High rivers are not fishable rivers

April 18, 2014
The dam on the White River in Hesperia on April 14.

The dam on the White River in Hesperia on April 14.

For the Love of Fishing. A blog by Sean McDonald.

The 4 inches plus of rain has changed the river fishing and now all of our rivers are not fishable until at least the weekend from a boat. The rivers now are very angry. The Pere Marquette, Manistee, Muskegon and White rivers are at their highest levels since the fall of 1986!

A dark male steelhead from the upper section of the Pere Marquette just before the flooding rains started.

A dark male steelhead from the upper section of the Pere Marquette just before the flooding rains started.

Due to the lack of vegetation in the woods at this time of the year to absorb the rain the water is very very muddy and will continue for several days. The Pere Marquette and White rivers will be the first to drop in level. The Manistee River will continue to be high and dirty for at least a week due to the volume of water and the length of the river system. The Pine River that flows into the Manistee has a lot of clay in it and when and it now the Manistee resembles the color of cardboard.

When the water drops we will have some fantastic steelhead fishing opportunities. The water is now warm enough for steelhead to spawn as they have been doing for the last week. Most anglers were targeting spawning gravel in the mid and upper sections of the Pere Marquette and Manistee. The steelhead love the current conditions, and they can not bee seen by anglers to target while spawning. The best approach is to “blind fish” on and below gravel bars until you find a group of them. The tough current conditions for steelhead require larger than normal fly patterns, rattle type plugs or larger spawn bags so the fish can see your presentation. Wading is difficult now and it is best to use a boat with more anchor weight than normal.

Brown trout is another season that is now underway in Ludington. Trolling the beaches in about 10 feet of water with shallow diving stick baits such as Rapalas, Bombers and Challenger produce fish. To show your lures to more fish run either large planer boards with releases or inline boards such as Yellow Birds. Keep your body baits about 125 feet back. In addition to like to run mono slide divers and 2 downriggers with standard size spoons. My favorite spoons for browns are a Yeck Bumble Bee or copper double orange crush. The harbor and along the mud line where the river water meets the lake is another great spot to try.  Most of the browns we catch early in the year tend to be 2-6 pounds and shaped like a football. The larger browns are typically caught later in may when the alewives enter the harbor to spawn when the water inside the harbor is around 54 degrees.  You could catch a king, coho, lake trout or steelhead in the same water as browns this time of the year. As the month progresses we normally see our first spring kings in fishable numbers when the surface temp of Lake Michigan off Ludington is about 52 degrees.



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