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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a born and raised bass fisherman trying to experience other fishing. I've caught brown, rainbow, golden, and a trophy brook trout, but now I want to up the ante and go for steelhead. I have been planning on doing a trip to Wisconsin or Michigan in February and have done my homework but am only now trying to come up with a solid destination. I have it narrowed down to the Root River in Wisconsin, the Au Sable, Big Manistee, and the Grand all in Michigan, and my leanings are in that order. I want to drift spawn and I want to fish from shore. I don't like seeing any concrete where I fish and I would prefer to see nobody else at this time of year, (I can't stand combat fishing).
Hopefully some of you veterans on the site are chomping at the bit with ideas for me of where I would really like to go and where I really don't, since I've never even been to Michigan.
One other question on equipment is do any of you use flyrods mated with spinning reels for this type of fishing and what's your experience with it?
 

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Okay, here's my 2 cents. You can count the Grand out, since you don't like concrete. (don't blame you) I also think the Ausable is going to crap out again this spring. Just like last spring. I think you can guage the spring runs by the amount of fall fish, and there in lies my reasoning for the Ausables fate. I haven't been to the Big Man since sept so I can't say whats been happening there. It has to be better than the Ausable though. And I've never even heard of the Root river in WI so I definetly can't give an opinion on that one. I guess I would say, it looks like your best choice would be the Big Man, or your river in WI. I think I would choose the Big Man myself.
I've watched guys fish their flyrods with spinning reels. Looks like it works fine, although I've never tried it.
Good luck, I'll be out there somewhere too. Feb is one of my favorite monthes for steelhead.

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Phish
 

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Yah, and be sure to tell the guys over there, your a born and raised bass fisherman, that wants to use a fly rod rigged with a spinning reel! They really like stuff like that :)

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Phish
 

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I totally agree with Erik. The Big Man probably would be your best shot, unless we get a mid-winter thaw. You're not going to get many fish that held over from the fall, since we had a terrible run and catching fish is like pulling hind teeth. This was the worst fall I've experienced in 15 years of steelheading. The Muskegon would be my second choice. Are you bringing a boat? When in February are you planning on visiting? If possible, try to move your trip back to the middle of March to increase your odds. Keep in touch, maybe something will break loose by then.
The Shoeman
PS Hey Erik, fished lately?
 

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Yeah go to the steelhead site with a question like that and you will get looked at down people's noses and laughed off the site. I won't allow that to happen here.
 

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Geez erik, what you trying to do, give the guy some inferiority complex? You know thats mean man. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey guys, thanks for the replies! I was afraid I would get up this morning and there'd be no replies, so thanks again.
I originally went to the steelhead site and saw that it was heavily opinionated with the "purity" of salmon/trout fishing. That's not what I'm looking for. I love to fish, not preach methodology. Thanks for not giving me the holier than thou crap. I knew I had stepped into dangerous territory.
I mention fly rod with spinning reel because I think that casting ability is important, but so is the line mending capability and fish fighting response of an 8 or 9 feet of rod. I was wanting to see if the idea had true merit and what the drawbacks might be. I know that some steelheaders use this type of hardware but not why they like it. I already have a 8 ft 7/8 weight flyrod and several spare reels laying around, and so I thought maybe I would go that route. Based on everone's opinion, I figured I would either rig something up or pick up a salmon/steelhead spinning outfit. I may try both.
Now about the Big Man, what does it have for public access? Eric, you say February is good, and Shoeman you like March. I got the idea of February because In-Fisherman is consistently saying end of December to end of February is the best time, and I've found it pays to listen to em. What's your opinions on this? Why do they say that?
As far as the boat goes, Shoeman, I wasn't planning on bringing it up, I had hoped to fish from shore in perhaps wadable waters.
Good luck with your fishing guys and God bless!!
 

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I don't think you'll find a steelhead river in Michigan that doesn't have a bunch of people on it!!!! Especially in the Lower.
I don't think you could beat the Ausable in the Winter Monthes for some peace and quiet, but You probably won't find many fish either!
For the Spring run I'd also say the Big Man , but You won't be by yourself, that's a given if you aren't in a boat.
Erik is right about the Ausable, it sure has been going down hill. It almost isn't worth fishing anymore.(Too many idiots competing for fewer fish + we are good fishing areas because of the zebra mussels) Just this idiot's opinion.
 

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Oh yeah and about the flyrod with a spinning reel: It will work but it is kinda ghetto! Unless you are using flyline or shooting line I would just stick to something that has regular spinning eyes on it because on a flyrod the line will come in direct contact with the blank and has more surface area to freeze to!
Oh and another thing most spinning reels won't fit on the reel seat of a factory fly rod!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ahha!!! You're out of the closet now Weezer!! You actually tried it! As a matter of fact, you are right, but I do have a Abu Garcia Cardinal Premier #4 that does fit my fly rod!! And line freezing is an important thing. That's a good thought about contact. I appreciate it.
 

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Well Ghetto or not, you'll restrict your casts quite a bit, with the smaller eyes on the fly rod. Why don't you buy a 10.5ft. Browning steelhead rod for 60 bucks. A few of my friends have them. It's not a Loomis, but they seem to work pretty good. I think it's the Dick Swan Edition.
As far as access to the Big river, there's several. The south side in Wellston is pretty good, if you don't mind climbing 238 steps. On the north side is a boat launch with plenty of shore fishing opportunity. You'll have lotsa company. Downstream from there, they have made the river very accessible, almost too accessible.
If there's a lack of fish, try the pier if it's not locked in. Time will tell. Let me know when you're comming and I'll keep an ear to the ground. Who knows, I might be there myself.
The Shoeman
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks Shoeman. I didn't realize Browning had a steelhead rod. But that's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Good call. I appreciate it.
Now before I drop the Au Sable off the list, what kind of river is it? Wide deep fast slow shallow, etc? What about access on it? Are there quality fish there I might have to work for? The lack of competition with the promise of a couple quality fish, along with decent access would make me happy. A long walk is fine with me but getting permission to walk through private property is something I would like to avoid. No concrete and no combat. Maybe the choices that I limited myself to are off track from what I'm after!?!?!
Grand-fishing on Main street
Au Sable-lonely... cause no fish are there
Big man-either boat or combat
Root-have yet to get info
You guys have given me good honest advice, so I'm still listening. Shoeman, you mentioned the Muskegon. Are there other rivers with open water that I'm overlooking that would also meet my needs??
 

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Probably your best choice would be the Big Manistee. It is a big river, but there are places to access, and you can wade this if you use common sense. Tippy Dam would be combat fishing, but it may not be too bad during the week. Good Luck :)
 

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Don't be discouraged by crowds. Crowds equal fish.(usually) The Muskegon also has good access at Croton. I would not cast your plans in stone. Try to be flexible. This is not an ordinary year. There's quite a few rivers within an hour or so drive of Tippy. Stay tuned
The Shoeman
 

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The Pere Marquete, Manistee, and Muskegan are definately the best rivers in Michigan running wise. The Manistee is a very wide fast moving river. The Muskegan is also a very wide river but i dont really think it is as fast as the Manistee.The Pere Marquete is a small more scenic river. The Manistee is not the place you want to go if you want to fish in peace. The average spring steelhead run is shoulder to shoulder at every popular public access site.I just started fishing the Muskegan so im not exactly sure about the croud but i have definately heard of the crouds at Croton dam. Althought there are a few access sites that you may be able to fish in peace, the Muskegan isnt really for the on-shore angler. The Pere Marquete is the river i prefer to fish. There is plenty fish in the river and there are many places to fish.(But you may have to bring your waders because alot of the land is private). This river is small but definately does get a great run of fish. The current is slow and is very good to float spawn under a float in deep wholes. If you want specific places email me at [email protected], but i still cant give you my honey whole unless we go at the same time. I hope my info helps you and ill see you later. Oh one more thing, Michigan is absolutely the place you want to be for the spring steelhead.
 

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Boy, you guys have been busy today.
Now, we're talking february here, right? I think you'll find the crowds aren't that bad in feb. Even on the big man. Tippy might be a little busy, but I'd bet an agressive first thing in the morning type angler would have no problem getting a good spot even at tippy, during the month of feb. Alot depends on what kind of weather we get. If it's real nasty, an angler could probably have the whole place to himself. Believe me, feb can get real nasty! Fish will be there no matter what the weather. Getting them to bite may be a chore, but they will be there! The last sat in feb, is a big contest sponsered by pappys in wellston. I would avoid that weekend unless you want to participate. After that, the pressure gets heavier with every passing weekend, right up till memorial day. The pere marquette is a great river, but you didn't have that one on your list. I always have a hard time choosing between the PM, and the BM. You'll have to wait and see what the water is like this winter before you make definate plans. The BM is very stable, and can handle big thaws better than the PM. The PM can get blowed out real easy when it comes to feb thaws.
As for the noodle rod, I feel uncomfortable using any rod shorter than nine feet. The sense of feel is so much greater with a longer rod, and fighting a fifteen pound fish with a six pound leader rules.
I'm not real hip on trying to gauge when the "big run" will happen. I like the pre spawn type fishing my self. February definitely falls into that catagory.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

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Phish
 

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DO NOT get a browning. I have broken 2 10'6" rods and my friend broke another, and I saw one laying in the bushes at Grand Rapids. I was only using six lb. leader and 10lb main line. I think the St croix at a 100.00 is a better buy. ITs an excellent rod with a 2 year warranty. If you can spring it get a loomis. I save a lot by building my own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks guys!! You've been a huge source of info. I think you're right Eric. I wanted to make solid plans, but I think that you are right, I will remain flexible and see what happens closer to time.
Thanks to grouse hunter. Any other input on rods? I'm open to ideas. I'd love a Loomis but I can't shell out that type of cash.
Now I've got another question. From my research most Great Lakes rivers have two runs, fall and spring, but I don't know which rivers do or don't, and apparently it can be river specific. Can I rely on most rivers we've discussed to be holding these fall holdovers for my Feb trip, in greater or lesser quantities? Am I thinking correctly?
 

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The fall run never materialized to it's full potential, therefor you will not find too many held over fish, unless they come in now.I have noticed a small run of fish in the last week, but I'm sure they're getting caught as they come in. As far as the Browning, they are somewhat fragile. My friends use 4lb. leader and never broke one. They do stand behind their rods. I have 10 trolling rods and broke a few. They were replaced on the spot. Be sure to buy it at a reputable store.
The Shoeman
 
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