Nov 6th, 2019 | Seeking Chrome
After the high water, the rivers are finally starting to stabilize and level out. The rain has changed to snow, and we are looking forward to some seriously chilly weather. Early next week will be very cold, but thankfully, there are no major rainstorms predicted so the water levels won't be impacted at all. There are plenty of steelhead in the rivers, and fishing overall has been pretty solid. Sometimes it takes all day to find one, but hard work is generally rewarded.
November is a special month. The steelhead are aggressive, and haven't quite settled into their winter spots. Since they are moving so much, you can find them in lots of different water types. Knee-deep riffles, boulder fields, shallow tail outs, deep holes, runs, pools, etc etc. Often times, you will stumble upon them in random "buckets" that they settle into briefly as the migrate upstream. Spots that look more like trout water. Just last week, I saw a steelhead swimming through riffles so shallow, that it's tail was exposed as it basically crawled upstream through a small rocky riffle. Pretty crazy to watch them migrate like that. And no, it was not a salmon.
This is also why November is a great month for swinging. With this system, you can fish nearly every type of water pretty effectively. By switching out sink tips, you can fish shallow fast, shallow medium, shallow slow, medium fast, deep slow, deep fast, etc. Plus, once you get the hang of it, swinging is a leisurely style of fishing that doesn't fatigue the body nearly as much as an indicator rig.
Once the water temps drop and stay in the mid 30's, then the fish will start to seek out the deeper, slower winter holes. But right now, they are still in the process of migrating, and they are scattered throughout many different water types as they go up (and down) river. Swinging is a fun way to cover it all.
Indicator fishing is always in play. Drifting egg flies and a large nymph is a tried and true method for Great Lakes Steelhead. This is best suited for the deep holes, and not so good for those broad, shallow glides where a swung fly might be a stronger presentation. But for those holes and pools (3-6 ft deep) where you are likely to find a concentration of fish, this method is a winner.
Sounds like all the major rivers have fish. The Grand, Muskegon, PM, and Manistee are all reporting good numbers. As the water drops and clears, the fishing will probably be quite good in the next couple weeks. Even though it's cold for us, Steelhead aren't impacted like we are. They like those nasty cold cloudy days.
Only trouble going forward is staying warm. If you can stay warm, you can stay focused. We've got lots of new apparel from Simms and Patagonia that are designed with the steelheader in mind. Check them out in either shop, or the following links:
We've got some upcoming classes, including a Fly Tying 101 this Sunday in both shops. Please RSVP if you plan on attending as space is limited. Full class lineup HERE.
Best of luck out there!