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10 July 2005
Muskegon River [July 9 2005]

I spent the day trout fishing on the Muskegon River between Croton and Newaygo on Saturday. I had a chance exercise my spey rod and to hang out and fish with some of my favorite fishing pals. The Flygirls were getting together in Newaygo for an all-day outing and I met up with my friend Speytrout too.

The flow rate for this river section is currently well below average resulting in low, warm, clear conditions. On top of that, the day was hot, clear and sunny creating conditions that disappoint most trout anglers but that please the zillions of tubers and paddlers out for a weekend float.

I left home rather late and so did not meet up with the Flygirls contingent at 7:00 AM, but instead headed directly to the river to meet Speytrout at 10:00. I had been looking forward to fishing the Mo so that I'd have a chance to use my 7 weight spey rod again. I don't practice or enjoy my spey rod as often as I'd like because I end up fishing smaller streams most of the time. I need to include bigger rivers in the rotation more frequently. I parked the car next to Speytrout's, rigged up my rod and waded well upstream to a favorite stretch. I found it unoccupied and also free of paddlers and tubers at this hour. Speytrout was nowhere in sight.

I tied on a sinktip and a small white marabou streamer and began fishing down this long stretch of somewhat shallow water (2-4 feet deep) with ocassional deeper pockets and holes. I hadn't gotten very far when 2 Flygirls, Jen and Mandy, floated through in their canoe. We chatted for awhile. They had put in at the dam and planned to paddle and fish down to the city park by early afternoon. After they continued on their way, I hooked and landed a few smallish rainbows, about 11-12" . I got 5 in total, all the same size with wide, bright pink sides from their cheeks to their tails. They must be stocked fish to all be so uniform in size and appearance. If you're going to catch little trout on a 7 weight spey rod though, I recommend these. One advantage about my oversized setup was the quick fish landing process - all fish released quickly even in the warmish 70 oF water. Just as I reached the spot on the bank where I entered the river, I noticed Speytrout wading up in my direction. We chatted, swapped rods for a while and he helped my tune up my speycasting a bit. Speytrout is almost wholly committed to speycasting now - having dispensed with most of his single-handed rods. I always manage to learn some good stuff when I fish with him.

We headed back to the cars and went into town for some lunch with the Flygirls. Speytrout took off after lunch, but not before bestowing a couple of his new foam-bodied wakers and a couple of good-looking tube flies. He also sold me a hand-me-down 5 weight that I've been coveting. At the park, I ran into the Flygirl group - Dorothy, Kris, Tina, Becky, Ann, and Mandy and Jen again. It was early afternoon and the tube and paddler traffic had steadily increased to a continuous stream. It's a great river for this kind of recreation. Fishing success was unlikely, but Dorothy and I fished a short stretch to fill the time before dinner. Neither of us caught anything.

We met up with a few more Flygirls for dinner at the Red Anchor Inn in Croton. Dinner was quite good and I met a few more Flygirls - Judy, Fran and Colleen. Dinner conversation was lively and seriously entertaining. Flygirls has some comedians among its ranks. After dinner, several of us planned to meet on the river for the evening hatches. I arrived first and rigged up the new 9'9" 5wt I relieved Speytrout of earlier in the day. Beautiful rod. In a few minutes Becky joined me and we hiked down to the river for an hour of waiting and watching but no rising fish. I benefited from the chance to practice casting a single-handed rod for awhile. I was having trouble summoning the coordination necessary after becoming accustomed to the two-hander earlier. After a long while of no fish action, I decided to wade upstream to see if I could find the rest of the group. I found them around the first bend, spaced well apart and casting to rising fish. I jumped in downstream of everyone and attempted to identify the bug action. I saw no obvious bugs (I often don't) and the rising fish did not necessarily appear to be large. I figured I'd tie on something to imitate an isonychia in case that's what was causing the action. I chose a Wulff-ish tan/brown dun pattern in size 12 or so. I'm not sure if this was the best choice, but the fish I'd been watching seemed to think it was close enough. Without wading very far, I caught 4 or 5 more rainbows fitting the same description as those I'd hooked in the morning and a little steelhead smolt that had me convinced he was a larger trout for a few seconds. He dove into some grass and I couldn't budge him. Eventually he came up and I was surprised to see that he was only 8 or 9" in length. I'm not sure how everyone else did as we were spaced out far enough to discourage a lot of chatter. I did hear someone exclaim about landing a 16" fish - Tina I think. The feeding activity slowed down to a trickle at about 10:00 and we all decided to quit for the night. Some of the women were staying in the area overnight and others of us were hoping for a deer-free drive home.

All in all, it was a great day. I got to hang with some great people, make myself sore from speycasting, and I didn't get skunked.

Social satisfaction (on a scale of 1 to 10): 10+
Angling satisfaction (on a scale of 1 to 10): 10
Wildlife sightings: great blue herons, belted kingfishers, swallows, about 900 tubers, 1 bald eagle
Did I get to use a spey rod? Yesssssss!
Enjoyment grade for the day: A. I've been telling stories since I got home.

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