If this is the year you’re determined to scratch “Learn to Fly Fish” off your springtime bucket list, The Homestead—the only four-season resort located in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore—is the place. And the time is now. Trout season opens on April 26th on a Michigan stream near you.

Check out how you can sign up for a one- or two-day fly fishing clinic at The Homestead along with Director of Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School, Dave Leonhard’s predictions on how this winter’s extreme cold and deep snowpack will impact area fishing opportunity.

Long Winter Offers Angling Upside

Even though it’s April, icy winter cold and deep snow still cover many parts of America. Spring still seems a long time off in places like Northern Michigan. And that’s pretty good news, according to Dave Leonhard…if you’re a trout.

“With near record ice coverage on the Great Lakes this winter,” he says, “water evaporation was considerably less than in a normal winter, which means lake levels will likely be on the rise. We can also expect a later than normal spring thaw and, because of the deep ice and snowpack, heavier than normal flooding if the weather warms very rapidly.”

Heavy runoff has a scouring effect on rivers, according to Leonhard, who says the high-water is necessary to move sediment and burrowing insects into new areas on the river. This is good for trout habitat.

“On the other hand,” he continues, “a colder than normal spring means the water temperature will be slower to rise to 53 degrees on local rivers. That’s the magic number necessary to trigger the Hendrickson hatch, our first major mayfly hatch of the season which usually kicks off the traditional trout season.”

Leonhard predicts that the Great Lakes ice coverage on Lake Michigan will also delay the annual spring steelhead run as well as spawning activity on the offshore sand flats where fly anglers target carp and smallmouth bass. This delay might bring other spawning species (e.g. suckers and walleye) upstream at the same time, making the steelhead fishing tough.

Leonhard urges visitors to check out Orvis.com for the most update information on local fishing hotspots and reports on stream conditions.

Get Ready For Opening Day

If you’re new to fly fishing or simply looking for a preseason tune-up, Leonhard also advises fly fishermen to consider taking a either a one- or two-day fly fishing clinic, which begins on April 15th at The Homestead resort this year.

From knot-tying to basic entomology, casting to choosing the best gear—the basic fly fishing know-how that might take you years to acquire on your own—Leonhard and his team instructors at the Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School can teach you everything you need to know to step into the water with confidence on opening day.

Overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan, the Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School at The Homestead combines Northwoods beauty and classic accommodations with the best fly fishing instruction in America.

All clinics utilize hands-on instruction on private trout ponds as well as classroom instruction on the Resort property, as well as serene stretches of the Boardman River a short drive away. Orvis Michigan is designed to introduce the intricacies of fly fishing to an absolute novice, but even experienced fly anglers will find personal and advanced instruction tailored to their level of experience. Sign up now to enjoy special rates if you book an overnight stay at the Resort.

One-Day Schools

Lectures on tackle, aquatic entomology, fly selection and knots compliment the finest fly casting instruction in the industry. Your day will culminate on the school’s private trout pond or the beautiful Boardman River just minutes from Traverse City. One-day schools include course materials, use of all tackle, lunch and licenses. The only school better than an Orvis One-Day School is our famous Two-Day School curriculum. Cost is $245 per person and does not include the price of a room.

Two-Day Schools

Lectures on tackle, aquatic entomology, fly selection and knots compliment the finest fly casting instruction in the industry. Your first day at The Homestead’s Stony Brook Lodge will culminate on the school’s private trout pond. Sunday’s class will begin in our classroom in our Traverse City store putting us closer to the beautiful Boardman River where after lunch you will spend the rest of the day wading the river and fishing for wild brook and brown trout. Two-day schools include course materials, use of all tackle including waders, lunch and licenses. Cost is $490 per person and does not include the price of a room.

For more information contact Dave Leonhard, Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School Director, at 231.933.9300.