Blue skies and fresh clean air have been the norm in Michigan and a blessing since Canadian Wild Fire air has moved out. Yesterday was an astonishing day for me!- and more so for my clients Bill and Jay. I already knew by the USGS gauge at Croton we were getting some abnormally cold water from Croton dam in July of which I have been fighting Consumers Energy to get for 30 years. But when I took a water temperature by my boat at 7 in the morning I was shocked! and astonished to get a 66.5 F cool and fishable for trout water. Our water temperatures for the past 30 years or more prior below Croton and Thornapple are usually 74 F by this time of mid -July -especially with the new global climate change heat waves we are experiencing . Needless to say I need not tell you anymore. What we found was astonishing!-fat and aggressive to the fly browns and rainbows that usually have migrated up to the dam or the springs. It was something I have prayed and pleaded hard for decades and it was finally a reality! This despite some intense heat waves for extended periods this spring and summer – my air-conditioning electric bill will attest to it! If we can only hold on for another month with a cool weather 14 day forecast which looks excellent with no heat waves, our holdover and growth rates of browns and rainbows will be astonishing all summer and into next year!
NOTE: Handling Trout in Summertime Our Muskegon tail water trout due to the massive amount of food sources -especially caddis and midges, and the diversity of prey like abundant crayfish our river has all summer keeps these trout fat and feeding all July and August in the upper stretches between Pine and the dam and in the lower sections near the hundreds of 49-55F springs entering the river despite water temperatures in the 72-74F range. But if you catch and release one you risk mortality and trout killing themselves from the lactic buildup even though they swim away after release. The cold water bubbler to be used by Consumers Energy Power is designed to get as much bottom draw as possible and release more dissolved oxygen that keeps trout feeding and safe even in 70F water-even though fishing for trout is stress driven at those temperatures in the fight and release and causes mortality . Water in the 60’sF angling is a reality but still keep the fish totally wet with no hero shots and with hemostats turning the fly for release-fish barbless and use rubber mesh nets that usually release a barbless hook the moment the fish bounces the net like a trampoline. And if fish is deep hooked just cut the tippet and the fly near the mouth-fish will be fine with the tiny flies you are using at this time of year. Also fight the fish quickly and enjoy achieving and fooling selectively feeding trout on tiny flies and delicate presentations- what fly fishing is all about!
Tricos, very tiny ,very tiny Pseudocleon bwo’s, caddis and midges are the key. All the trout are looking up from the dam to Newaygo with now fishable water temperatures 14 miles downriver. But carry a thermometer because water temps will heat up in afternoon so take the 70F pledge!
Summer Skamania steelhead ( they are strays from Indiana St Joe stockings’) have been caught throughout the river at various locations . I saw a kayak guy throwing spinners have a beast chromer on yesterday that jumped 4 aerial leaps 5 feet in the air- he didnt land it since the fish was towing the angler!
JUNE 27/23 REPORT
I had a wonderful fly casting school this week with a father and 18 year-old daughter Melissa and the next day I couldn’t breath!- I was coughing and choking so hard! Still amazed how young ladies pick up fly casting and trout fishing so instinctively! ( see our next Hallowed Waters Podcast (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hallowed-waters/id1606667042 starting backup in July after our June mayfly break: It will be my first women’s podcast ( told my wonderful madam guest to go easy on me since I’m a virgin on this subject-and not too politically correct with the proper gender sensitive lingo and having had all stoic old white dude authors as guests pontificating the deep meanings of our cerebrally twisted and self-induced ethereal and enigmatic subject matters-God help us poor chaps!) The subject: ” A Lady’s Passion for Fly Fishing- Their Legacies in Trout and Salmon Fishing around the Globe” -feat: one of the finest women’s’ fly fishing historians and publishers
River Flows have recovered nicely after the scary and brutally low flows we had all of June due to unprecedented droughts – the good rains we had earlier in the week really helped since we were going at a scary 990 ( one point dipped to 774cfs-frightening for this river!- should be about 1400-1800 cfs for this summertime low period)
CFS FLOWS-1380- Water Temperatures 64 and holding nicely – Thanks to Consumers Energy turning on the cold water bubbler earlier than they are mandated to ( and I usually have to scream to get them turned on every year) when we had the 90F heat and drought conditions- BIG!!! thank you Consumer’s Energy!( its usually July 1) – Also when we have droughts and no run-off water the ice-cold ground/ spring water flows are tapped into-thus keeping river temperatures lower
Hexagenia going strong up North on sandy spring creek rivers and the boys are banging on the big brownies and on each other at night by pissing each other off “who is beating who” to their nights spots- not envious of that crazy stuff at all! 🙂 We had a great mayfly and caddis season on the Muskegon -gray drakes were quick!- but it was good to see them slowly building back up again after their almost complete disappearance of them in 2021 after the heaviest gray drake hatch cycle in modern history in 2020 ( see my complete analysis of this in my “Ebb and Flow” column titled : “Noah’s Drakes” https://hallowedwaters.com/uncategorized/noahs-drakes/ – Shows how climate change’s volatility is wreaking havoc with mayfly and aquatic insect hatches around the globe- another excellent piece appearing on Patagonia’s site by author Sautner is worth the read:https://www.patagonia.com/stories/dude-wheres-my-hatch/story-136295.html
On the positive note we had excellent sulpher and caddis hatches this spring along with golden stones-We now have hatches of waning Isonychias-newly started White Cahill Stenonema-Tricos- Tiny BWO’s and golden stones- 2nd brood of Caddis on their way! Terrestrials starting on the small Huron Forest spring creeks that we fish
Been a very good year class of larger browns and rainbows in the river that have now become selective due to all the available food choices they have- The Muskegon is one of the richest and diverse food sources I’ve ever seen thus makes things very complicated
Image of a cool Steno I took on the glass as the smoky sun was reflecting off the wing
But waiting for more summer steelhead to enter the river- we had a fabulous year in 22! I still have a few open guide dates
A stunning summertime steelhead taken by Chris Bamford on the Scandi swing near the surface on a classic colored West Coast Tube fly when I guided him- I took this image
Cheers!- be safe and cool- hope your air is breathable!