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Discussion Starter #1
Doesn't look like any warm-ish water will be around, for me, again this year.

The Lakers and the Whitefish probably made their babies and went back out, methinks.

The Jack Cohos already stole all the bait they could and now they hear it's fun to watch all those surfers down in New Buffalo. Where are the last crazys still waiting for groundwater flows to turn on the bat signal?

Where their Chinook cousins come from and where the Chinook go, nobody knows. Everyone has heard of that one guy that caught that one Chinook that one time in that one spot on that one day on the calendar that no one else expects (plus I read the story of Pacific "Spring Chinook" recently that hide out in Chinook DNA somewhere). I will try dumb fishing things that everyone says won't work because sometimes I want to prove them right, I guess. But I'm not going to worry about one-off stories when I can go see if any stream Trout swam through the culvert into "No Type" water (doubtful, but ?), or just fish some extended season streams.

3 out of 4 Steelhead (some strains, at least) agree: they like to watch the boat parade in the rivers starting - last month.

My local water has been 45 degrees on my thermometer, 46 on the NOAA map. Checked a little teeny tiny Lake tributary trickle, was 42 degrees already.

About 8 well aged spawn bags left to wash that I see no need to freeze so tomorrow I might break my no sunny day pledge and use them up, though am not optimistic on that. Found a nice spot where I can easily throw over the bar but also not optimistic that will be empty tomorrow; wasn't today. Totally not sure if fishing a seemingly obvious rip current break in that bar right adjacent would be as good, better, or worse than trying to reach the trough beyond. Or could try the little teeny tiny trib trickle again.

Or, maybe a final fond farewell to my pier for the year. Might just roll a dice in the morning to decide on the 3 options but definitely don't plan on touring them all.

What water conditions lead you to put away the pyramids?

Or is it worth fishing all the way to "pack ice" if a local Steelhead variety prefers Lake winters... do they?
 

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Wow, I’m really hoping you make a detailed report when you get all those answers!
Hope you have good fishing fishing until then.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nothing good to report. This used to be one of my favorite times of year to fish. I have had my fill of cold Octobers, I will say that. I tied up about 3 dozen bags on the 14th and not a one of them were ever mashed. At least last year I lost one fish the day before Thanksgiving, throwing lures in the rain after getting bored staring at rod tips. These past four days, those rod tips were moving constantly from the wind and I am beyond tired of paying them the needed extra attention.

Yesterday I remembered another main idea I go by for fishing expeditions - I rarely fish on a Saturday. But this time of year I can’t work in the woods on a Saturday and then casually take a rain day during the week. So I just wandered around the harbor for a couple hours. Anywhere from 24-36 lines were in the water at all times; these generated 1 or 2 hits per hour in total. I quit asking people about results pretty quickly. Did hear a couple Coho jacks were still around on Friday. Water 44 at surf-line, 42 in the river.

Today the pier still held 30+ lines at noon so I went elsewhere. 4 straight days of south wind just really concentrated the folks all looking forward to a long weekend. The pretty little bar close-in to shore that I found had the same guy fishing it for 3 straight days. I didn’t hike down to check in with him. But I figured the afternoon would be better for the cold-blooded fish to get in gear and look for something to eat. Everyone else goes out early and then you have to wait for someone to leave, or go out and fish in the algae. I have been thinking about trying that with an extra long leader with a corky, or 2, in the middle, to keep it higher up off bottom. Some day.

I went to what I am starting to call “Dogsh*t Beach.” I am over that dumb fishing problem, which doesn’t cross my mind anywhere else. I was the only vehicle there when I arrived, but instantly someone parked 15 feet from my bumper in the only parking spot there where they couldn’t see the actual Lake and then sat there in their car and stared at me for 90 minutes. In front of my truck was 75 yards of parking with a wonderful view. I am also generally over fishing on a holiday weekend. At least when you are ice fishing, no one asks you questions trying to prove they fish, too, like “how long of a leader are you using” and “how much weight you got on there?” which only proves they fish about once a year, which one such questioner admitted to me today. By the ice point in the fishing calendar, even the macho guys wearing shorts stay inside.

The usual idiots wearing shorts kept me mildly entertained at times over the last four days. Without fail they have a nice winter coat on. But overall four days of a steady cold on-shore wind just turned me into a grouch.

I tried a new style of slider, though not by choice. My local tackle shop assembles a nice little surf kit out of separately purchased components that I have always used with no problems. Those have become a casualty of 2020 - same slider can’t be obtained right now. But one of their sliders shattered during a cast (years of use on it now) and I lost a couple more to snags this year. So I tried their replacement which is about 4x longer and with a small diameter opening to thread the line through. It has created a tangled birds nest of the leader on every single retrieve, that usually had to be cut apart.

I noticed today when dealing with tangles, etc. that eggs were lasting longer than usual now. Maybe the water was yet colder today with a little less south and more west to it today.

At the end I still had 2 bags left but I just cut them open and left them for some sort of critter somewhere even though I had daylight left. I stopped back down to the pier to see how things turned out there but no one was left on it. Kinda told me what I wanted to know.

I started this thread cuz after the last several years of discussing fishing Steelhead through the ice, elsewhere, I have started wondering how late one can fish a Lake Michigan beach. I have seen people try it in January. I could thaw out some spawn for next weekend - but I doubt that I will. After being snowed off a job on Tuesday, I look forward to working all day every day, more than ever.
 

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You can fish all winter during mild years. I fished all winter during some mild years in the 90's. I think it was a three day stretch in the second week of January in the late 90's that I landed 76 trout and salmon along with a few lake whitefish. For the most part the adult steelhead bug out by late December.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What water temps though? I am 150 miles north of you, looks like.

I live where I can hear the surf on a windy day, though not see it. So fishing at the beach is my simplest expedition, and I hope it might be worthwhile.

These last 2 weeks, though... as was mentioned in the other thread, a lot of bad water when the waves can just pound the bases of the bluffs directly.

I should have fished out my bait yesterday as that was the windiest day and the water deteriorated some by today, with a higher silt load in it.

North winds this week might clean up my closest beach options some. South winds seem to deliver more dirt to me.

Also thinking about trying wax worms instead of spawn, with a corky to keep them off bottom. Would be a little simpler than thawing spawn for only an occasional trip.
 

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I don't pay much attention to water temp anymore, other than when to start targeting steelies in the fall. You fish when conditions are good or you don't fish. I have found that it's not worth targeting steelies when the water drops below 40. The unfortunate part for you is that most of the salmon winter in the south end, although I caught a lot of them the last 2 years in the mid basin. The late winter/spring fishery is still good in the south basin, then in recent years it goes dead the rest of the year. You get adult fish, we get the babies, other than a couple weeks offshore when the kings move back north.

All the browns are planted in your area. I would target those in the winter as that was a phenomenal fishery for us before DNR made the decision we should have to drive 3 hours to have a shot at those also. I still get a handful of Wisconsin browns every spring, but used to catch upwards of 100 browns most springs. Best spring was over 250 in spring of 2000.

The good part was the browns were generally along the shore most of the year. They moved into the rivers in September to spawn. They would start hitting good in the surf again in early December, about one week from now, and would stay there until ice up.

Give it a try. Could catch most anything on a mild winter. Would be a shame to see all of those browns go to waste.
 

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You'll have to tell my hardcore February 1st iceberg pier fishing buddies about that 40 deg water rule.....they'll get a laugh out of that. Usually good chrome hens getting ripe about then.
 

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Sometimes I kind of get into ruts about things. Fishing one place or another, or one style or another. Chasing that elusive most excellent day where I catch lots of fish.
Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated, like it sounds like you are. Day after day. Why isn't this working????

You know you can only keep doing things that make you frustrated so many times before you finally decide enough is enough. Sort of like the definition of insanity.

I say if you aint having fun, maybe time to try something/some place different.
Less of course, you are actually having fun, you just dont know it :)

Either way,
good luck bro!
 

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Late winter/early spring is different. Steelies don't care what the water temp is. I often set up on beached icebergs and catch fish.
 

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Late winter/early spring is different. Steelies don't care what the water temp is. I often set up on beached icebergs and catch fish.
b carefull on that ice, i lost a friend back in 68, he just came home from nam, slipped off a iceburge, at port sheldon (lake mi.)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well I appreciate the encouragement and will probably try the surf a little bit more at least. No way to fish on Monday though a wind-storm kept me out of the woods; the "break" was out by the lighthouse. Shore water the predictable white on Tuesday; I think the expression of "mudline" should be the "chalkline" these days. Is probably improving right now day by day, but I am probably going to work this Saturday anyway.

I don't think I've been looking at anything more than early cold water; I used to remember boiling the single eggs to be ready to try for Whitefish over Thanksgiving weekend. This year, they were around in October.

Any time when one is fishing, the other people fishing are a mix of the serious and the casual. What I like about this past weekend is generally a more serious, experienced crowd is out fishing the extra long holiday weekend. They get the details right and catch fish, usually. I look at that weekend the same as guys coming up from down-state - a bit of a break from work, for fishing. "2nd Opening Day" has a bit of a yahoo component in the woods too, but more importantly I don't want to interrupt anyone's hunting that weekend. So I plan to exclusively fish the shore the last 2 weeks of November.

I have sort-of already tried for Browns, by fishing well on past sunset a couple times the last 2 weeks. One night, I had a little glowstick on one rodtip (on the other 2 I used bells) - for much of that set the rod tip was perfectly set between Jupiter and Saturn, was purdy. No hits though.

Though fishing Browns from the shore is a well-known Spring activity, I haven't heard much talk about catching any of them since the stocking program re-set. The ecology of the Lake is different now. I'm usually too busy to fish the Spring warm-up at all, but maybe this year. I will have the same wondering about when will the water temps be good enough to start. 42, I expect.

Overall I will continue trying to learn when the shore is just too much diminishing returns. I'm not one to call a day with zero fish activity better than a day at work. I can go inland to fish easily enough, though with a drive of 30-75 minutes rather than just 10.

It is interesting to me to find the river water colder than the Lake right now. That would probably slow any more migration in, I would think. Though it also makes fishing the harbor seem not a best choice, either. Maybe Sunday I will check the thermometer again.
 

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Well I'm not one to call a day with zero fish activity better than a day at work.
Amen to that! I am self-employed and there have been times when I have said to myself " Gee, I should've just gone to work and made money."
 

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Well I appreciate the encouragement and will probably try the surf a little bit more at least. No way to fish on Monday though a wind-storm kept me out of the woods; the "break" was out by the lighthouse. Shore water the predictable white on Tuesday; I think the expression of "mudline" should be the "chalkline" these days. Is probably improving right now day by day, but I am probably going to work this Saturday anyway.

I don't think I've been looking at anything more than early cold water; I used to remember boiling the single eggs to be ready to try for Whitefish over Thanksgiving weekend. This year, they were around in October.

Any time when one is fishing, the other people fishing are a mix of the serious and the casual. What I like about this past weekend is generally a more serious, experienced crowd is out fishing the extra long holiday weekend. They get the details right and catch fish, usually. I look at that weekend the same as guys coming up from down-state - a bit of a break from work, for fishing. "2nd Opening Day" has a bit of a yahoo component in the woods too, but more importantly I don't want to interrupt anyone's hunting that weekend. So I plan to exclusively fish the shore the last 2 weeks of November.

I have sort-of already tried for Browns, by fishing well on past sunset a couple times the last 2 weeks. One night, I had a little glowstick on one rodtip (on the other 2 I used bells) - for much of that set the rod tip was perfectly set between Jupiter and Saturn, was purdy. No hits though.

Though fishing Browns from the shore is a well-known Spring activity, I haven't heard much talk about catching any of them since the stocking program re-set. The ecology of the Lake is different now. I'm usually too busy to fish the Spring warm-up at all, but maybe this year. I will have the same wondering about when will the water temps be good enough to start. 42, I expect.

Overall I will continue trying to learn when the shore is just too much diminishing returns. I'm not one to call a day with zero fish activity better than a day at work. I can go inland to fish easily enough, though with a drive of 30-75 minutes rather than just 10.

It is interesting to me to find the river water colder than the Lake right now. That would probably slow any more migration in, I would think. Though it also makes fishing the harbor seem not a best choice, either. Maybe Sunday I will check the thermometer again.
As far as the serious, experienced crowd goes, I think I know who you're talking about and I would have been sharing the beach with them if I could have made the trip. You are spot on about them getting the details right and catching fish. I fished along side them for several years being my stubborn self and set in my ways, and always walked off the beach with an empty stringer. Then I observed closely, humbled myself and asked a few questions, and whaddya know, I started putting fish on the beach on a pretty consistent basis.
 

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Biggest things on the beach is bait quality and bait placement (and fish of course). Get those right and you'll slide fish on the sand.

Yes, spring is known as traditional brown trout surf time, but winter is very good. At least it was when they were stocked in the south basin.
 

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Another "biggest thing" in my case anyway, is having the mindset that you can surf fish Steelhead with the same gear that you use for flinging hardware for Salmon in the fall. Because,
after all, the fish don't know what kind of gear I'm using so why should it make any difference?
Well they do, and it does.
 

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I don't find rods to be critical for the average angler. I've caught thousands of steelies off the beach during my lifetime and caught them on fly rods turned spinning, baitcast rods, noodles from 7 to 14', and ocean surf rods. Line ranging from 2 lb to 20lb.

I do have my favorites though, especially as I'm not getting any younger. I use 11' European rods with 8 lb main line and 6 or 8 lb fluorocarbon leader and generally 2.5 oz pyramids. With these rods I can surf fish all fall and rarely get my waders wet. For really big winds, gales, I'll switch over to 12 or 13' surf rods, 12-15lb line, 8-10" leader or modified drop rig to eliminate tangles, and up to 8 oz pyramids.

I fish mostly the south and mid basins. You have deeper troughs north and probably don't need to go as heavy during gales as we do in the south basin.

I fish the ocean surf quite a bit, so I have the gear. I would not recommend the expense to purchase that gear to fish steelhead, instead I'd wait for less wind.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
My point was - no one around me was catching many fish last weekend, either. Or if they were, it was along the lines of one fish per 3 people fishing all day. A couple times I was setting up as a fish was landed and that proved to be the last bite of the whole day. Some of the dedicated guys were moving around more than I was.

My best day in the surf earlier this fall was 7 Steelhead landed or brought close to boots at least and just a couple missed hook-ups. But that was on Lake Superior. On Lake MI I caught a jack around Nov. 1 but missed both fish on a double that day in just a few hours of fishing. I’m confident in my spawn, my gear and most tactics though I still wonder about possible placement in a textbook rip current break in a bar I found. Though the blow on Monday probably re-arranged that anyway.

No Bite days are gonna happen when you go fishing, I know that. I also know you have to get out there and try it to find the good bite, rather than wait for such news from someone else. I have my share of days with no fish to show for it.

But when I have too many such days, I start to want to dial things in much better, such as picking time and place for my best chances. Normally fishing bad work weather other people don’t like works out perfectly. But fish in a Lake move around, just like us. That’s what I am going to keep learning about.

Now if I could just get my electronic saw “carburetor” to accept working with a brand new air filter I could get back to work....
 

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If there aren’t fish to catch there is nothing you can do.

I haven’t fished yet this fall ( will change tomorrow) last fall I had several different times I was pushing 20+ hours of fishing good areas with good bait and NO bites. Same results from other well qualified anglers. I’m convinced this also would indicate a lack of available fish to be caught.

So that’s the conundrum. Partly what pushed me to take up arms against waterfowl this fall, after an extensive sabbatical. Turns out this year has been a huge disappointment in that regards as well.

Either way it beats a stick in the eye. I’ll certainly enjoy my relative solitude on a beach or pier tomorrow.

I’ve heard some rumors...
 
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