Monday, January 13, 2020

2020 STEELHEAD RUN PREDICTIONS-LOOKS GOOD!

We are off to a good start amigos!!!..I'm predicting the winter/spring run of Steelhead/2020 will be one of the strongest runs of steelhead we have seen in the past 6 years..My predictions for epic fail or successes in the past 20 years have had a high degree of accuracy, since I base my predictions on biological factoids, not hopeful wishes and steelhead dreaming ( although if you read my Steelhead Dreams , especially the 12 year anniversary edition one that delves into the science, you will be able to make scientific predictions also!
1. We had the MOST dismal/worst fall 2019 steelhead runs in my 25 years of steelhead guiding, which I and my poor clients that had to endure have ever witnessed .This was climate change driven ( as you will see all dismal run roads lead and will point to climate change) We went from one of the largest sized runs of wild Chinook/king salmon Michigan has ever seen since the 70's- many 30 lb salmon were taken this fall, and I was totally blown away by the size and girth of these fish. My client caught on the swing a 21 pound /massive girth chrome steelhead at the end of October, which was one of the largest fall mykiss beasts I've ever witnessed . From a mild and warm fall, we went to total Arctic Ice Age/Polar shield drop lock-down ( single/teen digits Fahrenheit , feet of snow the first week in November, which I have never seen. It was deep winter hell almost two months before winter started- crazy! - and remained all the way until the Christmas warm-up ( total climate reversal in timeline progression!) If you read steelhead dreams and the "window-of run " opportunity, this totally shut down the migration from big lake to river window, when river and lake shore temps dropped 10-20 degrees almost overnight, thus pushing potential migration schools of steelhead and bait fish prey back out into deep water winter holding patterns where the waters are warmer and hold warmth from summer a lot longer- thus dismal fall returns. The only steelhead in the systems were from "on the heels of salmon egg eating" runs from Sept/Oct.
2.Thus the ecosystems are very healthy with a plethora of bait-fish prey which is indicative by the size of the salmon and steelhead we caught in fall.And given charter boat graphs of massive schools of bait fish, and the desire by Wisconsin to increase slamon stocking as a result ( bad idea!!!), the lake ecosystem is very healthy, at least in relative terms when comparing the last 6 years of prey declines. 3. Michigan steelhead run balance is approximately 40 % in fall-60% in spring. I would safely assume LESS THEN 10% of the year class run of 2019/2020 actually ran the rivers.( this was a Great Lakes ecosystem wide problem from Lake Superior to Lake Ontario BTW!- climate change) Remember: migratory salmonids run rivers on 4 main factors: water temperatures, water flows, diurnal sunlight variations and sexual maturity- water temps being the strongest component, which the weather effected.
4, Our water flows and levels have been above average and is an awesome omen for a good strong run and run-off once water temps become acceptable for the start of migration in earnest in early February once diurnal light levels get warmer and sexual maturity starts to tick-tock away at "get your butt upstream now!" as urgency kicks in with longer daylight hours- some of the largest Michigan steelhead are always caught in February and March since egg/sperm production weight is at highest levels 5. A mild winter warm-up/thaw has occurred , which adds to the spring run migration incentive 5. Given fall, the size of spring steelhead will be "massive", since they had three more months of overtime to pig-out on prey in the deep waters, rather than slink-out and conserve energy all winter in the holding pools
Thus👍....mix all these factors into the cocktail mixer, and I predict a very strong run just gathering fuel !...worst is over, good things to come! ( I'll revisit this at end of May and see how I did!)
Cheers and to many Steelhead Dreams in 2020 chrome chasers!- hope I'm right!