So in about 2 weeks I'll be spending a couple days at a cottage in Ludington on lake Hamlin. Was wondering what the conditions are currently like up there. Are there other streams up that way I should check? I'm thinking of working the PM since it's right there. But open to other options. Was hoping to maybe get some ideas on where I should start. I know the PM can get busy. Is the river barren during the week? I'll be there on a Wed/Thurs. I'd really like a shot at my first steel. I imagine they're still running strong due to the colder year so far.
Like I said I'm pretty new to the whole steelhead thing. When folks are catching them on nymphs, are they rather large nymphs, #10 and bigger? What are some good basic patterns?
I'll also have access to a boat, is lake Hamlin worth a shot with a fly rod this time of the year? I heard Hamlin has been stocked with muskie since '05
Regarding steelhead, at least in most years the third week of May is at the tail end of things. As you say, with the strange weather we had this year, it's hard to tell. Just to play it safe, you may want to bring along something to allow you to focus more on trout. In a normal year, trout fishing will be picking up toward the end of May.
I guess another good indicator, if you find the river barren of anglers during the week, you've missed the run. If the fish are there, you'll find plenty of company on the river.
Regarding Hamlin Lake, I can't speak to muskie fishing, but one good fly rod option would be bluegills/crappie. Not very exotic, but they can be alot of fun.
This post I'm going to edit over the next few days as I gather some information and speak with the Ludington Stooges (some guys I know that spend all summer up there fishing (mostly big water), and killing their brains and livers).
The first thing I'm going to suggest however i do for everyone....especially myself. Pick up a DeLorme' Michigan Atlas and Gazetteer. Nothing will help you start finding your way around better, and cue you in on connecting places that get you away from the crowd and onto more and better fish.
The second is utilize a resource that everyone seems to want to hate, yet i in contrast have found in every state I've fished in to be the most helpful and best sources of information. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, or DNR........Some of their fishing info can be found here: DNR - Fishing
Now, though a very minor drive if the Steelheading is off, something you might consider doing which I also need to is to consider part of a day fly fishing for Lake Trout. How many folks ever catch a laker on the fly? Well, if you want a chance to check one off, up in Benzie Co. just up M-31 at Crystal Lake it is my understanding they stock them big time late April. In kind the resident LT come into the shallows to spawn......A Laker on the fly IMO is the toughest fish to get toward a Trout Royal Slam (if you choose to do it all on the fly), and is something I myself need to do.
Well I'm thinking I'm going to go with Cloud9. Reviews are really good and seems like the owners should be able to help put me on something.
Another question I have. If I'm sticking to the PM, South and Middle, Baldwin, wading will my Simms w/ vibram soles be fine for the stream bed? How exactly are these rivers in this area? Big round slippery rocks? Or similar to Driftless streams with small rock and sand being the bottom?
I've got some idea of how these rivers are from reading and rereading Trout Streams of Michigan and FF Guide to Michigan. And I need to see where I could get a Michigan atlas before next Saturday. To get a lay of the land. Knowing state land boundaries would really help me get a plan of action going.
Having not been in every body of water in the state, yet enough, let me put it this way.
Until last year and my trip to Montana/Idaho, I could never understand why someone would ever want felt soles to fish with. Studs and the like clearly only for ice.....IOW, rubber cleats work fine. Just be careful of stepping on submerged logs as they can be slippery.
State and federal land boundries are somewhat listed i believe in the DeLorme Atlas. However once there, check at some of the local fly shops for advice as to state and federal land offices....Manistee Nat. Forest the primary in the area....and I'll look up some USGS maps for you which probably show the state land.
Click on a county, then each individual quadrangle in that county which covers the PM and any other river you wish to get the specific USGS topo map for that area......They usually contain Federal and State land borders.