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Great Lakes Steelhead & Salmon Amazing "Inland ocean" fisheries

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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-17-2004 05:51 PM

A note from Dan and myself….

Yeah Yeah, we hear this alot of times…. surf angling. It’s what we do. You can find us in the surf about 75% of the time throughout the year. We love the rivers, but we gave them up with the crowds. Don’t get us wrong, we still fish rivers a lot and use spey
techniques as well. “Beachbumin” didn’t come easy; aot of factors come into play. Dan and I have been doing this for about 5 years so far, actively for about 3. It is a whole different ball game. We learned from our friends that own a flyshop in
northern Michigan. They are quite proficient and catch plenty of fish, and we fish with them when we can. Every spring and fall we are around the state pursuing salmonoids. Summer consists of some Skamania surfin as well, although this requires you to make last minute trips at times due to weather patterns and
wind patterns that affect thermal bars where fish tend to stage.

The topic here is the BROWN TROUT FISHERY. We have always commented most over the years about the brown trout fishery. The fishery is excellent if you know where to look. Another thing, it isn’t just tied into Lake Michigan…some of our better fish have came from the Lake Huron side. Brown trout tend to stage near shore in fall, depending on what area you are in it can be anywhere from late August to November. Most
fish will stage on drop off points, rock shoals and deeper channels near shore that hold baitfish. Usually this is near a tributary, discharge or harbor of some sort. Using larger streamers(up to 12” long - ask for patterns) on intermediate lines or sink tips work well for us. Sometimes we must go to heavier
heads(Levithan ~ up to 600 grains) for deeper ruks. In spring right after ice out we will target the same areas, but fish sometimes move on to shallower rock flats and feed actively. This is where the brown trout fishery comes alive. Fat, pig bodied browns feed near shore and are within casting distance. Pick
the areas you fish carefully. Smaller epoxy charlies, glass minnows and translucent streamers work well. Mainly we walk a lot in spring. Sometimes if necessary we will use pontoons to get around or a flat bottom boat that a friend provides. Walking many
miles during the day is likely.

Well that is the basic idea. Keep an eye out for us!
Any questions drop an email to
02-14-2004 07:11 PM
As I said either somewhere in this forum

or in another, I just decide to go fishin' in the spring, then make sure I drive past some sections of beach. If I see "wakes" or fish breaking where I can cast, or seagulls wheeling and diving to grab a quick meal, I fish the surf.

If not, then I continue on my way to my "backup" - a stream where the last of the steelie runs and dropbacks are still in stream.

That way, I get to fish for available fish, and at "peak" times. It's a "here today, gone tomorrow" situation, depending on temp., spawning runs of forage fish, offshore wind direction, etc. BUT, and that's a big BUT, it's mostly surface and shallow-water action. In fact, I think a SINKING line or tip would be a detriment in the spring.

And don't think that the best fishing occurs around trib outlets, either - you fish for 'em where the action is! And it MAY NOT BE around the trib outlets!!!

Flies that resemble alewives, smelt (and even shad in a pinch) usually will draw some strikes - and don't be afraid to try a white popper with a little flash added to "spice it up"! Now THAT'S exciting, when they hit on the surface! Tube "convertible" flies resembling minnows are a good option, too!

No, it's not rocket science - more like plain, old, ordinary "common sense". Yeah, Juro, use your eyes and "beach sense" like when striper fishing.... but just have a backup plan available in case they aren't inshore.

But even with all this planning and scheming, you are still liable to get skunked, unfortunately. And that's why it's called "fishing", and not "catching"! But it STILL beats working!

02-14-2004 12:43 AM
power plants

we have a arm water outlet on Lake erie. The water is deep though. I dont know if there is any access for fly fishermen. Has anyone fished the dunkirk waters with a fly or deep lake waters with a fly rod?

Keith B>
02-13-2004 08:40 AM
Interceptor Large wind shifts pushing cooler water to the shores are also key for great lakes surf fishing its all timing, water temp, light conditions. Browns as you know are a very smart and cautious fish. Need to fish them in low light or darkness when all of the variables are correct. IMHO late fall and early spring are the best chances at river mouths or the lower parts of rivers. Thats also when the gear anglers get them with spoons and bait, etc.

The warm water discharges are also key but darn off limits for the most part.

In Steelhead Dreams there are a couple of chapters on this.

Nothing like casting the river mouths in darkness never know if the next fish will be a steelhead, brown, or big chrome salmon. Make sure you have a saltwater fly reel setup and lots of backing.

Its fun but I never expect a big result due to the low proability of success.

Gotta go, good luck
02-12-2004 09:24 PM
juro The joke around the east coast is that you can "sight fish at night" near power plants

But back to the normal shore situations for a minute... if I may venture to guess, it's a very real fishery but just not very well understood. When there are wall to wall salmon for those who wait for them to enter streams, it's hard to think about prowling for them along the shore in the vastness of Gitchigumee.

Yet the atlantic is larger and over the years people have learned how to connect with it's fish from shore, with the knowledge of many thousands of practitioners growing every season.

Frankly, I don't think too many people have unlocked the keys to the Great Lakes surf fishery yet. There is a huge opportunity for people to figure it out IMHO.

Oddly even the pacific northwest ocean fly-fishing bounty is still in it's infancy compared to river fishing. It's an amazing fishery out there during saltchuck salmon season and I'll bet there are direct parrallels in the two fisheries.

Just a guess.
02-12-2004 07:49 PM
peter-s-c We have increased security at our plants as well but I don't know if that includes fishing the discharges. Can't find anything on the net about it either, though I did run across US Coast Guard restrictions for the US side.
02-12-2004 07:41 PM
removed_by_request Power plants are real fish magnets. You can catch Coho, Browns, Chinook, Lakers, and Steelhead all on the same day in the same loc.

It seemed like the colder the winter the better the fishing. Thanks to the terrorist actions on 9/11 most of our Lake Michigan discharges are off limits.
02-12-2004 07:25 PM
peter-s-c There's two nukie plants on our side. I've heard of good fishing around them but I've never tried.
02-12-2004 07:23 PM
Yeah - that's true.

I only know of one coal-fired power plant on Lake Ontario - and that's slated to be shut down! BTW, the fishing there depends on water temp. - it can also get TOO HOT!

02-12-2004 11:39 AM
Interceptor Brown trout in the GLs on a fly rod are a big Cxxp shoot unless you can target them at the power plant warm water discharges in the winter and thanks to 9/11 most of them are off limits now.

You can get some nice casting exercise though trying I can tell you that.


02-07-2004 08:40 PM
FlyFishMich Have a bunch of leftover deceivers/clousers from my last saltwater trip...very interested in "surf" possibilities along the west MI shoreline but have yet to speak with anyone that has had consistent success. Its always rumors or "reports" from dansteelieman and his "great lake surf smurf" buddy. Worse yet are the articles by a well-known Muskegon river guide. Have a good knowledge of "saltwater/baitfish" patterns if anyone is willing to share some timing/locations? PM or email stripping basket is always ready for some running line!
02-04-2004 03:38 PM
removed_by_request I can only echo what Bob said, timing is everything. Try to plan your trips around the Smelt and Alewive runs. Browns follow them around like hungry wolves waiting to attack.
02-03-2004 08:00 AM
Great Lakes Browns

From a Lake Ontario perspective (I think ALL Great Lakes are similar), that time of year can be very good - or bad - all depending on weather.

In general, that is a good time to fish near the outlets - you can pick up browns, salmon and post-spawn steelies, all hanging around the baitfish sources. It really depends on water temperature and wind direction.

Do a web search on the fishing in the specific areas you are planning to fish.

02-02-2004 02:53 PM
Silver Outcast
Great Lakes Brown trout

I've been reading on line about fishing for big brown trout along the Lake Huron and Michigan Shoreline (in the lakes). Can you have any success at this from shore/piers/beach flyfishing?
Am thinking of going the second week of May this year. Is that a good time? Also: how's the steelhead fishing then and would Northern Pike still be in the shallows in smaller lakes at that time?
Thanks for any info...Bob R.

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