Weekly Fishing Tip: Target Steelhead this Fall for Serious Fun
While many people are preparing to head into the woods for the next several weeks, others are taking advantage of an unnoticed activity: fall steelhead fishing.
Therare two great strategies to try when targeting steelhead this month, surf fishing the piers and beaches of the Great Lakes and/or river fishing.
If you choose to target the Great Lakes, consider using a slip sinker rig and live bait, such as spawn bags, night crawlers or shiners. You can also try casting small spoons, spinners or body baits with great success. Focus on depths of 12 feet or less as steelhead are hanging in the shallows looking for food.
If you choose to target the rivers, consider using wigglers, caddis or wax worms drifted under a slip bobber. The depth below the bobber should be set to present the bait just off the river bottom. Anglers can also be successful this time of year casting spinners and medium diving crank baits into holes or other holding water that provides steelhead with some depth for cover. The retrieve should be as slow as possible to get the lure down to the bottom without snagging up. Many anglers like a down stream cast for these techniques. For anglers looking for an added challenge, they can also use fly fishing techniques and see some great results!
For more information on fishing for steelhead in Michigan, visit their page on the Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them website.
This tip was adapted from Michigan Outdoor News.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
- Lake Erie: Calm weather and no winds have led to an increase in walleye angling. Most fish were caught in Brest Bay. Look for bluegill and crappie off the Metro Park Marina.
- Huron River: Anglers are catching steelhead however low water levels continue to effect catch rates. Anglers may be able to use a drift boat or a flat bottom boat. A large number of shad could be seen at Flat Rock.
- Detroit River: Those hand-lining or trolling have caught a couple walleye in the lower Trenton Channel. For bigger perch try eight to 12 feet of water around the southern end of Grosse Ile, Sugar Island or Celeron Island.
- Lake St. Clair: Is producing some perch near the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, the Delphine Channel. Some did well in Canadian waters.
- Saginaw River: Walleye are being caught near Bay City as well as up near the Tittabawassee and the Shiawassee River. Try jigs and Swedish Pimples with minnows, wax worms or even a single egg.
- Tittabawassee River: Is also producing some walleye.
SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
- St. Joseph: Is producing some whitefish for pier anglers. Try a wax worm or a single egg. Those casting small spoons, spinners or plugs caught steelhead.
- St. Joseph River: Fishing has slowed because of the low and clear water conditions. Walleye fishing has picked up at Berrien Springs. A few lake trout were caught.
- South Haven: Pier anglers caught steelhead or brown trout in the early morning or late evening. Most are floating spawn or wax worms. Whitefish are showing up.
- Kalamazoo River: Boat and shore anglers have caught steelhead below the Allegan Dam. Boats are casting spinners and plugs. Shore anglers are using spawn, yarn or spinners. The occasional catfish or walleye were also caught.
- Grand River at Grand Rapids: Water levels are low so boat anglers looking to fish up past I-96 need to use extreme caution. Steelhead are still being caught and fresh fish are moving in. Anglers are back bouncing spawn, back trolling with Hot-n-Tots or casting spinners. Good steelhead action off the Fulton Street Bridge for those back bouncing spawn or using Hot-n-Tots. Walleye were caught on bucktail jigs, shiners and twister tails off the east wall or jigs and wax worms near the Post Office. Bluegill and crappie were caught at Riverside Park and Millennium Park.
- Grand River at Lansing: Steelhead have arrived. Anglers have caught a few fish over by the Moore’s Park Dam. A few walleye have also been caught. Northern pike anglers have done well below the North Lansing Dam, near Portland and Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge.
- Muskegon River: Has steelhead but the low water levels are not helping. Anglers are floating spawn or wax worms under a bobber, casting spoons or plugs and fly fishing.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
- Alpena: As is the case when firearm deer season is starting, the whitefish are also beginning to hit in earnest. There are lots of whitefish on the reefs in Thunder Bay. The better spots to fish may be the Grass Island Reef and Partridge Point. Pier anglers are also catching fish.
- Thunder Bay River: Has lots of whitefish being caught at dawn and dusk up near the 9th Street Dam. Fish were also caught down near the mouth.
- Oscoda: Pier anglers are targeting steelhead and whitefish. Chinook salmon were still trickling in and are in good shape. Try small spoons, body baits and spinners off the pier. Walleye were also caught on crawlers or body baits.
- Au Sable River: Schools of whitefish are moving up into the river. The best catches were off the breakwalls and at the mouth however they can also be found several miles upstream. Steelhead are also in with good numbers of fish caught from Oscoda to the Foote Dam. Early morning and late afternoon were best however fish were caught throughout the day. Most of them are chrome colored but you might get the occasional dark fish. All seem healthy and good size. Chinook salmon can still be found. They were hitting on spawn or wax worms. Walleye are starting to make their way into the river.
- Tawas: The whitefish catch from the breakwall will peak this week and next.
- Tawas River: Has a fair to good number of steelhead being caught between the mouth and the park. Most are floating spawn or wax worms.
- Au Gres River: Continues to produce chrome colored steelhead closer to the mouth. Fish were still being caught in the lower end of Whitney Drain and near the Singing Bridge. Try floating or casting spawn, small spoons or plugs.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
- Elk River: Is producing coho and steelhead. Try floating spawn and skein or casting small spoons and spinners.
- Boardman River: Has steelhead all the way up to the Sabin Dam however the better catch rates were downstream because of the low water levels. Rain is needed to bring more fish in.
- Betsie River: Is producing steelhead. Those fishing up near the Homestead Dam caught fish on spawn, spinners or small spoons. Some were fly fishing.
- Manistee: Pier and surf anglers are catching steelhead.
- Manistee River: Anglers are catching some steelhead however the lack of rain has led to low water levels which makes fishing more difficult. Find the deeper holes.
- Ludington: Steelhead were caught in the surf and off the piers in the early morning or late evening.
- Pere Marquette River: Low water levels continue to challenge steelhead anglers. Fish are being caught in the deeper holes. Most are drifting spawn or flies.
- Marquette: Anglers are picking up whitefish and trout off the breakwall in the Lower Harbor. Most are using eggs.
- Fall’s River: Is producing steelhead for those casting spoons and spinners or drifting crawlers and spawn bags.
- Little Bay De Noc: Perch fishing was fair. Off Kipling, anglers fished crawlers in 8 to 25 feet of water but most of the fish were small. Those fishing Gladstone Beach, the mouth of the Escanaba River and the Escanaba Yacht Harbor had the same results. Walleye catches were down except for those night fishing. They did well when trolling stick baits in 10 to 28 feet of water along the reefs near Kipling or 12 to 25 feet near the Black Bottom. Some nice walleye were caught near the Escanaba Lighthouse when jigging minnows in 20 to 35 feet of water. Northern pike have been very active and were caught by those trolling for walleye.
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