The last few weeks we have had pretty optimal fishing conditions. Good amounts of fresh chrome steelhead are in the system from rain we had a few weeks prior. Here’s the latest from the frontlines.
Water levels continue to remain stable and temperatures are in the mid-low 30’s. This is when the fish become a little more pattern-able and consistent in where they will be sitting. In cold water temps, like we have, try fishing more “winter-water”. When talking about winter-water, look for smaller deeper holes anywhere from 5ft-10ft and “walking pace” speed of flow.
Typically, in conditions like this we are fishing with light line due to how lethargic these fish can be. Anywhere from 6lb-10lb fluorocarbon will work fine.
When fishing in deeper depths we like to run larger floats and heavier weights to allow us to get down quickly and stay as close as possible to the bottom. Steelhead don’t like to move far in cold water to feed so staying as close to bottom is very important.
Typically we will run 11gr-15gr floats and 3/8 – 1/2 ounce egg sinkers. There are lots of different options for presentations this time of year. Eggs and spawn have been taking most fish due to the scent of the eggs and fishing in slower water. Around a quarter sized bag is what has been working in either chartreuse, pink, and white.
Beads and eggs flies have also been producing fish. Try using the more peachy/pearly colors such as glow roe, peach roe, and peachy punch. 10mm size has been the most productive with some caught on 12mm. In low 30 degree water temps don’t be afraid to try bug life like stone flies and caddis flies.
We’ve been using Orvis Recon 10′ 7wt rods to allow for easier stack-mending, with Hydro IV reels. We prefer 11gr bobbers with 3x or 2x tippet on the terminal side. If you have never caught a steelhead on a fly rod, you’re missing out. These guys can cork a rod like no other freshwater fish.
Steelhead Limit Change
As we move closer to spawning season please be aware that, in some of the West Michigan rivers, steelhead bag limits have changed. Our numbers are down so practice catch and release as much as possible.
The weather and river conditions are holding steady for some good fishing, so give us a call and get out while you can.