Spring Steelhead in Michigan
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