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Coldwater Fly Fishing Trout, Salmon, Steelhead, etc...

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Old 09-07-2013, 08:53 PM
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Default Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

Hello all,

I'm wanting to head to the closest place to do some swinging for salmon and steelhead. I'm a northwestern Missouri guy, so I figured that the great lakes would be the closest. Could anyone fill me in with times that each fish runs, flies, streams and locations that i should go to fish, etc.? I would appreciate it. I need a vacation and I have an addiction to swinging flies and spey casting.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:45 AM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

For the mid-western part of the lower peninsula of Michigan, salmon will be showing up soon, probably peaking in numbers during the first two weeks of October. Steelhead will also be present during this time, since they often follow the salmon to feed on eggs. It's tougher to target steelhead when there are so many salmon in the river. If the goal is steelhead, I'd suggest early November, once most of the salmon are gone.

You won't have trouble finding rivers to fish, or points of access to the rivers on the western Michigan side of things. If you have the flexibility to be mobile, you might be able to better target the best fishing since the specific timing varies a bit from specific river to specific river. Throw in other variables such as weather, it helps to be as flexible as possible.

Hope that helps a bit.
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

I'll be fishing Michigan the first weekend of October. The Kings are running really big this year!!!
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:04 AM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

mridenour,

I'm in st joseph, mo. Um, when are you headed up there? I would like to go, but not by myself. Are you interested?
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:19 PM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

If this is your first time to Michigan, if want to drop me a PM, I'd be happy to try to answer any specific questions you might have.

have fun,
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

It's getting that time right now. Usually the weekend before and the one after the 1st of October sees the most fishermen (I say that with tongue in check) along the banks of the Big Manistee just below Tippy Dam. At night you'll see campfires along the shores, snaggers coming out of the woods under the dark of night, fights and brawls break out when people get in the way of hooked (snagged) fish. If God ever created a "hillbilly heaven" it's right here during salmon season!

I've heard that the Salmon coming upstream this year are much bigger than in years past. If you fair hook one and it gets into the current, you better have a stout 10 weight or a really solid spinning rod. I'm headed up this Monday but I'm taking my wife instead because my brother-in-law can't go. I can't launch on the river next to the dam since it's nearly impossible for a one man operation - wife is no help with the swift and shallow shoreline. We'll head down to Manistee Lake where I can put the boat in, tie it up, and park the truck and trailer myself.

It's better than nothing . . .
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:00 PM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

I just came back from my first trip to the Pere Marquette river in Michigan. It was a blast. I was there this last weekend and the main part of the salmon run was just starting to heat up. There were actually lots of fish in the river. Finding fish was not the problem, getting them to bite was the challenge. I had most of my luck on big stonefly nymphs and eggs. Streamers were useless.

After fishing hard for three days I got gradually better at fishing and fighting them each day and on the last day I finally landed two kings. This one was slightly the bigger of the two at 35 inches:
Click the image to open in full size.

I would estimate it at 20-25 lbs and I would say it was an average fish. I definitely hooked some bigger fish that broke me off.

I don't have any experience to say whether the fish are big this year but that seemed to be the consensus among the people I talked to. All in all, I had probably 12-15 hook ups and the 2 I landed were the only 2 that I got even close to landing. They are amazingly strong fish and the jumps and runs and exhilarating. To see a 30 lb fish do a backwards somersault three feet in the air so close that you get splashed when it crashes back into the water is simply awesome.

I fished a 9wt fly rod with 16 lb leader. I sometimes used a 10lb leader and it seemed to get me more hook ups but the 16lb leader was better to keep fish out of log jams...but even a 16lb leader could not stop every fish. Several of fish I hooked simply ran down stream like a freight train and when I was in danger of getting spooled and tightened down the drag to the breaking point, this was sometimes the result:
Click the image to open in full size.
Not a lot you can do about that! As I said, they are amazingly strong fish and the hard work to hook one is worth while when you feel one on the end of your line. Tackling one of those beasts with anything less than a 9 wt rod would be gear suicide...at least this year.

As for the crowds, I think I missed most of them (intentionally) by going a little early but the Pere Marguette is a long river and if you are willing to walk a ways I would think you could find an open hole if you are willing to hike a ways even in he heat of the run.

Anyway, that is my report. If you get up there, good luck and give us a report and pictures when you come back!

By the way, they are delicious too!
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:10 PM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

Now, I've got to get up there. What did you use for gear? I plan on taking a spey. I see that you had a nine weight

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Old 09-11-2013, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

Quote:
Originally Posted by delopez View Post
Now, I've got to get up there. What did you use for gear? I plan on taking a spey. I see that you had a nine weight

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I don't fish a spey rod so I am not sure how it would fit that river. It is not a very wide river and casts were not terribly long.

When I go back I will be sure to bring a big net, a bunch of egg and nymph patterns tied on strong hooks, 12 weight leader, and lots of big split shot (four or five times the bb size I usually use for trout fishing) and/or a sink tip line.

I will probably still bring some streamers to toss to keep myself amused. I think articulated streamers with two hooks are the way to go if your gonna fish streamers.

My 9' 9 weight felt barely adequate. I would not feel compelled to go heavier although I noticed most of the guides fished 10 weights.

Don't forget a big cooler! Good luck.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:07 PM
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Default Re: Great Lakes Steelhead/Salmon

I usually fish scandi, so I cast in an angle downstream and swing the fly. Of course I have no idea. I've never fished kings before

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