Michigan Steelheading

Michigan Steelheading

Steelhead fishing in Michigan is very popular, with fish starting to enter the rivers in March. Runs hit their peak in April and fishing can still be good up until the end of May. Some of the best steelhead rivers in Michigan are the The Pere Marquette River and Big Manistee River. Both rivers offer excellent steelhead adventures. The Pere Marquette is a smaller stream, with many nice pools that hold good numbers of fish. The Big Manistee River is a larger river and is best fished with a drift boat so anglers can cover more water in search of active fish.

The most common patterns that produce the majority of the trout, are egg sucking leeches, imitation egg patterns, nymphs and stoneflies. Caddis and mayfly nymphs have also been known to be effective, especially in low and clear water conditions. Early season fishing is best in the Pere Marquette River since it warms faster than the deeper Big Manistee River. Although the fishing can be exceptional on the Big Manistee, especially during the peak runs in April.

main1Another steelhead river in Michigan is the mighty Muskegon River. This river has a very healthy run of both wild steelhead and stocked fish and the fishing can be hot, especially during the middle of April. Egg patterns, wooly buggers, nymphs and stoneflies once again are the most popular patterns used to entice these feisty fish into striking. When the water is low and clear and the fish are spooky, smaller presentations, such as beads and small nymphs are most productive. Some of the more popular fishing areas include the tailwaters of the Croton Dam, and fishing the tributaries, namely the Hersey River, Cedar Creek and Little Muskegon River.

Flyfishing late into April and May, can be a great time for steelhead fishing, especially after periods of rain, since hungry spawned out drop-backs steelhead are aggressively feeding. This time of year don’t be surprised if you hook into a bonus brown trout, the colours of these spotted beauties can be breathtaking. Give steelhead fishing in Michigan a try, with so many rivers and places to fish, it’s an anglers paradise. Good luck and tightlines.

To Bead or Not to Bead

To Bead or Not to Bead

That is the question… There are so many baits and lures for steelhead fishing it can make an angler dizzy trying to decide what to use on a particular day. Roe, worms, flies, yarn, spinners, spoons, beads and the list goes on and on. Fishing with beads is a relatively recent technique although it is gaining popularity among steelhead anglers, and for good reason, they work!

Bead fishing imitates a single egg pattern, it has long been known that steelhead love eating roe. The bead is pegged to the line approximately 2 inches above a small steelhead hook and drifted into pools, eddies and slack water where hungry trout await. Bead fishing is so effective that in many situations it out fishes conventional spawn sac presentations. They are especially deadly when the trout are spooked and waters are low and clear.

Bead colour choice is also critical for a successful outing, there are so many colours and patterns to choose from making the right decision is daunting at times. Although experienced anglers will chose more natural colours in clear low water conditions and brighter more fluorescent colours when the water is stained or murky. Bead colour choice can also be river, creek or stream specific. In some systems, orange toned beads are more productive, while in others, yellow or white toned beads are better. Also don’t under estimate the pink, purple and green hues, on specific days these colours can be deadly, and will produce fish, when nothing else is working.

Bead size is also a determining factor between a good day on the river and a bad. The common sizes include 6 mm, 8 mm and 10 mm diameters. The smaller beads (6 and 8 mm) imitate trout spawn, whereas the 10 mm larger beads closely match salmon spawn. Depending on the season and what natural spawn forage is available in the river will determine the most productive size. Remember the fly fisherman’s code, “Match the Hatch”. This also applies to bead fishing. If you haven’t tried beads for steelhead, you are missing out, they can be very productive, and on days when fishing is tough, beads have proven to put fish on the bank.

Check out our online assortment of proven fish catching steelhead beads, SHOP NOW, and happy fishing.

Steelhead Fishing in Pennsylvania

Steelhead Fishing in Pennsylvania

Fishing for steelhead in Pennsylvania is very popular in the spring and fall. One of the most exciting fish to catch, the mighty steelhead, known for it’s acrobatic leaps and reel screaming runs. They can truly get a fisherman’s adrenaline rushing.

The main techniques used to catch these feisty fish is fly fishing and drift fishing. For anglers that prefer fly fishing, fly rods in the 7 to 8 weight are most often used, weight forward floating fly lines of matching weight and a variety of trout flies. Woolly buggers, nymphs, stoneflies, egg imitations, egg sucking leeches and crystal buggers can all produce numbers of steelhead. Streamers are also deadly especially patterns with pink and white.

Drift fishing is also a popular technique for steelhead, and generally uses long noodle rods, center pin or spinning reels, a float, and small sharp hooks, sizes 12, 14, 16 and 18. Small split shot is added to a light leader, usually a few inches apart so the bait bounces along the bottom in a natural presentation. The most common bait used is roe, although worms can also produce good steelhead numbers.

Elk creek is one of the largest rivers in Pennsylvania and also one of the most popular. Some of the more well known steelhead spots include the mouth of Elk Creek, the Legion Hole and the Conrail Tubes on the lower sections of the creek. In the upper stretches, Foley’s End and Streuchen Flats are also very productive areas.

Walnut Creek is the second largest system in Erie Pennsylvania and also has a very good run of steelhead. The main access point and most popular fishing area is Walnut Creek Marina. This section can get very busy with fisherman, shoulder to shoulder especially during the peak time of the steelhead runs.

Twenty Mile is also a good steelhead stream. Access is along route 5 and most anglers fish the mouth area. Additional fishing opportunities can be found in a number of small streams that run by route 5. These include Raccoon, Godrey, Trout, Cascade, Four Mile, Seven Mile and Sixteen Mile creek.

Steelhead fishing in Pennsylvania is one of the most popular forms of fishing in the state, with many anglers coming from far and abroad. The fishery is one of the best along the shores of Lake Erie. Get out and try your luck, you might be rewarded with a trophy steelhead.

Steelhead Fishing Techniques

Steelhead Fishing Techniques

There are many ways to catch steelhead both from the shore and with a boat. Most anglers don’t have access to a boat, so I will concentrate on shore fishing opportunities for steelhead.

One of the most common methods for catching steelhead is drift fishing. All that is needed in a medium action rod, preferably 8 foot plus, spinning reel, spooled with 8-10 lb line, some weights, hooks and of course bait. The critical part of this setup is the weights, most anglers use small spit shot about 12-18 inches above the hook. Drift fishing involves casting your bait into the current and then allowing the weights to bounce along the bottom, presenting your bait in the strike zone of waiting steelhead. Baits of choice are usually roe, worms and even nymph or streamer flies. Egg imitation flies are also very productive. The key is to adjust your weight to avoid getting snagged on the bottom, you want your weights to just tick the bottom as it drifts along. Using small spit shots is great for this, since you can easily remove or add weight as needed. The last skill you need to learn, when drift fishing for steelhead, is detecting bites. This takes some practice, as steelhead have been known to be very light bitters.

main11Another technique used to catch steelhead and probably the most widely used by anglers today, is float fishing for steelhead. The setup involves noodle rods, 9-14 feet long, a float or centerpin reel, some spit shot, hooks, a float and bait. Many anglers also use a spinning reel for this technique although die hard steelheaders will all use a centerpin reel. Centerpin reels allow you to float your bait down river seamlessly which is the key to success when fishing for steelhead using this technique. The rig involves attaching a float to your line, then small split shot, usually 5-8 weights, separated by 1 inch down the main line and then a small leader 12-18 inches ending with a hook. Baits used are the same as those for drift fishing, although spawn in the most common. This technique works best when fishing large deep pools where steelhead will sit to rest and feed. Basically cast out, allow your float to drift down river and when the float goes down, set the hook and fish on! Be ready for the steelhead to leap or run down river, this is one of the most exciting ways to catch steelhead. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

Still fishing for steelhead can also be very effective, especially when steelhead are staging at river mouths or sitting in large deep pools. The setup is similar to drift fishing except larger weights are used to keep your line on bottom and still. Bait used is usually a spawn sac or worm. This is one of the simplest techniques to catch steelhead and can be very rewarding. Just wait for the steelhead to take your bait, let it run a little, set the hook and hang on. The fun has just begun. Get out there and learn to fish for steelhead. You won’t be disappointed!

Winter Steelhead Fishing

Winter Steelhead Fishing

Fishing for steelhead in the winter can be quite challenging. It’s cold, river banks are icy, and gin clear conditions make fishing this time of year quite difficult. Steelhead are also less active and not overly aggressive. Winter trout will hold in the deeper pools in areas with minimal current so they don’t expend any excess energy. They will also sit tight to bottom or under cover. This time of year slow your presentation down, use light line and just enough weight to allow your bait to gently bounce along the bottom. Pay particular attention to your float as the slightest movement could be a strike.

main1Dress warm during this time of year, as it’s easy to get uncomfortable standing on the banks of a frozen river, the upside, you will find yourself fishing for less pressured trout as you may be the only angler on the river. Proper footwear with good traction is also a must, since creek and river banks can be extremely slippery and icy during the winter months.

You also need to take extra care with your equipment, as one of the most frustrating problems steelheading during the winter is the guides of your rod icing up. Coat the guides with wax or vaseline prior to every outing to reduce the icing. Floats and leaders also have a tendency to ice up and this will greatly effect your drift, so stop and de-ice your float and line often. Also take extra care when choosing your drift locations, the edges of ice sheets can cut your line when you hook a trout and it begins to swim under the ice. An additional challenge when fishing for winter steelhead.

Best baits for winter steelhead are small spawn sacs in natural colours, beads, and egg imitation flies. Streamers can also be very effective if the trout are feeding on minnows. Woolly buggers and stoneflies have also been known to work, since winter trout can be very finicky. So when the temperatures start to drop, don’t put your steelhead gear away, give winter steelheading a try. Find a nice quiet stretch of river, enjoy the winter scenery and just be patient. You will be rewarded.

Ontario Steelheading

Ontario Steelheading

Hooking into a “screaming chromer” is thrilling. This refers to the steelheads tendency to run and jump once hooked and pull line giving your drag a real work-out. In spring, steelhead move up rivers and creeks that feed the Great Lakes is great numbers. Once the season opens anglers will crowd well know holding pools where action can been non-stop all day. Most use noodle rods, rigged with light line 4-6lbs and either a float reel / centre pin reel or spinning reel. Float fishing with roe is the staple here and has proven to be the top producing tactic. Although the use of flies, such as wooly buggers, stoneflies and egg patterns are also effective. The main rivers attracting attention are those near urban centers, namely the Ganaraska River in Port Hope, the Credit River in Mississauga, the Grand River, the Niagara River, the Nottawasaga, Saugeen and the Maitland river. Average fish are between 4-6 lbs, although fish in excess of 20lbs are caught annually.

Once the spring runs are over and the steelhead return to the Great Lakes, they can be caught all summer trolling the depths with a wide variety of lures. Although the most common lures, include spoons, like the Northern King and body baits. Colour patterns vary, although the most productive colour combinations seem to be green/silver, orange/silver, pink/silver and blue/silver. Any lure that mimics the baitfish in the area is usually a good bet and can be productive. In Lake Ontario, anglers generally troll their lures anywhere from 70ft to 250ft. Key trolling depths are dictated by the temperature. Generally 60 to 65C is the preferred summer target temperature. Having a temperature sensor on your cannon ball can eliminate a lot of the guess work, when targeting temperature bands, although experimenting and trial and error can be equally effective at locating active summer steelhead in Lake Ontario.

main1Lake Erie is another great lake with a phenomenal steelhead fishery. In summer, the steelhead will be deep, and in Lake Erie this 60 to 80 ft. The same techniques apply with anglers generally trolling for steelhead using spoons and stick baits that mimic the available forage. Many anglers also use dipsy divers which can be used to bring your offerings down to the preferred depth without the use of expensive down rigger gear. While trolling for steelhead on Lake Erie, don’t be surprised if you catch a bonus walleye, as these aggressive fish will generally hold in similar areas to steelhead. Another critical factor when trolling for summer steelhead, besides the temperature is trolling speed. The most common trolling speed seems to be anywhere between 2-2.5 mph. Also take into consideration the wind direction while trolling as it can have a great effect on your trolling speed. The use of a drift bag is highly advantageous on days where controlling your speed may be a problem. Of course anytime you are targeting a predatory fish, like steelhead trout, look for bait balls. Anytime you are marking bait on your finder, usually the steelhead are not far behind.

In the fall, the river fishery comes back to life as fresh run chromers enter the rivers once again, this time following the salmon runs in search of food. This can be one of the most productive and exciting times of the year to fish for steelhead, as many fish are fattening up for the winter and readily take the anglers presentation. If you haven’t tried steelhead fishing in Ontario. You must, I guarantee you’ll be hooked!