Flyfishing offers unique experience between seasons

Amanda Monthei

In the weeks between fall colors and early-season snow, it’s tough to find something to help pass the time outside in the Upper Peninsula.

With rain, wind and chilly temperatures seriously hindering hiking, biking and other outdoor exploits from mid-October to mid-November, it’s no wonder that people would rather spend time inside watching Netflix than venturing into the woods.

But when the weather deteriorates in the latter weeks of fall, some of the best fishing of the year can be found in area rivers for those that are OK with the mud and rain.

“Even if it’s rainy and overcast, the less you want to go (outside) the better (the fishing) is,” said Nick Simon, a fly-fishing guide and employee at Switchback Gear Exchange and Outfitter.

Any combination of a rod and reel would suffice, but for students who have never tried fly-fishing, the next month and a half could be your chance, Simon said.

“There’s no hiking or biking, but the fishing right now is great,” Simon said.

Marquette and the Upper Peninsula in general have some very unique waters, compared to the rest of the state and the country.

According to Simon, there are successful fishing days downstate where you can’t find a parking spot near the river, whereas if you see one car in a parking lot near a river in the U.P., it can be almost guaranteed that you won’t get much success.

“Fishing pressure on a bad day is extremely low (in the U.P.),” he said. “Most of our rivers you also can’t take a boat down, so it’s a free-for-all for people with waders.”

While waders and other equipment are helpful in most rivers around the U.P., the beautiful thing about fishing in the Marquette area is that the water is shallow and the banks are dense but manageable.

According to Simon, tall waterproof boots and some good outdoor gear can get you basically anywhere that waders could.

“You don’t need (a lot of) equipment to fish effectively up here, which is awesome for students,” he said.

Simon also acknowledged that out of the people who shop for fly-fishing gear at Switchback, almost half are young or in college, challenging some of the stereotypes about fishing and hunting.

“What I like about fishing in the Upper Peninsula is that the fish are so abundant, and on a general scale, larger,” said Devin Dante, a junior business major. “It’s also sweet seeing the scenery while taking part in the sport.”

Anyone wanting to give flyfishing a try should get an all-species fishing license from the DNR before embarking on any fish adventures this fall, Simon said.

For more information on fishing reports or river closings in the area, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr.