Fishing 411 with Mark Romanack Episode 10 Manistee River Steelhead
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Posted On January 07, 2013
Fishing 411 with Mark Romanack
MANISTEE RIVER STEELHEAD, EPISODE 10
Manistee River Steelhead
town of Manistee, Michigan is a sleepy little tourist village with a big
maritime history. At one time Manistee was one of the busiest ports on the
Great Lakes shipping out timber to serve a growing nation. Today, Manistee
serves visitors who are looking to get away from a growing nation, relax and
enjoy life’s finer moments.
Manistee River enjoys one of the largest runs of steelhead of any river in the
Great Lakes region. In part this is true due to an aggressive stocking program.
The Manistee also attracts lots of steelhead because this river system is also
the natal spawning waters of literally 10’s of thousands of king and coho
the late summer and early fall when the salmon enter the river to spawn,
steelhead follow them to feed upon the salmon eggs. This unique situation sets
the stage for some amazing fall steelheading action.
time steelhead are feeding on salmon eggs one of the best ways to catch them is
a locally popular technique simply called “bumping bottom” that involves
drifting a spawn bag along bottom with the help of a few split shots.
bottom starts by attaching a three way swivel to the end of a mainline
consisting of 10# test monofilament. A five or six foot leader of eight pound
test fluorocarbon line is added to one of the three way swivel ends terminating
into a No. 4 or 6 egg hook and a dime sized spawn bag.
the third swivel a short dropper of monofilament is added as a place to pinch
on two or three No. 7 split shot. This simple rigging method allows the spawn
bag to be casted and drifted along bottom matching the speed of the current.
the split shots hang up on bottom, a steady pull will strip the shot from the
line, salvaging the swivel, leader and hook in tact. It’s not uncommon to go
through a half pound of split shot during a long day fishing the Manistee
the fall steelhead tend to hold in the faster water that provides salmon with
ideal spawning habitat. Any place that salmon are making their spawning reds,
steelhead will set up just downstream and wait for loose eggs to drift
best runs tend to feature three to six feet of water, a gravel bottom and
steady current. These fish can be targeted both by wading and from a boat. On
this particular episode we’re fishing from a small aluminum boat equipped with
an Anchor Wizard a boat anchoring system invented and manufactured by Bruce
VanScoyo of Evart, Michigan.
Anchor Wizard is an anchor deployment and recovery system that allows an angler
to lower and raise the anchor without ever touching a wet and cold line. The
Anchor Wizard also allows line to be played out after deploying the anchor
enabling the boat position to be slowly slipped downstream to cover more water.
first glance the Anchor Wizard resembles a beefed up downrigger and it
functions using a similar clutch system. To lower the anchor simply turn the
handle on the Anchor Wizard backwards one half turn, freeing up the wheel and
allowing gravity to deploy the anchor and line. To lock the wheel in place
simply turn the handle a half turn forward.
it’s time to raise the anchor and move to a new location, simply turn the
handle forward until all the line is picked up and the anchor stored in the
nose cone of the Anchor Wizard system.
proof, American made and guaranteed for life, the Anchor Wizard is the ultimate
boat anchoring system. Available in various sizes and models, the Anchor Wizard
is ideal for anchoring just about anything that floats including kayaks,
pontoons and fishing boats large and small.
most exciting part of fall steelhead fishing occurs seconds after setting the
hook. These chrome colored rockets literally blast out of the water
cartwheeling in an effort to throw the hook. The aerial displays steelhead are
famous for makes them unique and exceptionally difficult to land. Only about
one out of every three or four fish hooked eventually come to net. The rest
break off or tear free leaving the angler disappointed yet determined to hook
most avid steelhead anglers collect and cure their own spawn especially for
fishing. In the fall nothing beats a dime sized ball of fresh salmon eggs held
into a sac with netting. The netting used for tying spawn sacs comes in every
color under the rainbow, but orange, flame red and pink are among the most
help the spawn sac drift up off the bottom a few inches, many anglers put a
couple small foam floats in each spawn sac. Once the spawn sacs are tied, they
are stored in a small jar.
cured by rolling them in Borax powder can also be used in spawn bags. The Borax
powder firms up the eggs and preserves them. Cured in this manner salmon eggs
can be kept in a refrigerator for several weeks.
RODS AND REELS
bottom with spawn is a game best played with steelhead specific rods and reels.
Detecting the often subtle bites requires a high graphite content spinning rods
about 8’- 6” to 10’- 6” long and featuring a medium light action. In this
episode we’re fishing with Okuma SST and Guide Select Steelhead Rods equipped
with Trio size 30 spinning reels.
rods do a great job of tiring out powerful steelhead and improving the odds of
landing these acrobatic fish. A new steelhead rod in the 2013 line up for Okuma
is called the T-40X. The tip to butt carbon design breaks from tradition
creating an ultra sensitive and powerful rod designed especially for stream
SUMMING IT UP
Manistee River is one of the Great Lake’s top steelhead streams. From late September through November anglers
can expect fresh runs of fish almost daily. The daily limit is three steelhead,
but most anglers practice catch and release.
you’ve hooked and landed an acrobatic steelhead all other types of fishing seem
to pale by comparison. It’s no wonder steelhead anglers are so dedicated to
their niche in the world of sport fishing.