The Muskegon River is amidst a bounty of changes as we get into spring and early summer here in West Michigan. From the last of our spring steelhead to the onset of the “sucker spawn” and good streamer and indicator nymphing that follows, which ultimately peaks with the heart of our dry fly fishing from late May, through the month of June.
We had a pretty good spring steelhead run overall on the Muskegon River this year, despite some more challenging fishing in our neighboring rivers to the north. We are truly blessed with some good natural reproduction of both salmon and steelhead in the Muskegon. It has shown in recent seasons, where some other rivers have not faired so well with their returning fish.
As we get into early and mid-summer fishing, it will be a mix of resident rainbow and brown trout through June and possibly into early July -weather and river conditions pending- and from there we’ll get right into smallmouth bass and northern pike for the following month+. Fishing sections of the Muskegon River in/around the Newaygo area, as well as venturing both up and down river from there, we fish both fly fishing and light spin tackle gear throughout the summer for smallmouth and northern pike. I often do trips on the Grand and Kalamazoo Rivers in summer, conditions pending.
Our typical fly fishing outfits for late May and include 9’, 5 weight rods for dry fly fishing and indicator nymphing, although I like my 10’, 5 weights better for indi-fishing, easier to mend with that extra foot and line management key in such a nymphing technique. When streamers are in order, it will be either with 5 weights and light sink tips, or 7 weights and 200-250 grain sinking lines.
For the conventional tackle angler, a 8-9’, medium light to light action rod will allow you to cover runs with body baits such as Rapala’s and medium size spinners, cast with 6-10# test line.
Fall migratory fishing is already on some peoples minds, as I continue to respond to inquiries about the fall salmon and very long fall/early winter steelhead season on the Muskegon River, which runs from early September through the Christmas holidays. Should you be considering a fall trip for either species, best to call sooner than later to talk details and available dates. Tight lines and hope to see you on the water.