Just got back from fishing for steelhead on the Pere Marquette River in western Michigan with my dad and a family friend. The conditions there were not in our favor, but thanks to our knowledgeable guides we still managed to put some fish in the net. The P.M. is a free-flowing, wild and scenic, blue-ribbon, beautiful, sandy bottom river with logjams and very deep pools throughout roughly 90 miles of steelhead water. Although the P.M. will see some nomad hatchery fish make their way upstream, the rivers pristine condition supports a high rate of natural reproduction, therefore there is no need for stocking. The fish are mostly WILD! Aside from the almost year round steelhead opportunity on the P.M. it is one fine brown trout fishery rivaling Michigans famed Au Sable. The P.M. is home of the first brown trout planting in the U.S.A.! These genetics remain to be some of the purist of the german browns in the U.S.A. For more information about this great fishery check out this website
The conditions were similar to what we’ve been experiencing in Wisconsin; low, clear water with blue skies to boot. Not what your looking for when dealing with spooky migratory trout. Most of the fish were hiding deep under tree cover, which there is plenty of. After fishing a spot thoroughly, we would row over it and push the fish out to see just what was hiding down there, and sometimes it was sickening. We counted up to 23 fish in one pool!! These fish had tight lips though! I’ve never drifted eggs by that many steelhead with no takers. A bit frustrating but still cool to see. The day wasn’t a total bust, after having every steelhead in the river deny our offerings we switched gears and tried for some of the browns that were sitting below spawning fish chowing on eggs. All that it took was a good drift and my dad connected with a very nice fish.
The next day we had the same conditions but we fished new water further downstream. We also had the privilege of being the first to float the river in our guide Tommy’s new hyde drift boat, and there was no way the maiden voyage was gonna go fishless. Fishing was still very tough, but after two days of waiting for the indicator to drop it finally did, and the battle was on! If this fish had decided to take off we would’ve had no chance. As I said before, there are logjams everywhere, and this pool was no exception. Lucky for us the fish just bucked and rolled within a small area and we were able to get a net under the chrome fish!
Overall a great trip. The river was beautiful and the guides are some of the best in Michigan. For me the value of fishing with such knowledgeable guides was worth more than catching any number of fish. Tommy Lynch a.k.a. the Fish Whisperer, and Brad Turner are not only great steelhead fisherman, they’ve also got the night time mousing dialed in for very large browns in the summertime. If your planning any trips to Michigan and looking for a quality experience give these guys a shout. In the meanwhile I’ll see you on the Milwaukee.