Fishing Report: Muskegon finding plenty of perch, still waiting on steelhead

Dan Kovalick of Alto shakes hands with Joel Duckett after Duckett netted a steelhead at the fish ladder in Grand Rapids. Steelhead have been rarity for most in Muskegon, while the Whitehall area has seen them flourish in their waters. (Cory Olsen | MLive.com)

Dan Kovalick of Alto shakes hands with Joel Duckett after Duckett netted a steelhead at the fish ladder in Grand Rapids. Steelhead have been rarity for most in Muskegon, while the Whitehall area has seen them flourish in their waters. (Cory Olsen | MLive.com)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — The end of October normally marks a turning point for fishing in Muskegon.

Bill Funk, owner and operator of Shoreline Service Bait and Tackle, said this time of year can bring a shift in the type of fish that are in the area because of the colder temperatures in Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake.

“The winds and stuff keep (perch) off of Lake Michigan, so there is not much boat fishing there,” Funk said. “That’s just what the fall is known for — windy, adverse conditions. I haven’t heard of any steelhead on the beach; they usually move up on the shore in late-October and early-November. Hopefully that will start this upcoming week.”

It seems the salmon season has come to an end in Muskegon, as they have been dying down in Lake Michigan, which is right on schedule according to Funk.

This week Funk has noticed the amount of perch being caught around Muskegon Lake. Perch have been biting between Bear Lake Channel and the black buoy, Funk said.

The bait that has proven to be the most successful has been minnows, but wax worms and night crawlers have been known to work.

“Some have been catching (perch) between two dozen and four dozen,” Funk said. “It can be sort of spotty. You can be watching the guy next to you catch a lot while you’re sitting there getting nothing.”

Further north, it’s a different story in the White Lake region.

Mike Olsen, who helps out at Johnson’s Great Outdoors in Montague, said they haven’t had to wait for steelhead.

“People at the Whitehall Pier have been catching a smattering of steelhead,” Olsen said. “Walleye are being caught at night; still waiting for the water to turn over.”

Bluegill are still doing well in 20-30 feet of water, while Whitehall fishermen have caught steelhead in the rivers and salmon at the dams.

The bait being used out of Montague and Whitehall includes spawn for steelhead, bluegill on wax worms.

Olsen said there haven’t been any big reports on perch, but he said there is a chance that will change in the coming weeks.

“With this nice weather, I’m fairly sure there will be a turn in the fishing next week,” Olsen said. “I would get into the steelhead and walleye because once the water turns cold, they move in a little bit. It’s definitely on its way.”

Across the rest of West Michigan

According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, Muskegon anglers were just starting to fish off the pier with spawn and have had no luck catching salmon or steelhead.

On the Muskegon River, water levels are up after increased rainfall, causing there to be more fish reported. The DNR said there is a decent number of steelhead and brown trout in the river, as well.

In Whitehall, pier anglers are catching coho and steelhead when still-fishing with spawn. A few brown trout were also being caught.

Pier anglers in Grand Haven caught few steelhead when using spawn. Gizzard shad have been used for bait, but they are normally not the bait of choice.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 23, 2014)

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