Happy New Year!
The end of 2016 found us chasing steelhead and trout when there was a break in the weather with mixed results. With the snow on the ground, anytime the air was comfortable to fish in, run-off would occur and drop the water temps a degree or two putting the fish off a bit. Sunshine – which is usually a bad thing with fishing – is ideal this time of year as the solar heat warms the water just enough to get those fish from their winter funk and increases their appetite.
The steelhead have been taking residence in their typical deep, slow moving holes like they do each winter. When the water does warm up just a bit, the secondary holes and slots are good places to target, too, with a focus on the inside of the current seams as the water is in the low 30s on both the Manistee and Betsie Rivers. A drag-free drift is key right now which makes fishing an indicator or float ideal. Slow moving swung flies on sink-tips will work too for those looking to put their time with a two-handed rod but that window of opportunity is getting smaller as cold temps are in the forecast again.
Trout fishing has been winding down as the water temps have been dropping. Look for the fish to be on the inside bends and edges behind fallen timber or diversions with just enough current to keep water moving through their gills. When not fishing realistic nymphs and small eggs, fish a slow moving streamer pattern that has lots of motion without needing to strip it fast; this is a good time to fish patterns with cones and dumbbell eyes on small sink-tips or even floating lines.
Alert! There is a weir proposed for the lower Manistee which will threaten the movement of migratory fish like steelhead in the river system.This weir will also have the potential of being a significant navigational hazard. As proposed I am opposed to possibility of the USFS granting a special use permit for the construction of this weir – please read more by clicking here to read the Manistee Resistance Board Scoping letter.
If you value your spring Steelhead fishing, I strongly encourage you to write a quick letter to the USFS voicing your concern stating your objections (contact info. within .pdf) by January 20th, 2017. This is serious and your comments do make a significant difference. This is no time to be in the silent majority.
Good luck throughout all of 2017.
Winter Fishing – Look for breaks in the weather to sneak out and fish a half day for steelhead or trout.
Spring Steelhead – Starting in March, Steelhead fishing gets going through the month of April. It isn’t far away!
2017 Fishing – Now booking trips for all seasons and species. Be sure to get your dates to get on the water.