Muskegon River Trout Fly Fishing

As a so-called warm water draw impoundment, the Muskegon River offers very good classic fly fishing for trout, enabled in part by the relatively recent development of drawing cold water from the bottom of the Croton impoundment and releasing it into the river. Hatches of caddis can be heavy, with trout responding well to dry, nymph, and pupa patterns. The result is reliable, good to excellent, dry fly fishing.

Spring & Summer

(Early May – Early July)

The Muskegon River is loaded with steelhead and Chinook salmon fry and smolts, as well as crayfish, making the Muskegon a premier streamer river for larger trout. Sculpin, bunny strip, and zonker streamer patterns “match the hatch” of the smolts, and crayfish patterns are reliable and effective. The result: large brown and rainbow trout taken on sinktip lines – trout that sometimes put our clients well into their fly line backing. In short, stripping streamers on the Muskegon River is a blast. The clear water allows one to see the takes and follows of the trout, only adding to the excitement of the day.

Each year, Nymphing yields large trout and larger numbers of trout when other methods aren’t producing. Clients are sometimes amazed that large trout respond so effectively during the day to small nymphs. The key is knowing the Muskegon River hatches, which our guides have and seek to know more of each day they are on the water.


(Late June – July)

Each year, summer run steelhead ascend the Big Manistee River, presenting the fly fisherman with classic, two-handed Spey rod fishing opportunities, as well as single handed rod situations. Known for their scorching runs and spectacular leaps, summer run steelhead on the Manistee River are limited in number and elusive so hookups cannot be assured. But, when one connects, they are an experience to treasure. Long, lean, silver rockets that rival the Atlantic salmon for their fighting qualities.



As fall approaches, fly fishing for trout returns to center stage on the Muskegon River. Shorter days and easing water temperatures prompt trout to feed heavily in preparation for the chilling days and nights of winter. The crowds of summer are gone, days are sunny and pleasant, and the trout await.

Nymph fishing classic riffles and runs is especially productive in September. Indicator, European, and freestyle nymphing techniques produce throughout the day with trout in the teens coming to hand more commonly than not. Scuds, sow bugs, baetis, and caddis patterns are the flies of choice, enabling fly fishermen to hone their nymphing skills with consistent takes and hookups.

Dry fly fishing during September can also be excellent as late afternoon caddis and baetis hatches stir the trout to rise. Flying ants as small as #20-22 lure trout to sip a morsel here, a morsel there. The Muskegon, now low and clear, calls for longer leaders and finer tippets coupled with stealthy approaches, and maybe a deep breath or two – all of which stand to make a September day astream deeply satisfying and long remembered.