Saturday, August 29, 2015

MIDGE MANIFESTO PARADISE ON THE MUSKEGON/MANISTEE TAILWATERS!_ and ecosystem thoughts


(our Eagle Rainbows from California are truly gorgeous fish- they  normally average 10-14 inches on the midge hatch at this time of year and will kick your three/four weight's butt to its limit since this strain are such hard fighters!- they have cutthroat blood in them- note the orange slits by the mouth!- these two little footballs were from the midge hatch yesterday- note the WMD midge in the lower image)

If you are a true ole' fashioned 'trout bum', the mention of trout sipping minutiae dries...a.k.a tailwater/spring creek style will goosebumps up your spine and a cheshire cat grin!
( rainy/drizzle days are perfect for midge hatches- watch the swallows work the air to what seems like nothing up there-those are midges they are working- note the red dots forming from Gilchrist wild strains)
( here note the Wild Rose Wisconsin strain- both strains stocked in Muskegon...more Loch Leven Scottish in origin and larger brown spotting- both gorgeous truttas!)



 The Big Muskegon and Manistee are continuing to become  true eastern and western tailwater in the summer: midges, caddis, bwos, cahill's, ants, scuds- just like the San Juan. With the very cool/cold week water temperatures and flows have become ideal and the hatches really took off!

Yes!..I'm very aware that we are in the land of BIG AND BIGGER!...Hex, mousing, streamers- I love them all!. But being an east/west coast minutiae freak, what is going on now and for the next two months will blow your mind!...and you'll never want to see another steelhead and salmon!- not really!,... but dry fly trout taking size #20's...long 6x tippets, three/four weights is an epic experience! - especially if you watch every trout suck your fly in right in front of you.

Our spring stocked Wild Rose, Gilchrist browns and Eagle Lake rainbows ar betting fat and pushing the 10-13 inch range- holdover surface feeders are 14-18 inches- some leviathan 20 inch browns will focus on larger caddis/mayflies at dusk, preferring to hunt crayfish along the shore. 
This morning  we stopped fishing after 20 trout landed in an hour and half window. Water temps have plunged with a week of 'global cooling'- 50's-60's,  into surface temperatures ideal for dry fly trout ( NOTE: unfortunately the USGS temperature gauges are installed at the 'worst spots' on the Muskegon and Manistee- by the top spill dams operating from warmed up ponds currently operating now. The water temps actually cool as you get farther downstream with all the thousands of springs, cool night- especially on the Muskegon , thus cooling the water- although the bubbler operations are providing "ideal" comfort (dissolved oxygen being as important or if not more important than temperature ) for the fish regardless of actual Fahrenheit temps- mid 60's are ideal for total surface orientation for the fish!- Bob nymphed a riffle that we hammered the trout on dries the other day and only took one trout- meanwhile we hooked several dozen on dries- total surface orientation at this time of year due to low clear waters)
( non- obvious)
(Obvious-note cold water loving/alkaline watercress along shoreline-image taken at 5 F in January )
( despite the obvious springs we see, there are thousands of tiny rivulets that are between 47-51F for miles and miles throughout the entire tailwaters we take for granted- here are some I took yesterday after examining shoreline rocks for caddis larvae- which BTW! are still loaded in larvae stage and ready to pop any day- they as all things lately are running way behind in maturation- these are all a function of "plus or minus heating and cooling days", which or 'global cooling' winters put a major damper on the "norm"- Wish we had a college/university hydro or fisheries biologist student looking for  master's degree thesis material studying thermal refuge/trout migration/prey ditribution and biological drift models on our tailwaters- we would finally have some "unbiased and realistic data to manage our resources!- Mark Guzniczak? )

MIDGE TACTICS/METHODS
( beauty of midging is that it can be done year round- 365- deep January Muskegon bow surface feeding in air temps in the teensF )


I am aware that size #20 flies scare most anglers. Also hook penetration and hooking confidence is lacking due to smaller gapes in hooks. The first most important thing you should do is have regular eye exams and bi-focals so you can see - sounds basic , but you would not believe the difference in vision you will have especially if you are older.
HOOKS- Daiichi has speciality midges hooks with a very wide gape in tiny sizes. I always bend my hook gape outwards in the vice to increase hook ups immensely- here is a size #24 bwo minutiae with one of the Daiichi speciality hooks
LEADERS- I use 18 foot leaders with 5-8 feet of 6-7x tippets for supper long dead drifts and easy manipulation of the fly. Some are saying, how the hell do you turn that over?...EASY, they will cast like 9 foot leaders. If you buy your leaders , buy a 12 foot /4x, take the butt loop section ( .023-.021) off an old leader and just blood know a 3 foot section extension of the butt- thiu making your leader top heavy which allows you to cast any length.- so 3 feet of old butt nailed to the new 12 footer, than add your 5 feet of 6/7x.
TECHNIQUE- Midges act slightly like caddis as dries- they skitter, twitch, dead drift. Impart very, very subtle twitches and than long dead drifts to your dries.


 ( not all trout are on the smaller side when midging- this 27 inch brown from Wisconsin's Driftless spring creeks was caught midging on a hot June day on a #22 WMD-weapons of midge destruction pupae)


MORE INFO
The internet is loaded with midge information and patterns. My Selectivity book and DVD has tons of midge information and patterns /techniques. If you could find this old article I wrote as a very young man in the early 90's on midging in American Angler, there is a ton of information in it
Also next month  in Fly Fisherman magazine ( September) I have an article coming out on spring creek/tailwaters forage feeding profiles-midges included and two new midge patterns.
The next two months will have epic dry fly fishing on our tailwaters- come out and experience the magic. Yes salmon and steelhead are fun....but once you get hooked on minutiae dry fly fishing for trout, you will become an endless minutiae  junkie- trust me!
ALSO...in my Paint Creek Selectivity Clinic in two weeks Ill be covering midging in greater detail- The beauty of Michigan trouting is we have it all!