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There are some early signs that this year’s St. Joseph River fall steelhead run could be a good one.

The “official” numbers, according to underwater video tapings at the South Bend fish ladder, show nearly 1,700 steelhead have wiggled over the ladder through Sept. 9. The most recent count registered 73 making the move from Sept. 2-9, a period when water temperatures were warmer than they are right now.

Recent rains, coupled by a drop in day and night temperatures, should only make it better. Don’t be surprised if a good number of steelhead are piling into the river right now.

The trout are more eager to migrate when water temperatures drop below 72 degrees, which is where it was last week. If it gets into the upper 60s – and it might be there now – look for a steady batch of moving fish.

Of course, we’ll likely have to deal with high, muddy water for a few days, but when things settle down, the fishing should be pretty darn good.

And river fishermen – especially those that like to cast for steelhead during the fall season – deserve it. Although we enjoyed a decent run last spring, last fall’s fishing was only so-so.

“We’re pretty happy with what we’re seeing with steelhead so far,” said Lake Michigan biologist Brian Breidert. “We’re not seeing many salmon yet, but we’re hoping the rain and cooler weather will bring them in.”

That goes for the St. Joe and Trail Creek, the latter of which is getting quite a few fish already. Breidert said some kings, including some in the 20-pound class, have been spotted at the Trail Creek weir along with a handful of coho.

The good news for Trail Creek fishermen is that some alterations have been made to allow fall-run fish easier upstream access. Previously, due to U.S. Fish and Wildlife restrictions at the weir, the barrier was set at 4 feet above water. The feds have allowed the DNR to create shorter barriers in the ladder to allow the fish to pass, which means anglers won’t have to wait for the DNR to physically pass them through, especially on weekends when the ladder is closed.