Steelhead fishing expected to improve

BIG RAPIDS -- With the salmon runs done for the most part, steelhead fishing should be picking up, the DNR said, especially with any increase in water levels due to rain. Pier anglers and those surfcasting are getting a few. The fishery should continue until it gets too cold to fish.

In Mecosta County, “the perch bite is still on,” Tanner Havens, from Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “They’ve been catching a lot of big ones, from what I’ve heard. A lot of guys are buying from 50 to 100 wigglers for it and buying three to six dozen perch minnows for it. There’s a couple of other guys buying walleye minnows to fish the bigger perch as well. A few guys are going steelheading behind Croton.”

In northwest Michigan, steelhead fishing at Frankfort has been steady for pier and shore anglers. Those using spawn are reporting good days and slow days, as the waters were cloudy due to strong winds, the DNR said Most say it is still worth the time to fish the area.

“The Betsie and the Platte are getting a few steelhead, mainly the Betsie and the Manistee,” Steve Forrester, of Backcast Flyshop in Benzonia said. “Mostly it’s steelhead right now.”

Those fishing the north shoreline at Onekama with fresh spawn are getting a couple steelhead when the weather permits.

There were a few anglers venturing out to Portage Lake, and they did manage to catch a few perch on wigglers and worms.

Fishing was generally slower at Manistee, but some days were still decent. When pier and surf anglers could get out, steelhead and small coho were caught on fresh spawn. Some also caught a couple lake trout or whitefish.

“They’re getting mostly steelhead along the beaches and are still getting some panfish on the inland lakes,” Larry Scharich, of Shipwatch Marina, in Manistee.

As the salmon runs are winding down, steelhead fishing at the Manistee River should pick up soon, especially with the increase in water levels.

“They’re still getting some steelhead on the beach,” Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co. in Manistee, said. “Lake trout have moved in and are spawning inside the first sand bar. There’s still salmon at Tippy Dam and they’re starting to get some steelhead moving in up there too and a few small browns.”

A couple steelhead and coho were caught on spawn by pier anglers and those surfcasting at Ludington, the DNR said.

A spokesperson at Captain Chuck’s in Manistee said bluegill fishing is getting better in shallow water with fish biting on worms.

“With this weather, there haven’t been many guys fishing,” the spokesman said. “We’ve heard of a few steelhead being caught in the Pere Marquette River. This weather should bring some perch in.”

Salmon fishing is winding down at the Pere Marquette River, the DNR said. A few fish are still being found, but most are in bad shape, the DNR added.

Fishing Tip: Bottom bouncing and drift fishing for steelhead and salmon

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

When bottom bouncing and drift fishing for steelhead and salmon, you don’t always have to reel in your bait at the end of your drift. Allowing your bait to swing across the current and rise up occasionally will trigger strikes from salmon and trout as the bait moves away from the fish, much like a swung fly.

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