By: Capt. Larry Raney
Premier Angling Guide Service
April here on the Manistee will bring warmer air temps, higher water, and our spring steelhead. This is the time of the year that most steelhead anglers wait all year for. While the peace and serenity of the winter fishing are behind us, we have to get used to the crowds that the spring steelhead run brings. With longer days and run off from snow melt and rain we will start seeing new fish showing up every day.
April is the month which anglers can employ many different techniques to catch steelhead. Float fishing early in the month with centerpins and fly rods, to swinging flies with two-handed spey rods and probably the most commonly used technique, bottom bouncing with spinning gear or fly rods. All of these work well to catch a fish, but some are better than others depending on water conditions and experience. As we start April, we are still targeting the holes and runs the fish are hiding in as they make their way to their natural spawning gravel. We prefer to use centerpins and float rods for this using trout beads, spawn and jigs. As the month goes on and the rivers typically start to rise we switch gears to the bottom bouncing gear and get the pencil lead back out, which will pretty much be the way to get it done until we start trout fishing in May. This is the most common and easiest way to fish for our steelhead. 9-10ft fly or spinning rods set up with running lines or 10-12lb main lines to a swivel with a pencil lead weight and a 5-7ft leader to your offering. Yarn flies, beads, and nymphs such as hex nymphs, green caddis, stoneflies, and small minnow patterns all work well. Things are looking good so far this spring with a fairly warm winter, good fishing and an early snow melt we may just have a nice consistent trickle of fish this spring and not all of them at one time like last year. Get out when you can, enjoy what we have and think about the future of our fishery. Use care when you are releasing your fish and if you don’t need it don’t take it. Have fun, be safe and enjoy what spring has to offer. Tight line & High Fives!