Steelhead run is sizzling

By Kenny Darwin


Wellston, Mich. – State steelhead fishermen are doing back-flips
because fishing action across the state has improved with recent
warm weather. Further, Michigan has had plenty of rain.

‘All our rivers have good flow this year,’ said Ray Schmidt,
owner of Schmidt Outfitters in Wellston. ‘The Big Manistee is
fishing very well. My guides have good catches, and the steelies
should be rockin’ until May.’

Reports from all across the state are exceptional for this time
of year. Many anglers are concentrating their efforts on northern
streams where water temperatures are somewhat cooler than southern
Great Lakes tributaries.

‘Hot reports are filtering in from the White, Betsie, Platte,
Boardman, Thunder, Au Sable, and more,’ fisherman Edward Carlin
said. ‘Steelie fishermen can expect super action on the Muskegon,
which tends to have a late run of big rainbows because the water is
cooled by lakes above Hardy Dam.’

The fantastic fishing is attributed to unusually high water,
rain, and balmy weather that caused fish to become active in late
March and early April.

All streams and rivers were at high water levels at press time,
and the steelies responded by making runs from the Great Lakes into

‘We are getting a lot of our spring-run steelies right now,’
said Danny Hale, a steelhead angler from Ionia. ‘The good news is
that massive numbers of river-run steelies will provide fantastic
fishing opportunities until May.’

The main reason steelies made the late run is that water
temperatures increased. Stream temperatures were in the low 30s in
late March, but warm rains caused rivers to belch and water
temperatures soared into the 40s and 50s. To a steelhead, this was
a sign spring has arrived and schools of trout made runs into state
rivers and streams.

‘Most Michigan streams have late runs into April and May that
provide fishing fun during warm weather,’ said Mark Tonello, DNR
fisheries specialist in Cadillac. ‘We have released over 3,000
steelies above the Little Manistee Weir. Our egg take process is
complete, and new fish are still running with each rain.

‘I’d recommend fishermen move to northern streams as water
temperatures get above 50 degrees,’ he said. ‘Hot spots for late
April and May include Leland River, Elk River, Boyne River, Thunder
River, Ocqueoc River, and all the Great Lakes tributaries in the
Upper Peninsula. Some U.P. streams, like the Big Two-Hearted, are
just beginning to see steelies.’

Lots of fish have been seen recently on the spawning gravel on
the Little Manistee, White, Pere Marquette, and Platte rivers, and
some chromers still remained in deep holes and pools.

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