The Rogue River in Michigan's Western Lower Peninsula offers excellent steelhead fishing during the spawning period in late fall. The river begins north of Grand Rapids, eventually emptying into the Grand River. Spawning steelhead travel up the Grand River each year from Lake Michigan and eventually reach the Rogue where they continue to swim upstream toward the spawning waters.
Fall and Winter Fishing
The most popular time to catch steelhead on the Rogue River is in October when the spawning run occurs and steelheads swim up the Grand River and enter the Rogue River. The run continues to provide excellent steelhead fishing throughout the winter and into the early spring. The Rogue's lower section is the best winter steelhead fishing waters.
Winter and spring steelhead fishing is often more difficult. Fish that remain in the waters after months of fishing have adapted to common fishing tactics. Winter steelheads are also less active, so the presentation of your bait must be accurate to attract a fish. This low energy state also prompts steelheads to find low current areas such as deep holes, eddies and areas behind rocks.
Though most steelheads die or return to the large waters of Lake Michigan after spawning, some remain in the stream throughout the year. Anglers sometimes catch these stragglers while fishing for brown or brook trout. The upper Rogue River is a common location for steelheads during the summer. This section of the river has a softer bottom than the lower section, making it more difficult to wade, but also providing a more suitable environment for the steelhead.
Bait and Lure
Fly fishing is the most popular method of steelhead fishing in the Rogue. Spin casting or dropping crank baits from a boat also are acceptable methods. Spin fishermen often use loose eggs in a bag or fish chunks, floating them near the bottom with a bobber as an indicator. If you are fly fishing, you will have the best chance of catching a steelhead with nymphs or egg patterns. You should fish these lures close to the bottom. Large streamers are growing in popularity among local fly fishermen.
In winter, steelhead fisherman use smaller bait, including spawn bags, wax worms and wigglers and fish them beneath bobbers.
Article Written By Jim Jansen
Jim Jansen has been writing articles since 2005 and has been featured in publications such as "The River Watch," and also contributes to Trails.com and LIVESTRONG.COM. He has a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Michigan State University. Jansen specializes in outdoor recreation and environmental topics.