Pere Marquette River Report

May 12th, 2018

We have not been lacking water this month! The amount of rain we’ve had (and that’s on the way according to the forecast) has been a big help keeping the river up and stained. Good news if you like to throw streamers on sinking lines and stout rods. Bad news if you like to spot and stalk risers…for now anyways.

My little cousin Lew with a not so little brown during our family’s annual Trout Camp Weekend.¬†

There are bugs hatching: hendricksons, sulfurs, stones, march browns, even saw some black quills on the lower Au Sable last weekend. Yesterday in the cold rain Devon mentioned how he wished he still had his winter jacket still in the storage compartment on his skiff. And even while blowing into our hands in a vain attempt to warm them up, we still saw a couple bugs. Just not much feeding on bugs due to the conditions I feel. The higher water has washed a lot of food into the creek on top of what was already in the river. The salmon fry numbers have been up with the warming water, there are still a few steelhead spawning and the worms have been all over on the warm/rainy days. Needless to say some of the fish are getting picky in terms of what and when they want to eat.

My wife Katelyn, 36 weeks pregnant, still showing me how it’s done!

The streamer fishing has been great for the most part. I think the cold front threw the bite off a little yesterday but for the most part we’ve been rolling a lot of fish on our floats with a few nice ones actually committing. Like old time river guide Bob Nicholoson used to say, “I get one out of around every 6 or 7 before I get the one with the Dunce cap to chomp on it.” He wasn’t kidding. Especially when the food has been plentiful, the trout will make quick assaults on the fly, bumping or pecking at it as they flash wildly behind it. Some of these are just dramatic refusals, others are just half hearted attempts. The rest, like what occurred the other day when a fish came completely out of the water somersaulting right next to the boat as Stephen was about to re-cast, just can’t be explained.

Stephen moved a few trout on streamers this day!

Fly color has been white for my boat. White/chartreuse or cotton candy double deceivers on the bigger waters have been working well. When the sun pops out, yellow has been moving fish. Other guys have been doing well on black and/or black and copper. Put that fly as close as you can to the bank without snagging it and be ready, those trout will be on it as soon as it hits the water sometimes!

JC with a prime example of a Pere Marquette River carnivore from last year’s photo vault.

If you haven’t experienced a good drake happening on this river, which tends to be a little more fickle than other drake hatches around the state (especially our grays), you need to! One of the PM’s marquee hatches, the gray drake can yield an amazing evening rise. Beginning just before the hexes start, the gray drakes bring up the same quality of trout that rise during the hex with a fraction of the angling pressure. Usually happening right at dusk but can extend into the night if there is a substantial spinner fall, these bugs are a lot of fun to chase!

Another from the vault, my personal best on a gray drake. Thanks again Dev!

Also had a chance to see some cool footage of anglers in the 1930’s at the Flint Rainbow Club catching trout and casting from classic McDougal riverboats which was pretty sweet. Stop in the museum in downtown Baldwin to check out one of these historic guide boats and see photo’s of the river from a hundred years ago! Also be sure to check out the WORLD’S LARGEST brown trout statue across from the museum next time you drive through town on M-37. So much to see, so little time. A common predicament in northern Michigan!

Kyle Hartman – Guide

Pere Marquette River Lodge

231 745 3972

  • Flow
    997 CFS @ Scottville
  • Visibility
  • Water Temperature
    48-54 degrees
  • Best time of day to fish
    All day!
  • Indicator
  • Recommended Leader
    9' Mirage leader
  • Recommended Tippet
    0x fluoro
  • Best Rod Outfit
    9' 7wt
  • Best Techniques
  • Comments
  • 6 day outlook
    Grand Rapids
    Weather from OpenWeatherMap
  • Our thoughts on the outlook