W e are in the heat of things on the Muskegon River as the fall chinook salmon run is in progress, and we see the first signs of our fall steelhead show up as well. Fishing has been good as salmon trickle in from Lake Michigan on their annual spawning run and the steelhead close behind are looking for some easy snacks in the form of salmon eggs and insect larva that gets kicked up throughout the spawning gravel, as salmon prepare their redds to lay eggs for the next generation of Michigan chinook salmon.
We are fishing with both conventional and fly fishing gear for both species of fish come this time of year and will be switching to fall steelhead exclusively in the next week or so.
Using fly rigs for steelhead such as longer 11’, 7 weight switch rods with floating lines, indicators and egg imitations, as well as 10’, 7 or 8 weight rods for chuck-n-duck, we’re able to get egg and nymph imitations down in front of steelhead feeding in tailouts of spawning gravel. For salmon, we are fishing them with 8 & 9 weight rods with both chuck-n-duck setups, as well as floating line and indicators rigs.
With the salmon run, in general, down quite a bit this year, we’re very fortunate to have the numbers of fish this year that we do………several rivers have quite a lot less, and we’re looking at a decline in the salmon fishery overall for the next year or two.
On the other hand, the steelhead have not been affected as much as the salmon in the decline of the alewife population in Lake Michigan, and we’re projecting a good fall season this year. Not a banner year like 2013, which was our best fall season overall in 20 years, but still very worthy and the fish are there to be caught!
As fall/early winter set in, we’ll know more about how the fall steelhead fishing will set up and we can’t forget about our lake run brown trout that are due to show up shortly! Present water temperature is in the mid 50’s and dropping at a steady pace with the cooler weather as of late.