Saturday, October 10, 2009

Michigan Steelhead - Are coming to spawn in a stream near you

By Sherri Russell

 Michigan Steelhead are coming to spawn in a stream near you. If you're lucky, you may see some making their way upstream.

Michigan steelhead are undoubtedly the hardest, fighting most acrobatic, and most exciting fish to catch in the Great Lakes and possibly North America. The prime months are October and November and March April and May.

The Michigan Steelhead is the most sought after game fish to migrate the Muskegon River in Michigan as well as the other tributarys feeding into Lake Michigan.

Michigan Steelhead are hatched in rivers were they stay for 2-3 years. They then, like Salmon, they make their way to the lakes were they spend 2-6 years. They begin to run up the rivers to spawn at the age of 3 and may return annually at seven or even eight years of age. These older fish are at the third or fourth age class and are rare.

During the spawning season from January through April, female Michigan steelhead build redds (gravel nests) at the top of a riffle and lay their eggs. The young fry stay in the stream for several years before heading out to to the great lakes, where they bulk up for one to four years and turn silvery like salmon before returning to spawn.

Unlike their salmon cousins, which die after spawning, steelhead can return to the great lakes and live to spawn another day. (And, also unlike salmon, if there's an obstacle that prevents a steelhead from getting to great lakes, it simply stays and cohabits in that tributary).

Cool, clean water is essential for the survival of steelhead during all portions of their life cycle, and they need access to good spawning sites for reproduction.

Returning steelhead fresh out of the great lakes carry a blue-black spotted back with silver sides and an alabaster belly (we refer to these fish as 'two-tone cruisers', or 'chromers') with fish that spend time in the river returning to the traditional colors of a rainbow trout.

I strongly encourage everyone to try Michigan Steelhead fishing at least once.  It is an experience that you will remember for a life time.  Whether you are a native Micigander or visiting from another state, we many professional guides that can lead you to the fish. 

I have personally fished with the two Muskgeon river fishing guides listed below and I had a great time with both - sometimes as a woman, it can be intimidating to be out on the water with someone you don't know and these two gentlemen will treat you with respect and do their best to help you catch fish and have a great experience trying.

(photo courtesy of Jim Churchill - Riverside Outfitters LLC)

Visit RiversideOutfittersLLC  for Muskegon river steelhead fishing techniques, guided steelhead fishing trips in Michigan and more...

(photos courtesy of Marsh Guide Service)

Marsh Guide Service offers guided trips for Steelhead on the Pere Marquette and Muskegon River.  Mike, the owner, is an awesome guy and a very excellent teacher for fishing techniques.  Ladies, I guarantee that you will have an enjoyable fishing experience with Mike, whether you are a beginner or seasoned angler...I can't wait to go out and fish with Mike again! 
For more information visit


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