Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today We Fish! Steelhead Fishing On The PM (Pere Marquette) River in Baldwin Michigan

by Brent Vanderstelt

A friend was recently telling me that he had recently purchased a river fishing boat for his 16 old son who loves to fish area streams and lakes. He asked me if I had any tips on fishing the river for area species such as steelhead, smallmouth bass and trout.

I suggested that we hire a guide and let the pro not only show us how to catch steelhead, but teach us different techniques as well. It was my chore then, to not only find a good river guide, but use my resources to find a good deal on this future guided river fishing trip.

(Brent with his prize steelhead)

I am friends with Sherri Russell, the editor of She's So Fly, and enlisted her help me with my task. She contacted several fishing guide services and provided a few options for us to choose from. After reviewing the dates, rivers and prices, we elected to hire 3 steelhead river guides from Marsh Ridge River Guide Service of Baldwin and Newaygo - for my buddy and his son, myself and another brother of mine and his buddy too!

We elected to fish the prized flies only zone of the PM (Pere Marquette) River in Baldwin Michigan. The PM is rich with natural steelhead, the only river left in Michigan that is not planted or stocked – it is sustainable.

The morning of our PM River fishing trip, I was so stoked about fishing that I sent a group text to my brother and my buddies that read "TODAY WE FISH". I even posted this same message as my status on my Facebook page!

(Brent's brother, Lee with his great catch!)

Once we met our PM river guides in Baldwin, we were quickly rushed to the river, boats and gear in tow. Once on the river, we quickly found our first gravel bed with signs on fresh spawning activity. After visiting a few such areas known to hide large spawning steelhead, we came across some fish!

We drifted flies through the holes tied by our PM river guide with a strike indicator. Within a few casts, I had a hit and what a hit it was! I had hooked and landed a nice 13-14 lb male steelhead, also know as a "Buck". Female steelhead as known as "Hens".

The funniest part of the story is that I guess I had neglected to inform my buddies that this section of the PM was a 'no kill zone" or catch and release only as they just about fell out of their boats from confusion when they witnessed me releasing such a beautiful fish!

(Brent's friends son, with his prize hen!)

To make matter worse, my buddies 16 year old also hooked a nice 13-14lb Hen and he just about cried when he was informed that he had to release his fish too.

I caught heck from my buddies for days after about fishing and not being able to keep their catch! I told them that they paid for the experience and expertise of our guides. In fact, our guides did an awesome job in teaching us not only about fly fishing techniques, but also about the river and its rich logging history.

We had a great day of steelhead fishing with good friends and family and a newly found passion for the sport of fly fishing!

Article and photos by Brent Vanderstelt, owner of Your Travel Buddy.

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