Steelhead & Trout Fishing in the Mitten State

Steelhead & Trout Fishing in the Mitten State

Steelhead and trout fishing in the Mitten state only lasts for a short period of time, so get your waders on and get ready! Our true diehards travel to the Northern part of Michigan to fish from October to mid December, and then you’ll find them right back at it again in March.

There are several areas in Michigan that have an abundance of trout to get your fix. Proud Lake in Oakland County and Island Lake in Livingston County have stocked trout. Other hot spots include Grand River in Grand Rapids, Platte River in Manistee, Muskegon River in Muskegon, Au Sable near Grayling, Kalamazoo River in Kalamazoo, Black River in Alcona Township, and many more.

Rainbow trout. Photo by Chrome Seekers
Rainbow trout. Photo by Chrome Seekers

Before we get too far, let’s discuss the difference between steelhead and trout, as it can be confusing. Dan Stewart from Chrome Seekers, a Michigan guide service for steelhead and salmon, often hears that there is no way steelhead live in Michigan, because they are known to transition from freshwater to saltwater — it’s what gives the fish that brassy silver color. That is correct, however Michigan is home to many steelheads. In our state, they transition from river life to lake life throughout the year.

Our rivers are also home to the beautifully multi-colored rainbow or brown trout, which strictly live in fresh water. Fun fact: steelhead and trout are actually the same species but live different lifestyles, which is why they look different in color.

Good catch! Brown trout, steelhead. Photo by Chrome Seekers
Good catch! Photo by Chrome Seekers

Another steelhead/trout guide, Justin Martens, reiterates that there is only a short period of time that you will have a chance of catching “browns” come December. These brown trout, which are actually more silver in color, are usually eating minnows and crawdads around Michigan during their peak run in October. Trout, unlike Pacific salmon, don’t die after this journey, and trout are know to have a long lifespan of up to thirteen years.

Martens and Stewart say there are many methods for catching steelhead and trout. Drop shot, jerk bait and swim baits are perfect for late fall and early winter trout fishing. Martens says he’s had great luck using a spinning rod with a spoon or rooster tail over basic fly-fishing methods, while Stewart begs to differ. Stewart prefers simple fly techniques with an indicator bobber.

Regardless of how you fish, Michigan is such an awesome place for fishing adventures in all seasons: brown trout, steelhead, salmon, and bass!

**Chrome Seekers is offering a ONE time special for all Awesome Mitten readers, trips booked in December receive 10% off when you mention this article!**

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Growing up in the backwoods of Hell, Michigan I have always been a lover of the outdoors. I also fancy strength training and yoga, photography, good grub and fast paced sports. I spend a majority of my time promoting professional bass anglers and helping local businesses sprout. I hope to share with others my love for Michigan because for some unusual reason with all the traveling I have done thus far in my old age of 27, I keep on coming back to this great state! Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter @me_eichstead to follow my fishing adventures and more!