My name is Andrew and I finally made time to fish with Anthony (Tspace’s very own a_rosati) at the tail end of August last year when migratory fish just started to enter our local Lake Michigan Tribs. Since then I have put down the spin rod and have exclusively fly fished. You may start to see some posts from me b/c the plan is to get some consistent posts. We were having blog issues too so hopefully things go smoothly from here on out. Enough of the introduction and admin, let’s talk Summer Steelhead!!!
Me, Anthony, and Adam all grabbed our switch rods with skagit lines and decided to try our luck with Summer Steelhead on the St Joe River in MI. The Joe is definitely a big river so covering a lot of water with a 2 handed rod is very practical. Our timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. Our mild summer had just caused the Joe’s temperature to drop into the 68-70 degree range a few days before we made the trip. When water temps reach 68-72 degrees this triggers the Skamania to move into the Tribs. This strand of Steelhead is a slightly different beast than your fall or spring Steelhead. These are highly active Steelhead in warmer water (that is until the water warms up too much) that are slightly larger due to spending more time in the lake before their run. They are also more slender and known for aerial acrobatics. As we geared up and headed to the river bank we were greeted by a local angler who said he saw someone catch a Steelhead. This definitely set the mood and we eagerly made our way to the bank. After a quick C-Spey refresher course Anthony was already into a Steelhead. This particular fish didn’t have much spunk but Anthony got the fun out of him and the fish broke off from a faulty knot as he tried to wrangle the fish. Things were looking better by the minute.
It was clear that word hadn’t gotten out the Steelhead were in. It was 4th of July weekend and after 90 minutes of fishing we had the water to ourselves. The stretch of river we were fishing was moderately turbid so casting perpendicular to the flow with ample mends was a good idea to help get the fly down. I was using a 7.5 ft Int 2.5 ft T-11 MOW tip with my 11 ft 7wt TFO Deer Creek with a 480 grain skagit line. About 90 minutes into fishing I felt a “Wham!” Towards the end of my swing a 12 lb Chromer slammed my egg sucking perch. He came to the surface then ran like hell pulling out my fly line and 40 yards of backing!!! My 1st Skamania Steelhead was definitely a fish to remember. It was a HOT fish and my 1st fish on a switch rod. The bend of an 11 ft rod vs 9 ft was very pleasurable.
30 Minutes later I had another hook-up. It was another Steelhead but this time on my 9 ft 8 wt on a swung intruder. 15 minutes later I was into my 3rd fish but it unbuttoned after a short but enjoyable 10 second battle. I was in Skamania heaven. Anthony got into one more fish but it was a hot fish and he was unable to bring it to hand.
It was definitely a great day on the water and it’s easy to understand why Steelhead are one of the best fresh water thrills there are.