Here’s Kurt from Ann Arbor, MI with a nice double stripe buck winter steelhead from the Muskegon river.
When water temps drop below the 40-degree point, steelhead seek out winter lies in rivers slow moving deep pools. They do so for protection from the elements and to avoid exerting too much energy in the cold water as their body’s metabolism starts to slow down waiting for the spring thaw. Besides protection, the rivers slow moving deep pools also provide an abundant food source as steelhead rest in the slower current waiting for the spawning process to start.
When water temps start to rise is early spring (March / April) above the optimal 42-degree point, steelhead start the spawning process, where they leave their winter lies and start seeking shallow fast moving gravel areas to make their nest and deposit their eggs.
Targeting these slow-moving deep pools in rivers during the winter months provide the best opportunity to hook very large mature steelhead as they concentrate in large groups in these select areas waiting for the spring warm up. Some of the largest steelhead we land throughout the year are during the winter months of January and February.
Unlike the fall, when the water temps are warm, and the steelhead are most active with high metabolic energy; they can be located anywhere and everywhere throughout the river system and are much harder to target compared to wintertime. From 6-inches to 16 feet of water, from fast shallow gravel runs, to medium fast current breaks, to deep pools, steelhead can be found throughout the river system during warmer water months.
But during winter months when water temps dip below 40-degrees, steelhead are confined to the deeper slower moving pools to conserve energy and are a lot easier to target during this time of the year as they are grouped up in larger numbers in select areas. It’s not uncommon within a 4-hour winter steelhead trip to have multiple hook-ups as the steelhead are concentrated in these select areas.
So, if you never experienced a winter steelhead trip, give it a try. Most winter steelhead trips are filled with action packed steelhead fishing within just a short few hour trip during the warmest part of the day. Heaters are also provided in the boat to keep you warm and NOW is the absolute best time to experience the best winter steelhead fishing on the Muskegon River!
post by: jon fortuna