Manistee River Fishing Report: March 2016

March Madness is here on the Manistee! Although we’ve been fishing for steelhead all winter long, most anglers look at March as the start of the steelhead run. Even though there are good numbers of fish around all winter and the river doesn’t have very much traffic on it, most people wait until March and April to get out and chase the mighty steelhead.

Our winter fishery was a good one the past few months, and that should carry on right into March. With water and air temperatures being above what we have had the past two years and with the rivers and Lake Michigan not freezing, our spring migration should be good to go. All of the fish we caught over the winter months were healthy looking, averaging 7-9 pounds. We also saw a fair number of bigger fish in the 12-14 pound range as well.

Anglers can apply many techniques in March. The go-to method of float fishing with centerpins and float rods is my favorite way to fish, but we also float fish with switch rods and bait casters. Typical baits for float fishing are spawn bags, trout beads, and jig and wax worms. When the water starts to rise from snow melt or rain, typically in the later part of the month, we switch gears to bottom bouncing with fly rods and spinning gear.

Once the water gets high, bottom bouncing is a more effective way to fish. We use a variety of baits for bottom bouncing such as spawn, beads, egg flies, and aquatic nymphs. They can all be productive. Typically beads in 8-10mm in natural to milked out colors are good along with rag style clown eggs. Nymphs such as green caddis, wiggle hexes, black and brown stoneflies, salmon fry and buggers are all good choices.

Things have been good and should continue to be as long as the weather cooperates, so get out when you can and enjoy what Michigan has to offer. See ya out there. Tight Lines & High Fives!