Wednesday, January 12, 2011

muskegon river trout - scud,scud...stone?

Kirk releasing yet another nice trout 

We started the day with plans to fish the water around thornapple/high rollaway.  The forecast predicted a high of 26 deg/f with minimal wind and some sunshine so things were looking pretty good for a day on the river.   Kirk, Drew, and I got to the river around 11am and I’m pretty sure the air temp was well below 20 deg.  The fog rolling off the already chilled flow was our first clue as to how cold it was.  Starting off in a run that usually is a good winter spot we managed to catch three fish in a short time but not the kind of fishing you expect for a good winter spot.  Since the fishing was not real good we started to form a plan of action.   The water we started in had quite a bit of shade on it and we could see a run a couple hundred yards away that was getting a good dose of sun.  Thinking the fish might be more active in the run with all the sun hitting it we decided to take a hike.   If nothing else we would be more comfortable in the sun rays.  Arriving at the run we hiked to, we noticed a couple of stonefly nymphs along the side margins of the river but gave little attention to them.  We found a couple nice pockets of fish in the run, some quality fish as well.  Caught most of the fish on a #16 Muskegon River scud and a couple on a #18 black fly larvae.  
Taeniopteryx nymph collected on the river

At some point while warming feet and hands on the bank we noticed in the margin waters near shore that there were not just a few stoneflies but more like a horde!  Everywhere we looked in the shallows we could see stonefly nymphs milling around, hundreds of them.  The natural that we collected and is pictured here was 11mm long not including the tails or antennae.  The body was dark brown with a gray/tan belly under the thorax(color apparently from gills).   The stonefly is in the taeniopteryx genera (also called the early black stoneflies).  They must have been activated by the sunlight and appeared to be foraging.  The thought dawned on us that the trout in the adjacent run must be noticing these little sirloin tips waddling around as well.  Maybe the trout would even cruise into the shallows to pick up a few for dinner.  At any rate the fish must have at least seen some of the stones as they were swept into the run if they wandered too far away from safe water.   
nicely spotted, healthy bow

Drew threw on a dark nymph that was a decent imitation of the natural and caught a couple fish on it.  We left the river with a lot to think about and some ideas for the vice.  Next time I’m on the river in a run similar to the one we fished you can bet I’ll have a couple of early black stonefly nymphs in my box. There is always something to learn or observe on the water, I guess that is what keeps us coming back for more.