Ron, from SE Michigan, with a beautiful Muskegon River, male Steelhead.
The Muskegon river between Newaygo and the port city of Muskegon is running higher than average flows for this time of late November due to the heavy rains that are coming through now, which is melting most of the near record snowfall that we’ve had for the past few weeks. As a result, the river may very well be too high and dirty once all this melt makes it down through Rogers, Hardy and Croton dams, which are NE of Newaygo itself.
Fall steelhead fishing has been keeping most peoples attention the past month, however river and fishing conditions have dwindled a fair amount over the last week+, as prior to the warm up and snow melt, had seen a low and clear river, with water temperatures quickly dropping.
Things are changing and it should be for the better in the days ahead, once levels taper off and temps come back up a bit….we hope. Overall, the fall steelhead season has been ok at best. With such short memories, anglers have last fall stuck in their heads and some using it as a benchmark of sorts to follow….which is wrong. Last fall was the best late October – early December steelhead fishing we’ve had in 20 years and we may not seen those numbers and size of fish any time soon. They are a prized game fish, with incredible strength and fighting ability. I hope that those working folks who choose to harvest “a limit every day” realize that they are putting further hurt, on an already hurting fishery. Facts are facts, look at how poor the salmon fishing was in lake Michigan this past summer and look at ALL the pictures from charter boat websites and you’ll see a LOT of steelhead hanging on the boards at the end of the day. A LOT of steelhead were killed in lake Michigan and many are being killed again in the rivers. Once in the river, steelhead are a captive audience, so to speak, which can be caught several times over the winter, unless they go on a stringer or in a cooler, right away. I’ll get off my soap box, but wanted to shed some light on this topic.
We ARE still getting fish with both fly and light spin tackle gear, from Newaygo, down to near Muskegon itself. With the pending change in water conditions, we may see more fresh ones arrive. Reports from the shoreline last week found people still getting them off the surf and pier heads, so some were looking to get into the rivers, we’ll see how many once watersheds call down after this big runoff.
The colder river temps get, the slower we’ll be fishing for steelhead and we’ll also be looking at the slower moving pools and runs to fish our swung streamers, indicator fished nymphs and small eggs, as well as bottom bounce our chuck-n-duck rigs for resident trout and fall steelhead.
Present water temperature in the low 40’s.