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I just wanted to hear some opinions on where in the Great Lakes one would live for the best year round spey opportunities, mainly steelhead and salmon with a few resident trout thrown in? I live in WI and the spey season is not really an all year kind of thing in my area. It's more of a Fall and Spring thing with a bit of winter if the weather cooperates. I would think the western shore of Michigan would be a nice place? Any opinions out there? Thanks!

TM
 

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NY has a good mix of water. Literally hundreds of tribs but most are 50ft or less across. Most of these small streams are pretty dependant on flows and freeze over quickly. The larger rivers (Niagra, Black, Genny, Oswego, and Salmon) are fantastic rivers that hold fish all year thanks to the summer runs and atlantics. These larger rivers are also controled my Niagra Mohawk Power & Light, so they stay fishable throughout most winters.

The Lake Erie tribs are their own animal. 50 fish days are no big deal, but the fish are definitly pygmies. 4-5lbs is average there. Lake O tribs are the complete opposite. You're gonna work for every fish, but Lake O has the largest average size in the GL's. 10lb steelies, 14lb silvers, and 20-30lb kings being the norm. Steelies in the high teens to mid 20's are a possibility 365 days a year.

The deciding factor in NY for your success is your ability to adapt to cold water. The rivers hit 32 degrees by mid November and wont rise 'till mid April. Low & slow being paramount. Materials that don't require a lot of movement work well. Marabou and ostridge speys being my favorites.

And of course, don't forget our famous lake effect.
 

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The rivers hit 32 degrees by mid November and wont rise 'till mid April
In most years the water temp of he Salmon River in mid-November is in 36-38F range. The water temp drops below 35F in early December.
 

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I agree with Bolen, the Salmon and most NY tribs stay at least 35 - 36 through most of Dec. I don't feel the water really gets frigid until late Dec.

Gillie
 

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Perhaps the source I get temps from isn't accurate, but regardless it hovers near freezing for the better part of the year.
 

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I don't know Craig, Sept, Oct, Nov and half of Dec have "warmer" water temps and as you said they return for half of April and May. That puts more than 1/2 of the prime season with temps warm enough that swung techniques are really a viable option.

Than there are those of us that continue to swing in 33 degree water :devil: :devil: .

As you said the summer has some opportunities for the persistent also.

Gillie
 

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I usualy stop "swinging" around late November and resume in April. After the spawn when they get that voracious "fall back" mentality, they seem to smash just about anything regardless of temps or presentation. I've definitely always had better luck going deep & slow after November though. As with everything in steelhead fishing, nothing is set in stone. Somewhere, somebody has probably caught one skating one of those novelty beer can plugs. :D
 

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West MI

While the amount of fish in the Grand in downtown Grand Rapids MI can't be beat, the scenery leaves a bit to be desired. The Muskegon also holds good numbers, though it lacks the "trout pond" numbers of fish that get slowed down by the dam in GR. Although it is a very picturesque river(IMHO). The Muskegon is a tailwater that stays open and pretty consistent in the winter (hovers around 33F-35F from late Dec. to March, usually). The Grand has a stationary dam and the ice flows and depth change drasictly with percipitation and melt. We also get a fair push of summer run fish (skamania) in the Grand. I have hit steelhead in every month of the year on the Muskegon, and even though I have hit a few in the Grand, I usually don't bother.
 

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Agree with MJYP

Mark is correct that both these rivers are great Steelhead Rivers open all winter long due to the fact of their being Tailwaters. The weather can be brutal most of the winter as you must know being in WI. There are very few of us "nuts" who find a geat satisfaction from our winter floats swinging flies with the 2 handers. The Rivers are nothing but peace and solitude all winter long and the Steelhead can indeed be taken (AND RELEASED) by both dd nymphing and swinging flies. There are many, many West MI rivers open all winter long for good Steelheading. Hope this helps. Best, Stiver
 
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