Muskegon River “Winter” Steelhead

Fishing Forecast: 12/28

Fishing has been very good over the past several days. Steelhead and trout are active and water levels are perfect!

What an incredible winter fishery we have on the Muskegon River! Warmer water with active steelhead and trout throughout the winter months. The Muskegon River never freezes so you can always come and fish!

A high of 32 degrees and a chance of double digit hook-ups on chromers on the mighty Muskegon River! (231) 519-7348

What’s Working Best?

Floats and spawn has been my bread and butter. We have been averaging 15-20 hook- ups on steelhead daily, 8 -10 landed each day with lots of fat and sassy trout as well. Drift fishing spawn along the bottom has been working well also. Drift fishing gives steelhead a different look and a slower presentation. It’s also fun to be able to “Feel” the bite when fish pick up the spawn. Some hits have been really hard as water temperatures are still in the low 40’s, warm for this time of year. Fishing should continue to be great.

Muskegon River Steelhead fishing continues to be excellent at this time. Fishing spawn sacks under a float has been out primary means of catching fish. Covering water and boondoogling (side drifting) through salmon spawning gravel and deep pockets. This technique has been producing a ton of fish. Steelhead are settling into the deeper late fall – winter holding locations as the water begins to cool. Look for fantastic fishing over the next three weeks as this year’s giant strain of steelhead moves up river!

Muskegon Never Freezes!

Winter tailwater for Steelhead in Michigan.

Unlike the Grand River, White River, and Pere Marquette Rivers, the Muskegon is a tailwater fishery, this means the Muskegon River never freezes! This allows us to guide anglers throughout the winter months for Steelhead and Trout. Fly fishing during the Winter is a beautiful time to be on the water with good numbers of Steelhead and lots of wildlife along the rivers banks.

Centerpin Instructionals

We are also now offering Centerpin instructional to learn Centerpin float fishing for Winter Steelhead!

Shawn with a pristine hen from today. Fish were feisty and on the bite!! (12/27)

I actually had an opportunity to land a very nice fish myself. I love winter steelhead! (12/27)

Steve with a nice chubby hen. Lots of steelhead throughout the river system.

Feed the beast! Nick with a giant hen. Fishing has been a year for the records. The biggest and best this year! What a great year class and season! (12/26)

We had a blast fishing with Nick! Lots of fish and some great conversation. Not another boat to be seen! Winter Solstice & Steelhead. (12/26)

Adam with a very colorful beautiful buck steelhead.

George with a beautiful hen. Good Numbers of fish the past two days. Warmer temperatures next week should make for some outstanding fishing! (11/13)

Dave and Marcus display one of many nice steelhead. temperatures are cold but the fishing is hot this time of year for steelhead and trout on the Muskegon.

Jim had the hot hand today! He couldn’t keep steelhead and big trout off the line! Great day guys!

Stanley with a beauty. Steelhead fishing has been outstanding with few anglers on the water.

Stanley was on a role! Another nice chrome hen.

Alyssa (Guide Girl) with her largest Brown Trout to date. Landed on her Raven float rod. Great fishing! (12/26)

Winter offers the best is steelhead fishing. Peaceful days on the water in a gorgeous surrounding with lots of steelhead brought to hand each day. (12/26)

We’ve been amazed how good the Steelhead has been. Double digits have been a normal day. Float fishing has been outstanding!! (11/13)

Ed with a colorful winter steelhead. Muskegon River offers the finest in steelhead fishing Michigan.

Mike with his first Michigan Steelhead. This buck had a gorgeous colorful look. “Half past chrome!” (11/15)

Muskegon River “Winter” Steelhead

Without out a doubt, one of the greatest elements of Winter Steelhead fishing is the ability to be able to fish anywhere you want! Zero angler pressure makes for phenomenal fishing! Steelhead and trout both are eager to take your offering because they haven’t been tested by other anglers.

Over the past few days, there has been little to no angling competition, especially on the lower sections of the Muskegon River.

Double digit hook ups have been the norm this past season. Add to that, we have an incredible year class of oversized, large and healthy population of ass kicking steelhead!

“Muskegon River – Home of the Chrome!”

Kodie has been doing great nymphing giant trout on 5 wt fly rods, Rio floating lines, indy rigs and tiny nymphs. Lots of fat and sassy trout. If you’ve never tried this technique, it’s a stinkin’ blast for sure!

Greg with a bright chromer from today!

This buck fought like crazy! Float Fishing was great today. Zero boats, lots of steel.

Winter Trout nymphing has also been outstanding with exceptionally fat & healthy resident rainbows and brown trout.

Muskegon River Steelhead Fishing Report

Special Thanks to guide, Dave Barkman (Manistee River) and Kodie Kowitz, for taking the time to fish with Betts Guide Service guests from the West. We hosted Kris and Tony who are writers for the national magazine publication “Salmon, Trout, and Steelheader Magazine” based out of Washington.

Over the last four days, these guys refined their float fishing skills on the Big Manistee, Pere Marquette, and Muskegon River. Landing nearly fifty steelhead, these guys absolute flipped out about the fantastic steelhead fishing the Michigan and Great Lakes has to offer. They could not believe the sheer numbers of steelhead with the lack of anglers. “If you were on a Western river, there would be 40 boats at each launch. Out West, if you land one or two steelhead, that’s an epic day worth writing about! You guys have something special here! The fish are gorgeous!”

(12/8) What’s Working Best Right Now? Floats and spawn has been my bread and butter. We have been averaging 15-20 hook- ups on steelhead daily, 8 -10 landed each day with lots of fat and sassy trout as well. Drift fishing spawn along the bottom has been working well also. Drift fishing gives steelhead a different look and a slower presentation. It’s also fun to be able to “Feel” the bite when fish pick up the spawn. Some hits have been really hard as water temperatures are still in the low 40’s, warm for this time of year. Fishing should continue to be great throughout the rest of the winter with these numbers of steelhead already in the River system.

12/5) Muskegon River – Warmer weather ahead and really good steelhead fishing! We’re excited about the upcoming forecast this week! It looks great for weather and Steelhead! If you ever wanted to catch good numbers of BIG Winter Steelhead, now is the time to go!

The BIG Manistee River is also fishing exceptionally well right now! It has just been the perfect storm for fall run steelhead on the Muskegon and Manistee River. Both rivers have been fishing exceptionally well – The huge size of these steelhead is just an added bonus – something that might be a trend, or something we may not see again in our lifetime, hard to say… Get out and fish!!!

The Beast

Special Congratulations to John!! First customer in years to land the coveted 20 lb Steelhead! Amazing! Largest steelhead of my career!

Muskegon River Steelhead Fishing – Newaygo, Michigan

Michigan Fishing Reports - Steelhead

MUSKEGON RIVER STEELHEAD is the ultimate game fish and the crown jewel of Michigan Rivers. Steelhead are the only freshwater game fish that will strike a fly savagely in 35 degree water, leap relentlessly,
make blistering lightning quick runs, and test every fly fishing skill you possess.

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Like Salmon, Steelhead are born in rivers but spend their growing years in larger bodies of water. Our great lakes Steelhead return to the rivers when they reach sexual maturity after three or four years of growth in the big lake. After spawning commences in late spring Steelhead migrate back to the big lake and start the process all over again the following years.

These beautiful fish average 8-10 pounds with an occasional monster caught close to 20 pounds each year. Join us for an experience of a
lifetime fishing for one of the most sought after freshwater game fish in the world. These world-class fish are available in the fall, winter, and spring.

FALL STEELHEAD (October thru November) Fall Steelhead fishing is your best opportunity throughout the year to experience the true power these fish have to offer. These Great Lakes Steelhead migrate into our rivers in October following the migration of the Chinook or King Salmon. These bright silver bullets cruise behind spawning salmon redds in search of discharged eggs.If you truly want to experience Steelhead fishing at it’s best, join us for a fall Steelhead fishing trip. You will not be disappointed!

WINTER STEELHEAD (December thru February) Winter fishing for Steelhead is one the best kept secrets throughout the Muskegon river system due to numbers of fish throughout the river and you virtually have the complete river to yourself. Steelhead will ascend the Muskegon river all year long due to its warmer tail water and ice free flows providing for some spectacular fishing December through February.

Betts Guide Service prides itself on being able to offer you some of the best winter Steelhead fishing on the Muskegon. It has been common to experience double digit hook ups even on some of the coldest winter days.

If you have never experienced the sheer tranquility and peacefulness of winter Steelhead fishing on the Muskegon River, give us a try; it’s a great way to shake the winter blues in Michigan.


Beginning in late February, the winter Steelhead move up river and begin their migration to their spawning areas. During March, April, and May Steelhead begin to polish gravel and begin to spawn. During this time, Fly Fishing for Steelhead is at its best. Anglers
can visually seek Steelhead and make casts to the spawning Spring Steelhead. Sight fishing to Steelhead on gravel and watching them take flies makes for a very exhilarating experience.

Steelhead Fishing in Grand Rapids, MI 49505


Anyone traveling to greater Grand Rapids area can find a million reasons to wet a line! The city abounds with areas and locations to fish, both lakes and rivers provide ample places to fish. The city is also surrounded by world class salmon and steelhead fishing areas.

The “Sixth Street” Fish ladder downtown has one of the largest salmon, steelhead and migratory trout passages in the world with an estimated, 100,000 fish swimming through the ladder. (Sixth Street fish ladder pictured below.)

Anglers fish for Steelhead on the Grand River located in Grand Rapids Michigan. Home to the Great Lakes largest migratory run of Chinook, Coho, Lake Run Brown Trout, Lake Trout, and Steelhead.

The Grand River has decent wading access below the concrete barrier at 6th street. This area can be waded from the bank or fished from a boat. It offers endless opportunities for migratory Chinook, Coho, lake run brown trout, Lake Trout, and of coarse, steelhead.

The best time to fish the Grand and Rouge Rivers is during the Spring and Fall.

Another great river is the Rogue, Located less than ten miles from the greater Grand Rapids area. The Rogue River runs right through the town of Rockford. Some of the best places to are under the bike bridge, and behind the paper mill. The Rogue has some great wading opportunities for resident Brown and Rainbow trout. This river has clean, clear water, and offers excellent fishing!

Just a little further North, is the Muskegon River. The Might Mo excels in big numbers of Steelhead, Salmon, and resident Trout. Although mostly a private river, the Muskegon also offers great wading and boat fishing. It’s a tailwater fishery and offers the best trout fishing in Michigan.

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