With the leaves starting to come off of the trees and the nights becoming cooler, many people have the itch to get into the woods after whitetail deer. But to me, this time of year gets me excited for brown trout and steelhead in the rivers of Lake Michigan. This is the second article in my series and it will go through brown trout fishing in the rivers and harbors of Lake Michigan.
Starting in early October while the chinook and coho salmon make their annual spawning run into the rivers of Lake Michigan, there are a few brown trout that will follow the salmon to feed on their eggs. This is a great time to pull out the float or fly rod and send natural color beads or yarn flies under a float behind spawning chinooks. Don’t be afraid of sending your float right next to the spawning chinook as I have caught brown trout with their nose right on the chinooks tail.
Typically, towards the end of October, as the water starts getting colder, more browns will start entering the river for their annual spawning run. Just like the chinooks, the browns will spend the first few weeks in the deeper holes. With eggs from the chinook and coho being the primary food source, I like to use more natural colored beads and glo bugs in peach, red, orange or yellow colors. If the browns for some reason don’t want beads I will bring along my 13 Fishing Omen Black and slow roll inline spinners through deeper holes. When using the fly rod, I like to use larger streamers and Wooly buggers with black, olive and purple as go-to colors. Of course, there is always the tried and true spawn sack under a float. If you are fishing clear water, don’t forget to downsize your spawn sack if you tie your own. When the water is gin clear I will tie mine with only 3-5 coho eggs in it. Some people swear up and down by using loose chinook spawn, but personally, I cannot get bit with it.
Over the years I have noticed a common trend, two weeks before the brown trout move shallow to spawn, they will put the feedbag on and fishing the deeper holes with spawn, beads, yarn patterns and streamers will be red hot. Then, the week before they move shallow, you will see browns in the deeper holes and fishing becomes extremely tough – almost nonexistent. If you witness this taking place, I would suggest taking the week off and getting the fly rod rigged up to target spawning browns. Just like the chinook and coho, once the browns are on redds, you will see the males become very aggressive and start sparring. This is an excellent time to swing a streamer for an aggression bite.
Once the browns are finished spawning, not all of them will return to the lake. A majority will hold over under the ice until spring. Once they are back in the deeper holes, this is the time to bring back out the small stuff such as beads, glo bugs and even white crappie tubes tipped with a wax worm.