Pere Marquette River Report

February 19th, 2020

Steelhead fishing remains productive for the month of February here on the Pere Marquette! The recent cold snap has helped stall the spawning activity from those eager fall hold-over’s but that will change this weekend with warmer weather on the horizon. Uber and I had a two boat trip with the Jaworski group on a fairly busy Monday for February but everyone we spoke to was at least hitting a fish or two. Rory and Andy hooked and lost 3 nice fish from a short, deep slot while Uber was downstream putting the net under Andrea’s first steelhead!

Father, daughter, steelhead! Look at that smile!

Once again, nymphs have been most productive for my boat lately. There’s a little dusting to the water but it’s still pretty clear and cold for the most part. Of course small pale nuke eggs and glo-bugs will still get fish, it’s just that with little spawning activity occurring and moderate angling pressure, small/natural nymphs on light fluorocarbon tippets seem to produce more for my guys under these circumstances.

Mr. Kestner has the bins loaded for spring! Get your boxes stocked before the guides raid ’em all!

Bottom bouncing and indicator nymphing with bead head nymphs along those slower inside current seams where those lethargic steelhead are “chilling” are the best presentations. Swinging flies is another good way to wake a cold, winter steelhead from their slumber. Backing a grapefruit leech or sculpin pattern into their face pisses them off in just the right way to get that hard pull. Intermediate Skagit or Scandi heads with heavier sink tips to get the fly deep quickly are a necessity. The flies don’t need to be huge to get a grab, quite the opposite in clearer water conditions. Smaller, more natural patterns with sparse to no flash will trump those big flashy prom dresses. 

Check out Parker’s first steelhead that he landed on a trip with lodge guide Jory last weekend!

Spring steelhead season could be here faster than you know this year so check your calendar and get your dates booked for March and April sooner rather than later! I’m sure the traffic will increase as things get closer to the traditional peak of the run (mid March through mid April) but in my honest opinion, the best fishing is now in terms of numbers of fish available to those fishing for them. The river is FINALLY below 1000 CFS @ Scottville (currently 946 CFS) for the first time in who knows how long. Once the big melt happens and all the water flows into the river to make it swell, we should expect to see a good blast of new spring chrome! Still utilize caution around the slick ramps/steps at the accesses, bring hand-warmers, propane heaters, extra gloves, boot-foot neoprene waders, and heavy jackets! Good luck and we’ll see you on the river! 

Kyle Hartman – Guide

Pere Marquette River Lodge

231 745 3972

  • Flow
    1130 CFS @ Scottville
  • Visibility
    Tiny stain but overall good visibility
  • Water Temperature
    34-38
  • Best time of day to fish
    Morning
  • Indicator
    Blackbird 6 gram
  • Recommended Leader
    9' 0x Mirage
  • Recommended Tippet
    2-3x Mirage
  • Best Rod Outfit
    11' 7wt Clearwater Switch Rod
  • Best Techniques
    Nymphing
  • Comments
  • 6 day outlook
  • Our thoughts on the outlook