Warm weather and rain trigger May steelhead run on the North Shore
Recent heavy rain, paired with melting snow, sent eager anglers flocking to rivers along the North Shore during the first week of May.
While the water temperatures were less than ideal, hovering around the mid-30s, it didn’t deter local residents or visitors from putting on waders to spend an afternoon fishing for steelhead.
A type of rainbow trout born in a North Shore river or stream, steelhead migrate to the deep waters of Lake Superior, spending most of their lives in the big lake. The fish return to spawn in the stream where they were born, typically in the spring, though some fall spawning activity also takes place.
WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins visited multiple rivers along the North Shore on a recent sunny afternoon, speaking with anglers from Grand Marais, Bemidji, St. Paul and as far away as South Carolina. Along the way, Hawkins met a Cook County resident who was just getting out for their first time steelhead fishing this season. She also met a pair of close friends who’ve been fishing together since the ‘80s. Hawkins also received an impromptu casting lesson from a former chapter president of Minnesota Trout Unlimited.
In addition, while in the field, Hawkins met Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Kylan Hill.
“The water temperature is at 33 degrees,” Hill said on May 4. “On a stream a little bit east of town, it was 34 degrees.”
Hill said it’s likely the steelhead will start moving into the North Shore rivers once the water gets closer to 40 degrees.
Hill said that while most anglers are holding out for open inland waters, some were reporting success during the ongoing steelhead run.
While reporting for this story, Hawkins put on her waders and carried her own fly rod while testing the waters of the 2022 steelhead run. Find the full story in the audio below.