We RiverQuest guides respect and value all the fish we pursue, but, man, fall/winter steelhead are special! The speed, power, and acrobatics of these fish are phenomena more fly fishermen really ought to experience. When one has steelhead clearing the water repeatedly, all the while screaming up or downstream, one can only exclaim, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
And so it was today, when my friend and fellow RiverQuest guide Captain Don Graham invited me to join him in his boat for a day of fly fishing for fall steelhead on the Muskegon River. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been up trees looking for a couple of special whitetails my sons and I have spotted on our hunting property, but so far, they’ve outsmarted us all. So, it was time to give them a rest and get back to my first love—fly fishing—in this case for fall steelhead.
Before I wet a line, Don hooked up a chromer, but gracious host that he was, he effected a “premature release” of his steelhead. Despite Don’s quick connect, the bite for the morning, proved tough, even though we had perfect conditions: cloudy with intermittent showers, clear but slightly bronzed water color, little or no wind, and few other fishermen. After lunch, though, things really heated up with repeated hookups and fish boated. Great to see was the number of newly arrived steelhead—flashing chrome bullets fresh from Lake Michigan. All of the fish we boated were hooked on nymphs, including a fat 14″ brown trout. (Incidentally, we are totally geeked about the fly fishing prospects for our resident trout fishing next May and June. The fish made it through the summer heat and now run 13-16″ in length and are superbly conditioned. Look for mid to upper teens trout in very good numbers on dry flies, not to mention our usual high teens and occasional twenties trout, too.)
Pictured are steelhead we took today. We have very good numbers of fish in the river right now, and the river is fishing well with light fishing pressure. RiverQuest captains Steve, Dave, and Don are our fall/winter steelhead specialists, and they would love to introduce you to steelies like those pictured below. The large hen weighed 11 lbs., and the largest male, 9.5 lbs. The others were in the 5-7 lb. class. Give Steve a call at (616) 293-0501 to learn more.
Thanks, Don, for putting us on steelhead and giving us both a great day!
Captain Tom Kuieck