Friday, June 3, 2011


( Cast master Todd)
This has been an incredible past two weeks on the Muskegon! Tremendous mayfly and caddis, activity, lots of fat browns and rainbows feeding on the surface and yes!..........another fresh steelhead sighting yesterday!
 Had the pleasure of having Todd Jensen last night for some hatch matching and it was another amazing fantasy night. We witnessed another "sexual orgy"( as my title implies) of gray darks, sulphers and caddis mating into frenzies! The cool weather-upper 60's-low 70's daytime highs, coupled with cold 40-50F nights have spurned tremendous hatching activity that we last saw in 2009. After the oppressive heat and lack of hatches of 2010's spring which made us scratch our heads with" where have all those bugs gone?"- it just goes to show you how amazingly resilient mother nature is!
( very nice rainbow taken on a drake!- the ones that don't die at ten!)
The real big story is the almost blizzard like caddis ova-positing female flights of the last few nights. We almost lost our caddis hatches due to the invasion of the zebra mussels for over ten years. The water was clear and empty of case /clinging caddis larvae.Why?- cause caddis larvae are plankton filter feeders- so are the zebra mussels attached to the very same rocks on the bottom of the river.
( my new gray drake soft hackle- works before the hatch and anytime of day)
So the zebras filtered millions of gallons of water daily and stripped all the plankton and any debris in the water, thus starving out the caddis literally.
 The river today is crawling with caddis larvae everywhere and has a strong"tea tannin stain' we have not seen since the late 80's /early 90's........WHY!
( peat color evident)
 Because the zebra have been dying at an alarming rate for the past three years- Consumers Power has the turbine power steaming facts to back this up. The tea stain is caused by the rivers high marl, deciduous,pine emanations in its system. So the mussels, are not capable of removing those tannin particles due to the lack of them.
( caddis females ova -positing all day!- each year will only get better!- like the old days when Carl Richards and Pobst wrote their caddis books on this river)
What the tea stain means for the trout? Nothing but fantastic news. We had trout rising in the past few nights literally 2-3 feet of the side of the boat -or where you were wading. In that water, you could barely see the bottom- normally you could see 12 feet down easily on the Muskegon1-not no more. So the trout will feel more comfortable and less skittish in the darker water and are more prone to rise at all times of day and closer to you.

( how big browns can get with healthy caddis and big mayfly populayions on the Mo- Bacon with a hog taken on a drake!)
 Also, Todd made an excellent comment. The tannin stain will also lower summer water temperatures since light penetration will be mush less then it was in very gin clear water.
( gray drake image -John Miller@)copyright)
 So why the reduction in zebra mussels you ask?
 three things have occurred
* when a new exotic invader infiltrates a new ecosystem, their proliferation is quick and explosive, eventually over-reproducing and dying off in big numbers due to over eating their food source
*they don't like cold winters, which we have had several strong ones
* they don't like high fast water flows. This last flood was the second worst in the past 100 years(86 was the biggest). We also had several big floods since 2004.
 River levels- 2019 cfs- water temp 58F---------all is good and ready for some great hatch matching!
 Todd saw two chrome steelhead on gravel yesterday while wading- yes they are still winter strain steelhead!. I asked Todd, " you sure they are steelhead not suckers?. "Not unless these suckers have a red stripe and spotted triangular tails!,"he shot back.
 Life on the river is good!