Muskegon River Fishing Report – May 20, 2021- Newaygo, Michigan

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Muskegon River Fishing Report – May 20, 2021- Newaygo, Michigan

Muskegon river trout fishing

Jack with a great Muskegon river Brown trout.

The Muskegon river fishing report for May 20, 2021 in the Newaygo, Michigan area continues to revolve around the very low river levels and how it is and will affect the fishing in the weeks and months ahead.

We are at the front end of the 30’ish day window where a majority of the insect hatches occur on the Muskegon river, which provide the best dry fly fishing opportunities of the year.  Resident Brown and Rainbow trout will key in on several insects as they emerge over the course of several weeks.  How long this window of dry fly fishing goes, will depend on river conditions, most notably river temperatures.

After a number of days with “decent” river levels, they have dropped again and are at unprecedented low levels for this time of May.  We’re simply down to a trickle compared to what we’re accustomed to seeing on such a large tailwater river and many people and organizations are starting to really focus on the root cause of this.   Click HERE for current Muskegon river water flow data.

We have 2 main “ingredients” to our spring in and around west Michigan that play a role in water levels on inland  lakes and rivers, which are snow pack and related runoff, as well as spring weather patterns that bring rains.  We had neither this year, with next to no snow to have melt off and NO big storms end of March or first of April.  That 10 day-2 week time frame over the end of March and first of April has seen big rains come through much of Michigan and put a lot of water in the entire Muskegon river watershed.   It’s fairly common to have another decent round of weather come through the end of April and early May and this did not happen either.  We’re hoping for some relief from mother nature and it may come early next week based on weather models, but we’ll see.  Click HERE for current and forecasted weather for west Michigan.

Lastly on this topic is a company’s operation in the Stanwood, MI area that has gotten a LOT of attention this spring, Nestle/Ice Mountain bottle water facility, which is pumping 500,000+ gallons of water PER DAY, out of the Muskegon river aquifer……and have been for over a decade and to date, have “probably” taken in the neighborhood of 5 BILLION gallons of water total from this valuable resource since 2005…hhmmmm?

Now onto a brief update on fishing, which has been about the hatches and trout feeding on them.  The hatches taking place now include Cinnamon Caddis, Sulphurs, a few BWO’s on cloudy days and the onset of the Gray Drakes is here.  What’s interesting about this late spring trout fishing on the Muskegon river so far, has been the different spots where trout are holding to sip insects as they come down the river.  Certain “flats” or runs where we would look for rising fish in the past, have very little to no current, so bugs don’t come down these same lanes and therefore trout aren’t holding there for feeding.

With 4-6 weight fly in 9-10′ lengths, we’re using longer leaders than in years past and tapering them down to 6x for the most part and that may end up being 7x soon !  With it possible to have several differing currents or current seams between where the caster is, compared to where a feeding trout is, positioning oneself in the right spot in the river is key to getting a good presentation and trout to bite.

Should such conditions end up being the norm over the next near 2 weeks, I may be opting to do some guide trips on the Pere Marquette river in and around the Baldwin area in June and July.  I guide that every year in the fall for the early run Chinook and Coho salmon, have for over 20 years and am very familiar with most every stretch of that river, from Baldwin down stream to Ludington itself.  I am fully licensed and have all necessary credentials to fish ANY stretch of the Pere Marquette, so this may be a nice change of pace for those accustomed to fish the bigger Muskegon river.

We’re not too far off from early Smallmouth bass and Northern Pike fishing, some of which is actually taking place now.  With uncertainty surrounding the Muskegon river and how quickly it will go from trout conducive conditions, to prime smallmouth and pike time, we may be switching equipment a bit sooner this year to begin targeting such warmer water species of fish.

As always, if anyone is looking to get out for a couple hours of walk in-wade fishing on their own in any of our local streams, feel free to call for a report or overview of insect activity for those dry fly fishers looking to trick a trout !  My email can be found on this site under the Contact tab, but it is – and phone is the same it has been for many years – 616-560-3195.

Good Fishing !!


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