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Manistee River - Michigan Fly Fishing
The Manistee River runs approximately 232 miles through Michigan's northern lower peninsula, through the villages of Sharon, Smithville, Mesick, Wellston and enters Lake Michigan at Manistee. It is considered to be one of the best trout fisheries east of the Rockies. The river rises in the sand hills in southeastern Antrim County, on the border with Otsego County, about six miles southeast of the town of Alba. These deep glacial sands provide it with a remarkably stable flow of clean cold water year round, making it a popular river for fishing as well as canoeing. Over the course of its length, it drops in elevation from around 1300 feet to 582 feet, with an average stream gradient of about 2.9 feet per mile.
The Manistee River is one of the finest steelhead, salmon, and trout rivers in Michigan and the Great Lakes area. Known as the "Big Manistee," or just "The Big," because of its neighbor the Little Manistee, the Manistee is one of the most diverse fisheries in the country. A pre-imminent river for the migration of Lake Michigan steelhead and salmon, it is also a quality trout stream.
Manistee Brooks and Browns
From its headwaters to the Lake Michigan estuary at the town of Manistee, the river is nearly 250 miles long. The upper stretch of river, from the eastern center of the state to near Mesick, where Hodenpyl Dam's backwaters begin, is most well known as a brook, brown, and rainbow trout fishery. We fish this section of river with streamers, nymphs, and dry flies for surprisingly large trout. Some of the river flows through national forest, but some holdings are private. Still, a day's float lends solitude and woodland beauty to the fly fishing experience.
From Hodenpyle Dam downstream to the backwaters of Tippy Pond is one of the most wilderness-like fly fishing floats available anywhere. Large brown trout prowl both riffle and pool in search of bait fish and insects. A fly angler adept with streamer and sink-tip line has a remarkable chance to catch the wild trout of a lifetime. During the infamous hatch of hexagenia limbata, the hex hatch, night fishing for trophies becomes a question of who catches whom.
Steelhead and Salmon Fly Fishing
From Tippy Dam downstream to Lake Michigan the Manistee river is nationally reputable as a migratory fish angling mecca. The spring and fall runs of steelhead surpass most rivers in the nation. Fly fishing anglers from around the world visit the gravel bars near the dam and the national forest woodlands on either side of the river further downstream. In addition, the fall runs of coho and chinook salmon give an angler chances at silver trains of 30 pounds or more.
Smallmouth Bass on the Manistee
In addition to the superb fly fishing for trout and salmon, the Manistee is also ranked Michigan's third best smallmouth bass river! In July and August when the water temps put the trout off, fishing wild smallmouth bass heats up. The Manistee produces many 2 to 4 lb. bass as you float the river and cast streamers and "pop the top" with all kinds of top-water flies and poppers. T-shirts, shorts and sandals are the order of the day. A six weight fly rod is the ticket.
We provide many services for anglers visiting the Manistee. We have seven full-time fly-fishing guides, cabins for lodging on our ten acre facility, and of course our fly fishing shop and casting pond are all within a couple of minutes of the river.
Need more Information?
Give us a call at 888-221-9056. If you are looking to make reservations you can always use our online reservation system.
Come join us for a Pure Michigan experience the Manistee River, in the heart of the Huron-Manistee National Forest.