Michigan's Famous Waters Await
Epic adventures and fish await on the Big Manistee River, Pere Marquette, Au Sable River, Pine River, Bear Creek, and Big Sable River. Trophy brown trout and rainbow trout are available year round. Spring steelhead run in early March to April. Salmon enter the rivers in late August to September. Fall steelhead and lake run browns start to show in late October and November, and Winter steelhead can be found in the river systems December through February.
The Big Manistee River
By far the river with the most opportunities in our area, the Big Manistee is just that, averaging 200 feet wide in the Hodenpyle Dam and Tippy dam sections of this river. Not to worry this wonder river is easily wadable for miles, especially below Tippy Dam, with large gravel riffles punctuated by pockets and deeper holes. Several popular spots are the dam itself, accessible from both sides. Then you have Sawdust hole and Suicide bend. Below Hodenpyle Dam there is plenty of peaceful trout opportunities, the migratory fish can’t make it past Tippy Dam so above it trout, bass and pike rule. The Big holds healthy populations of just about everything from Walleye, Bass, Pike, Trout, Steelhead, Salmon and Skamania just to name a few. Open all year round makes it the most reliable fishery for our local area. It’s stocked each year with 60,000 brown trout, 84,000 steelhead, and 100,000 coho salmon, making it the perfect year round fishing spot.
Little Manistee River
A relatively small river fed by both run-off and natural springs, which means trout country! This small but mighty river also has a great run of both Steelhead and Salmon. Outside of the migratory runs the Little Man holds Brown Trout, Rainbows and Brooke trout. You may also find Pike and Bass in the lower sections. This stream has many hatches and some notable ones are stone flies, caddis, salmon flies and Hendrickson’s. The Spring Steelhead fishing run is from opener April 1st until around early May. We will start seeing Salmon beginning in late June until near the end of fall, and trout can be found all year long. The fall run of Steelhead peaks during October until the river closes again on January 1st. The Little Man plays an important role in the fisheries, each year and the salmon and steelhead eggs are transported across Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
A designated Blue Ribbon cold-water trout stream. The Pine River has the fastest average flow of any river in lower Michigan. One of the few rivers that isn’t stocked and there are no migratory runs, which means no steelhead or salmon. However, in the lower ends your sure to find some diversity with pike and smallmouth bass. This Pine is truly special, its mostly clay rocky edges set it apart from the sandy bottoms of its neighbor rivers. Gradient in scale, fast ice-cold water, large boulders and many log jams along its banks make this place a trout paradise. You can find stoneflies, isos, caddis and hex flies hatching here. Another special opportunity it offers is the grasshopper “hatch” when the bugs are plentiful there’s nothing more fun than throwing out those juicy hopper patterns and seeing fish smack it top water! The pine is open from the last Saturday in April until September 30th.
A smaller stream that runs through so of the most diverse nature we have. While the majority of this stream is able to be floated by raft or canoe, only 3.5 miles run through the National Forest the remainder of its banks are privately owned. There is a healthy population of resident trout and excellent salmon and steelhead runs in the spring and fall. Due to the limited access places and because floating this river is best by experienced rowers Bear Creek is a place of solitude, that along with its excellent fishing this is this is really a hidden gem. Like many of our waters the creek gets an array of different hatches, including caddis, many different types of stone flies, and a variety of mayflies as well. Spring and fall are the best times to find migratory fish like salmon and steelhead, and although trout are always found in their late spring and early fall are the best times to target trout. The lower end can hold bass and pike as well.
Pere Marquette River
The longest river in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula that is completely uninterrupted by dams or impoundments. The river is a nationally known, high-quality stream, which supports large populations of steelhead and salmon. Sixty-six miles of the Pere Marquette are designated a National Scenic River, adding the one of kind fishing you can except from it. Not only is the migratory fish population healthy it holds some of the best trout fishing in its area. Spring steelhead fishing is plentiful and you can fish these fish until about the end of April, after that trout fishing opens and most of this beauty holds some giant browns, also in the mix you will find rainbow trout, and if you fishing the upper sections you will likely come across some brooke trout as well. This river has some special regulations a notable one being from M-37 to Gleasons Landing is a “flies only section” making this section even more fishy is having the Baldwin River dumping in within these 7 miles of river. Hatches you can expect include Hendricksons, Drakes, Hex, Caddis and Stone flies. Check the fishing regulation books for all special closures and regulations.
Au Sable River
One of the most famous trout waters there is in the world. That is not the only thing that makes this river is unique though. The Au Sable has the north, south and east branches, each one of those lends to a different fishing experience. What makes it one of the most well-known trout waters is for the population and size of the trout it holds. You can expect to find brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, steelhead and salmon. However, you can also find warm water species as well including Pike, Bass and Walleye. These fish can be found all year round, another reason this river is so popular. Along with the spectacular fishing this river has to be one of the most beautiful places in our area. Floating down the Au Sable cannot be put into words and is something you must see for yourself. One of the most notable and popular hatches that we eagerly await is the Hendrickson hatch that you can catch when the water is above 52 degrees. Look for these bugs in early summer when the temperature makes that switch into warmth. This river also gets mayflies and a good drake hatch both grey and yellow types.
Big Sable River
Famous for it’s mayfly hatch, this small river is mostly waded and floated with a small watercraft.
Tippy Dam Pond
The backwater pond above the Tippy Dam. Although its call the Pond this area is more like a lake. Taking up approximately 1,540 Acres and is 50 feet at its deepest. The pond was created in 1916-1918 when Tippy Dam was constructed. The backwaters are where the Pine River converges into the Big Manistee River. However, there are many other trout streams that also feed into the backwaters, including Hinton Creek, Snyder’s Creek and Peterson Creek. The main drawl for fishing folks is the huge variety of fish species and the fact that you can take just about any kind of boat out there including kayaks, canoes, motor boats and pontoons. Fishing the pond can produce everything from rock bass, crappie, sunfish, blue gill, perch, large and small mouth bass, trout, pike, walleye, catfish, crap and even suckers. One more thing to keep in mind about this gem is there have been several MDNR Master Angler program entries to come from the Tippy Dam Pond.