Otter’s Michigan Trip-April on the Muskegon River

April 21st, 2010

Click on the photos of our great trip to zoom in on the shots to read the captions.  Had a great trip, although fishing was not as good as previous years. Fished from April 7 to April 14 th. Average steelhead was much smaller than in previous years, and less numbers caught. Most were in the 5 to 7 # class, with a few near 10#.  Lower numbers may have been due to very warm water (50 d F) and warm ambient temperatures up to the high 70’s. Unlike any early April trip in the past 10 years of my fishing this river. Water was clear, running about 2200 cfs.

Hooked 32, landed about half, with 10# about the largest landed. Most all fish, at least 75%, were caught on our new Dead Egg White color in single 6 mm size. This was my first trials in Michigan using this new color.  After this trip, we will test again on trout in our Rocky Mountain states. Based on these excellent results in Michigan, we predict this color will be a “go to” color in your fly box! Second best color was the new Salmon Egg  also in 6 mm size. Caught several on our Tangerine  and Tangerine/Red Flash colors, and one on a hex nymph.

Fishing two days with a great guide, Nate Hulst. He put me on fish on the river on each of two days, with 11 and 10 hookups on each of those days. Nate’s number is (231)-598-2443; Call him for a great guide who knows the river and how to get on steelhead. Caught some fish wading around Pine Street access ramp, but wading this river versus fishing from an 18 ft. boat with 80 jet motor is no comparison. No question that access to the river via a power boat is the best way to go! We also had 3 days of either a few to no fish all day while wading after the temperatures rose into the high 70’s. Even” The Otter” was skunked for several days!

Included in the photos is our new pattern called Otter’s “Soft Milking Embryo Egg“. This new pattern is still in its prototype and testing stage, but preliminary results indicate another winner!  Note our photo of 3 artificial eggs against fresh steelhead eggs.  Almost a perfect match-it can’t get better than this! We intend to copy write and patent this new method to create this pattern, and when complete we will post it on our web so our clients can produce an even more realistic egg pattern!

Measured quite a few hens’ egg size, and they were all slightly smaller than 6 mm; most in the 5.5 mm range. Hence, our single 6 mm egg did the trick. The smaller size of these eggs may be due to the fact that most fish are much smaller this year compared to my last few trips to the Muskegon. Also, we noted the varying color of natural eggs on all the hens we caught. They ranged from almost Buff, to Tangerine, to Salmon Egg, and Apricot. This is another example of why you need to carry varying colors in your fly box to match these different egg colors prevalent in one or many fish from the same river. Nothing is constant on egg colors from Steelhead, Trout, or the Salmon species. They all vary, and don’t forget when an egg is not fertilized, it will turn white over several hours. Hence, our new Dead Egg White color to duplicate this deadly pattern. Trout, Salmon and Steelhead all key in on this color of egg, which may be due to the fact that a dead egg can fungous other eggs ( proven in fish hatcheries). Perhaps a hen knows this by instinct and therefore keys in on eating these dead eggs to prevent spoiling other eggs on her redd???  Think about it!

Our next trials on the Dead Egg White color will be on Greys Reef on the North Platte in Wyoming in the next several weeks. We will also post pictures and results of that trip, to be closely followed by lake fishing results here in Colorado on 11 Mile and Spinney reservoirs as soon as the ice is off those bodies of water. That is expected to occur in about 2 more weeks if the weather continues to warm up.

Tight Lines and All Releases,

Walt-The Otter

April 10-16-2013 trip-Muskegon and Manistee Rivers in Michigan

April 26th, 2013
Use Otter Eggs and stop spreading the VHS virus!!!

Use Otter Eggs and stop spreading the VHS virus!!!

The Otter went back to both    the Muskegon and Manistee Rivers in Michigan for a weeks fishing and trials on two new prototype egg colors. Needless to say, he did not stay on favorable terms with the Weather God as all the rivers were totally blown out and discolored from “Milky” up to Burger Kings Chocolate Shake color. Fished and stayed with my friends Charles and Diane Chandler of White Cloud, MI. Charles and I fished all day the 11th on the Muskegon with no hits in a downpour and windy 40 mph day. Not a fish.

Next day on the Manistee, again in the rain, one small skipper for the day in a chocolate milk colored river. We did see fish caught with spawn, but not our Otter’s Eggs, even with scent put on them. The visibility was too poor. On Sunday returned and fished with Guide Jon Kestner and host Diane Chandler. One small skipper all day, but the exception was we only saw only about 8 fish caught all day by those fishing with spawn. This river was just too dirty and few fish were caught.


Chrome hen

Jon Kestner, Manistee River Guide (

Jon Kestner, Manistee River Guide (





Below Tippy Dam on the Manistee


Diane Chandler with her first center pin steelhead!


Diane with another nice one on a center pin reel!


Big Buck being revived after a
long and hard fight!

On Monday and Tuesday we fished with Guide Nate Hulst as one side of the Muskegon below Croton Dam was relatively clear with no rain those 2 days. Three gates on the dam were open with a flow about 7000 cfs. In the morning spawn was king with Charles

Nate Hulst, guide, and Chas. Chandler

Nate Hulst, Guide (, and Chas. Chandler

hooking about a dozen  Later that afternoon the single pegged Otter Egg was king. For the day, about 15 on spawn and 10 on Otter’s Pegged 8 mm egg. Best colors were Apricot Opaque, Dead Egg White, and my two new trial colors of Muskegon White and Michigan Gold. The Michigan Gold is more golden and lighter than the Apricot Opaque, and the Muskegon White is a bit more yellow than Dead Egg White. Both produced on both these days, with the Gold color the best. My best fish was a 14 # male that was double stripped and 33 inches long. All fish were returned to the river.


Charles Chandler with a nice one!


Charles with another one!

Otter’s Alternate Pegging Method with bead below egg

A trial with my tied flies versus Pegged single eggs was compared. Without question, the Pegged Otter Egg did better than the Otter Egg flies, and after a few hours I fished the rest of that day and the next only with Pegged Otter Eggs. I used the Alternative Method to peg our eggs by placing the bead below and not inside the egg. To do this you have to take a bead threader through the egg and then put the egg on the leader. Then double wrap a bead below and set 2 inches above the hook. Then slide the mounted egg on the leader down next to and above the bead. With this method in heavy discolored water conditions the egg will not move past the bead regardless how hard the water is pulling or how hard you backcast. It is a perfect method to use if you Chuck and Duck, Spey Cast, or use a high velocity fly line loop!  Look under “Tying Tips” on our website for actual pictures of how to do this Alternative Pegging Egg setup.

Another tip is to use one size up on hook size versus a regular egg fly on a hook. With the 8 mm egg size, I would tie that up with a # 8 hook. However, when Pegging, go to a # 6 hook. You will increase your number of hook up considerably with that one size larger system. Over about 30 hookups, I only lost 3 or 4 fish that pulled off the hook. Also, I was using the Eagle Claw Octopus hook with reverse offset bend that we carry on our web site. None of these hooks suffered any bending or damage with up to 14 # steelhead. Also, the 14 # buck I landed had excessive pressure on him two times to keep him out of logs and river debris, so those EC hooks worked well!

The next day we fished with Nate again and Diane. She succeeded in catching her first steelhead with a  center pin reel and float rod!!! Good job, Diane! She started the day with spawn sacs in the dirty side of the Muskegon and missed two. We then moved over to the clear side of the river. For the rest of the day all fish were taken on a Pegged Otter Egg. It was King for the day. Hooked about 15 total with the Alternate Pegged Egg method. Best color was the new prototype of Michigan Gold with the Muskegon White as runner up. We set Diane up with Otter Eggs and she landed 4 or 5 with more hooked. She is getting the drift of the center pin reel and how to handle the reel by pressuring the spool a single finger on top of the line on the spool and not the outside rim of the reel.

As we left the river at 5:00 PM there were officials there closing the ramps all along the river. They were going to open 2 more gates to a total of 5 that should have brought the river from about 7,000 up to 10,000 cfs,  counting the rain forecast of 3 inches for Thursday the 18th. Most of the females we landed did not have loose eggs, as the water temp was still cold at about 38 d F. Only one buck had a bit of sperm leaking; all fish were tight with their eggs and sperm so probably a good 2 weeks away from spawning. With the over flood stage level of the river they may spawn out before the gravel hookers can do any damage to the spawning bucks and hens. Or, maybe it will delay the spawn so steelhead will be in the river until the end of May! Check out Nathan and Jon’s web sites for access to the best of two river Guides!

All total, we had only 2 good days with 4 ultra poor days with horrible rain and wind conditions. So goes the life of The Otter-always in the water and sometimes, this trip, catching fish!!!


11 # Buck

Tight lines and all releases- Walt “The Otter”