January 2012 River Conditions

Muskegon River – Newaygo

January 15, 2012

The Muskegon river near Newaygo, MI is running near normal flows for this time of winter, however flows seem to be changing randomly due to unusual fluctuations coming out of Croton hydroelectric dam.  This is not normal and I’m not sure what the reasoning is for such erratic changes.

Fishing for winter Steelhead is still very good, as well as resident Brown and Rainbow trout.  Some lake run Brown trout are being caught as well.

Techniques being used include floating line-indicator rigs, as well as deep water drift fishing, a.k.a “chuck-n-duck” and swinging streamers on floating lines with sink tips.

Best fly patterns to have on hand for floating line/indicator and C & D rigs include sparsely tied, wiggle nynphs, hares ear, steely buggers, small olive caddis, small black stones and as always, dull colored eggs in lighter pastel colors.

For streamer patterns, sparse and robust have been good themes – dark, but rich colors, such as deep blue/green/olive & scarlet-maroon, with action that allows materials to open and close with differing currents, is getting attention.

Water temperature in the mid 30’s

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Description

A traditional tailwater fishery, the Muskegon is a true “big river”. It spans more than 100 yards at its widest points and flows over 200 miles south and west from northern lower Michigan, into the port town of Muskegon on the lake Michigan shoreline. This rich river system is home to numerous insects & hatches and host to resident rainbow and brown trout. The Muskegon river also receives migratory runs of fall salmon and spring steelhead that provide outstanding big game action for the fly fisher. Most all fly fishing techniques are employed on the mighty Muskegon, from dry fly to indicator nymphing, streamers and bottom bounce nymphing for migratory big game.

Pere Marquette River – Baldwin

Conditions – January 3, 2012

The Pere Marquette river is running about normal flow for this time of winter.

Steelhead fishing is still very good in all stretches of the river and resident trout fishing strong as well.

The most popular technique for getting to both Steelhead and trout have been with floating line and indicator rigs, but swinging streamers is producing as well.  Not a lot of water is being fish with chuck-n-duck rigs due to the nature of the PM itself.

Water temps in the mid 30’s.

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Description

The famous Pere Marquette is a spring fed river system, which begins just east of the town of Baldwin, MI and flows nearly 100 miles west into Pere Marquette lake, neighboring the coastal town of Ludington on lake Michigan’s shoreline. The “PM”, as it’s known, is home to the famous “hex” fly, which hatches at dusk, in June and traditionally brings the largest trout in the river to the surface for their once a year feast on these giant mayflies. The Pere Marquette, being a moderate river in size, spans from 15-40 yards in width for a majority of the river system and is best fly fished via dry fly, streamer and indicator nymphing techniques. Designated a “National Scenic river” by the United States Department of Agriculture, and with a protected “flies only – catch & release” stretch, the PM draws both anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from across the country.

Grand River – Grand Rapids

Conditions – January 3, 2012

The Grand river, near Grand Rapids, MI is flowing near normal levels for this time of winter.

Steelhead are still being caught in some of the slower pools and runs around central Grand Rapids, as well as some lake run Brown trout.

As water temps continue to drop, fishing will slow down a bit, but still there to be pursued by the committed angler.

Techniques being used include floating line – indicator, swinging streamers with light sink or sink tip lines and “chuck-n-duck” in deeper pools/runs that have a clean drift.

Water temperature in the mid 30’s

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Description

The Grand river begins south of the capital city of Lansing, MI and flows first north, then west through the agricultural towns of Portland, Ionia and Lowell before coming to Grand Rapids and ultimately entering lake Michigan through the port town of Grand Haven.  Our largest river in Michigan, it spans over 250 miles in all.  The Grand river is home to various warmwater species, including bass, pike, walleye, various panfish and more, but also gets a migratory run of fall salmon and spring steelhead that search out cold tributaries to the Grand river spawn in.   Nearly any fly fishing technique can be affectively applied when fishing the Grand river due to the diverse species of fish that call it home and general makeup of such a big river.

Manistee River – Wellston

Conditions

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Description

Another Michigan tailwater, the Manistee river runs over 200 miles through the northern lower peninsula through the villages of Sharon, Smithville and others, eventually into lake Michigan at Manistee.  The upper stretches of the Manistee above Tippy Dam is relatively narrow compared to its same water cousin below the dam.  The upper stretches are home to the famous “hex” hatch, amongst others and holds some of the largest brown trout in the state.  Below Tippy, the river takes on a classic tailwater appearance the first few miles, before it transforms into a slower moving, moderate current speed river system that resident rainbow and brown trout call home.  Being a “run of river” tributary to lake Michigan, it receives excellent migratory runs of fall salmon and spring steelhead.

Upper Manistee River –  Mesick

Conditions

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Description

The upper Manistee river is a spring fed river system, which begins around the Houghton Lake area, and flows nearly 100 miles west into Lake Michigan in the town of Manistee. The upper Manistee is known for the famous “hex” hatch, which hatches at dusk, in June and traditionally brings the largest trout in the river to the surface for their once a year feast on these giant mayflies. The upper Manistee, being a moderate river in size, spans from 15-40 yards in width for a majority of the river system and is best fly fished via dry fly, streamer and indicator nymphing techniques. Designated a “Michigan wild river” by the Michigan DNR, and with a protected “flies only – catch & release” stretch, the upper Manistee draws both anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from across the country.

Rogue River – Rockford

Conditions

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Description

The Rogue river in western Michigan is over 40 miles long and runs through Newaygo and Kent counties before joining the Grand river just north of Grand Rapids, Michigan.   The Rogue receives annual plantings of both rainbow and brown trout from the Michigan DNR, making for a nice small river for the fly fisher to pursue resident trout in.  It also receives migratory runs of fall salmon and spring steelhead making it a great, near urban fishery for big game.  The most common techniques for the fly fisher include dry fly for trout, as well as nymphing and streamer fishing for migratory species.

White River – Whitehall

Conditions

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Description

The White River in the western lower peninsula of  Michigan, rises from the extensive Oxford swamp in north central Newaygo County, into the rural town of Hesperia, through the Hesperia dam and eventually into lake Michigan at Whitehall.   The White is home to resident trout both above and below the Hesperia dam, although most angling activity is below the dam as it receives annual runs of migratory fall salmon and spring steelhead.  A rather small river,  from 15-30 yards in width and can be wade fished throughout most of the river system.  It’s best fly fished with a dry fly for trout and  with nymphing and streamer rigs for migratory fish.

Flat River – Lowell

Conditions

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Description

The Flat river is a tributary to the Grand river and emerges from a six a six lakes sytem in Montcalm county.  Known for the bass and rather large carp that call it home, the Flat river runs through the town of Lowell, just east of Grand Rapids. Smallmouth bass are the primary quarry, from early spring streamer fishing through summer fly hatches that will bring bass to the surface for flies at dusk. Best fished early spring through mid-summer, the Flat flows from a 30-40 yard wide river with good structure and current flow, into a marsh before it’s directed through a dam in Lowell and shortly after, feeds directly into the Grand river. Can be waded in many spots, best accessed from a boat near the headwaters of the marsh.