Fishing Techniques

Crankbaits for King Salmon

Casting cranks early in the morning will bring out violent reaction strikes form salmon. Most mornings, we start by casting crankbaits and spinners wile rowing down the river or anchored to entice the salmon to bite. This technique is usually effective earlier in the morning but it can also work all day long when the fish first enter the river system. On the Pere Marquette River, the Rapala shadraps and thundersticks in fire tiger are our go-to crankbaits. On the Big Manistee River, we favor more of the Mad Flash thundersticks because their translucent bodies tend to attract more bites. When we aren't casting cranbaits, we will cast inline spinners.

Fly Fishing for King Salmon

Around the end of September thru mid-October, we being sight fishing for the spawning kind salmon. It is a fun way for everyone to fish as they can see hundreds of salmon on the spawning flats. Chuck and duck (side drifting) is our preferred method during this time with nine to ten weight fly rods side drifting beads and nymphs (pictured below) to entice the salmon to bite. While fishing for the spawning salmon, we get good action from not just the salmon but the steelhead, browns, and rainbow trout that are feeding behind them. This action along with being able to see all the salmon in the river makes for an exciting, fun-filled day for everyone! Note: During the spawning period, we release the majority of female king salmon caught to ensure reproduction for future years.

Skein for King Salmon

Float fishing with skein (egg clusters) is the best method after sunrise in the deeper slower runs and holes to trigger a bite from the salmon. We cure our eggs with scent and dye because the salmon prefer red or pink eggs over the natural orange. On the Pere Marquette River, we cast out the side of the boat into the runs or holes and drift our floats down the bubble lines or seams. this technique works well in the shorter runs and holes in the Pere Marquette River. On the Big Manistee River, we typically drop flats straight back behind the boat into the deeper runs and holds. Float fishing with skin is our preferred and favorite way to catch salmon!

Fall Steelhead

In early October, we begin seeing fall steelhead in the dark waters behind the salmon redds. Boondoggling floats with beads is one of the most productive ways to target the fall steelhead and my favorite time to be on the river! Everything is actively feeding behind the salmon including steelhead, browns and rainbow trout, and the occasional coho and king salmon. We either use light spinning gear or seven or eight weight fly rods with floating line while boondoggling. Chuck and duck (side drifting) with beads or nymphs is another technique that we use. Fall steelhead are exciting fish to catch as they jump numerous times, make drag screaming runs, and don’t tire very easily. The largest steelhead are typically caught in the fall. As the salmon spawn comes to an end, the steelhead drop back into the holes and runs. Casting lures, swinging flies, striping streamers, or float fishing are all productive methods as the fish move into deeper slower water preparing for the winter months. (Note: In an effort to maintain good fishing for future years, we prefer catch and release of fall steelhead.)

Fishing Techniques

Dry Fly Fishing

Used for Fly fishing
This technique is used to match the hatch with floating flies for top-water fishing throughout late spring and summer for catching trout.

Bottom Drift Fishing

Used for Conventional Fishing & Chuck & Duck (fly fishing)
This technique is used for casting to side of the boat and bouncing lead with beads or nymphs along the bottom of the river. This works well on steelhead and salmon from fall through spring. Stone flies, wooly buggers, caddis, egg flies, beads, and other nymphs are all effective in enticing bites while bottom drift fishing.

Float Fishing

Used for Conventional Fishing & Center Pin Fishing
This technique is the most commonly used method. Beads, spawn, jigs, egg flies, or nymphs are preferred for targeting steelhead and salmon from fall thru spring.

Indie Fishing

Used for Fly fishing
This technique uses indicator fishing with beads, egg flies, or nymphs behind spawning salmon targeting fall steelhead during October and November.

Streamer Fishing

Used for Fly fishing
This technique uses streamers in late spring thru summer for brown trout and again in late fall for steelhead, Coho salmon, and brown trout.

Euro Fishing

Used for Fly fishing
This technique uses weighted nymphs that are a fun and effective method of catching numbers of trout during the summer.

Plug Fishing

Casting Lures

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