Cold weather is starting to move into West Michigan and winter is coming. Water levels continue to remain stable and temperatures are in the mid-low 30’s. Lately, we have been experiencing low, clear and cold water. This is when the fish becomes a little more pattern-able and consistent in where they will be sitting.
In cold water temps, like what 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 water. Typically, in conditions like this, we are fishing with light line due to how lethargic these fish can be. Right now, we are using 6lb-10lb fluorocarbon. 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. Typically, we are going to run larger floats from 6.2 gram all the way up to 11 gram floats. Remember to weight them accordingly to the size of float you’re running.
On the terminal end beads and eggs flies have also produced. Try using the more peachy/pearly colors, such as glow roe, peach roe, and peachy punch. UV colors have also been doing well in Fireball, Super UV peach and Super UV tangerine. If you’re going to use egg files, make sure to use a veil / nuke egg.
In low 30 degree water temps, don’t be afraid to try bugs like stone flies, caddis flies, and other nymphs.
We also been swinging lately, which is one of the more difficult ways to find fish. This is a great searching technique and a way to cover lots of water looking for the more aggressive fish. We like to throw the heaviest set ups we can. This means intermediate shooting heads and tips from T-14 and T-17 to T-20, depending on water depth. Fly colors will vary on conditions and how far the light penetrates into the water. Blacks and olives with chartreuse and orange heads are our go too.
Winter time fishing can offer solitude on the river with very little traffic. Enjoying days alone on the river is our favorite time of year, if you can brave the colder temperatures. If you’re interested in a trip contact us about dates. Also, just to let you know, we are slowly starting to get bookings for spring. If you want prime time dates, don’t wait too long to get on our calendar.