Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Muskegon River
The Muskegon River is a tailwater that flows from
Muskegon Lake through Croton Dam into Lake
Michigan. It's located in the western portion of the
lower peninsula of Michigan. It's popular for its large
runs of steelhead and salmon as well as its trout
fishing opportunities. Fly fishing the Muskegon River
can be good all year long, thanks to its diverse
species of fish.
The great fishery hasn't always existed. The power
company that operates the dam, CMS Energy, began
a controlled release schedule in 1994 that greatly
improved the tailwater. The thirty-five mile long
tailwater averages over two-hundred feet in width and
is best fished from a drift boat but plenty of wading
opportunities also exist.
The Muskegon River is a smooth flowing tailwater that
reminds us of Montana's Missouri River below Coulter
Dam. Current seams makes dry fly presentations
tricky and the rainbow and brown trout can be very
selective at times. The stream's aquatic vegetation
helps create the varying current. The bottom consist
mostly of a mixture of sand and soil with small stones,
cobble and some larger rocks.
Steelhead enter the river in October following the
salmon. They can be caught throughout the Fall,
Winter and early Spring months until as late as May.
Salmon enter the river in late September and are in
the river into November.
Aquatic insects are plentiful in the Muskegon River
thanks to its good pH level, aquatic vegetation and
consistent water levels. Mayflies, caddisflies and a few
stoneflies provide plenty of food for the trout.
Steelhead are taken on a wide variety of flies
including nymphs, streamers and egg patterns. Spey
fishing is popular and irregardless of the type of rod
used, swinging the wet fly is effective most of the
There are a few areas of the river that are accessible
from the bank that can be waded. There are access
areas on both side of the river just below the dam.
A drift boat provides better opportunities, especially if
your steelhead fishing, because it allows you to cover
much more water. The Muskegon River is definitely
one of Michigan's top fly fishing destinations.
The season varies with the species and location.
Springtime is the best time fly fishing the Muskegon
River for trout because of the numerous hatches.
Steelhead can be caught as late as the first of May
depending on the weather.
Summertime continues to be a good time for trout
thanks to the cold water discharge.
Salmon first enter the river and the steelhead follow.
Steelhead begin entering the Muskegon River as
early as the first of October. The fishing is good
throughout the Fall. Trout fishing remains good
during the Fall.
All but the coldest days of Winter can be good for
steelhead and trout. The extremely cold water of
January and February can make the fish sluggish but
otherwise, fishing remains good throughout the
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
For Steelhead and Salmon
7, 8 , 9 or 10 weight for appropriate type
rod, sinking, sinking tip and floating
10#, 12# in 9 to 15 feet lengths
10# and 12#
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly 7, 8, 9 and 10 ft. single hand
For 7 to 10 weight lines
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
KISS Strike Indicators, Lanyards, etc.
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
02/04/14 Customer ordering Spey flies
reporting fishing has been very good on the
Muskegon lately. He has caught several
steelhead. The spring season is approaching
and the fishing will only get better.
03/23/14 Fishing has been excellent lately
with both steelhead and browns being
caught. Our customers are swinging and
nymphing and doing well using both
Fishing Report Updated 01/16/17
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with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
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you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
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04/16/14 Water levels are still extremely
high. Some homes have been flooded. It will
be a while before all this clears up.
10/07/14 There are plenty of salmon and a
few steelhead in the river. Stream levels
are up and plenty of rain is in the forecast
and more fish should be moving in.
10/18/14 There are a lot more steelhead in
the river and anglers are catching a few of
them. Our Veiled Beadhead Crystal egg is
working for customers.
10/25/14 More good reports from the past
week of anglers catching steelhead. Good
conditions still exist.
11/29/14 There are plenty of steelhead in
the river but high water levels has hurt the
catching. Keep an eye out for better
weather and water levels.
12/15/14 Stream levels are back in good
shape and plenty of steelhead are being
caught by our customers.
12/23/14 A few more steelhead have been
caught but you may need to go to nymphs.
01/13/15 Some great reports coming in from
customers. They are catching trout on Black
fly larva and pupa. The steehead fishing has
turned on and good each day it is fairly warm.
Customers are using our Black Stonefly
steelhead nymph and green sedge larva.
01/20/15 A good report from a customer
using our nymphs. Good levels and weather.
02/01/15 The levels have been fine but the
cold weather has slowed down the "catching".
03/05/15 The catching has been slow the
past month due to very cold weather but the
outlook for next week looks better.
04/09/15 Customers reporting catching
steelhead this past week. It should be getting
05/19/15 Some rainbows and browns being
caught on Brown sculpin streamers.
05/30/15 Some very large browns are being
caught feeding on Sucker spawn. Gray
Drakes are starting to hatch. We expect
Sulphurs to start hatching within the next
couple of weeks, if not sooner.
07/10/15 Very good conditions with lots of
hatches and lots of trout being caught. We
have taken samples of the food in this river
and can help you with your fly selection.
08/10/15 Trout fishing has been excelletent
the past two weeks. Lots of caddis, slate
drakes, and terrestrials are working.
09/05/15 It is much cooler with average
stream levels. Anglers are reporting
catching plenty of trout.
09/18/15 Lots of action with much better,
cooler weather. Trout, lake run browns.
11/01/15 Steelhead are being caught in good
numbers. Most of our customers are using
egg flies like our Veiled Beadhead Crystal
egg fly. Swinging is also working.
10/18/15 Stream levels are up and some
steelhead beginning to move in. Salmon are
at their peak.
11/29/15 Stream levels are high but that
should improve the fishing soon. Swinging
flies is the way to go. Lots of fish being caught.
12/23/15 The river is still running high and
has been for the past few days. Not many fish
being caught. The water is also stained bad.
01/25/16 The upper tailwater is free of ice
and steelhead are being caught mostly on
nymphs. You just have to put up with the
snow, as I'm sure you know.
02/08/16 Flows are staying higher than
normal making it tough and the water is 34 to
35 degrees. It isn't impossible to catch a
steelhead. Nymphs are the way to go.
02/22/16 The warm weather has melted most
of the snow and the stream is high and
stained. Watch the stream levels to know
when to fish.
03/13/16 The river has been high from rain.
The runoff ist over. The snow is gone but the
levels are still high. There are a lot of
steelhead in the river right now. Resident trout
are also being caught on streamers and
03/21/16 The discharges are still up and the
levels a little high but steelhead are being
caught from Croton to Bridgeton.
03/28/16 Rain and runoff has the stream levels
up high and the water stained. Steelhead will
pick back up when it falls down low enough.
05/02/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. Water
levels are high and stained. Steelhead fishing
has been good when the levels were right.
The water temp is near the magic 50 degree
mark and new hatches will start very soon.
05/09/16 Trout are being caught in good
numbers. The discharges are lower but still just
a little above normal. BWOs are hatching good.
05/23/16 Two more good reports from
customers catching brown and rainbow trout.
05/30/16 There are several new hatches taking
place including Green Sedges (caddis), BWOs,
American March browns, little Yellow stoneflies
06/06/16 Stream levels are in good shape and
anglers are catching good numbers of trout.
07/04/16 The water is getting warm for trout -
up to 67 during the day. Some are still being
caught. Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent.
07/25/16 Good reports of smallmouth bass
being caught. Our Crayfish patterns are working
great as well as the Stealth Bombers.
08/22/16 Stream levels are just a little high but
that's good. The weather is cooling down some.
Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good.
08/29/16 Stream levels are fine but the water
is still too warm for trout. Smallmouth fishing is
great at this time. Crayfish patterns work best.
09/05/16 There are hatches of Gray Drakes,
Slate Drakes, Cinnamon caddis and Tricos.
Smallmouth bass fishing is still very good.
10/03/16 The stream is currently high and
rising. More rain is forecast. This should bring
some fish into the river.
10/17/16 The river is at 2060 cfs at 570 feet
near Croton. That should bring a large number
of steelhead in the river. Swinging should be the
10/24/16 The steelhead are taking egg flies,
streamers and nymphs. Conditions are good
and our customers are catching fish.
10/31/16 There are still some salmon in the
river. Customers are catching steelhead fishing
eggs and nymphs below the spawinng salmon.
Perfect Fly Steelhead Flies.
11/07/16 The levels are up some and good
numbers of steelhead are in the river and
being caught. Our Veiled Beadhead eggs flies
are catching them for our customers.
11/14/16 The river is still doing good in spite of
lower water levels. Fish from Croton to Bridgeton
using egg flies and steelhead nymphs.
11/21/16 Water levels are about the same. Rain
and some snow is predicted from Tuesday night
through Friday. We think that will be a big help.
11/28/16 The stream levels are about normal
and steelhead being caught from Croton to
Bridgeton. Swinging, nymphs and egg flies are
12/05/16 Flowing at 1750 cfs at 5.33 ft. or just
a little high. Swinging and nymphs are working
good. Egg flies not producing as well.
12/12/16 A few more steelhead have been
caught. Lots of melting snow keeping the water
levels up. Steelhead nymphs are working best.
12/19/16 Good stream levels exist and lots of
steelhead are being caught. Now is the time to be
fishing. Swinging and nymphing are both working.
12/26/16 The stream levels are a little high but
that should bring more steelhead in. The water
is a little warmer, averaging about 37 degrees.
01/02/17 The stream levels are back to normal
and steelhead are being caught swinging and
on SH nymphs. The water is a little cold and
stained due to melting snow.
01/09/17 Steelhead and brown trout are being
caught. Use steelhead nymphs like our
Cinnamon Caddis, Giant black stone, etc.
Swinging is working some as well.
01/16/17 The stream levels are just a little high.
Be careful wading. There are steehead being
caught throughout the system. Nymphs and
swinging streamers are working.