After a year absence, it was back to Michigan for spring steelhead. Our destination was Baldwin, Michigan an eleven hour drive from Ottawa, Canada. Our hosts were the proprietors of Batchke’s Baldwin Creek Lodge who provided both accommodations and expert guides – most of whom we had fished with before.
There are several steelhead rivers in the Baldwin area but this year, aside from one group of two fishing the Muskegon River for a day and another group fishing the White River for a day, all our fishing was done on the Pere Marquette River.
The portion of the Pere Marquette we fished has both National Wild and Scenic River and Blue Ribbon fishery designations. It’s fisheries population includes resident brown and rainbow trout as well as migratory king salmon and steelhead.
It was the later that were the focus of our attention. Prime time for the the spring steelhead run is during March and April so we were full of anticipation. And while it may technically be a spring run, that doesn’t necessarily translate into sunshine and budding trees. This year the spring has been cool and we were greeted with a certain chill to the start of our trip.
As it turned out, the Saturday forecast for the coming week provided accurate for Sunday but somewhat optimistic for the rest of the week. The forecast snow for Sunday began shortly after we launched and continued through the day. But it didn’t seem to deter the fish and so, neither us.
Monday began with a blanket of snow, clear skies and sun which melted much of the snow through the course of the day but unfortunately, also pushed the steelhead to depths were they could not be seen until later in the day when the sun moved from overhead.
Tuesday began with clouds and the promise of rain but that was ok. The previous two days my fishing had been on the fly fishing section but today we were going to the middle section of the Pere Marquette – new water for me. The conditions proved acceptable to the fish and we in turn had consistent hook ups throughout the day. Fish to the boat, perhaps less consistent.
Wednesday was our last day on the water. Again the forecast called for rain but it held off until early in the afternoon. Through the afternoon showers and claps of thunder were only a minor deterrent as the fish proved generally cooperative.
Our four days of fishing came to an end way too soon.