Muskegon River

Dave Moser on the Muskegon RiverMuskegon River Fishing Information

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North of Grand Rapids near the town of Newaygo, Michigan, is the Muskegon River, one of the best tailwater fisheries in the midwest. On the Muskegon, interested fishers can find smallmouth bass in summer and brown and rainbow trout year-round, and anyone fishing for big game can take advantage of the migratory runs of salmon and steelhead.

Muskegon River Information

The Muskegon River flows 216 miles from Houghton Lake in Roscommon County to Muskegon Lake in Muskegon, Michigan. Because of the three dams —Croton, Hardy, and Rogers—along the river’s length, there is significant tailwater. With tailwater it’s usually best to fish from a drift boat or jet sled because both allow you to maneuver quickly.

In regard to the types of fish you can find on the Muskegon River, there’s a mix of options, with the most popular being rainbow and brown trout, fall steelhead, salmon and lake-run brown trout, spring walleye, steelhead, trout and summer time smallmouth bass.

Best Spots for Fishing

Croton Dam, a power plant complex on the Muskegon river, provides an outstanding fish and insect habitat with the beginnings of cold tailwater. This section flows for around 20 miles over gravel bars and through fast runs and deep pools.

The section of river from Croton Dam to the Thornapple Avenue launch site is home to some of the best migratory runs of fall salmon and spring steelhead. Also, the area from Thornapple to Newaygo houses large trout, quality spawning grounds, and great runs and slow moving pools for winter steelhead.

Fishing by Season

Spring (March-May)

This time of year brings the first hatches of the season and fresh steelhead into the river. Stoneflies, followed by BWO’s and Caddis, blanket the river and cloud the skies in March and April, bringing out huge, hungry trout. Using the streamer fishing tactic at this time can not only bring you trophy trout, but also “drop back” steelhead that are headed back to Lake Michigan after finishing their spawn.

Summer (June-August)

Summer kicks into full gear with more Caddis and with Sulphur and Gray Drake hatches you can fish with all day long. When the water heats up in late July and early August, the time for hatches begins to fade, bringing about terrestrial time for trout and streamer time for smallmouth bass.

Fall (September-November)

The fall is the perfect time to be on a big river. As you fish for huge pacific salmon, fall steelhead, and trout, you can observe the changing of the seasons with Michigan’s colorful foliage. Pacific salmon find their way to the Muskegon in September and are the number one target for fishers from October to early November. Fall steelhead make their appearance in the river as soon as salmon begin to spawn. They’re fished from late October through the end of November. As far as trout fishing goes, the fall can bring great catches with streamers and indicator fishing behind salmon.

Winter (December-February)

The stillness of winter makes for a quiet time on the Muskegon river. While you take in the beauty of a Michigan winter, you can reel in resident trout, steelhead and lake run brown trout.

For additional information please call (616) 656-4172

Muskegon River Map

Muskegon River Map

River Levels

Weather Information

Muskegon River Fly Fishing Guide Services:

State of Michigan River Maps

Area History:

Support Groups

Area Lodging

  • Newaygo Area for Muskegon & White Rivers
  • Cronks Oakridge Motel – 231-652-1288
  • Riverside Motel – 231-652-1292
  • Croton Pond Rental House – 3 Bedroom – 231-652-7893
  • Big MO River House – 231-830-6545
  • River Valley House – 231-652-9647

Newaygo Bed & Breakfasts

  • River Valley House (7.02 km)
  • Shack Country Inn (14.97 km)
  • The Sheridan House (24.83 km)
  • The Crow’s Nest (26.64 km)
  • Inn at the Rustic Gate (30.11 km)
  • Jarrold Farm Bed & Breakfast (32.85 km)

Newaygo Camp Grounds

  • Croton Township Campground (2.51 km)
  • Croton Cottage (5.47 km)
  • Oxbow Park (10.54 km)
  • Little Switzerland Resort & Campground (11.25 km)
  • Brook Cherith Camp (11.33 km)
  • Big Bend Park (13.35 km)

Michigan Fly Fishing Guide Services

www.westmichiganflyfishing.com
www.jonsguideservice.com

Special Regulations Muskegon River

  • From Croton Dam downstream to Thornapple Boat Launch: Type 4
  • Open season – All year
  • Possession Season – Last Saturday In April – September
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest Limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 Atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout 8″, Brown Trout 10″, Rainbow Trout 10″, Splake 10″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″
  • Muskegon River from Thornapple Boat Launch downstream to M-120: Type 3
  • Open season – All year
  • Possession season – All year.
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest Limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 Atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout 15″, Brown Trout 15″, Rainbow Trout 15″, Splake 15″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″
  • Muskegon R., from Roger’s Dam downstream to below the south-bound lane of US-131 is closed to fishing Mar.16-Friday before last Sat. in April.
  • Note: All stretches of water not listed are Type 1 Regulations
  • Open Season – Last Saturday In April – September 30th
  • Possession Season – Last Saturday In April – September 30th
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 Atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout – 8″ Lower Peninsula 7″ Upper Peninsula
  • Brown Trout – 8″ Lower Peninsula 7″ Upper Peninsula
  • Rainbow Trout – 10″
  • Splake – 8″
  • Lake Trout – 24″
  • Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon -10″ · Atlantic Salmon – 15″