MUSKEGON RIVER, MICHIGAN ('96-'98)

Sunday, November 22, 1998

It was a beautiful day to be on the river -- warm weather, sunny skies, but very windy. Tanner came along this time since I didn't plan on catching much.

In fact, the fishing was slow. I lined one nice, healthy brown trout on the top of the back. It took a long, long time to land him and release him.

Saw a few other guys out today around Carmichael Flats. I was suprised to see so many since hunting season was in full force.

No sign of steelhead or salmon, but a few gravel beds looked fairly fresh and I didn't stay until dark to see if anything moved in from the deep water.


Saturday, October 24, 1998

On the last day of daylight savings I found myself fishing by lantern around Carmicheal Flats. I got to the river an hour before sunset, staked my claim to a good hole and only saw a salmon or two swimming around.

But once darkness fell, the salmon came up out of the deep water to swim actively around the gravel. I spent a couple hours tossing yarn balls, marabou streamers and giant stone flies at them. I got three of them on the line for a few minutes each, but I had little hope of slowing them down. It seemed like they would take my fly, swim down the middle of the river, and shake the fly loose. Within a couple of minutes I swear I'd see a salmon back at my feet acting just like the one I lost.

Never fear, steelhead will be here.


Monday, October 19, 1998

Raced out of work to try some night fishing, again around Carmicheal Flats. When I got there, I talked to four guys who had been fishing all day and were dismayed to see almost no salmon. Rather than cast at nothing, I wandered up and down the bank scouting for salmon.

At the series of holes where I had seen salmon before, two old-timers stared into the water. They had been in that same spot most of the day and had seen salmon hanging around, hooked into one, and landed none. They left just after dark, and then I headed into their hole.

In the darkness, I hooked two, fighting one for several minutes before I had to try to stop him. He was almost across the river and heading downstream when I really applied the pressure. Soon enough my fly popped off the line. Next time I'll have more patience and follow him downstream.


Saturday, October 17, 1998

Got to the river around Carmicheal Flats well before sunrise and saw several salmon swimming up on the gravel and ducking into the holes. Once the sun got bright, the fish disappeared and the the fishermen appeared. Many, many boats floated by and lots of other guys waded around. Only saw one guy in a drift boat land a chinook, a couple of other guys wading had some on the line. I hooked into two or three but didn't come close to landing them. All the guys I talked to weren't happy with the fishing. Despite the frequent rain, the fall colors were great.


Sunday, October 12, 1998

I had pretty good success for my first time salmon fishing on the Big Mo.

Late in the afternoon, I drove up to the area around Carmicheal Flats. Saw several guys wading and several boats pass by as I walked along the bank looking for the salmon. The only fish I saw were those jumping out of the water like killer whales, and most of those were way out in the middle of the river.

I settled on an area that had lots of gravel -- even a few redds -- and some deep holes to throw my slinky in. I started using caddis nymphs and various streamers with no luck. I think with the bright sunlight of the past two days, the salmon were as deep as possible in the pools.

When it started getting dark -- around 7:00 pm -- I noticed some fish starting to hit the gravel. It may have been a coincidence but at the same time I began using yarn balls and immediately started getting hits. I stood in the same spot, casting 10 - 20 feet away and had five hook-ups during the next 45 minutes. The battles were all done within 15 seconds.

I used 3x tippet, which seemed to help my rate of hook-ups, but the fly broke off too easy. Next time I'll try 1x and test my knots more.

I'll also watch my trail going in a little better. I ended up wandering the woods for 45 minutes looking for the truck.


Friday, August 7, 1998

A week of rain brought up the river a bit, and probably cooled it off as well. I got to the river below Croton Dam at 8:00 pm and stayed until 10:00 pm. It was very humid because of all the rain that had fallen today.

I saw a few trout surface before sunset (9:00) and it picked up after sunset. Ended up catching three nice-sized trout, but only landed two of them. All were about 12-14 inches. One took by elk-hair caddis, one took the LaFontaine caddis, and I'm not sure what the other took. The best action was after it got dark, from 9:30 on.


Friday, July 31, 1998

After catching lots of little brookies on the Little South Branch of the PM, I headed to the Big Mo for big rainbow. I knew my chances were slim. The latest reports said the water was low, clear and warm. What I saw matched the reports exactly.

I suppose I could have tried fishing for the many large suckers I saw, but I was there for trout. Unfortunately the trout weren't there for me. I guess I could not have been there at a worse time: 2:00 in the afternoon on a cloudless day.

All in all it was okay. Tanner had a good time swimming and it was a beautiful day.


Saturday, June 27, 1998

Fished below the Croton Dam access in the late afternoon until just after dark, and the best fishing by far was after dark. All evening the hatches and surface activity of the trout was sporadic. But as soon as the sun went down, guys were catching rising trout left and right. Luckily some of the guys who had been out for much of the day in the spots I liked left as it got dark.

I caught several 12-inch rainbows and one very surprising, very tough smallmouth bass. It weighed at least a couple pounds and took two hands to hold onto. It took a hopper right off the sruface, lept out of the river a few times (just like a rainbow) and put up a great fight. Hmmm, maybe it's time to start fishing for smallmouth again.

Again, I had no luck on emergers, but plenty of strikes on a small hopper on a cinammon caddis. Didn't try the bigger drakes, but I should have after dark.


Sunday, June 7, 1998

Got to the river just below Croton Dam around 4:00 and fished hard until 9:00. In that time, I landed 8 rainbows, 3 browns and one sucker. Everything was hitting cinammon caddis, and a few of them were going for a grey drake. Also tried a caddis emerger for a while but nothing would go for it.

Lots of guys wading, lots of guys in boats, but plenty of fish and water for all.


Sunday, January 4, 1998

I took Tanner up to the Muskegon to see if I could catch any winter rainbows. I had heard the steelhead actions was really slow, so on this near-freezing day I decided to nymph for some of the rainbows I saw this summer. As it turns out, I didn't see a thing or even get a hit. Nevertheless, it was a good day to be out and cast a line.

The only place I fished was just downstream of the Croton Dam. Everything here seemed about the same as previous trips except for a good number of rotting salmon carcasses.

Later on, I drove to a couple of other access areas along the Muskegon that I had never been to. The first access I entered across the street from the Pine Avenue boat launch. The dirt road is 72nd Street and it goes due west for about a half mile and then turns south for a quarter mile. There are a couple of parking spots at the end of the road, which also is right next to private property. Wading along here looks okay, though I didn't go in. Some area of riffles, but also some areas of very slack water.

The second spot I drove to was futher downstream. This one was off of Thornapple Ave, and was reached by following 72nd street to the east. It was a muddy, muddy drive. I didn't get out of the truck because it was geting dark, but it looked to be a bit of a walk to get to the water. I could see the upstream limit of this access from across the river at the access I was just at. I'll have to go back to check out the water conditions.


Sunday, October 12, 1997

Greg and I got to the Croton Dam access around noon after having fished with the rest of the guys on the PM this weekend. We fished from the bridge up to the dam and only saw a few salmon and suckers. Quite a few people were here but we didn't see anybody catch anything in the two hours we were in the water. I wouldn't try fishing up here again because it's just not good fly water. We had even looked downstream and saw lots of people along the banks and in boats dwon there. The saving grace was the day's beautiful weather.


Wednesday, August 27, 1997

Headed up to the river after work without Tanner this time. As it turns out, I should have brought him. (Although that wouldn't have helped his ear infection much.) I walked all the way down to the spots I had tried before and fished there. Absolutely no luck all evening. A caddis hatch seemed to occur, but the fish that responded were out of casting distance. The water even seemed a bit higher this time. The weather was pretty good. Warm with very litle breeze. I even tried a couple of spots upstream of the No Trespassing sign, all the way until the main trail goes up the hillside.


Thursday, July 31, 1997

Took of early from work and brought Tanner with me. We headed to the same area I had been to before. I started out with a weighted muddler streamer from Great Lakes, but it didn't do a thing. Then I went to a dry caddis and caught one but didn't land it. Then I added a bead head caddis dropper and caught one but didn't land it. There wasn't much in the way of rising fish tonight. For some reason the caddis never really started flying and the fish didn't have the spunk they've had before.

Tanner was annoying at the beginning; splashing around wanting only to play. I yelled at him a few times but it didn't seem to stop his craziness. After a couple of hours of going in and out of the water he decided to just stay in the water. He would swim circles around me or swim in place for long stretches of time. I finally left because he was shivering from the cold water. Dumb dog wouldn't get out of the water.


Sunday, July 28, 1997

On a hot evening I headed out to the river for some relief. I walked about a quarter mile down from the bridge at Croton Dam to where I thought Keith and I had luck before. It's just after the end of the fishing access; there's a No Trespassing sign where I waded downstream a little further. There was a trail close to the river, but a better trail was higher up on the bluff.

I ended up catching 6 very nice trout. All were about 12-16 inches and fought especially well. Had a few other hits on my caddis as well. I started out with a bead head caddis and caught one or two before switching to a dry elk hair caddis. I should have tried a dropper because I could see the white bellies of a few trout striking just below the surface not even breaking water.

Wading here was pretty good, lots of big rocks to stumble on though. I fished until 10:00, well past dark. The best time was about a half hour before and after sunset.


Wednesday, July 9, 1997

Keith and I took his canoe out for its maidan voyage. We started after work and put in just below Croton Dam. The plan was to float to the Pine Avenue access and fish as much as possible. We stayed until well after dark because of the many trout surfacing then.

The action started right away and only got better. I caught one rainbow and one brown but felt disappointed because I felt I could have caught many more. Each was about 12 inches long. Lots of hatching tonight. Mostly caddis, some mayfly, and a few gray drakes. I caught the brown on a bead head caddis and the rainbow on a caddis pattern that I had often used on the Missouri in Montana. We need to go back soon.


Tuesday, June 17, 1997

After work I headed up to the Big Mo after getting some advice from the guys at Great Lakes Flyfishing Co. I started at the Thornapple Ave. boat launch. Upstream from there, I could hike or wade a quarter mile or more. Plenty of good access and I think the dog would like it here, but I didn't see any trout worth catching. Lots of tiny fish surfacing, but nothing else. I spent about two hours there before coming to this conclusion.

I then drove to the Croton Dam and found the trout. Many guys were here using fly rods and spinning rods. I caught one nice 10" brown and had a couple more hits before a sudden thunderstorm rolled inland. I only got to fish for about 15 minutes. I saw a couple of guys catch some. One older guy said he caught 39 since 1:30 in the afternoon.

I was using a caddis, but I heard that blue winged olives and drakes were also effective. The guy who caught 39 used a gray mayfly most of the time. There seems to be access on both sides of the river and the wading is okay if you're careful.


Sunday, September 15, 1996

On the way back from the Platte, I stopped at the Public Access near Pine Avenue. Saw 8 fly-fishermen having no luck and two spincasters bringing in three nice trout. This despite many, many caddis on the river. Only saw a few trout surface, and at least one salmon/steelhead.

Although it looks tough to wade, it's not too hard to get nearly all the way across the river. Because the wading is easy enough, you can go up and down the shoreline which is all privately owned. I'm sure it's worth going back to.

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