Putting a pattern to steelhead locations

Let’s face it, steelhead in west Michigan and especially fall and winter steelhead are often a fish of a hundred casts and hook sets. Then, almost randomly, a bright and beautiful steelhead explodes on the end of your line. The rush of excitement that comes with every steelhead seems to help cloud any useful information about exactly where and how you were fishing when you got smacked.

The three steelhead pictured below were caught on three consecutive days in, within a few feet, the exact same spot. This is what I would call a hot spot and in this case is part of a long, good looking, run and pool that goes for maybe a hundred yards.

The whole hundred yard run and pool has a few other good spots, excepting the hot spot, putting out maybe a steelhead a week. In comparison, the hot spot that is half the size of my boat accounts for a hook-up on three out of four days and sometimes multiple fish on the same day.

I put a couple drifts through the hot spot on almost any steelhead outing when I’m in this area and it can give up a fish under all conditions, though it is only great when the water is warm and clear.

I can absolutely guarantee that steelhead hold in the same locations day after day until conditions change. By relating where your seeing and hitting steelhead, you will realize that they are not holding at random but are instead showing a clear pattern. Some examples might be deep slow water, fast riffles, timber, tail-outs or shallower flats.

There will always be odd-ball fish that aren’t following the trend but we’re going for where seventy percent of the steelhead are setting. There is only so much time and so many casts in a day, patterning creates a focus and eliminates wasted energy where few fish are holding.

With a little practice, putting a pattern to where steelhead are holding will allow you to drift the highest percentage water on a given day and ultimately put more steelhead in the net.

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