Muskegon River Fishing Report – February 14, 2020 – Newaygo, Michigan

Muskegon River Fishing Report – February 14, 2020 – Newaygo, Michigan

Chinook Salmon “sac fry” fly pattern ready to be eaten !

The Muskegon river fishing report for February 14, 2020 in the Newaygo, Michigan area is focused on the early signs of spring, anticipation of our annual spring steelhead run, as well as prime time dry fly fishing shortly after and increasing interest in the Smallmouth bass fishing the follows.

With the days getting longer, lake Michigan steelhead will begin moving towards the pier heads that lead to their natal rivers and start “staging” for their much anticipated spawning run.   The Muskegon river is one of the largest rivers in the Midwest to receive such a spring run of steelhead and historically one of the last to get its run, but has one of the longest runs just the same.

The longer days, coupled with warming water temperatures in both lake Michigan and the rivers that flow into it, will be the spark to get this great annual event underway.  Much of this will be dictated by what Mother Nature has in store for us over the next few weeks, but based on present and forecasted weather for west Michigan, we could be kicking off our “spring” season a few weeks earlier than normal this year.  Click HERE for current and forecasted weather for the Newaygo, Michigan area.

River levels always play a role in how many fish come up in small groups or “pods” -vs- a larger migration of “schools” and we’ll be monitoring river levels as we approach the start of the run.  Oddly enough, the Muskegon river has been running above average flows for most of the last 2+ months, with “averages” closer to 3,500 cfs, compared to 2,500 cfs.  Levels have dropped a bit in recent days and this is as close to average levels as we’ve seen most of winter.  Click HERE for current Muskegon river water flow data from Croton dam.

Equipment options for the coming steelhead, trout and smallmouth bass seasons include the following.

Spring steelhead can be fished with either fly fishing or light spin tackle equipment.  Fly fishing options include “chuck-n-duck” nymphing with shooting line for bottom bouncing through runs, indicator nymphing rigs with floating lines and swinging streamers with sinking or sink tip lines.  Most fly rod setups are on 7 or 8 weight rods.  Conventional tackle includes either open face spinning or baitcaster reels, matched to appropriate rods for running bobber/float rigs.

The trout fishing that follows is some of the most sought after of the year….dry fly season !   With 5 and 6 weight fly rods and tapered floating lines, we target rising Brown and Rainbow trout with a variety of caddis and mayfly imitations to trick one into taking our dries.  When river and weather conditions allow for it, spring streamer fishing with sinking or sink tips fly lines is a great way to move some of the largest trout in the river.  Prime trout time is late May – late June most years, this schedule of sorts can change a bit with big and unexpected shifts in weather, but this is a safe generalization.  

Come the first week or two of July, most years finds the Muskegon getting warmer, insect hatches tapering off quickly and the onset of Smallmouth bass, Walleye and Pike season is underway !  We can pursue all such warm water species of fish with either fly fishing or conventional equipment with nearly equal success.

First things first though….we need some new chrome in the river and before we know it, they will start coming !

Happy Fishing !