Winter run steelhead came from Northern California to Michigan in the late 1800’s. The first wild reproduction in the Great Lakes of steelhead was recorded on our home Muskegon River near Paris Michigan in the 1890’s. Since then the wild Michigan strain steelhead have become legendary and world famous. Today they inhabit over 150 streams and rivers in Michigan and are a wild and self-sustaining population on many of our blue ribbon steelhead rivers.
My bestselling book of all time on steelhead, my “Steelhead Dreams”, was inspired by the amazing Great Lakes rivers of my native upstate New York boyhood days and now my new residence of Michigan, where I have been for over 30 years now. Michigan is truly a state where wild steelhead dreams are made .
Winter steelhead ascend my home waters of the Muskegon River from October thru June- 9 months of these beautiful wild fish! The Fall sees them taking spey intruders on the swing- the perfect time of year for swinging two handers and spey casting. The Muskegon is a large tailwater with perfect swinging water- depths and currents conducive to a swung fly. Also the tremendous runs of wild King Salmon are spawning and the steelhead will be poaching eggs relentlessly.
As winter starts in December the larger buck males and females continue to ascend the river all winter long. A trophy 15-20 pound steelhead is possible in the winter months As spring comes and the main spawning run happens more larger chrome steelhead ascends the river. The early black stonefly hatches stimulates the steelhead to focus on natural insects like green caddis, newly hatched salmon fry , and stones, along with other nymphs as their egg consumption increases.