By: Capt. Jeff Bacon
Michigan Fly Fishing Ventures
June. IT’S BUG MONTH!
For the fly fishing enthusiast, nothing beats the first dry fly fishing opportunities of late spring/early summer, and we’re into “that time” on the Muskegon river.
With the spring steelhead run having come to an end, as well as the resident and migratory suckers who also spawn this time of year wrap things up, resident Rainbow and Brown trout will have run out of the easy meals of eggs and insects that get kicked up, when other fish are actively spawning. After this, trout begin to “look up” for emerging insects; this can be the most exciting time for the fly fisher in search of dry fly fishing.
The Muskegon river has a pretty consistent schedule of bugs that hatch, starting in mid to late May and going through the month of June. Much of this is dependent on water temperatures, and we’ll see the first of our Caddis start to emerge when river temperatures reach the mid 50’s. Soon after the Caddis will come Sulphurs and BWO’s, followed by Gray Drakes, Brown Drakes and Isonychia’s. The BWO’s (blue winged olives) will be most present on cloudy days and fishing a #18 dry will likely get a trouts attentions if they’re keyed in on them.
The Gray Drake hatch is one that can bring the largest trout of the year to the surface feeding on dry fly or spinners. Starting in the evening and going right up to dark, fish will gorge themselves on these tasty #12 mayflies in certain parts of the river. The “window” for getting into a large trout can be small, so timing is key here.
As river levels drop, the Muskegon river becomes much more wader friendly, and there are walk-in spots near most launches in the Croton and Newaygo areas, from the Croton dam, to Pine St, Thornapple Rd and Henning County Park.
Equipment for trout time ranges from 4-6 weight fly rods for the fly fisher, in the 9′ range, reels spooled with floating line, tapered leaders down to 4 and 5 x, with 5 and 6 x tippet on hand as well. For the conventional equipment angler, many cast lures such as Mepps spinners and small body baits such as Rapala’s, on 7-8′ long rods and open face spinning reels spooled with 6-8# test line.
Summer time is also canoe/kayak/tuber time on the Muskegon river, so plan on having some company on the river most days, heaviest traffic will be on nicer, weekend days.
Right on the heels of prime trout time will come Smallmouth Bass and Pike fishing in several different stretches of not only the Muskegon River but also the Grand River in/around Grand Rapids, even to the east of GR itself. Both topwater and subsurface fishing for Smally’s and Pike will be the norm, for both fly fishing and spin tackle equipment.
June is a GREAT month to be outside, enjoying the wonderful weather here in West Michigan…..get out, wet a line and put a bend in that rod!
Captain Jeff Bacon