One of the most over-looked steelhead fisheries is right under our noses in Metro Detroit. The Clinton river is home to a nice migration of Steelhead every spring. Fishing on the Clinton river is definitely not fishing the mighty Manistee but will work. The tradition and beauty that surrounds the Manistee river cannot be beat. However, with gas prices being so high, the Clinton river is a good alternative. After ice out, the steelhead will start to move into the river once the temperatures stabilize around the mid forties. Add in some rain and the run will be on.
Anglers can access the Clinton river at many locations but the most popular one is Yates park in Rochester Hills. The parking lot is across from the Yates cider mill at 22 mile and Dequindre. Anglers must fish the northern shore because the southern shore is privately owned. The best bet for landing a couple of nice silver bullets is to walk a little upstream and find some deeper holes to fish. If you like fishing at Yates, don't worry, once the steelhead thin out, the sucker fishing starts heating up.
Steelhead will hold in the slow water areas waiting to attack bait-fish that are swept into them by the faster current. Use a slip bobber set-up and toss your bait so it floats right into the slow moving water and hold on to your rod. Other areas to key in on are areas of gravel and deep holes. The Steelhead look to the gravel areas to spawn and use the deep holes to attack bait-fish.
If you haven't fished for Steelhead before, bring a medium to medium light rod that is over eight feet long. Steelhead are known to make big runs when caught. If your rod is too short or stiff, the fish will snap your line. I use a medium light ten foot rod I purchased at Gander Mountain. It took awhile to get used to the length but I prefer it now. This rod can take any run a hard charging steelhead has to offer.
It is also important to use monofilament line when fishing for Steelhead. Most anglers prefer mono because it stretches when a fish is on the line. This enables the fish to make its run and not snap the line. Fireline is great for sensitivity but many steelhead anglers have found their hook straightened out after a hard run. I prefer eight pound test when fishing for Steelhead. If the water is clear, I will tie a two foot fluorocarbon leader to fool the fish. Fluorocarbon vanishes in water so the fish will not see it.
Popular baits for fishing for steelhead are wigglers, wax-worms and spawn bags. Use just enough weight to get your offering a couple feet off of the bottom. Drift your bait over deeper holes and watch the bobber. This is the most important part of steelhead fishing. Steelhead do not always hit the bait the same way. One time the bobber may slightly twitch as the fish nibbles the bait. The next time, the bobber will go completely under as the fish slams the bait.
If you live in the Metro Detroit area, and are bored between ice fishing and walleye season. Try fishing for steelhead on the Clinton river. The river can give up some nice catches of steelhead and who knows, with the Michigan weather, you may even get a tan.
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