Steelhead Fishing Report 4/7-4/11

Took a few days off work for an annual steelhead fishing trip that a couple friends and I do every April. We originally scheduled to fish from 4/5 (Wednesday) through 4/9 (Sunday) but the forecast was calling for too much rain followed by a very cold day on Thursday, so we pushed everything back by two days. Turned out to be a great call as we ended up having great weather and fairly decent water clarity. The fishing was pretty darn good as well!

Friday started off slow which we were expecting due to the cold snap on Thursday. Once the sun rose high enough to really start warming the water, the bite turned on and we finished the day going 5-10. With no more than two feet of clarity, you’d think bigger offerings were necessary. Wrong! I am truly impressed with how well steelhead can see.

Saturday was similar to Friday except much more traffic on the river. A cold morning followed by the high afternoon sun resulted in us waiting for the sun to drop a little until the evening bite turned on. Most guides seem to be off the river by 5 or 6, so if you wait it out you can pretty much have the river to yourself for the last 3 hours of the day. I think we brought 6 to the boat and lost just as many.

Sunday was gorgeous weather once again. For some reason, there was zero traffic on the section of river we floated. This was by far our best day. We landed 10, lost a few more, and caught several beautiful browns. The water had finally cleared quite a bit and I think this caused a more aggressive bite.

Monday morning started with a strong thunderstorm which made the water pretty dirty by late afternoon. We still found plenty of fish willing to play, but keeping them on was another story.

Getting fish to bite out of the deep, slower holes was almost nonexistent. The majority of fish we caught were around the quicker gravel sections. With that said, we never targeted fish on gravel, instead we focused on the deep slots and pockets behind them. There were more spawned out/drop back steelhead than fresh steelhead, I’d say a ratio of 3:1. The fishing should remain halfway decent for the next week or so. It looks like there’s plenty of cooler weather in the forecast next week. Water temperatures ranged from 36 on Friday morning to 42 by Saturday afternoon.

This is probably my favorite fishing trip of the year and we always crush them! What an absolute blast with my buddies from New York! Cannot wait until next year! That is most likely a wrap for me on the 2016/2017 steelhead season and what a season it has been. Besides a slow January, fishing has been incredible since December. Probably more double digit days this season than any other, not to mention my first 30 fish day off my boat back in March. I’ll get to work on that video and this one in the next couple weeks so keep an eye out for those. After that it’s finally time to start shifting gears towards trout fishing, camping, and velvet bucks!

My Two Cents

You can own a drift boat and not be a guide. Pretty crazy concept, I know. Who would’ve thought that floating the river on a weekday with your buddies automatically makes you a guide. You can also own a website, post reports on said website, and still not be a guide. It barely makes sense to me as well.

Secondly, and maybe more frustrating. Walk in fishermen do not have more rights to the river than a guy on a drift boat. Especially to a spot that no one is fishing. If you’re a bank fisherman, and your not obviously fishing a spot, don’t get in a tizzy if a boat drops anchor and starts fishing near you. Be a man and move on.

We had a guy see us coming, turn around, run down the bank, stand on the bank on his phone, and then started making a fuss when we stopped at a spot that he was 50 yards away from, all while he was still standing on the bank on his phone. News flash, when you tell a boat owner he has the whole river to fish, understand that you do too. Rowing 7+ miles a day is equally as much work as walking 3 or 4 miles of river bank, I do both all the time. I practice excellent river etiquette all the time which is why this pisses me off so much. Rant Over!

Beads in natural colors under a float and the Pere Marquette River – that should answer the majority of questions… Good luck and tight lines!



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