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Aggrivated with Steel

3114 Views 36 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  [email protected]
Every chance I get, you will find me fishing for steel in town. I have been out 13 times this year and only one out of those 13 days did I hook fish. I went out today and wednesday and didn't get anything. Heck, wednesday I could see the fish in the dark hole but they wouldn't touch anything. Everytime I go out I fish different waters, different presentations, different size leaders and different baits. I fish with many great fisherman and use the same techniques that they do usually and they will catch fish and I still don't. Heck, I usually use lighter lines. I am starting to wish salmon season would come quicker. Now I don't expect to hook fish everytime out but if it takes 50 times out to get one fishing, No thank you. I was thinking once they come in, maybe every 3-4 trips would I hook a fish. Maybe after this rain were getting will shoot a bunch up.

Sorry, I guess this is my venting post of the month.
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Don't feel to bad Dan. It's fishing not catching sometimes. I went by the Clinton last night to see how it was and did'nt take a rod only my big light. Yes the fish where there but all I could do was look at them..lol
It's about to get alot better real quick now Stel. Don't throw in the towell just yet bud. Were gonna' have a helluva' spring I think.

Yup, I understand that. But it shouldn't take a million times out just to get into a few fish. I could see it last year when the runs were horrible but not this year. The fish are there, alot of them to.
The fish are there, alot of them to.
I'd go out on a limb here and say so is the pressure.

In this case patience is a virtue. Put in your time and be like a sponge when you're on the river. Observe everything, not only what the fish are doing but the fishermen around you. Check out their rigs, sometimes there are very subtle differences that make a big difference.

I've learned that sometimes less fishing and more observing will catch you more fish.

Quit now and you'll turn into a shoulda coulda woulda, you don't want to do that!!

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Actually, to my surprized there isn't that many people down there, YET. Really the only people down there are locals who know where there doing. Only on weekend is there alot of people. Observing is what i heave been doing most of the time. That's the thing I don't understand though. No matter how much observing I do, it doesn't work:(
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Mitch gave a very great point, absorb everything. That's how I learned alot of holes on the Au Sable, I'd be on my way to an area, see a guy fighting a fish, file it away in my head, then be back the next trip fishing it. Pay attention to what kind of rig they're using, drift, bobber? Good point mitch, very well said. And stel, don't give up yet, keep at them, you will eventually have a great day it finally happened to me Feb. 18 when I hooked 7, the best number I ever had on a winter outing.
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Don't worry about it. If you are seeing fish that won't hit, I would suggest going as light as possible, meaning leader, weight, fly, etc. If you are using an 8 lb leader, got to a six pound. Using a spawn bag and no hits, try a single egg. If I am having a hard time and I know fish are present, I always downsize.
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You're fishing for fish that get pounded every day by a hundred fishermen. They've seen enough lines, baits, lures, flies drift by them that they've become immune almost. If you're seeing the fish they are seeing you, as well as many, many other guys.

Those are tough fishing conditions.

Find a deep hole where you can't see fish and fish the tail end of the hole and the current edges, making sure that your offering is down on the bottom and small, 2-3 egg sacks if you're using spawn.

Right now the Betsie is high and roily with color, but this rain will draw a run of fish and about mid-week it'll begin to settle down. Give it a try.
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Try a crawler

I bet they haven't seen them ;)

Back in the Cro-Magnon days of steelhead fishing that's all we used. Ralph makes a good point. Fish 'em just like you do spawn bags.
The first person to put their offering in front of a fish in a day stands the best chance of getting that fish to bite. Go early. Or in the middle of the night. Or when no one else is there.

Use Seguar flourocarbon for leader. It is invisible. If you don't believe me, find someone who has some and put it in the water and see for yourself.

In my experience, Steelhead bite a LOT better than Salmon when they are in the rivers. The fish in TC get hammered and are usually spooky. The current is also slow most of the time, and the water is pretty clear. Those fish can see your offering coming for a long time before it gets to them.

Bait has more than 1 appeal to fish - ie: looks good, stands out in the river, and smells good too.

Put your offering right on their nose. Use bobbers if that helps. Fish from downstream from fish, if you can see them. If you can see them, they can see you - except when you are behind them. Cast at least 20 - 30 feet upstream of the fish, so your cast doesn't startle/spook them.

Use Seguar for leader. I know I already said that, but it matters so I am saying it again. You don't need to go really light, since it is invisible underwater.
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Dan, great points in this thread....a stealth aproach is a must, offerings must be placed near their mouth and the slightest line movement could be a taking.....

On most winter days, the strike zone seems to be smaller as the fish do not move around as much...this requires your presentation to be at the EXACT depth and/or moving slower. They also spook much easier due to the clearer water and as Whit stated, fishing pressure.

I recomend trying to tick them off.....push them to the back of the run with plugs...bait fish the area first, then move to the plugs...

Good Luck!

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Oh those spring time blues. Remember them all too well growing up. This will all be cured with age but being like the normal fishing maniac you are I know you can’t wait. Man do I remember being there. This could be 100 pages long but I will try not to go there.

1st the odds and percentages

I have fished all the dams north of Grand Rapids growing up and I can count on one hand the number of times we had what could be called stellar days. Visually a lot of fish but low percentage on catch ability. As a percentage goes don’t over look the piers and surf around the river mouths. Now I am getting to were I can’t count on two hands the stellar days. Most of the fish there are there for one reason. To Eat! Now the percentages are looking better. Also as Whit mentioned the lower stretches on the rivers away from all the majority of traffic. Find that spot were the river is 100 yards back into a swamp and take a hike. You will find that most areas in swamps have deer trails bee lining it for the river and travel isn’t as hard as you’d think.

2nd mobility

A boat will definitely increase your catches. The best river fishing boat you can own is within everyone’s budget. It’s the canoe. You can find these thing used for 50 bucks if you look hard enough. It will be beat up and more than likely have the ole flop bottom (ribs have become fatigued) but a fish catching machine none the less. Don’t forget you can rent one from most liveries too. Good for that spare of the moment and no hassle fish trip. Just need to call the livery most don’t open and get into swing till May but if you call ahead I have never been turned down. Also the pontoon float boats are a good thing but usually are a little costly.

3rd psychology

The most important of all fishing tactics! Used mainly by us old timers to make us feel good and to justify to ourselves why we did not catch any fish. And here is the thinking:

1. I really didn’t want to clean them.
2. The real reason I am here is not to catch fish but to enjoy the birds and trees etc…
3. My partner is always getting to the hole first and I am fishing dirty water.
4. The fish the person caught next to you after cutting you off is really yours.
5. The fish aren’t eating today.

Last but not least stellman remember this: you are probably a better fisherman than I but you are harder on yourself than I of me. ;)

Life is good enjoy! :cool:
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There are a lot of things that may or may not help you get more hook-ups, most of which have been mentioned. A couple that I didn't see is to cover a lot of water and try to hit the river at or just following the warmest part of the day.

This time of year, you don't want to spend all day in the same hole, pool or run. Fish the prime areas of the run, then move on. If the fish are there and feel aggressive, then you shouldn't need more than a couple dozen casts at most! If they aren't feeling aggressive, then move on out and find some that are. I generally spend as much or more time walking this time of year than I do fishing.

As for the time of day, try to hit the water in the afternoon (or at least late morning). As silly as it sounds, the slightest increase in water temp can make all the difference.

Good luck and don't give up. The difficulty in catching steelhead is one of the things that makes steelhead fishing so great!

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i have not caught a steel in the RIVER but i don't complain because i have FUN fishing and enjoy the OUTDOORS. thats something to think about stelmon
Originally posted by nymph
As silly as it sounds, the slightest increase in water temp can make all the difference.
Those fish that you been trying to catch. They probly was messing with Team Caznik last year and they are still tierd out. :D

stelmon, welcome to the Boardman!! It took me a good many years to figure out this river, you have to eat, breath, and sleep this river, at least for me that is.

On a side note, does anybody here know why the DNR stopped planting skams in the Boardman??? Ah, those were the days. shorts, short sleeves, warm weather, lite line, and fighting big skams in July, as the Cherry Festival parades went buy.
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Lot's of good points in this thread Dan. Don't give up on 'em yet. That is Steelhead fishing for ya. I am by no means a "proffesional fisherman", but I have had day's where I felt like throwing all my crap them and then quite. But I don't, I stick with it, and eventually am rewarded with a nice steelie.

Good Luck Dan
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