Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead in Michigan

Spring Steelhead

Spring steelhead fishing in Michigan is a different animal from fall steelhead fishing. The difference is due to several factors, water temperature, the urge to spawn, and available food supplies.

Steelhead begin moving into our rivers in fall. Their motivation is available food and the urge to spawn.  The salmon spawn puts millions of eggs in the river that the steelhead feast on. During the salmon spawn it’s almost difficult to catch steelhead on anything but egg imitations. The steelhead spawn doesn’t occur until spring. No one knows for sure why steelhead that ascend the river to eat steelhead eggs in August and September stay after the eggs are gone. Sometimes they don’t! Coming early and staying is likely due to some of our original steelhead planted had to travel great distances to spawn so they started early. That urge may have remained in our Little Manistee River strain of steelhead.


Water temperature plays a big role in determining where to look for spring fish. The smaller rivers like the Pere Marquette River warm faster than the Big Manistee River. The earlier warm up has the fish moving up river to different runs, closer to spawning gravel. Spring Steelhead are motivated by Mother Nature , the spawn is the primary trigger for them to migrate the river.  When fish are moving up river towards spawning gravel how do you change your tactics?  Fish pinch points, funnels, and heads of pools versus the tailouts.  We definitely find more fish in the spring at the head of runs, most of these spots are deeper and slower and you find fish there moving up river toward the spawning grounds. This is likely to occur in a normal year (who knows what that is anymore??) in February. On bigger waters with dams this movement generally takes place in very early March. Read more

trying with beads

Tying Flies with Beads

Tying Flies with Beads Alaskan Trout and Steelhead anglers have known about fishing with beads for years.  Bead fishing is an effective way to imitate fish eggs.  Fishing with beads has really exploded here in the midwest over the past few years especially when targeting fall steelhead . While most anglers use beads by themselves […]

Manistee River steelhead fishing

Manistee River Steelhead Fishing

Manistee River steelhead fishing is some of the best steelhead fly fishing in the Great Lakes, maybe even the lower 48 states. Anglers from all over the country travel to Michigan for Manistee River steelhead fishing. The Manistee and other northwest lower Michigan rivers have steelhead in them from late September to well into May.

steelhead flies

Top 5 Spring Steelhead Flies

Top Five Spring Steelhead Flies Most fly anglers eagerly await the start of the spring steelhead run. In this blog post I want to point out what I believe are the top five spring steelhead flies and when to use them. Any list of the top five steelhead flies for spring or for anytime has […]

orvis underwader pant review

Orvis Underwader Pant Review

Orvis Underwader Pant Review

orvis underwader pant

Orvis has recently produced an upgraded version of their Underwader Pants and I must say it is a significant upgrade! Boasting a dark charcoal color and chartreuse stitching these pants offer a comfortable contoured fit. The pants are very warm and will keep your pant legs from crawling up your legs as they easily slip into your waders. I also find the Underwader Pant great for lounging after a long day on the water or afield yet stylish enough to run my errands or grab a bite to eat on the way home.  Other features include two deep front pockets, zippered rear pocket, elastic waistband, and a drawstring to fine-tune your fit. Hands down my favorite under wader pant on the rack, TWO THUMBS UP!

manistee river fishing report

Manistee River Report & New Newsletter

  • Couple New Manistee River Fishing reports have been posted the past couple days.  Jon Ray and Ed McCoy have been out chasing winter steelhead.  The Manistee River is fishing well, with a good mixture of chrome hens and winter double stripped bucks.
  • New February Newsletter – new fly pattern for matching the salmon parr hatch this is about to occur.  This little guy matches the hatch, you don’t need to always throw big to catch nice trout.

manistee river fishing below tippy

Manistee River Brown Trout, Winter Trout Fishing

Manistee River and Fly Patterns Page

  • Couple new reports the past few days on the Manistee River and both Ed McCoy and myself had a chance to get out.  Water is still not that clean, so making fishing still a little more difficult than we like, but some nice fish are around.
  • 2016 Winter Project is to expand the Fly Patterns Page, so far have added the Triple Double and Mad Pup.  Look for this page to grow over the winter, as Ed McCoy, Russ Maddin, Chuck, and myself sit down and tie patterns that we can share.
  • Speaking of new Patterns the Flash Monkey is coming soon to Mangled Flies VOD page.  The Flash Monkey is a Russ Maddin pattern that has been a work in progress for the past 2 years.  This pattern has caught all the major predators pike, trout, salmon, and steelhead.

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam Report, Manistee River Winter Steelhead, Manistee River Spey Fishing, Manistee River Swung Fly, Chrome Steelhead, Streamer Fishing for Steelhead

Dropping Water and December Chrome


Check out the New Fishing Report Here. Water is dropping and clearing while some new fish have entered the system.  The 10 day forecast is still looking to be unseasonably warm don’t miss out on the extended swing season!

Also if your looking for a few Holiday Gift Ideas, Mangled Fly has put together a Holiday Wish List.  Enjoy the Holidays and Happy Shopping.  Shop Local whenever possible!