“Unusual” would is the only way to describe this winter’s weather. High water, mostly from rain events, and some family vacation time have kept me off the river for a fairly significant amount of time. While warmer than normal weather and high flows aren’t completely unusual for the month of January, cold, snow, and more snow is normally January on the Muskegon River.
February steelhead fishing, though, is one of our favorite times to chase steelhead. As the sun’s angle slowly ascends higher in the sky, the first spring steelhead begin their trek upstream from Big Blue. With each passing day, the run builds with new fish holding in preferred lies we know well as the steelhead prepare for the spring spawn.
Winter two-handed rod Spey fishing is a favorite fly fishing method of ours since wintering steelhead and new arrivals focus on sculpins, gobies, and small river baitfish. To be sure, the cold water presents its challenges for the fisherman given the slowed metabolism of the steelhead, but challenges are part and parcel of why we fly fish. Then, too, nymphing deep runs and pools with single-handed rods is a productive method that many of our customers enjoy because it is especially effective at this time of year.
Of course, the bonus of winter steelheading is the solitude, quiet, and flat-out beauty of the river valley itself. Trees clothed in white, wildlife moving about, and the inky-black promise of the river make for a most memorable adventure. On any given day, one may see deer, eagles, osprey, herons, turkeys, mink, muskrats, and even an otter or two.
Of course, nasty weather is a possibility for any day in February so dress for the conditions and book a backup date, just in case the weather forecast for your day isn’t promising.
Finally, with spring just around the corner, dates are filling for our guides. If you haven’t booked your dates yet, please consider doing so soon. Feel free to call Steve at (616) 293-0501 to learn more and to talk fly fishing for winter and spring steelhead. As has long been our practice, there’s no obligation or expectation to book a day with RiverQuest when you look into fishing with us. It’s our pleasure to share our knowledge of the Muskegon River steelhead fishery and how you might join us in experiencing it with a great day of fly fishing.
Capt. Steven Kuieck