Over the last week-10 days, the Muskegon river has gone through some big changes. It has gone from a river running well above normal flows, with water temps in the low to mid 50’s & insect hatches just getting going pretty good, to well below average flows, somewhat erratic hatch activity and water temps that are now in the low 60’s.
Fishing has been fair-good and those who are willing to fish many spots, thoroughly but quickly, with subsurface offerings, WILL find some nice trout. Hatches have not been consistent enough lately to “post up” on rising fish. Evening hatches and spinner falls have been unpredictable, however warmer evening & night air temps will help this improve.
For those looking to fish streamers on sink tips or sinking lines, best to do so on overcast days, as fish have not been willing to move far to chase down a streamer, during sunny days.
A number of “theories” are floating around as to why fly fishing for resident Rainbow and Brown trout has not been better, given that we’ve had good enough bug activity to get fish “looking up”…..a few facts may fill in some blanks.
1) We have a LOT of baby fish in the river, ranging from less than an inch, to nearly 3 ” in length. Due to their size, many of them congregate in areas of the river with slower current and as a result, are in a perfect spot to be ambushed by larger fish.
2) The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently stocked nearly 200,000 trout, over 15+ miles of the Muskegon river, downstream from Croton dam….that’s a LOT of vulnerable fish, for larger fish to feed on.
3) Water clarity has returned to the light “tea stain” that we’ve lacked on the river for over 10 years and as a result, 3+ year old resident fish have NEVER in their young lives, lived in water that’s NOT gin clear. This is how the river down from Croton dam had been for over a decade due to invasive Zebra mussels, but since they’ve begun to die off, water with more tannins are the result and this means it’s not as easy for trout/fish to see as far as they could in much clearer water. This plays a role in larger fish ambushing smaller ones and a fishes ability to see in water and one surface, insects.
4) Water levels were up much higher than normal about the time that we would look to have significant Caddis hatches a week+ ago, when water temps were in the mid 50’s. As a result, fish that would normally be posting up for surface feeding on adult Caddis, could not due to high flows.
For what it’s worth, that’s what has transpired recently and could be directly related to fish feeding & activity, as it relates to the quality of trout fishing on the Muskegon river right now.