Pere Marquette River Report

May 23rd, 2017

This has been an interesting/challenging month so far from a fly fisherman’s standpoint here on the PM. In many cases it has been a test of determination and persistence with the reward sometimes being great. Other times not so great. Last week for example, I was out 4 nights in a row in various sections of river with somewhat different weather patterns from day to day. The bugs always showed: the various stoneflies smacking the water and causing a ruckus, the emerging sulphers taking flight, and those ever-hovering Borcher’s drakes. Mixed in with those black quills were some gray drakes, the bug that seems to have the flavor of a McDonald’s french fry to a rising trout, were the long-awaited gray drakes. BUT, just as they do so often, they never fell for us. Or in proportions that we were hoping for given the giant cloud of bugs above our heads. This common when chasing drakes. Persistence will pay when chasing a finicky hatch. It makes those long nights where they actually fall even more memorable.

The bugs are there on the right evenings and some coming off in the afternoons. There are a few different types of stoneflies in a couple different sizes and colors. Stimulators in tan, golden, yellow or olive between sizes 10-14 are a close representation to the natural. There’s already a healthy population of grasshoppers in certain spots. The sulphers have been fairly consistent (before the cold-snap anyways, but that’s rebounding as we speak). Black quills are thick as thieves most nights with moderate conditions. And those gray drakes could happen any night. Some guys will stay late and wake a mouse after and get a solid fish or two. And those cold/rainy days when the bugs don’t really pan out, you can pitch streamers at the undercuts and log jams rolling a few fish on streamers. It’s pretty sweet to be a trout fisher up here right now.

Gear selection this time of year can be cumbersome. Usually a 4 or 5 weight is fine for afternoon dries (sulphers, small stones), a 5 or 6 weight for evening drake spinner falls, and a 7 weight to plop a mouse or roll a streamer. Having several rods rigged and ready to tackle the given conditions is the way to go. Have a variety of patterns specific to the current hatches in a couple different sizes. Make sure you put fresh batteries in your headlamp. Definitely bring bug spray and a Buff this summer, the skeeter’s have been hellacious. The trout have been very selective at times. Whether it’s the conditions or the fish are just so full from all the high water this spring that they can be so picky in their feeding. Makes for some fun headhunting though, and when that nose finally does come over that fly, there’s no better feeling for a dry fly guy.

The canoe traffic will be building after Memorial Day Weekend so be prepared for that and plan your fishing accordingly. Float permits for certain stretches will also need to be acquired after the weekend. The Pere Marquette is loved by all, even if they aren’t wearing gore-tex pants waving a fly rod around in the middle of the river. If we all respect each other’s space and utilization of the resource, things will be more pleasant and enjoyable for everybody. There’s a lot more people who use the river these days, but there’s a plethora of area creeks and streams with trout in the immediate area and a few really good rivers within 45 minutes. Exploring is what makes this sport so great. To see some of these places in their natural state is a luxury so many of us take for granted without knowing how much longer they will remain that way.

The river level is about normal for this time of year and still fairly chilly (found out the hard way attempting to climb in the boat the other day when my foot slipped on a log and made a graceful, embarrassing plunge sideways into the river. Good thing I was in shorts and a t-shirt and luckily dried out before the bugs showed). Looking at the forecast, it looks like summer may take hold here soon so let’s keep our fingers crossed. It has been a great late-spring for hatches and healthy trout. I don’t know of many other reasons that would warrant a drive north for some on-stream therapy. The lodge and the shop can take care of your accommodations as well as fishing needs during your stay so stop on in or give us a call. Hopefully everyone is enjoying themselves out there, be kind to one another and I’ll see you on the creek!

Kyle Hartman -Guide

Pere Marquette River Lodge

231 745 3972

  • Flow
    716 CFS @ Scottville
  • Visibility
    6 feet
  • Water Temperature
    56 degrees
  • Best time of day to fish
  • Indicator
  • Recommended Leader
    9' Mirage leader
  • Recommended Tippet
    0x for streamers, 3-4x Mirage for nymphs, 4-5x Super Strong for dries
  • Best Rod Outfit
    9' 6wt
  • Best Techniques
    Hatch match dry fly fishing
  • Comments
    Bring an array of set-ups, there's a lot of variety available in terms of techniques right now.
  • 6 day outlook
    Grand Rapids
    Weather from OpenWeatherMap
  • Our thoughts on the outlook
    Warmer weather on the horizon. Good news for hatches!