Muskegon River Fishing Report – May 11, 2019 – Newaygo, Michigan

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Muskegon River Fishing Report – May 11, 2019 – Newaygo, Michigan

Muskegon river family outing

Team Pellar…..what a line up ! From L – R, Dave, Sam and Jack. It’s been a LOT of fun watching these “boys” that I first took out with their Dad nearly 20 years ago, grow into fine young men….and AWESOME anglers. Although you’re going to be revived and released, don’t want to be a fish on the end of one of their lines!

The Muskegon river fishing report for May 11, 2019 in the Newaygo, Michigan area is about the tail end of our annual spring steelhead run and the onset of out much anticipated trout fishing, followed by Smallmouth bass and Northern Pike of summer.

Fishing for Muskegon river Rainbow and Brown trout will be first on the schedule and typically fishes well up to end of June or first of July, then it’s time to let the trout rest in the warmer temperatures of summer and pursue bass and pike in July and August.

As water temperatures slowly rise, we’ll see insect hatches begin, which marks the very best dry fly fishing to be had on the Muskegon river, from late May – late June.  Much of the “hatch schedule” depends on water temperatures and due to a crazy showing by Mother Nature this spring, we’ll likely be a bit behind that schedule.  Due to the excessive rains and high water we’ve had over the last few weeks, coupled with some cooler than average air temperatures, river temperature is having a hard time getting to and staying above 50 degrees.  Click HERE for current Muskegon river water flow data.

Muskegon river salmon, steelhead, trout and bass fishing

Jack the “hammer” Pellar….what a hook set this guy has !

With heavy rains having come through much of Michigan yesterday, overnight and today, we’ll likely see river levels rise once again, but how much depends on the amount of rain the upper reaches of the watershed got.  Click HERE for current and forecasted weather in west Michigan.

We still have some steelhead around, as we historically do get some “May fish”, but how long they’ll last really depends on the change in water flows.  They could come in, spawn and get out very fast.

Next up will be the resident and migratory suckers to seek out spawning grounds, which they’re typically doing right now, but again…things are late, so we’ll most likely see many show up all at once, over the next week.  Once they’re actively spawning, many resident Brown and Rainbow trout will be posted up right behind them, eager to sip free flowing eggs from the spawning suckers.

Not far behind will be the beginning of our dry fly season, which starts with Caddis hatches, then Sulphurs, BWO’s, Gray Drakes, Brown Drakes and Isonychia’s and most years, in that order.  We’ll be putting all conventional gear such as spinning and baitcaster reels and the rods they’re matched up with, away for a while as this will be the very best dry fly fishing of the summer.

Muskegon river steelhead fishing

Sam the “sniper” Pellar….quiet, but deadly !

Typical setups for such dry fly fishing include 5 or 6 weight rods, floating line and tapered leaders in the 9-12′ length, in 5 or 6 x.  I know some like to use lighter weight fly rods, but with the winds that we get on the Muskegon river, it may be tough to punch that cast through a head or cross wind, with a 8′ long, 4 weight fly rod.

The Caddis that start off the dry fly season are cinnamon in color and #16.  A emerger pattern is a good fly to have in your box when these get going, which is mid to late afternoon most days and goes into early evening.  The Sulphurs that follow will be #14 & #18 and start a bit later in the day than Caddis and can go through the evening and up to dusk.  The BWO’s are most prevelant on cloudy days and most are in the #18 range.  The Drakes that follow are a near dusk flier and a #12, with spinner falls happening shortly after and are fished into the dark some nights.  The Isonychia’s that wrap up our primary hatches on the Muskegon river start to become active late afternoon, with emergance and flights as early as 8:30 or so, come mid to late June and are also a #12.

Once the dry fly fishing comes to an end, we’ll be pulling out some slightly larger rods for casting both subsurface and topwater offerings to Smallmouth Bass and on occasion, Northern Pike.    Some stretches of the Muskegon or other rivers that I fish during the summer, will also have Northern Pike and we may even run into the occasional Walleye.  We can use either fly fishing or light spin tackle for summer time bass and pike, it’s a matter of personal choice.

Present flows on the Muskegon river at Croton dam outside of Newaygo area are around 4,800 cfs, with “average” being closer to 3,100 cfs.  Certainly a bit high, but by no means blown out and this could make for some good streamer fishing over the next week-10 days !

Present water temperature around the 50 degree mark.


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