Avid steelheaders know that as soon as the weather get’s milder winter ice that has been covering the Great Lake tributaries starts to release from shore and as runoff increases and temperatures get mild slowly it starts to break-up. Lastly spring rains raise tributary water levels and the ice finally goes out. It usually takes days for the high/dirty water to subside but then it’s game-on as steelhead swim into harbour mouths and up the lower sections of tributaries.
To me this is the best time to intercept fresh-run steelhead that take well and fight hard even in cold water temperatures. The best bait to use in murky conditions is unquestionably fresh trout eggs tied in a dime-to-nickel size spawn sack. Bright colors of netting in chartreuse and hot pink usually work best in turbid water.
Right after ice-out it’s common to have lots of trees and log-jams that have washed down with the high water. Anglers have to take care to plan their drifts so they can fight fish without getting caught up in the wood. This means using slightly heavier leaders and main line to be able to steer the fish away from obstructions. As the water clears then it’s back to a lighter main line and leader.