By: Jeff Hubbard
Outfitters North Guide Service
Winter has set in on the Pere Marquette River. For most folks winter gets old. Personally, I enjoy it. I love being on the river this time of year. It’s the time of year I get to fish for steelhead and enjoy the river with family and friends.
Steelhead fishing this time of year takes a lot of patience and many layers of fleece. Winter anglers must prepare for the weather and the water because temps drop quickly. If you’re not warm, you’re not comfortable you’re miserable which makes your fishing experience not fun at all. I believe if you’re dressed well in the winter you will have fun and fish well. Not prepared, well things fall apart quickly. This time of year fishing can be hard. The bite windows can be short. You find that steelhead will be much happier later into the day as water temps start to rise.
Many fly fishing techniques work well when pursuing steelhead in the winter. Fishing nymphs and egg’s under an indicator is probably the most effective. Fishing a slow drift this time of year is key. The fish are more lethargic when the river temps fall, so you need to get that fly to them. The indicator and floating line can work well for this. It will slow your drift down making the flies look real to the steelhead. The only draw back from this style of fishing is frozen guides and fingers. Stripping line in and recasting to me gets old when your gloves are wet, and your fingers are freezing. So even though indicator fishing is probably the most effective way to hook a steelhead on a fly in the winter, personally I prefer swinging streamer for them still. You will have to work a little harder for a fish when swinging a fly.