Skip to main content

Readers Journal: Combat fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead and Brown Trout

Standing shoulder to shoulder with someone casting in the same hole can be the norm nowadays

Readers Journal: Combat fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead and Brown Trout

Great Lakes brown trout and steelhead are among the most beautiful, powerful, finicky, and pressured fish in the Midwest. If you are a local angler, you know that standing shoulder to shoulder with someone casting in the same hole is a norm nowadays. Here in the Midwest, we have had one of the toughest seasons in years. Due to low water from lack of rain, and immense crowds pressuring these fish, many anglers have found little success. Even under these conditions, however, I’ve had great success in locating and catching these fish.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Matt-Michalski-steelhead.jpg

The fish are very wary of their surroundings in the clear water. Even a small step in the water can easily spook an entire group of fish holding in a hole. Being as stealthy as possible gives you an edge over most anglers. Downsizing your tackle is a must. I typically run a 12-pound monofilament mainline with an 8-fluorocarbon leader with a #8 cutting-point hook, but I’ve found greater success with10-pound mainline, 6-pound leader, and #10 cutting-point hooks. This setup makes my bait look as natural as possible when it drifts down the river.

Using the right rod and reel helps improve bait presentation. I recommend a medium-light rod in the 11- to 13-foot range. A longer rod allows you to keep your line off the water and allows the current to swing your bait forward making it look natural. A medium-light powerallows you to use a lighter line and the rod’s cushion helps prevent the line from breaking when fighting fish. A baitcasting or centerpin reel provides for long smooth drifts without having to falter with your presentation. Great Lakes trout bring a whole new meaning to “standing out from the crowd.” One of the most popular and effective baits for these fish is a spawn bag (salmon/trout eggs tied in colorful netting). Nowadays, you can pick up a dozen spawn bags at almost any tackle shop. In pressured situations, I like to tie dime-sized bag—the smaller the better. Another great way to make your bags stand out is what I like to call “clown bags.” Simply take any colored netting and place pieces of a different colored netting in with the eggs which creates a multi-colored spawn bag—great for clear, murky, and pressured situations. A simple bead can imitate a single trout egg drifting down the river. This is a perfect technique when anglers are mostly using spawn. My favorite beads sizes for situations like these are 6 and 8 mm. I like orange, pink, chartreuse, and yellow beads.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/image005.jpg

Stepping away from your comfort zone is the best advice I can give when fishing these tributaries. Whether that's exploring new water and getting away from crowds or experimenting with new techniques, not only will it make you a better angler but will help you in understanding how these magnificent fish behave.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

“If that engine starts without my kill switch on, I ain't the one driving it,” Blake Broussard says after ejection video goes viral.

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

The In-Fisherman crew head to Lake Erie to catch smallmouth bass.

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.Questioning Fish Introductions Other Fish

Questioning Fish Introductions

Dr. Hal Schramm - July 06, 2020

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.

Across the Walleye Belt, big water often equals big opportunities to enjoy some of the continent's finest walleye fishing.Staying on Big-Water Walleyes Walleye

Staying on Big-Water Walleyes

Dan Johnson - September 09, 2019

Across the Walleye Belt, big water often equals big opportunities to enjoy some of the...

See More Trending Articles

More Trout & Salmon

Stream trout were the glamour fish of the early-to-mid twentieth century. Wild settings, clearHow To Fish For Trout: A Stream Trout Primer Trout & Salmon

How To Fish For Trout: A Stream Trout Primer

Matt Straw - July 03, 2013

Stream trout were the glamour fish of the early-to-mid twentieth century. Wild settings, clear

Getting paid to spend life on the water isn't always glamorous. Legendary Angler: Buzz Ramsey Trout & Salmon

Legendary Angler: Buzz Ramsey

Matt Straw - May 01, 2015

Getting paid to spend life on the water isn't always glamorous.

The In-Fisherman staff takes you on a mission for monsters, as they cast for shallow late-seasonHawg Nation Lake Trout Trout & Salmon

Hawg Nation Lake Trout

Jeff Simpson - August 09, 2016

The In-Fisherman staff takes you on a mission for monsters, as they cast for shallow...

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girthChinook Salmon Weight Conversion Chart Trout & Salmon

Chinook Salmon Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2016

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

See More Trout & Salmon

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now