Muskegon River

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Fishing in Muskegon River

A Muskegon River fishing adventure means exploring over 200 miles of Michigan’s largest river system. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the river’s slow current and depth make for some of the best tailwater fishing in the Midwest!
 
Depending on when you visit, there’s a whole host of cold and warmwater fish to catch. Game fishing anglers will rejoice come September, when Chinook Salmon dominate the waters. From October to June, it’s all about hooking Muskegon’s most famous resident – Steelhead.
 
Fly fishermen won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to hook Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass, and Pike, either. The River gets a big run of migratory Walleye from Lake Muskegon, too. If you’re extra persistent, a night fishing trip may result in one of these elusive fish at the end of your line.
 
Muskegon River fishing guides offer everything from 4–5 hour trips to full day excursions that run for eight hours. If you’re targeting Steelhead or Salmon, and have the time to spare, opt for a full day to give yourself the true freshwater fishing experience. If it’s leisurely fishing with the family you’re after, a half day trip does the trick.
 
The Muskegon River runs through several counties, so there are a few places to launch from. Explore the stretch from Thornapple to Newaygo for monster Trout and a fantastic Steelhead run. Salmon fishing takes off near the town of Grayling and continues south, eventually ending when the fish empty into the Great Lakes.
 

Rules & Regulations

All anglers over the age of 17 need to purchase a fishing license online or from a licensed DNR agent before heading out. If you’re fishing with an experienced guide, they’ll be able to inform you of local bag and possession limits.

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Muskegon River Fishing Seasons

If you’re going after fall Steelhead, you’ll have the Muskegon River all to yourself during this typically quiet time. There’s still Brown and Rainbow Trout to hook, too, keeping spinning and fly fishing fanatics happy!

Enjoy the calm before the storm in the final moments before spring Steelhead season. You’ll catch the last of this popular fish’s fall stock and hook into native Brown and Rainbow Trout too!

Temperatures start to rise luring Steelhead out of Lake Michigan and into the Muskegon River to spawn. Strap in, because the fishing only gets hotter as the waters warm up!

It’s peak Steelhead fishing season and the waters are jam-packed with anglers fishing for their limits. If you’ve been thinking about that full day trip, this is time to book early and go for it!

Put your sight casting skills to the test against delicious Steelhead before they head back into Lake Michigan. This is a great time to hook delicious, fun-to-catch Brown Trout on a fly too!

If you’re a fly fisherman, this is the time to be out on the water. June brings the most insect hatches the Muskegon River sees and you’ll fool plenty of Trout into grabbing your line!

Fishing for Smallmouth Bass in the Muskegon River is much loved by local anglers. The waters are warm and it’s a great time of year to hook one of these delicious fish on a fly. 

The warm waters bring plenty of fish out to play and there are several stretches of river to explore. This is a unique time to hook into the ever-elusive Walleye too!

As the trees change color, your targets swap out too. Big Chinook Salmon move up into the rivers to spawn, becoming the dominant resident in Muskegon! 

There’s only one focus now, and that’s big Chinook Salmon! It’s peak season and you’re looking at reeling them in with ease. Come the end of the month, fall Steelhead starts to come through, too.

As the Chinook Salmon end their spawn, fall Steelhead takes over. Expect to have several fantastic runs as these fun-to-catch fish jump out of the water and keep your rods bending!

Things start to slow down, but you can still hook into migratory Steelhead for some winter fun. In addition, the river’s native Brown and Rainbow Trout are still eager for the bite.

Muskegon River Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Muskegon River

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Brown Trout

Brown Trout

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Chinook)

Bass (Smallmouth)

Bass (Smallmouth)

Lake Trout

Lake Trout

Salmon (Coho)

Salmon (Coho)

Walleye

Walleye

Pike (Northern)

Pike (Northern)