Lake Superior Steelhead

Lake Superior Steelhead

(guitar music) – Sault Ste. Marie, smack dab in the middle
of Algoma Country. It’s best known for
the Saint Marys Rapids, but within an hour’s drive,
there’s many tributaries that flow into Lake
Superior that hold fish. This week we explore
those tributaries. I’m Bill Spicer, this
is The New Fly Fisher. – [Announcer] The New Fly Fisher has been possible thanks to, Algoma Country, Oris Sporting Traditions. (rhythmic guitar music) – [Bill] Algoma Country, the
beauty is around every turn as you travel across this
wondrous region of Ontario. This area is known for
its breathtaking vistas, crystal clear waters, clean air, and friendly people. Surrounded by two
of the greatest Great Lakes, Huron and Superior and dotted with countless
lakes and rivers, these magnificent bodies
of clear, beautiful water will offer many reasons
to stop along the way. This week, I home base
in Sault Ste. Marie. And then I travel along
the north shore of Superior in search of migratory
rainbow trout or as they’re more commonly
known as, steelhead. Our guide for this
trip is Rod Trudel of On the Fly Fishing Company. Rod lives in the area and knows the lakes
and rivers intimately. With his vast knowledge
and easygoing personality, I’m sure I’ll have
a successful trip. We start out in
familiar waters for me, in the rapids of
the St. Marys River. We had plans of
using two-handed rods and swinging for active fish, but I was visiting the earliest
in the year I’ve ever been. The water was extremely cold and the fish were
not active at all. The best thing about
Algoma Country is, you’re not far from
other tributaries that flow into Lake Superior. All these tributaries have
excellent runs of steelhead. Rod told me he knew
of an excellent stream about 40 minutes from
Sault Ste. Marie. – At On the Fly, our services include
walk and wade, which could be a half day. It could be a full
day of walk and wade in the St. Marys Rapids. Also, we could do walk and wade and half day services on
the Northern tributaries such as the Agawa
River, Sand River, and the Chippewa River. All up in the Northern
shores of Lake Superior. As long as it’s
in Algoma Country, we will do a walk
and wade within it, as long as we are
familiar with the water. – [Bill] After
changing locations, it didn’t take long before we were into
our first steelhead. – That one?
– Fish. – [Rod] Yep, fish. There you go. Good one. – That’s a fish. Now I know where they are. All I can do is let the
fish do what he wants. There’s not much else I can do other than keep a
tight line on him. I’m not trying to horse him. Let him fight the current
and tire himself out. I don’t know how big he is because the current
is so heavy here. But this one definitely
hit like a trooper. What I have here is
an actual back eddy. I’m casting out to the current and it’s bringing it
right back in front of me. And the fish are facing opposite to what you figure they will be because of the back eddy. And I’m just letting
the current take it. It looks like it hit the nymph. Okay, that tells me something. That tells me
they’re feeding up. We got some mayflies probably
hatching around here. – [Rod] Head up,
head up, head up. – And–
– And there we go. – Yes sir, there we go.
– There we go. – Thank you very much there. And that’s on a Prince
Nymph for people at home that see that. Prince Nymphs are really
a good all-around fly. They can imitate a
mayfly or a stone fly. There we go. These little tribs are dotted all along the shores
of Lake Superior. And if you get
Rod as your guide, he knows all these intimately. Here, I’ll let this go. I have to let it go
this way right now to get the current to flow into its gills. And away it goes. And I’m gonna tell
you something: that water is
frigid. (chuckling) We have a netted glove. This is the same
netting as the nets. They don’t harm the fish, they don’t take
any of the oil off. Very safe to use. Alright.
– Fish. (pleasant acoustic guitar music) – More steelhead
action when we return. (jaunty guitar music) Now we’ve got a
unique situation here with this waterfall’s
coming down, causing a big back eddy here
into this deep, deep pool. What I’m doing is
I’m casting over to the whitewater and
allowing it to come back into the back eddy, into
the middle of this pool. These fish are facing, actually, the same way as the
current is over there, because of the back eddy. I have a ledge along here. Whenever you got a ledge, fish will hold
tight to the ledge to get out of the current. So these are some of the things you can look for in these
kind of spill-out pools. Whenever possible,
keep your cast short and lift the line off the water, keeping a direct
link from the tip of your rod to the indicator. This will make it much easier
for you to detect a strike. (gentle guitar music) It’s slowed down quite a bit, and so I needed
to change tactics. And what I haven’t tried
yet was an egg pattern. So what I’ve done is I’ve
left the egg-sucking leech on as my first fly
for an attractor, and then I’m gonna
tie on an egg pattern, a cluster egg pattern here that, it’s got a little bit
of yarn on it there to look like an egg sac itself. So I’m doing that, I put the egg down here. Hopefully that
changes up our luck and they see
something different. We have a lot of
fish in front of us, but if you keep passing the
same fly over and over again, they’ll ignore it because
it becomes boring. So I’m gonna try
switching up something completely different
and see what happens. (pleasant acoustic guitar music) Now, I’ve put on an egg pattern. I hadn’t tried that yet. And this is about the
third drift and I hit him. Again, I gotta let him
play himself out there. We got so much current here, if I pull too hard
and try to horse him, I’m just gonna straighten
the hook or break it off. Okay. Now, I’ll bring him to you, – Yep.
– Net! He’s just about there now. – [Rod] There he is; he
doesn’t wanna come up, ‘eh? – [Bill] Yeah, I’ve
got such a long lead, I’m gonna have to back up.
– Yeah. Can you lift him up?
– Watching myself so I don’t trip. – [Rod] Nope. There we go.
– There ya go. Good man.
– That’s a good fish. – Good man. Alright. (speech drown out by water)
Wet my glove. Get him by the tail. Oh, he’s a feisty one. There you go. Lovely steelhead. Lovely, lovely steelhead. And away it goes. Now let me make a comment, because I’ve been getting emails on what I call a steelhead. I get the Western
people telling me they’re not really steelhead. Well, I guess they don’t
really go to salt water, but they do go to inland seas, which is the Great Lakes. So they’re considered steelhead. Biologically, they’re the same. But I guess if technically, they don’t make it to salt water so we can call them
migratory rainbow trout. (pleasant guitar music) I switched over
to San Juan worm. Which one do you hit? I’ve got two of them on. I got a pink one on
and I got a red one on. And this fish has
some shoulders. I can hardly move him. He’s definitely,
when I set the hook, he hardly moved at all, which indicates
a good-size fish. And from what I hear, this river also produces
some coaster brook trout. Wow.
– Hey. – [Bill] There’s
not much I can do. All I can do is what I’m doing: try to tire him out. Come on around here, buddy. Now for our novices
in the audience, this is a migratory
rainbow trout or steelhead as
we call him here. And what they do is they
are born in the river, and then after about a year,
they move out to the lake, and stay out there
and feed and get big. And when it’s time to
spawn or reproduce, then they come back
to the same rivers that they were born
in, just like a salmon, and that’s when
they lay their eggs. This is a real feisty one. I’m really having a hard
time getting his head up. – [Rod] Great. – [Bill] He’s got so much
current to work with. Oh there we go, I think
we’re getting there. – [Rod] He’s coming. – [Bill] Ready? – [Rod] Yep. Bag him.
– I’m trying to but I got a tree here.
– Half a minute, he’s gonna come back
in must a minute. – Yep.
– We’ll get him. Come on little guy. – [Bill] Thank you, sir! – Yes, sir.
– That looks good. Look at the colors on this one. – [Rod] Oh, he’s a beauty. – And it just really
showed itself a lot better than what it, bigger
than what it was. I guess it must be the
current or something, but boy, I thought this fish
had some big shoulders on him, but instead of me
risking my neck trying to release this fish, we’re gonna release it
right out of the net. We’re gonna give it time
enough that it’s gonna recoup. And he’s already moving good. And just … There he goes, right there. Beautiful.
(guitar music) The great thing
about Algoma Country is they can fit any budget. On this economical trip, I stayed in Sault Ste. Marie at a very modern and
affordable hotel. I also hired a guide. I recommend you do the
same as local knowledge is paramount in your success. We’ll be right back. (peppy guitar music) There are times when the
fishing trip is so good, the cameraman gets to change
hats and be the fisherman. This is one of those
successful trips. Barry Acton, our
most senior cameraman is also an avid and very
skilled fly fisherman. I often wondered how it was for him to watch the show
host catch all the fish. This time, he shows me how
it’s done and I man the camera. Yeah, wind her up hard buddy! – [Barry] There, I got him! – [Bill] Okay, Barry’s
got another chance at it. (speech drown out by rapids) There we go! That’s a really nice fish. Yeah, it’s a big one. Nice fish, look at that. Nice and big, isn’t it? – [Barry] Look at that. – [Bill] Look at
the colors on it. An unusual spotting for
this region I guess. Nice fish Barry, nice fish. – [Barry] Smart one. Oh and just right away.
– And away it goes. – [Barry] He’s ready to go. – The flies that were
used on this episode were: the Blood Dot, the White Zonker, and the Bubblegum Worm. Don’t forget to
include stone flies such as Kaufman Stones and Prince Nymphs. Here I go. Good fish. Looks like, feels like a
heavier fish this time. Yeah. I’ll get into little
later in the show exactly what I’m doing here, ’cause there is a
couple of techniques that I have been using that get you down to
where the fish are. And I’ll explain a
little bit later. – [Rod] Looks like it has
some weight to it, ‘eh? – [Bill] He does. – [Rod] Some shoulders on her. – You ready?
– Yeah. (water rushing) – [Bill] Get it under him. Get it, quick, quick, quick. Good man. – Yeah, it’s a beautiful fish.
– This is a nice fish. Wow, look at the stripe on it. – [Ros] Yeah. – Oh yeah. This is outstanding, this
is a really nice fish. This is a very thick fish. And … look at that. Look at that. Outstanding. Outstanding. Beautiful. Now, this isn’t as spotted up, but look at the stripe
down it, and the red cheek. Point him upstream. And away it goes.
(laughing) There are some nice
fish around here. I’m telling ya, some
really nice fish and they are in
on fire right now. Just a little earlier,
my guide took a fish and it actually jumped
out of the water, which tells me the water
is starting to warm up and the activity is
getting greater right now. So this is very exciting. (acoustic guitar music) (peppy guitar music) Let’s talk about my set up and the technique I’m using
in this particular situation. I want you to notice the
pool that I’m fishing. We got extremely fast
water moving that way and a back eddy. This pool is approximately
10 feet deep. Where are the fish gonna be? I’ll tell you right now, they’re not gonna be up
in that heavy current near the surface. They’re gonna be hugging
tight on the bottom where all the boulders would be or any kind of crevice
that will allow them to get out of the current. Thus, my set up is, my indicator is at least, indicator right there, is
at least 10 and a half feet from my first fly. The flies that I’m using are
Prince Nymphs that are beaded. So they’re weighted
themselves, too. Both of them, I got
a two fly set up, both of them are the same fly. Then up from that, I have four BB-type split shot. That’s getting me
down to the bottom. It’s still not so heavy
it’s gonna grab the bottom. It’s floating around natural. What I’m doing is casting
over by the whitewater. Like this. I’ll get it over there. And I’m lifting the
line up off the water. That’s extremely important. You gotta keep a line
toward to your nymphs and you’ll feel
it if a fish hits. You can see that
it’s moving backwards compared to the rest of
the current over there. I’m just letting it go
anywhere it wants to go. Then I pick it up again,
head it back over there, and you’ll notice, it’ll
come right back around again. I lift the line
up off the water. That’s so important. There’s no extra resistance. The nymphs are gonna
flow in whatever way the current takes them, and that looks
natural to the fish. When you have this much current, when the fish hits, it almost set the hook itself. You actually feel it before you even see
the indicator go down, you’ll feel the tug. So an actual hit, rather
than the usual indicators, the indicator just moves a
bit and you set the hook, this one, you actually feel it. (gentle guitar music) The day was coming to an end and I had such a
successful trip. I invited my guide,
Rod, to fish. He was reluctant at first, but with some
encouragement, he agreed. Got one on. Now I notice you’re
using your fingers on the reel itself as a drag.
– Yeah, yeah. – [Bill] So you got
it set light and– – Yeah, so my drag’s set lighter as I noticed I was
losing some fish here, So I lightened off my drag. But I’ll use my fingers and I’ll just add a
little bit of pressure, But in doing so,
you gotta make sure that you don’t clamp
down on it because, like if you clamp
down on it too much, you’re gonna pull the fly outta that fish’s mouth.
– That’s right, yeah. That’s a beginner mistake–
– Yeah, it’s, you know, it is a beginner mistake.
– To grab on the line, to hold on for dear life.
– Yeah, something like that. And also something like if I was to take my rod
and I see a lot of guys, like that’s good.
to angle like that, but as soon as my guy, some clients, what they’ll
do is they’ll do it and they’ll put their
tip of their rod below their reel.
– Right. – And we lose a lot
of fish like that, especially in
turbulent water, right? – [Bill] Right. Right. – [Rod] So, just trying
to get him out of that. – [Bill] Now, see, he should
be starting to slow down a bit. – [Rod] Yeah. – (grunts) Got him. Ah, let’s get her
into calmer water. This fish is actually
pretty heavy. These fish are not very
long, but they’re thick. Big, big bellies on ’em. – Yeah.
– Okay my friend. – Yeah. I will grab
the glove here. Alright, I’m gonna spin around. – [Bill] Spin around
towards the camera. – [Rod] I’ll get the camera. I’ll get my hand wet and
I’ll take a look at her. So– – Very nice, very nice
– Very nice fish. Nice spots on it. – [Bill] Now that’s a hen, yeah. – Yeah, it’s very
healthy, healthy fish. – And you see right here,
with the end of the mouth? Goes the same with the eye? That makes it a hen.
– Yeah. – [Bill] If it’s a male, the
mouth would be way back here. – [Rod] Yep, so– – Okay?
– Right on. So I’m gonna go and I’ll
release it into the water here. I’ll point it up to the current, get the water going back
in the gills, right? – [Bill] Right, now this
one’s just about ready. – [Rod] He’s full of it
already so he’s gonna go. She’ll go quick here. And there she goes.
– Away she goes. Away she goes.
– Beautiful. Back into the pool there. So, thank you, Bill for being
my net guy that time, ‘eh? – New fly fisher net guy. – Yeah.
(laughing) It was great times.
– Great. – Very good, thank you. – Well, our time
for this week is up. I really want to
thank Rod Trudel for guiding us this week and Algoma Kinniwabi
for their support. Make sure you
visit us on the web at, also our Facebook and
our YouTube channel. From all of us here
at The New Fly Fisher, thanks for joining us, tight lines, and
we’ll see you later. – [Announcer] The New Fly Fisher has been made
possible thanks to:, (gentle guitar music) Algoma Country, Oris Sporting Traditions. (rocks crumbling)

18 thoughts on “Lake Superior Steelhead”

  • This is the show that got me into fly fishing a handful of years ago! I'm a better overall angler for it, not just fly fisherman. I tell ya what though, more so than the fishing I find the videos very relaxing. In terms of editing, narration, the videos have a calming nature to them.

  • as far as that "not real steelhead" nonsense goes. They are freshwater steelhead. Great Lakes steelhead. They are from the same strain of Pacific steelhead. People don't need to be so ridiculous. Everyone knows they don't touch salt. Who gives a $#!T? =)

  • I really like your show and content but I wish that you wouldn't have filmed the spot where you did you could have picked a river that was less fragile and was more well known in the area. But anyways tight lines all good vibes here.

  • Not "steelhead" but I get that if you don't have ocean run rivers you would want to claim them as such.  Still, pretty country and fish.  I fish for steelhead and they fight much harder than what I was seeing and they are larger in most circumstances.  They also seem to be less active than these lake run fish.  Don't get me wrong, I would love to go after these fish if I ever move inland!

  • "I haven't tried an egg pattern" -shows egg sucking leech, great show but annoying announcer and lackluster flyfisherman

  • If it floats the weight of the nymph its a bobber not an indicator. Also, if it can't spool you and run towards the salt, it ain't a steelhead. No need for heavy drag either, just a good palm…

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