Now that we are well into April we are experiencing March-like weather. Seems fitting since March was so pleasant. After last week’s significant rains, snow and cold days and nights, the steelhead fishing has been a little more challenging that we are accustomed to for this time of year.
The water is dropping to ideal levels on both the Manistee and Betsie; however they are still a bit high. Clarity continues to improve but the water is stained while remaining fishable. Water temps are in the low 40s and the steelhead have started to hit gravel to do their spawning duties. But with the cold nights and fluctuating drops in water temperature, the fish have been found in the pocket water near gravel. Fresh fish have been moving through the Betsie and it seems that the spring run on that river is bouncing back nicely from a few lean years. A surge of fresh fish on the Manistee below Tippy Dam is highly anticipated.
There hasn’t been a magic fly pattern or one that has been working more than others, but the usual suspects are good places to start. Click here for a list of the Top 5 perennial steelhead patterns. When fishing runs and deep holes looking for fresh fish moving through the system, go with larger patterns so they have a better opportunity to see it. In pocket water, drop down in size and almost fish for them as if they were trout – the steelhead tend to revert to those characteristics once in the river for a while.