As the winter melts away, the steelhead that hold over from the previous fall migration begin their instinctive spawning rituals. With higher flows and warming water temps these fish seek out the gravels to fulfill their journey upstream. The hens start fanning out their reds as the males actively compete for the right to carry on their DNA. This year’s run of fish has some very LARGE traits to pass along as most of these fish are much larger than the average size we usually see. Steelhead larger than 10 pounds has been quite common this winter with a few fish of 14 to 15 pounds and even larger being brought to the net.
These gravel parties offer an abundance of food for spring run steelhead and resident brown and rainbow trout. Fishing the runs and holes behind these active gravels provide success with the right setup. Using floating lines, an indicator, and some light split shot helps to present the right drift for these feasting fish. Egg flies of course top the list to fill your box with. Smaller stone flies, wiggle hexes, and pheasant tails also will induce a strike from these fish. Another method rapidly gaining popularity throughout Michigan is swinging or stripping streamers on sink tip lines. Brown trout love to give chase to anything that threatens their area and the crushing hit of 10 pound steelhead will give any angler the thrill of a lifetime.
The Pere Marquette River is one of Michigan’s more recognized rivers in the fishing world. This river is rich with history with great Indian battles, the first half of Father Jacques Marquette final resting place, and even used to float the giant White Pines to Ludington during the logging era in the mid 1800’s. Some of these trees can still be found half buried on the river bottom today. With over 60 miles of river stretching from central Michigan to the mouth at Lake Michigan near Ludington, the “PM” offers an abundance of fishing opportunities. It is here where the German Brown Trout was first introduced in North America in the late 1800’s. The PM also receives annual runs of Chinook and Coho Salmon as well as Steelhead. There are even some sections that offer decent northern pike fishing. The river draws anglers of all kinds which once included the likes of Ernest Hemmingway. The PM is designated as a blue ribbon trout stream as well as a Wild National Scenic River. It also boasts a gravel rich 9 mile stretch of “catch and release, flies only section”, creating ample opportunities for some giant Brown Trout. Wading access is provided up and down the river. Sometimes busy at these access sites, there are plenty of professional guides as well to help provide an escape to less pressured areas. Every fly angler should include the Pere Marquette River on their bucket list and etch their name in the river’s rich history. For more information on the area, guided trips, or an updated fishing report check out www.flyfishingmichiganrivers.com or like us on Facebook.