Salmon Fishing in Northern Michigan

Salmon can begin their seasonal migration up many of our Northern Michigan rivers as early as mid-August but we typically expect them around the beginning of September. Each year is different and there are many factors that determine when the Kings and Coho will start entering the rivers. Once they’ve begun, they work their way upstream through holes and pools until conditions and locations are right for them  to begin their spawn. Because each river system is different, predicting how long they will remain can be a challenge. We typically expect to finish up our Salmon fishing in October.


These fish can grow quite large and can provide a serious challenge to anglers in tight quarters. Anglers can use a number of methods to wrangle these fish and most are fairly straight forward. Subsurface presentations of nymphs with either a floating line or mono (chuck & duck) tend to be the most effective as these fish will seldom pay any attention to surface flies. Early in the run, some anglers have found excitement throwing large streamers and finding a large fish to chase.

Having the right equipment will play heavily into your success rate Salmon fishing. Usually finding these fish is not a difficult task although finding a open spot on the bank can be a true challenge. We recommend nine and ten weight fly rods and a reel with a respectable drag if you want a chance at landing one of these large fish. We always carry rods, reels, and setups for Salmon in our shop starting in August and are happy to help you get outfitted for the chase.

Knowing where to go is usually the largest variable to manage in Northern Michigan. The Betsie river in Benzie county tends to enjoy one of the earliest run of Salmon, followed by the Platte River, Big Manistee (below tippy dam), and Traverse City’s Boardman River.

Learn more about guided Salmon fishing