Bottom of the Ninth Steelhead

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Steelhead fishing is one of the most complicated, interesting types of fishing there is. Just when you think you have them figured out for a couple days, everything changes on you. That is what happened to me the other day.

After a day of great fishing with the Great Outdoors Pursuit TV show, I thought I had them all figured out. For days, spawn bags and beads in any color were hot. We were hooking nearly double-digit numbers of fish daily. The weather was supposed to be the same and I was looking forward to the rest of the week. Then I had Mike and Dan on my boat.

We pulled into my favorite hole! I was excited because I was positive the fishing was going to be great. We also had nearly perfect conditions. We fished it for nearly an hour without much success. We hit all my hot holes from the day before hoping for a bite. But the floats were not disappearing. I racked my brain trying to figure out what these fish wanted. Switched baits and rigs multiple times without my luck. I decided to go a little over the time slot hoping to get these guys a steelhead. I stopped at a random new hole that I had never fished hoping it would pay off. Maybe these fish had switched spots to lay in.

Mike made a perfect cast and continued with a perfect drift, keeping that line out of the water, letting the float go down a river as naturally as possible. The bobber went down and Mike had a fish on. He battled that fish and landed a skipper steelhead of about 20 inches. We quickly took the hook out of the fishes mouth and released it. After a few more drifts we moved on.

We were now 2 hours over the time limit so I decided we would try one more spot. It was the last spot of the day. The guys told me to give it a cast and see what happens. So I pulled out my favorite rod, my 13.5 ft St. Croix Avid and made a cast with a chartreuse bead. I was nearing the end of my drift and the float dropped. I asked Dan if he wanted to attempt to land this fish on a center pin. Up until this trip, I don’t think Dan knew what a center pin was. Dan said, “heck yeah.” He listened to all my directions and fought it like a pro. He had a different way of landing a steelhead and back reeled when the steelhead took off. Finally, it got closer to the boat and I figured if we were going to lose him, it would be right here. However, that was not the case today. He brought the fish up right next to the boat making for an easy landing job. Everyone was pumped and excited. We just landed a steelhead on the last cast.

They guys needed to get going so we called it a day. At the launch, we had a quick beer and talked about the day. They also gave me a Central Michigan University hat, the college I graduated from. Probably one of the coolest tips I have ever received. We may not have wacked them today, but I sent them off with smiles and stories to tell their friends. This is what makes steelheading so interesting. You never know what will happen.

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Thanks, Mike and Dan for coming out. It was an awesome time fishing with you guys and I hope to see you again soon!

I have one week left of Steelhead fishing up north. If you would like to get out, please contact me immediately. 248-two two 9- 7 two two 6. $50 dollars off any trip if you mention this post.


Why I Fish Steelhead

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.57.42 AMIf you jump on Instagram and follow a lot of steelheaders, you will see many hero shots. Many people fish steelhead for different reasons and they think the fish is the ultimate goal but is that the only thing about steelheading that a steelheader loves? Up until a few years ago I never really understand why people would say the fish is just a bonus. However, as I get older and catch more fish, the more it becomes about the experience. That is why you get so many different people fishing many different ways.


Very frustrated looking for that first steelhead

I started seeking the elusive steelhead back in 1994 when I was 9 years old. I craved hours
on the water every shot I got. I would read everything I could about steelhead fishing. Unfortunately for me, the closest steelhead river was the Clinton river. The Clinton river is one of the most over-pressured steelhead streams in Michigan.


April 16th, 2003 I landed my first steelhead

There are much more people fishing that river then there is fish caught. I spent many days on my own trying for this steelhead I heard about. A year would go by without much success. Then another year. Eventually, I started fishing with some pretty good anglers and finally hooked my first steelhead. The curse was finally broken. Steelhead fishing became easier and easier. Although there are still some days that I just can not figure them out.

One of the most asked questions I receive every year is whether or not I like to ice fish. I tell them I have ADD and get really bored staring at holes in the ice. I don’t get the draw of ice fishing but some people don’t get the draw of sitting in knee-deep water in the middle of winter either. I need to move around and have stuff going on. I then tell them I am a steelheader and I fish steelhead 8 months out of the year. They then question my sanity about fishing in the frigid cold in January. I then ask them if they have ever been on a river in the middle of the winter.

The other day I was watching a show and the host, April Vokey, was asked why she loved to Steelhead fish. As I was listening I kept saying “hey, that’s me”. I had many reason why I loved to steelhead but April Vokey really opened up my eyes even more to why I appreciate steelhead fishing as much as I do. As I get older, steelhead fishing has become more about the experience than the fish. Fishing the rivers is really one of the few places that I can completely forget about all the stresses in life. Although I love fishing out of my boat, I really lose myself when I am walking the edge of a steelhead stream not having to worry about anything. The fish are cool but the adventure and places we chase them are what tops it off. I never really cared to leave the state of Michigan to fish steelhead. Now I am thinking about how and where I can chase these fish across North America.


Have you ever sat down to appreciate everything there is about steelhead? I like the anticipation of planning the adventure and then not knowing how the river is going to fish. Will the weather work to my advantage or against me. Will it be stable pressure or will it be a blizzard? I like exploring new places where steelhead might lie. I like the walk to my favorite holes on my favorite rivers or the steps down to the dam. I love the thought process of trying to fool a wary steelhead. I like the rivers, the edges and the holeSitting they’re trying to pick out where a steelhead might lie and what the fish might bite. Will it bite a spawn bag, a stonefly or the million other things? When I finally figure out what I am going to use I then cast to that spot hoping for a bobber drop. Most of the time it doesn’t happen. I will actually snag bottom more than anything else. I cast over and over and over again. Then I move to the next spot and cast some more. I love how steelheads are elusive and I never know where they might be sitting underneath the waters surface. Every steelhead a I catches, have to work for it, whether its tying jigs, spawn or walking to that spot. You might cast all day without a bobber drop but when it does, it’s like you just won the lottery.

cropped-dsc0967.jpgThen there are days when I can’t go wrong and I will hook a ton of steelhead. When I am fighting a stubborn steelhead and the fishing is really good I catch myself wanting to get the fish in so I can make another cast to watch that bobber drop again. However, when it slows down it will drive an me nuts trying to figure out a way to get them to go again. I will start thinking of every reason the steelhead stopped biting.

The one thing I love about steelhead fishing is how every fish is different. They are not like a northern pike that all look the same. Some might be chrome. Some might be dark with the dark colors of Christmas. Some might be chrome with a pink stripe down their sides. I never know what the steelhead on the end of my line looks like until it’s on the shoreline.


One of the most prettiest steelhead I have ever landed

I personally think that a lot of us have lost the adventure in steelhead fishing. To some it’s all about looking cool on the river or how many fish they can catch. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hook double digits of fish. But, some people are so obsessed over it that they will be absolutely miserable if they don’t hook at least 5 fish per trip. One of my most hated questions on forums is “are the fish running in this river? Because if they are not, i’m not coming!” Well, if you have that attitude, you should probably just stay home because there is so much more to steelhead fishing then just the fish. And, chances are if your looking for a good bite, you probably already missed it when you get word of it being good.

Although I sometimes am guilty, I have really been trying to take in the adventure when I get to hit the river. When my feet hit that water for the first time I take a deep breath and remember every reason why I love this sport so much. How cool is it that we get to spend time on a river doing something we love? Fish or not, it’s so much better then shopping in downtown New York or working.

So the next time you hit the water, do yourself a favor and sit down during your steelhead adventure. Think of everything steelhead fishing means to you. Why are you a steelheader? What do you love about it? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments or use the hashtag #chromeseekers to show us what you love about steelhead fishing this season.

If you have never ever been steelhead fishing or salmon fishing and want to give it a try, give me a call. I would love to show you why I love this sport so much.


From Steelhead Manifesto

Move Around For Steelhead and Salmon

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I fished nearly a dozen holes before I found a biter on this day.

You ever come across an old timer who is guarding a hole and says he has been fishing this spot for 30 years. You then notice he hasn’t caught any fish. Or, the guy who caught 5 fish out of a spot and thinks that spot is now the best spot in Michigan and won’t leave. You move onto to find other waters and come back later and the guys are still fishing the same spots. Don’t be that guy if you want to catch fish. Or, how about the guy who is fishing the beds in January when there is no fish spawning, yet.

We all have our favorite spots. Sometimes fish are not in that hole. Or, they may be holding in different parts of the hole. Some of the best steel headers I know hit 5-10 holes on a given day trip. They are continuously looking for biting fish and that means moving around.


I almost did not fish this hole. It lead me to my only fish of the day.

Fish stay in certain spots during certain times of the year. Sometimes miles of water will be void of fish. Weather and water temps will determine if the fish are biting. It can also determine where the fish may be laying. If the water is really cold, the fish will be in the slowest part of the hole. They will not move very far to bite. If the water is warm you can find the fish in faster water in the front of the hole. They will move farther to bite. The weather will determine where in the hole they are sitting or if they are biting or not.

A small percentage of fish are biting fish. If the fish are not biting then what is the point of fishing the same hole over and over. Move around and search for biters. You will end up catching more fish.

The only time I have noticed when it’s worth staying in the same spot is during the peak of the run. If you know you are on a pile of fish I would continue fishing those fish. If there is a lot of fish they will be moving around. It also may be worth leaving and coming back. In certain spots, it can be epic on and off throughout the day. For several years I would start at a certain spot and then move down the river because nobody would be catching any. When I would come back I had missed out on an incredible bite. Now I don’t leave that spot during spring time if that is where I decide to fish.


Fishing 5 holes on this day lead to an epic day on the river going hooking 10 fish and landing 6

Keeping track with a journal is a great to way to becoming better at predicting where to fish. Some of the key points I would keep track of are the water temp, air temp, weather, the date and the type of water your fishing. Other points I keep track of are the river, the bait, and the water clarity.

Do you agree with this article? Or, do you like fishing in the same spot trip after trip. What is your success? Leave a comment below:

The Fishing Network

IMG_0786If you jump on Facebook and go to any fishing forum, you will see bickering and hatred towards each other. You will see “know it all” fisherman and people just wanting to learn. You will see fisherman thinking there the God of fishing. It’s all really ridiculous how some of these fishermen worship fish sometimes and treat others like dog crap. However, a person is no good without his network. Every fisherman struggles from time to time and a good network may just save you a day of fishing. I am very fortunate to have grown a network over the years of buddies and fisherman I can rely on to stay on top of the fish. A situation occurs like that this week.

I was heading up north with my parents. Our Church, Kensington Community Church is joining forces with a church called Bay Point Community Church in Traverse City. Our pastors were speaking up there so we headed up. I had brought my boat along to take my parents out fishing. I was really looking forward to it because of my deck hanging experience last year and I always love getting my family into fish.

When I walked into church I ran into one of my long time fishing buddies that I hadn’t seen in a long time. We shot the breeze for a little bit and then he mentioned a hot spot for fishing. He really hooked us up with the information and told me to go to a certain location. Due to respect for my buddy, that location will be going un-name but that is not the point of this blog.


So we headed out there fishing. The weather was perfect. There was a little bit of a chop with it calming down during the day. A little too sunny but it was nice. You could see down in 30 feet of water. Right away we hooked up with a pig of a Laker. Then we trolled around without much luck. Although the weather became more beautiful as the evening progressed.

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IMG_0770Then the same buddy came out on his boat. He limited out really quickly while I trolled around in no mans land. He eventually limited out and told me to get my butt over to where he was. So I did! I sped up to 4 MPH to get over to where he was at before the sun disappears. When I got to where he was at, I slowed down. Bam, fish on! My dad cranked in feisty little trout. Then it was my turn but the fish threw the hook at the back of the boat.

IMG_0746We then trolled around with no luck for 20 minutes. Thinking it was over; I made a suicide turn hoping to get back to the school before the fish shut off. Wanting to get back to the boat launch before it was dark, I started pulling the line. I had another rod go off which I reel in, a nice Lake Trout. I couldn’t have asked for a better night knowing everyone on board got a nice fish but it was only the beginning.

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A couple rods somehow managed to get tangled. While trying to fix them, a rod goes off. With a wanna B fin fin. My Mom grabbed that rod and cranked it in like a pro. While she was doing that, another fish bit a high line with a fin fin and then the board line went off with a wiggle wart. The fish threw the fin fin but my dad grabbed the other rod. It was a Chinese fire drill on the boat. My mom lands the first fish and my dad cranked in the second Lake Trout. There is no better ending to a day when almost all your lines are reel in. What an evening!


Thanks Vern! I hope I can pay the favor back to you one day.

IMG_0759Now I don’t know if I would have done as great if I fished where I originally want to fish. However, it really helped me having my buddy send me to a location. Also, the fact that I was far away from the spot he was killing them and then calling me over. My point of this blog is by working with each other, you can either makes someone’s days or they might help save your day. I will always remember that day my buddy helped me out and will always help him out when I can. What goes around comes around. Especially out in the Big Lake when there is so much water and not enough time in the day to troll it all.

Now I am not saying you need to get on the Internet and go share all your information. You also shouldn’t jump on the Internet asking for a network. A solid network comes in time. You also have to pick and choose the people you work with. I have a certain people I trust and give them almost everything I know. There are also some people I give little information to them because I flat out don’t trust them. I have had a person asked me for detailed information before but when I needed some information, they shut me down. Needless to say, that guy does not get anymore spoon fed information.

Next time someone ask you for help doesn’t be afraid to throw him or her some information. You never know when it may come back and repay you in a big way.

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When it Rains; it Pours

Have you ever heard the saying “When it Rains, it Pours”? Well, this is a story of a weekend like that.

It seems like whenever you buy a new boat you have to learn the boat inside and out. A new boat owner has to learn what makes it work, every inch of that boat. Safety is very important and every captain should make sure the boat is up and running as best as possible.

12963643_696922460411195_1849997965650515530_nI always try to keep my boat in tip-top shape so it’s always ready to go. I had been working on it this winter fixing stuff that had broken throughout last year. The boat was all ready to go for the spring steelhead run and I have been excited.

I have been planning a weekend Steelhead fishing outing with guys from my church for a few months now. I was super excited to get these guys on the water. All I had to do Friday morning was put the boat on the hitch and take off. I decided to check my anchor winch that I had fixed a few weeks before. The anchor didn’t want to work. I hit reset on the fuse box, nothing.

Long story short, everything I did would not get the winch to work. I decided to call some Marine stores. Some helped me out as much as they could and some jerked me around. After 70 miles of driving and 5 hours of calling people, a company finally had what I needed. The only problem was, I could get not get it until Wednesday. I needed it now. The company suggested I call where the anchor winch was bought. Needless to say, they had the part.

image-2I ended up calling up the guys from my church and they graciously offered to go pick up the part. When I showed up, we put the part in but the anchor winch still didn’t work. So we ran to the store at 10:00 PM to pick up some connectors and a new switch. The next morning we found out a cord had come undone from the switched. We used the screw from the new switch and had success. It was time to hit the river.

After all the issues it was finally nice to hit the river with the guys. We showed up to a very cold April morning. The river was very busy and the word was slow. Everyone had a favorite way to pursue the steelhead. Chuck was the first to get hit casting a wiggle wart. As soon as that water warmed up from 42.6 to 42.9 we had a little flurry of action with hooking up with 3 fish. The only downfall was none of them stuck and all threw the hook. The anchor winch worked great. The fishing was a lot of fun, but the catching was not. It was fun to introduce some of my friends to steelhead.

13006541_696701467099961_2187773186852542293_nSunday we woke up to miserable weather. We were getting it all; snow, sleet, and rain. No one really wanted to go out in it so we took a tour of Canadian Lakes. What an incredible area. If you ever get to stay over there, I highly suggest it.

After the guys took off, I decided to brave the elements. I was questioning my sanity on the way. It was that borderline weather when your thinking it should be snowing because it’s so cold, but it wasn’t. It was a pouring down rain. Everything was soaked except for my clothes underneath my warm rain suit. I hooked up an extra chain to my pyramid anchor to stay. I only fished for 2 hours but was able to hook up with a couple fish on beads. These fish were both hot in the freezing cold weather.

While slipping slowly down the river (pulling the anchor and tapping bottom as I moved down the river), I suddenly started to move faster. I was in the faster water so I paid no attention to it. When I got to the end and wanted to move spots, I noticed my chain anchor was gone. The carabiner I was using either broke or somehow unclicked itself. Note to self: don’t use carabiners to attach the chain to pyramid weight.

imageWith the weather getting worse, I decided to call it a day. While headed to Big Rapids to meet up with a friend, my carpet that I forgot to tie down was flapping in the wind. I stopped to take care of it and I heard a loud hissing. My tire was going down. I quickly jumped in my truck and sped off looking for somewhere to keep my boat. The tire quickly became flat and forced me to pull over. There was no place other than leaving it on the side of the road. Luckily for me, an old timer stopped and told me I could leave the boat outside.

The next morning I picked up a tire and headed to the boat. Luckily it was a quick fix and I was able to get on the water quick. Fishing was ok. I did more scouting and chatting then anything. I managed to hook up with 3 fish on beads which only one connected. The other smashed a wiggle wart.

12993339_697291110374330_5846334974549182648_nIt was a major learning curve about the boat this weekend. Problems I had will help me be better prepared for next time. I learned how to diagnose issues with the winch so I will be able to pinpoint future problems.

Minus the boat issues and weather, it was a great time on the water.
Fishing should be really good this week. If you are looking for a guide, feel free to give me a call. (248)229-7226

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Steelhead Camp 2016: The Year of the Weather

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Michigan has many outdoor recreations camps. Annual traditions have a special place in my heart. Whether it’s deer camp with my dad or annual camps with my buddies. Camp is a special place for many reasons. We get to spend several days in the outdoors with very little commitment to anything else. Us guys get to be adventurous just like we were made to do. It’s good for the soul to have these opportunities.


One camp that I try to make every year is the Bakker steelhead camp my buddies Dad puts on. The camp is a beautiful log cabin they had built on their own. The cabin is in the perfect place on an unknown creek in the middle of a bunch of tall pine trees. It’s the perfect camp! To be part of this camp every year is truly an honor for the amount of effort that went into the camp.


This year’s camp was a little different, though. Usually, we all rock the steelhead and trout pretty good. One year back in 2012, the fishing was so good we stayed down there from sunrise to sunset for 4 days straight. This year, we had several fronts blow in. It started off with a rainstorm that day before that brought up the water levels. Then the weather became really warm and was snowing 2 hours later. It was really the perfect storm of making the fishing horrible. As the days progressed, the water became very dirty. Very few adult steelhead were caught. This lead us to analyze every reason why the fishing was so bad and then find us back at the cabin.


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Hanging out after a day of tough fishing




At 3:30 it was 50 degrees. 6:30 it started to snow. 7:30 we had an inch of snow


Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 11.26.30 AMThese groups of guys are some of the best fishermen I know. But this trip shows how even a great fisherman can get shut down due to weather. It’s a humbling experience that lets you know that your not in control. The fishing was so bad that we actually spent more time at the cabin. We talked politics, business and of course, fishing. Some frosty beverages were consumed and amazing meals were made. It wasn’t about the fishing but just hanging out and being guys. The music was cranked up as we prepared for the next day hoping for a different outcome in the morning.

One of my favorite parts about this camp is when Mr. Bakker brings out the fishing journal. We remembrance about the years past, who was around and how the fishing was. To me, it’s fun to remember what made that camp fun from years past and bring back memories of fish and good times. I especially like to listen when Mr. Bakker talks about the fishing back in the days. He has many years of fishing knowledge and fishing wisdom that any fisherman would find interesting.

Saturday was a touch better for some but the fishing was still extremely tough. The weather was bitterly cold. The winds were blowing in each direction at times. At times, the snow was so bad you barely could see across the river. You had to wonder if we were still in February or if it was April?? Garret who doesn’t get to fish often ended up being the man of the weekend and hooking up with eight steelhead in extremely tough conditions.



Garret fighting a steelhead


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Garret with a gorgeous steelhead

We finally called it a day and headed to the bar for the annual Final four March Madness game. Sometimes we are lucky to watch our Spartans make it. This year was a little different as most of Michigan state fans know, but we won’t get into that.


After the game, I made the decisions I was headed home to beat the next front coming in.

_DSC0967Thanks for the read! Please make sure to leave a rating and share this article with your friends. It would help me out a lot. Also, make sure to follow us on wordpress or any of our other social media sites.

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Chrome Seekers Newsletter – 3.29.2016

chrome seekers final transparentIf you have been waiting to get on the river, the time is now. There is a lot of fish running and the water temps are warming up. I have been out several times in the last few weeks and have managed a few each trip. I will be fishing the next 2.5 weeks almost daily. Really looking forward to it. If you would like to get out on the water, give me a call. (248-229-7226)he

I have also started teaching steelhead fishing with hour lessons. These lessons are not a guide trip but an opportunity to learn how to properly fish for steelhead and salmon for a lot less money. If you have been struggling catching steelhead this season and would like to learn proper rigging and locations of steelhead, give me a call. I have dedicated a page to this new product that you can check out below:

Below are some articles I have written lately if your interested:

Tips for Using Michigan Boat Launches

Tips for Taking a Kid Fishing

Below is a 4 part blog about tips to help you catch more fish:

The Final Tip to Catch More Fish (blog 4 of 4)

2nd Tip To Catch More Fish (Blog 3 of 4)

Learning from Other: 3 Tips to Catch More Fish (Part 2 of 4)

Three Tips to Help You Catch More Fish (Part 1 of ?)


Dan Stewart