Muskegon River Fishing Report: June 2015

jeff bacon

T he Muskegon River near Newaygo is running around average flows now after having come up a bit due to heavy rains that blanketed most of West Michigan in early May. In general, the river is in good shape as we enter a time of transition from spring to early summer. Overall, the spring steelhead run on the Muskegon River was pretty good.

We should see a nice and gradual transition into the heart of trout season on the Muskegon River and the great insect hatches that provide good dry fly fishing opportunities. Both short-and long-range weather forecasts are calling for moderate air temperatures and not significant weather patterns across West Michigan.

Despite two major issues with river related management practices over the last nine months, we should still see anglers catching some quality trout during the insect hatches through early July. One issue was the botched lampricide treatment by the DNR late last summer that killed not only baby sturgeon that were reported by several news agencies, but also resident trout, with the rainbows being the ones most affected. The other major hiccup was at the Croton hydroelectric dam this past February, where water levels were dropped to an unprecedented low, which in turn killed many resident trout, however we still have some rainbows that made it through and the brown trout weren’t affected nearly as much.

The first hatches of the season have taken place, with the black stone flies that emerged sporadically in April, but much better in May, however, water temperatures were a bit chilly for trout to begin “looking up” for food. Recently we’ve been getting some very nice brown trout on streamers with sinking or sink tip fly lines and the conventional angler could do the same with crank baits such as Rapala’s and Thundersticks, however pinching the barbs down on treble hooks is suggested for a good recovery and release. Fly gear to have on hand would be something like a 9-10’ long, 6 or 7 weight, med-fast to fast-action rod, with sinking or sink tip lines that will drop at a rate ranging from 3-5 inches/second. The conventional angler can dictate depth by rate of retrieve with lures that have a “bill” that not only makes it dive, but also provides action to the lure.

With last summer being one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen from an insect hatch perspective, we can only go on historical data for fairly accurate predictions of what the summer ahead holds. Cooler going in, tapering off come July to be at more normal water flows and temperatures, with the best dry fly fishing being from early June – early July.

Following the bulk of our hatches on the Muskegon River, the water will warm and focus will shift to smallmouth bass in later July and August. Water temperatures have been bouncing around from mid to upper 50’s, but will break the 60-degree mark quickly and should be in the low 60’s come the first of June.

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