The weather is getting nice and its time to get out and get those fly reels spinning. When going fly fishing, selecting the perfect river or stream can be one of the most important tasks. I’m going to cover some of the basics of what you will want to look for to make sure you have a good chance of staying safe and finding trout while fishing.
One of the first considerations is going to be the depth of the water. If you are wading a river, you are going to want to make sure it is right around 2.5 feet. Occasional dips that bring it up to 3 feet are probably ok, but generally if the water is too high it can make it dangerous to wade. The water does move and you are likely to hit some occasional low points. So if you are wading with the water right up to the edge of your waders it is likely that you will get wet. Best case it’ll quickly ruin your fishing. Worst case it could put you in a dangerous scenario where your waders fill up and you have to swim against a current over to the shore. The easiest way to avoid this is to look for river sections that are 2.5 feet or shallower.
Trout is a more delicate species than other fish. If the water temperature rises above 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the fish will begin to be stressed. Fishing them on warm water temperature days can further stress them out, putting them at risk. Be a responsible angler and make sure you are fishing when the temperature is less than 68 degrees.
Know how fast the river is moving before you get into a deeper section. If the water narrows, then the current is going to increase. If the flow is so strong that it feels difficult to walk then odds are the river is not safe to wade. You may think you are fine while standing still, but one wrong step in a fast current can be dangerous. If you must wade a stronger river use a wading staff for a third point of contact and make sure you are fishing with a partner.
Look for Stocked Areas
Catching wild brook trout in their native habitat can be enticing, but if you’re in the southern part of Michigan there are still some great streams with brown and rainbow trout in them. The Michigan DNR has a tool on their website where you can see what species are stocked near you and when. This year many of the stocking efforts have been delayed or canceled due to COVID-19, however, some of the stocking locations have produced viable populations by now so may still hold trout even though they haven’t been stocked recently.
Flyfisher’s Guide to Michigan
One last tip is to check out the book, “The Flyfisher’s Guide to Michigan.” It can be purchased for $25 and includes extremely detailed information on where to find certain species and when the best time is to fish those rivers. I highly recommend picking up a copy.