My dad and I took advantage of the warm and sunny weather this past weekend on the ice chasing Lake Michigan Trout in the Manitowoc area! The morning started off slow, with no action for the first hour. We decided to move 2 of our Automatic Fishermen a little further into the middle of the river. I no more than set the second Automatic Fisherman, walked 5 feet from it, when I heard it trip! I turned around to see the rod doubled over with the drag slowly peeling out!
After a short battle, we were able to land a nice 5 pound buck Brown Trout that had been feasting on Gobies quite heavily! Before I could unhook him, he spit 4 Gobies out onto the ice! This fish had a fin clip, which revealed that this fish was stocked in the Sturgeon River in Big Bay De Noc Michigan! This fish traveled over 130 miles to his final destination! My dad wanted some smoked Trout, so we harvested this fish.
We quickly moved some more lines around in hopes of enticing another strike, but the fish had other plans. After another hour without a bite we chose to pull lines and head to the next spot.
We were pleased to find our next spot open for us to fish, so we did just that. We set 6 Automatic Fishermen and sat back awaiting some action! It didn’t take long for the first bite, unfortunately the fish escaped. I reset the Automatic Fisherman with a fresh spawn sac and set the bobber to allow for the fish to take more line before having the unit trip. 20 minutes later the same Auto popped again, this time the fish was on briefly before it somehow managed to free itself before I could get to the rod.
I again reset the line and increased the amount of line before the Auto would trip. An hour passed with nothing when the Auto popped for the third time! This time I took off running for it as I watched the rod double over! I managed to reach the rod with the fish still hooked, and began fighting another Trout! I immediately knew that this was a Steelhead, as it quickly peeled off 20 feet of line as it made a hard run!
This fish made multiple long runs, meaning this fish was most likely fresh in from the lake! After around a 10 minute battle, I finally managed to ease a beautiful hen Steelhead up the hole and onto the ice! This fish had fin clips, which upon investigation turned out to be a Chambers Creek Strain Steelhead that was stocked in Kewaunee in 2012.
As I unhooked this fish I took a quick glance at the other lines, and to my amazement, there was another Automatic Fisherman tripped with a fish bending the rod up and down! I sprinted the 50 yards to reach this line, and was once again fighting another Trout! After another good battle, I managed to land a holdover buck Steelhead, which had dark coloration from being in the river since fall. This fish was a bit smaller, but was still in the 3-4 pound range.
After resetting the lines and taking a few pictures, we decided to move a few Autos around in hopes of catching more fish. At this point we only had an hour left to fish, so we waited it out but never did get another bite.
Given the conditions, I was very happy with the day we had! As the warm weather continues to melt off our remaining snowpack, you can expect the fresh water entering our rivers to draw more lake run Steelhead in which will make for some great late ice action for those who partake!