Warm spring weather and hot steelhead, it doesn’t get any better.
March Michigan Steelhead
This is often the time of peak numbers as fall, winter and early spring steelhead concentrate in the river before spawning begins. Typically we are fishing dark water; runs, holes and pockets in areas near spawning gravel. Top methods would include bottom bouncing and fishing indicators with either a single or double handed (spey rod) set-up. Set the hook when the line stops or your indicator dips and then hold on as a “steelhead bomb” explodes in the spot you were fishing. These are pre-spawn fish, so they are in top form and ready to fight.
April and Early May Michigan Steelhead
While there are times when we still have plenty of options in the dark water for pre and post-spawn fish, when the water hits the 40’s most fish hit the gravel to spawn. Much of our effort at this time is around the gravel areas. Lightly weighted rigs are often a fun option for the shallow, riffle water that the fish are now in… seeing the take and then the fish react is quite a thrill.
Spring Michigan Steelhead Gear List:
Spring Steelhead Rods — 7 to 9 weights in 9-10′ for single hand and 11-13.5′ for double-handed (spey rods or switch rods).
Spring Steelhead Reels — Large enough to handle at least a hundred yards of backing, have a silky smooth drag and perform perfectly in freezing conditions.
Spring Steelhead Lines — The line needs to perform well in cold water. In the spring we use floating lines with heavy heads for roll casting, they are often 1-2 line weights over the rod weight. For high water you will also have to have a running or shooting line like Cortland’s Climax or Amnesia.
Spring Steelhead Clothes and Waders — Whatever you need to stay warm and dry in everything from snow to cold rain, expect water temps in the 30-40’s. Boot foot waders are often the choice for early spring, then switching to stocking foot for mid to late spring.
Spring Steelhead Flies — We go through a dozen flies per day, per angler on average. Half of your box should be egg patterns and the other half nymphs and small streamers. For one day of fishing you should have six dozen flies, then add another dozen for each additional day. This will give you good diversity for the trip and a buffer in case you have a tough day. Remember that all the flies are supplied on guided trips but you are always welcome to bring your own, we supply a discount if you use your flies.
Spring Steelhead Egg Flies:
Glow Nuke Egg
How to Tie a Nuke Egg Fly (Video)
Spring Steelhead Nymphs:
Morlock’s Pearl Jam Shrimp
Morlock’s Steelhead Ammo
Steve’s Steelhead Stone
Morlock’s Spring Stone
Spring Steelhead Streamers:
Grau’s Easy Sculpin
Morlock’s 4 Eyes
Morlock’s UV Rabbit
Below we have put together a reference list of the steelhead information on our site.
River Mouth Rewards by Brandon Butler
Steelhead Activity Rises With Temps by Eric Sharp
Winter Steelheading the Pere Marquette River by Todd Willmoth
A West Michigan Fly Fishing Adventure by Brandon Butler
Tactics for Tough Steelhead with Matt Straw and Kevin Morlock