Mid-October, in-between time for salmon fishing.

October 16, 2014

mcdonald_fish_101614For the Love of Fishing is written by Sean McDonald.

Mid-October is considered in-between time on the rivers. The salmon numbers are dwindling and steelhead numbers are on the rise. The amount of fall Steelhead we see this year depends on the amount of rain that we receive.

We had some good steelhead fishing on the Pere Marquette and the Manistee rivers after the last rainfall. I think that they are entering the rivers during higher water periods and dropping back out into Pere Marquette and Manistee lakes or even Lake Michigan in search of food. During the higher water periods eggs from the modest king run will be washed off the gravel bars and into the main currents. Remember that steelhead do not have to be in the rivers until spring and our fall run is a bonus. Some of the steelhead will spend the Winter in the rivers.

I have been impressed at the amount of kings that have shown up in the last few days. Currently we still have a decent number of kings in the river- most are spawning in the upper sections of the rivers. Part of this late run of kings may be due to the fact lake Michigan was so cold most of the summer. The late runners that came in during the full moon October 8 have the best chance of their young surviving.

The present kings by digging out a new gravel nest will wash away the already fertilized existing eggs and making them food for trout and steelhead as they wash down the river out to Lake Michigan never to hatch. There is also less angling pressure for fish to be kept for smoking or the eggs upon the gravel bars stepped on by wading anglers. The baby kings will hatch in late March or early April when the water nears 41 degrees and be out in Lake Michigan by the end of summer. The more mild the Winter is another factor on how many eggs will survive. Slush ice and anchor ice on the bottom of the rivers during extended periods of below zero temperatures will not help the natural reproduction.

Most outdoorsmen are spending time in the woods during the archery deer season, duck hunting or upland bird hunting. A few big lake fishermen still have their boats in the water but can only get out on a few select days when the winds of November near.

The maple trees are in full color and on windy rainy days a lot of them will be falling. This makes it difficult to get a drift with a fly or spawn bag without catching them or running plugs for steelhead a bit of a challenge. I think the beautiful colors outweigh the annoying leaves in the river.

Surf fishermen have been doing well for steelhead in the last two weeks. Without rain the steelies will roam the shorelines in search of baitfish. The best temperature for fishing the surf is 54 degrees. If the river you plan on fishing is low and clear it is a great spot to spend a morning or afternoon. Fish a floating spawn bag off a pyramid sinker with up to three rods in holders. I like to wear waders and wade out as far as you can and cast. Then flip the bail of your spinning rod and return to shore and put your rod in a holder. Make sure you keep the drag on your reel very loose- I have chased more than one rod out of the holder dragging across the sand when I thought the drag was loose enough.

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