After seeing a post in a fishing forum, I was inspired to write this post simply to educate some on spawning. The young man did not even understand what the fish were doing or what the term drop back fish meant?
Its that time of year when Spring consistently has rising tributary temperatures (into the 40-58 degree F range)
and the longer photo-periods in late winter and early spring (March-May)
activate the steelhead (many of which have been here all winter) to move onto the spawning gravel.
Also with these higher temps it starts sending signals to new fish to move up the river and spawn on the gravel. This is the time we should leave those fish alone and let mother nature take its course. You should concentrate on the voracious eating
“drop-back” steelhead. This is one of my most favorite times of the year. The fish are very hungry and will hit anything.
Until the water temps get too warm (May-June/high 60’s and
above) at which point steelhead head back to the Big Lake’s to return again to the river someday. After the past 2 winters here in the Great Lakes I have no doubt spawning will be taking place into the month of May/June on certain rivers and parts of the region.
I have so much respect and love for the worlds greatest game fish, the steelhead. Even the hatchery fish, please let them spawn and leave them be. In Michigan natural reproduction is low in many of our rivers but it does occur and we need those wild fish. Every fishery does.
We caught 2 fish last week with flies and hooks impaled in them. This makes me sick and I see it every year actually. So leave gravel alone this time of year and fish the holes behind the gravel and you will be rewarded with a legitimate bite and fish.
Be good to the fishery and it will be good to you.
May your landing nets always be heavy my friends.