BOARDMAN RIVER, MICHIGAN

Saturday, August 14, 1999

I arrived late last night with Sarge and Tanner. I was looking for a spot that I had camped at 10 years earlier with friends from college. In the dark, I couldn't find it. The dead-end of a lonely two-track served me well for the night, so we slept in the truck.

First thing in the morning we drove the the Sand Lakes Quiet area. We hiked to Lakes 1, 2 and 3, fishing number 2 with spinning gear. I should have checked out my spinning line before leaving home. It was badly coiled and wouldn't cast far. I could see some brook trout surfacing beyond my casting abilities. I could only wade in a few feet before the bottom muck threatened to suck me down. This is a designated trout lake and is stocked with brookies.

I'm not sure if dispersed camping is legal here, but there are several campsites around the lakes, especially at Lake 1, where the water is exceptionally clear and looks like a great place to swim. This lake is stocked with rainbow trout, but is not a designated trout lake.

Driving back to the Boardman, I finally found the campsite I had been looking for. The two-track in is very bad, but my 4Runner plowed through the deep mud. Keeping the dogs in the truck, I began fishing my way upstream around 10 a.m. If I had planned this better, I would have fished first and hiked second. The canoe traffic picked up right away and continued sporadically for the next several hours. In that time I never saw one rise, but did catch a couple of small, beautiful brookies on a mickey finn and a bead head pheasant tail. I spooked a few more in the cold, crystal clear water. Several deep, dark logjams looked promising but all I could manage were the small brookies and a few other hits.

While wading I found another, much better, campsite. It's location will remain my secret. But I will say that it's inaccessible by vehicles. Which is a good thing considering the amount of trash along the river banks and two tracks. Despite being some of the cleanest water you'll find (as well as a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream), it seems that peole don't mind leaving large piles of camping rubbish wherever they see fit. It's really disappointing, and much worse than along the PM or Little Manistee.

Later in the afternoon I drove upstream to the South Branch of the Boardman to try my luck at the public land east of Fife Lake Road. It's pretty good access, and a really small stream. Just as I got to the water, two young guys came crashing downstream with four decent brookies on a stringer. Worms semed to be the hot ticket. While I could flycast nearly all of the stream, every cast had to be placed carefully to avoid the small trees lining the banks. Getting a good drift was another story. The water swirled every which way. While I only caught one very, very small brookie, I enjoyed some of the best scenery you can imagine. I didn't see any recent beaver activity but the remains of their dams are everywhere. It's a fun place to work your way upstream, or alternately to hike along the path high up on the ridge and then work your way downstream.

After all of this, I headed back to my secret camping spot on the Boardman. The dogs and I ate while watching the river for any sign of a hatch or a rise. I didn't see either all evening. I ended up turning in early and reading in the tent to avoid the massive amount of mosquitos.

In the early morning, I again watched my stretch of water for any action. None, zip, nada. It was disappointing, but sometimes you have to roll with whatever comes your way.

I packed up and headed to the Pere Marquette to check out the reports I've heard about salmon.

I'll be back in the spring when the hatches (insects, not canoes) are more prolific.

Boardman River streamflow data:

Related Michigan Information:

Fly Shops and Guides
Fishing Reports
Dave's Fishing Trips
Fly-Fishing Links
Blue Ribbon Trout Streams
Designated Trout Lakes
1998 Trout Stocking
Hatch Chart
Wild & Scenic Rivers
Muskegon River Map
Pere Marquette River Map
Rogue River Map
Weather
Trails to Trout Home Page
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