Friday, June 7, 2013


(remarkable Eagle Lake strain Rainbow last night on gray drake spinner fall- not a steelhead due to orange slits below gills and belly and bright rose color throughout body)
( our guide John with a nice brownie which are common this year)
It has been a remarkable spring so far with all the cold water and cool/wet weather. Last night we hit a 23 inch Eagle Lake rainbow on the gray drake spinner. These fish strain, according to DNR biologists, are not supposed to get big....this girl did not get the email/memo! . Their are many 14-23 inch fish surface feeding to the prolific hatches despite last years epic 100 year drought/heat wave. I had to talk to Mark Tonello of the Michigan DNR this morning to inform him of the tremendous growth rates of trout on our DNR labeled "marginal trout waters"...;)., since no research on trout populations have been done by DNR staff since late 1990's-short staffed..below is my conversation and email...hope you can get out and enjoy this perfect trout weather. Yes!...there are still steelhead in the Muskegon river!
river level -2500 cfs- wadeable
water temps 59 F
email to M. Tonello- Michigan DNR Biologist- Cadillac office
Mark et al.,
It was nice talking to you today. Hope you found my information informative and useful. Per our conversation today, it is amazing to see how many 14-23 inch Wild Rose browns and Eagle Lake strain rainbows are on the surface taking Gray Drake/ suplher mayflies and caddis hatches right now on the Muskegon ...truly astounding the number of big fish around this spring after last year's 100 year devastating heat and drought as we discussed. Even to me an eternal optimist, I would have never believed it!  It looks like the entire ground spring water system of seeps and capillaries that the Muskegon has due to its higher gradients and deep pools , along with the slightest of influence the cool bubbler at Croton contributed positively last summer  was enough to have tremendous holdover- that's the only explanation I can think of. 
Last fall, once the 100F heat was over, we started to see  13-14 inch browns and rainbows feeding to caddis in late September, with a few 18-19 inch browns in the mix- they were very fat and gorged with caddis larvae/pupae. I think the incredible caddis population of the Muskegon, AS A RESULT OF THE PLANKTON LOADS IN THE IMPOUNDMENTS , allows the trout to feed all summer heavily despite the 74F TEMPERATURES, THUS STILL GROWING AND NOT EXPERIENCING ATROPHY/MORTEM, which usually occurs when the fish's metabolism shuts down in critical Passive /Dormant stages of heat stress. Plus cold weather and lots of water is the key this year and is helping things greatly. As of today, there are still numbers of spring steelhead spawning Below Pine St and at Thornapple. I have identified the critical refuge areas on the Muskegon where the trout summer-over. They are the deep,spring -fed pools from just above Carmichael flats to just below Bigalow Creek. Last summer Bigalow creek was jammed with large trout seeking refuge due to its cold water and the creek is almost impossible to fish at low water with all the woody debris and USFS/TU built lunker structure undercut banks- thus providing great refuge for the large trout. With the massive floods and rains this spring, many of those fish washed back down into the main Muskegon I believe. Also the number of large brown trout in this section can be directly correlated to the springs and Bigalow and fast oxygenated currents below the High Overlook- this would be a great section to manage for trophy trout as I have mentioned in the past. Also the number of large brown trout from the Croton Dam to Pine Ave is astonishing this year due to the nutrient load of freshwater daphnia/ diptera, which the trout gorge on prior to the hatches that emanates from the reservoirs. . One huge positive factor that has a great influence on the tremendous mayfly, stonefly, midge and caddis life on the Muskegon is the water being quite alkaline - PH of 8 and above, which is unusual for a peat/marl tannic freestone river which tend to be acidic. This signals the importance and presence of the clay/limestone/subterranean aquifer influences on the river. The survival of wild steelhead/salmon fry/parr should be substantial this year given the devastating blow it received last year with the heat/drought. 
 Regardless, its good news and haven't seen this good dry fly fishing since 1996-1997- along with hatches at biblical proportions and lots of water. The gray drake hatch last year was non-existent- this year its like a plague of the Locusts!....pretty cool stuff all in all !
 The 23 inch Eagle lake rainbow taken last night on the gray drake mayfly spinner fall was the largest I've ever seen in 19 years of guiding.
 Hope the information is useful and the amount of stocking and money vested in the Muskegon is well spent and showing gorgeous trophy fish. I cant imagine what next year will bring given a cool wet summer which they are predicting this year. Good to have 'ole' Michigan weather back!- cool and wet!.
Thanks for taking the time to absorb the information. Your comments are welcome.