits change as well and the rivers are prime for streamer and nyphing. This is your chance to catch the river's larger predatory browns as they get ready for winter and for their spawning season. Sinking tips and big streamers are the name of the game. We also keep the big stonefly nymphs handy as they can be deadly effective too.
If you've had your fill of trout and smallmouth never fear because the big fish are here. The Lake Michigan tributaries are host to pink salmon, king salmon, coho salmon, steelhead and lake run browns. The pinks and king salmon move in late Aug to early Sep and peaks the later part of Sep. Steelhead and browns follow in October and Cohos will follow into Dec. These fish will destroy a well presented swung fly, bugger or larger nymph pattern. For the king salmon it's best to break out the big two-handed rods, sinking lines and intruder style flies for these brutes. To avoid the crowds we'll fish late evenings and early mornings when the king salmon are most active and on the move. Nothing compares to hooking a big king that tries its best to rip the rod out of your hands.
Dime bright steelhead start to appear in early Oct as they follow the salmon and the lake run browns up the rivers, not to spawn but to feed as they know there will be an egg buffet along with plenty of caddis, stonefly and hex nymphs being kicked up by the nesting salmon and browns. Some of the fish will stay around all winter others will head back to the lake after they've eaten their fill. If you're after a big steelhead there's no better time to be on the water. These fish are fresh from the lake, hyper active and have the feedbags on before winter hits. We'll swing, nymph and use beads to target these fish. Pound for pound there's no stronger fish in the water -- it's not uncommon to set the hook only to have one of these lighting bolts rip off downstream 100 yards and break off all before you can say "fish on".
Lake Run Browns
These dinosaurs of Lake Michigan move into the rivers from Oct to Dec. These fish grow to fantastic proportions, are very aggressive, and loads of fun. Unlike the steelhead, these fish are migrating into the rivers to spawn and will eat all the way up to the point of spawning and feed hard after. Just like steelhead fishing, we'll swing, nymph and use beads to target these fish. It doesn't take much to get these fish's attention.
Steelhead & Lake Run Browns
From Jan to Mar we see frigid temps and snow but with that being said there are still plenty of opportunities to chase big fish. We target both Steelhead and Lake Run Browns that are holding up in the Lake Michigan tributary rivers. In the cold waters we target the slower, deeper pools, swinging baitfish patterns on sinking lines as well as nymphing with egg patterns. With the right winter gear, layers, hot coffee and hand warmers we can fish in relative comfort despite the cold. However, due to the shorter daylight hours and the colder weather we typically only run half day trips around the warmest part of the day. If you're feeling a bit cabin fever a winter trip is just the cure.
Established in 2002, we are a full service fly fishing guide service located in the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We specialize in chasing trout, steelhead and smallmouth on the iconic rivers of the beautiful U.P. Whether you want to wade or float, a beginner or advanced, we'll create a memorable day on the water for you!
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