Mayflies & Mayapples
May is a month of blossoming wildflowers, complex insect emergences, and first-of-the-year newborn fawns. Yet the anticipated transition from spring to summer feels more distant than usual here in Michigan. This week our overnight lows were cold enough to freeze guides and solidify waders hung out to dry!
Thankfully our northern rivers got some much-needed rain, and water levels are close to average. This has allowed larger fish to move back into undercut areas and into feeding lanes closer to the bank. Note that moderate rainfall can result in good conditions for streamer fishing. If you are a walk-and-wade angler, consider packing a sink tip or a spare spool to convert your dry fly rod into a streamer setup. River systems south of M-55 are running a bit high but seem to be dropping back down.
Subsurface activity has remained consistent, as water temperature does not fluctuate as dramatically as the air. If you get on the water before adult insects are airborne, consider swinging caddis pupae off a long leader. Trout have had a few weeks to grow accustomed to eating emergers, and fishing the wet fly swing (without a clunky indicator) can feel quite liberating.
Trout continue to feed on caddis from early afternoon into the evening. A few river systems are seeing mahogany duns, blue wing olives, and some light hendricksons. Both our Grand Rapids and Lansing locations are well-stocked on a variety of dry fly patterns. Come in any time and we’ll be happy to give you some recommendations!
Smallmouth bass are starting to create their beds and some have been seen actively spawning. We try to give those individuals plenty of space and instead cast to other areas. Structure and shade are always good targets, although fish have been caught recently in all water types. Murdich minnows in black and natural grey/white have been working well.
Members of the Northview Fly Squad volunteered on Tuesday to help release roughly 150 salmon fingerlings into the lower Rogue River. These fish were raised by elementary students as a part of Trout Unlimited’s Salmon in the Classroom program. Thank you teachers, students, volunteers, & TU advisors! If you haven’t yet renewed your membership, please consider taking a moment to do so at gifts.tu.org
Starting this Spring, our reports will feature a description of an interesting native plant or animal frequently seen near rivers and lakes. If you have a suggestion or a photo for our next Creature Feature, call Nomad GR!
Did you know that the mayapple, a native Michigan wildflower, has a symbiotic relationship with the box turtle? Stands of mayapple appear in late April and early May. Resembling a collection of miniature umbrellas or tropical palm trees, mayapples rely on the box turtle to disperse the majority of their seeds. Box turtles, which are also native and at first glance look more like a tortoise, love to eat the “apple” of this plant. The digestive process gives the mayapple seeds a much better chance at germination. Box turtles also spend their entire life within a one mile radius. So, if you see a box turtle trying to cross the road, help the little fellow to complete the journey but do NOT relocate it to a new, distant habitat. Finally, you can tell the age of a box turtle by counting the rings on one of its shell “scutes” and dividing by two. (A box turtle with ten rings is roughly five years old.)
Nomad Anglers is hiring! We are looking for some more team members in both Grand Rapids and East Lansing shops. Looking for hard working, passionate, outgoing individuals that are willing to help with daily shop operations, casting, and fly tying classes during the summer season. Regular weekday availability is a priority. If you are interested please email email@example.com for the Grand Rapids shop, or firstname.lastname@example.org for the East Lansing Shop.