Michigan Steelhead Guides for the Muskegon River, Pere Marquette River, and Manistee River. Fly Fishing & Centerpin available for Salmon, Steelhead, Trout, & Smallmouth in West Michigan Streams. (231) 519-7348

 
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~ Muskegon River Steelhead ~ Great Lakes Steelhead -
Centerpin Float Fishing for Winter Steelhead in Michigan.

 Centerpin float fishing for Winter Steelhead is unparalleled in the Muskegon River. Centerpin float fishing steelhead
Steelhead Conditions: .Steelhead is our passion! Guiding on the Muskegon River for large, broad shouldered Michigan strain steelhead up to twenty pounds in the fall, winter and spring and pursuing the gargantuan Skamania steelhead which run during the summer on the St. Joseph's River and Big Manistee, we can guide steelhead anglers 365 days a year. By combining these rivers, without doubt we can create the ultimate and unparalleled world class steelhead fly fishing experience!

We also offer Winter Steelhead float fishing centerpin instruction on how to achieve the proper drifts, presentation, float selection, and winter holding waters for steelhead on the Muskegon, Rogue, and Grand Rivers in West Michigan.

Starting in October, large wild and wild origin stocked steelhead will ascend the Muskegon on the heels of the wild Chinook salmon run. By fishing Spey rods with bright marabou Spey flies and streamers or bottom drifting egg patterns and nymphs, aggressive takes to the fly will occur during the warmer water period lasting into December. Centerpin float fishing for Winter Steelhead is unparalleled in the Muskegon River. Centerpin float fishing steelhead is the stealthy way to landed big numbers of Steelhead.

Steelhead will ascend the Muskegon River all winter long due to its warmer tail water and ice free flows providing for some spectacular fishing in January and February.

Gorgeous Muskegon River Spring Steelhead taken on a clown egg in the lower river.

For those that have experienced winter Steelheading, it is perhaps the most rewarding time of the year. When a large buck steelhead in the 18lb. range hammers your pink egg fly in the gut of a deep run during a January or February afternoon, the exhilaration and satisfaction is immeasurable - also you usually have the river to yourself along with the Bald Eagles that tower amongst the snow capped pines.

March, April and May see the mother lode of the spring run. Steelhead become very finicky and take small nymphs in a traditional nymphing method. At the end of May and early June, steelhead can be caught on the dry fly during the massive Gray Drake and Isonychia mayfly hatches.

Since the Muskegon River is progressively becoming more like a spring creek, our
steelhead are adjusting to the gin clear waters and feeding on caddis and midge larvae, blue winged olive nymphs and scuds - picture fourteen pound silver steelhead eating size 16 caddis!

In addition to Great Lakes nymphing, strike indicator fishing and streamer stripping, we have come to embrace modern Spey rod tactics such as Skagit, Scandinavian, traditional and switch rod methods. Watching a steelhead slam a swinging fly is a thrill of a lifetime!

Muskegon River offers large numbers of Great Lakes steelhead throughout most of the year!
Why do Steelhead key in on Winter Stoneflies?

Great Lakes Steelhead are perhaps the most opportunistic member of the salmonid family. While chinook and coho salmon require large schools of baitfish like smelt and alewives to support their numbers, steelhead take a substantial amount of their forage from insect sources, supplementing with baitfish, crayfish, gobies, and whatever else strikes their fancy. This fact leads some experts to believe that steelhead "residentize" back to their stream-trout roots when they spend any length of time in a river environment. When January and February roll around, the winter stonefly hatches begin in the cold river environments in Michigan. The steelhead holding in river pools, waiting for spawning time to begin, may revert to feeding behavior that worked well during the early stages of life. When you're winter flyfishing and you notice tiny black specks on the snow around you, study them closely. You'll find that these are adult stoneflies, possibly ringing the dinner bell for whatever lurks in the depths of that hole in front of you. Fish accordingly, as your luck may have just turned.

There are a variety of nymph flies that imitate the Winter Stonefly.
Most of these patterns are simple, from a hare's ear nymph or pheasant-tail nymph colored dark brown or black with marker, to more involved patterns such as the Egg Sucking Stone, Viagra caddis, Mojo Dark Knight, Rubber Legged Stone, etc. Remember that these flies should be dead-drifted the same way you'd fish glo-bugs or egg flies, under an indicator or bottom-bounced through holes that look promising. No vigorous stripping is needed with these - keep in mind that while the weather is warmer than usual, the water is a few degrees above freezing. Deep and slow wins the race here - make sure that your flies drift along current breaks and bubble-lines, to ensure that any fish present has time to take a shot at them. Strike back when the strike comes, snub that fish before it can get loose, and then enjoy the music of your reel underscoring the winter sunlight dancing on rippled waters...


Muskegon River Stone flies emerger from the river basin in early March.
Steelhead love stone flies! Top choice flies for the Muskegon River.

Steelhead have a definite soft spot for Stone flies. In rivers where the flies are present, such as the Muskegon River or Pere Marquette, Stone flies can be as important as egg flies are during the peak of the spawning season, and at times more effective. In rivers that do not have a large population of stone flies, or any at all, steelhead will still respond to flies that imitate Stone flies. There are several reasons for why Stoneflies are so effective on steelhead. The first reason is that there is approximately 500 species in North America, and in the East there are 9 families and 50 genera. What all this means is that, in the Salmon River there is several varieties of Stoneflies. During the past few years, the Salmon River has received improved summer water flows. And as a result, the Stonefly populations have expanded along with other aquatic insects.

Stoneflies are primarily associated with clean, cool-to-cold running waters, although a number of species are adapted to large, oligotrophic boreal and alpine lakes. Species of Plecoptera are often associated with clean water qualities, and their presence or unnatural absence is often a key component of water quality indices. Nymphs tend to have specific water termperature, substrate and food types, and stream size requirements, reflected in their distribution along the source of river longitudinal continuum. There are also distinct microdistributions for size classes within individual species. Although distributed world-wide, Plecoptera are associated with cooler water temperatures and, consequently, distribution tends to be amphipolar. Currently, there are 59 species of Plecoptera reliably recorded from Michigan.


Current Muskegon River Conditions & Fishing Information

Over the past few days, Steelhead fishing in Michigan on the lower Muskegon River has been excellent. Fall Steelhead ascend the Muskegon in search of Chinook salmon roe. Salmon eggs are a prized food source of Michigan Fall Steelhead. November and December offer great center-pin float fishing opportunities. Fly Fisherman from Chicago also enjoy great fishing opportunities close to home.

Float fishing on the lower Muskegon River near Bridgeton and Maple Island has been very productive producing over a fish per hour. Spawn and fly fishing have both been working well in slower, deeper holes. Winter locations have now become important and are both holding Trout and Steelhead.

Over the past five days, Steelhead fishing has been exceptionally good! There have been good numbers of bright silver adult Steelhead in the 8 to 10lb class with several being taken each day in the the light teen range. These good numbers of Fall Steelhead should equate to an excellent January - February fishery. If you ever wanted to give Fly Fishing for Winter Steelhead a try, now is that time!! We have dates available for both float fishing and fly fishing for Winter Steelhead on the Muskegon River!

Nate, Tim, and Brent are also excellent Steelhead guides. We have many other dates available for Winter Steelhead fishing the Muskegon River! March offers the best in Spring Steelhead.

Muskegon River Fall & Winter Steelhead - The Muskegon River receives one of the largest Fall and Winter Steelhead populations of wild Steelhead in the Great Lakes Region. Trophy wild Steelhead are available in good numbers during November, December, January, February, March, and April. Spring Steelhead are available in April, May & June.

We are located about 3.5 hours from Chicago, Ill. Chicago Fly Fishing anglers enjoy great Steelhead fishing success within a short drive. Both Guided day trips and packages are available to anglers seeking a quality Fly Fishing experience!

Hotel accommodations are available both on the water, and in neighboring areas, offering many options for places to stay while enjoying the area and great fishing on the Muskegon River.


Fishing floats and spawn has been our primary method. Fly Fishing has also been effective on fresh chrome fish. With the slowly falling water temperatures Steelhead have focused on moving to their traditional winter lies, slow, deep runs have been the key. Longer Fluorocarbon leaders have also been a must due to the ultra clear water!

If December is going to be anything like this past November, I'm very excited because we've put more Steelhead in the net in November this year than the past couple of years combined! It's 100% better than last year for sure!

Look for very good numbers of Steelies during the month of December! If you have ever wanted to give Fall / Winter Steelhead a try or hone your float fishing skills, Now is the time to go! We have open dates available during December. We will hook you up!

 

 

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Site last updated: 05/18/2010

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