The Manistee River
The Manistee River might be our favorite place to fish. Between the two distinct sections, we can fish year round for Trout, Steelhead, Salmon, Bass, and more. The upper Manistee is where we concentrate most of our trout fishing because of its scenic surroundings, variety of habitat, bug life and resident brown and brook trout. Of course there is a lot of river to explore on the upper Manistee and knowing where to go when can take some experience but the CCC bridge is a wonderful starting point. Here, acces is plentiful and wading is comfortable; you can even stay the night along the river bank campground.
Below Hodenpyl and Tippy Dams the Manistee is a different river. Here is where we find migratory Salmon and Steelhead that work their way up the river from Lake Michigan in the Fall and Spring months. Anglers targeting this wonderful fishery often employ the use of a boat as access and wading ability are greatly reduced below the dams.
The Boardman River
Originating east of Traverse City and closer to Kalkaska, the Boardman River’s North and South Branches eventually combine to form the mainstream that flows into Lake Michigan right in Downtown Traverse City. Though the proximity of the Boardman to town may seem to be the perfect little escape, it is often a challenging river to fish. Its’ speed and depth can make wading a serious challenge where you can find access and it’s perpetual cold water can delay hatches and keep fish lethargic. We routinely find Brook and Brown trout throughout this river system and Salmon and Steelhead closer to town in the Spring and Fall.
The Boardman River is also undergoing some major changes as several dams are being removed. Both the Brown Bridge Dam and Boardman Dam (Keystone) have been removed while the Sabin Dam will be removed in 2018. This of will ensure the Boardman runs cold and will expand opportunities for recreation and fishing.
Grand Traverse Bay
Split into two arms, east and west bay, this diverse watershed provides the wow factor to the Traverse City Area. This vast expanse of water is where we often target Smallmouth Bass and Carp. It is also where anglers can find a multitude of other species including Salmon, Steelhead, and Lake Trout. We typically start to focus on the big water starting in May and finish up in July.
The Betsie River
The Betsie River is located West of Traverse City and is mostly an anadromous fishery in the fall, winter, and spring. Starting in late August runs of King Salmon start to enter the river. Fishing can be a lot of fun but you should expect crowds of anglers all looking for the thrill of hooking a large salmon in a small river setting. Wadeable from Homestead Dam downstream to US31, you’ll find a well worn trail along the public land. October we’ll see steelhead move up the river to feast on salmon eggs and many will stay in the river through the winter until the spawn in the spring.
When to Fish
Spring Steelhead | Mid-March - April
Trout | April - October
Carp | Mid-May - Mid-July
Smallmouth Bass | June - August
Salmon | Mid-August - October
Fall Steelhead | October - December