Water levels and color were about perfect yesterday in the middle of the PM River near Walhalla. Steelhead numbers were good but you have to sort through a lot of “zombi” males to find fish that have interest in anything (like eating) besides chasing each other around.
The clearer water, probably in combination with greater insect activity has brought a nice change to the spring. Instead of the big bright eggs that have been working all season with the dirty water, half our fish yesterday chose the bug.
The river is thick with drop-back steelhead, don’t forget to fish some holes. Drop-backs are great for streamers but you have to get deep enough. Trout will feed everywhere in the water column, where steelhead are bottom oriented. So don’t let streamer success with trout trick you into thinking that you have much chance at a steelhead.
Spring in some of west Michigan’s rivers that have wild salmon, like the Pere Marquette, is a time of an often overlooked hatch. From mid April through May, these rivers can be stuffed with clouds of salmon fry. A look along the shoreline will often reveal dozens of these 1-1 1/2″ baby salmon.
Everything loves to eat these little guys, so I always have some in my steelhead box for drifting with an egg. If that gym sock sized streamer isn’t turning any spring trout, tie on a fry pattern, it will often turn your day around.
My Baby Salmon Fly:
Hook… Daiichi 1530, size 6 or 8
Tail and Body… Flashabou Mirage, 3005 opal
Wing… natural mallard
Head Base… built up black thread
Gill Accent… red thread
Head Finish… your favorite head hardener
Steelhead numbers on the PM River have been on the rise for the past week or more and I’m sure the biggest batch of the year is now on their way up. The only problem is that the PM is currently over its banks and looks like chocolate milk.
We’re expecting great fishing as the waters start to decline and clear. If you thought that you’d missed the boat on steelhead this spring, you still have time to get in on, what we think, will be the best fishing of the year.
Tips for dirty water would include: 1) Fishing the water that you know best and focusing on spots with great potential. Don’t spend a day scouting new water and fishing useless sandbars. 2) Make sure your on the bottom, if not, you’ll have no chance of hitting a steelhead. 3) Since the high water all of our fish have been on eggs that glow in the dark.
The last pic is of a massive white pine rolling its way down stream. You can’t see it but the limbs we’re flailing everywhere as the giant tree rolled along.