September 24?, 2006

Gregg, JR, Jay and I headed back for more. We saw a lot of fish, but nearly all were beaten up. Had some fun. Saw no other people.

September 20, 2006

I took the dogs up to HJ in search of salmon. Very rainy morning. Saw a few fish but had trouble getting anything to go. A few hook-ups. Mid-morning the rain ended and I let the dogs out. They loved it. After a while they settled down and then the salmon heated up. I think I landed about four and had about 20 hook-ups in all. Even got a decent picture. Saw maybe one person today.

August 18, 2006

Greg's bachelor party weekend JR and I tried to get a hole below the wier. Impossible. Totally full and f-ed up. Greg was there earlier on Friday and did awesome. He couldn't land any but lost all his wieghts on hard-charging fish.

August 12-14, 2005

Three days of fishing fun! I took off Friday and headed up around noon. I returned to one of the spots I had often thought about over the last seven years but never found until last week. I waded downstream for about 10 minutes until I started seeing a few salmon scatter. I milled around a bit waiting for them to settle and I learned their holding patterns. In one area, the deadfall in the river made casting impossible. But just upstream from that about six of them were hugging an undercut bank. It only took about a dozen casts until I hooked one firmly in the roof of the mouth. Luckily, I didn't have my net or camera to jinx myself. I tailed it in the shallows and let it go. I got to land the fish a second time because it swam into my fly and hooked itself in the pectoral fin.

By that time I needed to secure our camping spot for the weekend at HJ. No one was around and the site was ours. I quickly set up the tent and got to fishing. Slow going from then on out for the rest of the weekend. Keith and JR showed up shortly. JR gave the hole his best effort, but I don't think more than a fish or two were there.

Next day, we tried our luck again. I got up just after dawn to secure the hole. I could see a four fish at first, but I think they scattered. We tried a few other holes up and down. JR hooked into one really good but no one was around to help him out. Keith then left early and JR and I worked the main hole. Around 2pm, he started hooking fish. Good solid takes. Crazy active fish. None landed. JR headed home shortly after the activity and I rested a bit.

Gregg and Sarah showed up in the next hour or so and we all went back to fishing. We set up some chairs and had a nice little outing on the sandy shore. Still no fish were hooked.

Next morning I was up early again to secure the hole. We could see a few fish from up top, but really no more than 2 or 3. We gave it our best shot. Again, nothing. Headed home mid-afternoon.

August 7, 2005

Up well before dawn, JR and I made the drive up to first Stronach and then HJ. A group of guys were fishing the outlet. We saw one hookup, but no other action. At HJ, the water level looked great. A few weeks back the area got a ton of rain that eroded a deep gulley into the bank. It's only going to get worse. At best we saw three salmon in the hole and never touched one of them. After about 4 hours of fruitless fishing, we scouted other spots. Weather today was mostly sunny and warm, like much of the weather. We stopped by Elm Flats and Nancy's Bluff where nothing much was happening. Then we moved upstream to all the bridges, access spots and camprgounds upstream. Here and there we saw a salmon, but really nothing worth fishing for. Did see a few spots worth returning to, including a pool for salmon and small stream trout fishing.

July 17, 2005

JR and I floated from the Weir to the Tubes today. I locked up my bike at the Tubes for a shuttle. A few anglers were working the public land down from the weir. One of them had a salmon on a stringer. We saw few if any salmon through this section. Even the first dock hole seemed void of fish. The next set of dock holes did have some chromers, but they were very skittish. After a short while we moved on. That may have been a mistake. It took a long time to find any other fish, though we did find a pod of six or so that didn't seem so bothered by us. A couple of them looked like they had been in the river a long time. None would bite. We floated the rest of the way scouting out spots to no avail. Weather today was hot, hot, hot. Water was low and clear.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I met JR in Baldwin and we trekked up here. The PM had nothing going on and was rising fast from the rain/snow. The LM was pretty stable, but still we got nothing. We fished HJ and then went downstream. At one of the houses, I hooked a steelie for a fleeting moment out from under a logjam, but yanked on it so hard out of surprise, the fly came flying at me. We then fished up from HJ and were really surprised to not get anything out of those gorgeous runs. Near freezing all day. Snow was wet and heavy on the drive in. Luckily it stopped as we fished. Big snow further south. None on the ground were we were.

Friday, November 26, 2004

My annual after-Thanksgiving day fishing trip finds me in Michigan instead of Indiana. I'm on my own this time, scouting out potential steelhead lies. The old standby didn't produce anything so I moved downstream. I had gotten there pretty early and it looked like only a few people got to the river sooner. Naturally, the two groups I talked with got a few steelhead apiece. I spied one steelhead in a logjam, but that was my only sighting. I think some coho, or perhaps brown trout, were responsible for the clean gravel I saw. I traveled pretty far downstream, finding one other honey hole and several nice holes I didn't think about before. No hook-ups on steelies, but about four trout. Cold weather today.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

One last shot at salmon before our big trip to MT. This time JR brought along his father-in-law Ken. It was almost a carbon copy of previous trips. This time, though, we learned how to land the salmon. Our best tactic was once a fish was well hooked, the other two guys would take off upstream and downstream. The idea was to contain the salmon to the pool by splashing water, jumping in the river, whatever it took to get the fish to switch directions. By doing this, we landed three or four fish. It was hard work -- lots of running back and forth along the bank and through the river. Awesome fun! I even took a couple of dunks and had to empty my waders twice. Each salmon was worth it -- beautiful, fresh and chrome.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Back to HJ to get those early salmon. JR brought along a friend to share the wealth. The three of us could cast into the same pool as long as one of us stood on the outside bend in the log jam. Got some nice drifts by standing on this side. We all had numerous hookups, but really had a had time landing any. Lots of aerials antics and huge screaming runs up and downstream. Green and olive were the key colors. They'd hit anything from a small caddis to a big bugger. A little cooler today, much like the rest of the summer. It did warm up in the afternoon. Best fishing was from noon to two.

Sunday, July 21, 2004

Dave Hise and I fished in our pontoon boats from the weir to the tubes at Old Stronach road. We put in at around 8:30 am and got off the water around 4pm. Just below the wier are numerous good holding water and good public access. We hooked into a few salmon in most of these holes, but didn't get close to landing anything. Again, they were mosre interested in green caddis and black stones than marabou flies. The Dock Hole was especially good to us. Dave and I landed a fish each, fresh out out of the lake. In the mid section, it's almost all private land. There were still good holes and runs that held fish. They were found in the same kind of spots as my last trip up here. Actually, Dave showed me a few spots I would have completely overlooked -- dark areas next to outside bends -- slower water than I would have expected to hold fish. About 3/4 of the way down, we found a really nice hole on public land. I'm not sure how to get to it, but you'll know it by the 2x4's nailed to the overhanging birch. Lots of fish and a few well-placed snags. I think I lost about 16 flies today. Fortunately a few were to fish!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

In search of early salmon. Hell, we found 'em! JR and I started at HJ by 9:30am with the idea of moving the car further downstream until we could find pods of salmon. Within a minute of getting to the water's edge, we saw about five salmon swim past us. We went after them for a while but couldn't find good holding water. Moving downstream, we found several smaller pools, but only rainbows and steelhead smolt were there. Finally we find a good-sized hole. Later, we would learn this was the hole at Hpper Junction and our car was just off the bluff. We fished this hole pretty much all day long, hooking into fresh silver salmon. They were hanging out in the fastest run or just off to the side of it in the eddy. Black stones and green caddis were the tickets. The salmon would smash the flies and make a run for it. One of mine took me into the backing faster than I could imagine on a downstream run. Neither of us landed anything but JR had plenty on the line. Fishing two flies at once seems to more than double your chances. We were even part of a creel survey by the DNR. They said most everyone they talked to had hooked salmon.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Took my boat down from 9 Mile Bridge to 6 Mile Bridge today. I launched at 10:30am and finished at 4:30pm. The trip's not an easy task, no matter what kind of boat you have -- plan on getting out and getting wet. Low-hanging branches and logs, plus logs nearly across the water required me to get out many times. The water was also quite low, so it exposed the gravel and I had to drag the boat across several spots. On the fishing side, I was on the lookout for salmon, but ready to go for trout. Regretably I never tossed any hoppers. Probably because I only saw dinks moving on the surface. It took a while to see salmon. The first were around HJ, many more were between Bowman Farm and the Powerline. Because it was sunny day, they were either in the deepest pools or diving into them at first sight of me. I did hook up with one for a brief fight. It was at the tail end of run that dropped into a pool. All-in-all, there were not lots of salmon -- only 2 or 3 in the best holes. I talked with several other anglers. Heard the "you shoulda been here last week" story a couple times. Even the "saw tons of them upstream" story a couple times. The wier had closed on the 15th, so that's the end of the salmon migration for a month or so.

Sunday, August 4, 2002

With an eye open for salmon, yet throwing hoppers for steelhead smolt, I had a great summer day on a very pretty stretch of the river. The fish wouldn't take my realistic hopper pattern, but could not refuse a rubber-legged Madame X hopper pattern. Even got one chunky brown on it, the biggest fish of the day. I lost count of how many smolt I landed. It seemed like several were in every likely spot. Even saw my first salmon of the year -- it was fast and skittish. I waded mainstream down from the ponds area and then waded back up the side channels. The best fishing was in the spots that had seen the least fishing pressure.

Sunday, August 18, 2001

On a rainy day, Jim and I took at shot at hooking up with some fresh salmon. Even though the weir closed on the 15th, we headed back to the spot as I was at previously. Maybe that was a bad idea. We fished and looked through all the holes and not a salmon could be seen. Luckily the rain stopped and the water had a nice tinge to it. After scouting this area, we headed to the PM for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday, August 4, 2001

One year later I'm back in search of early season salmon. This time the story was different. Being somewhat practical, I rigged up my trout rod to start. Before making a single cast though I spotted a salmon hanging low in the water in front of a downed tree. With my salmon rod back in the truck, I had to take a couple of casts. First, my PM wiggler was hit by a small trout. As it darted in front of the salmon I had visions of getting a double. That ended when the trout burrowed into some Driftwood. One lost fly.

A few casts later I was into my first salmon of 2001. With my 5 weight rod and 4x tippet, the fight lasted suprisingly long. He was hooked well in the jaw, but it took just a few head shakes to break the tippet. Two lost flies.

A nice couple who witnessed the short battle said they startled a few other salmon near the campground. Obviously I headed straight back to the truck for the heavy-duty gear.

Being new to this stretch of water, I worked my way upstream. Of course, I too startled the salmon and watched it sprint downstream. After a couple hours of fruitless searching I headed back to my first success and promptly hooked, landed and retrieved my second lost fly.

The salmon looked as though it had been in the river for a while. It was dark and its fins were turning white. Someone else had played this salmon because it's right eye was completely gone. Perhaps that's why it wasn't startled by my wading.

As I chased down the salmon I spooked out at least two other salmon. They're here!

Saturday, July 15, 2000

On a confidential tip, Jim and I headed to the river in search of some very early Kings. We left around 6am, and on the drive up the rain began. When we got there, the rain was pretty steady so we searched out some other access spots upstream from the Six Mile Bridge.

When the rain finally let up, we had about one hour of fishing. We fished one likely looking stretch pretty hard, but we never saw any Kings, just a few small trout.

With all the rain, we drove around to the weir and a couple access areas near there. At the weir we saw one guy come down to rinse out his freshly cleaned King. It was a nice-sized chromer.

One interesting are was called (somebody's) Ponds. There were a number of man-made retention ponds along with a lorge natural pond right beside the river. I think the NFS must have an interpretive map of the area because there were a bunch of markers along the trail.

Saturday, July 10, 1999

After a brief stop at the Pere Marquette, I drove to what I thought would be a isolated spot between Nine Mile Bridge and Six Mile Bridge. Much to my suprise, there were several cars and even a fifth wheel parked at the end of the road. At least the people tended spread out along the river, giving one another a few bends of solitude.

I walked a mile or so downstream before beginning to fish my way back upstream. I couldn't see any surface activity, but with the large number of grasshoppers along the bank I was pretty sure a hopper pattern would do the trick. I even put on a bead head nymph as a dropper to double my chances. It worked well on a quite a few small steelhead smolt and that was it. I didn't get a hit from anything over seven inches.

Talking to other anglers, they all had the same story -- little trout, beautiful day, beautiful river.

Monday, April 6, 1998

It's been two years to the day since I've been to the Little Manistee. That's way too long to be away from this beautiful river. Unlike last time, the weather was beautiful and warm.

Tanner and I had been fishing at the Pere Marquette for most of the day, but I decided to head here after skunking in the deep, dark waters of the PM.

At the Six Mile Bridge access, the water was much clearer and much lower than the PM, although it was probably a little higher than normal.

I only saw a few guys around here, and all of them said that they were striking out. I saw three steelhead. Two were decomposing, and one I only glimpsed.

I found lots of better holes to cast at and I worked them pretty hard, but with no luck. I even tried for a trout that I saw surface a few times, again no luck. Ugg. I gotta change this losing streak.

Saturday, April 6, 1996

Cold today, but mostly sunny. By the end of the day, ice would form on my rod.

Checked out a few spots in my car and finally fished upstream of Six Mile Bridge. There's no camping at the access, but you could hike upstream or downstream and camp. Also looked like there was good access just downstream of Nine Mile Bridge (where you can camp).

There was plenty of good holes where I fished, but I didn't see a thing until I was getting ready to leave. I probably walked a mile downstream and kept running into other fishermen. No fly-rodders, all were carrying heavy-duty rods for steelhead.

Just last Monday the Fish Hatchery/Weir released its first group of steelhead. I visited the Weir. Lots of people camped there. It reminded me of deer season. Everywhere I saw the river, it looked highly wadeable. Plenty of gravel, logs and turns to make nice holes and runs.

When I finally got my shot at several steelhead across the river, I was stone cold. I casted glo-bugs, wooly buggers and nymphs at them and all were ignored. Actually, it looked like they were spooked by my presentation. I'm not surprised. Lots of trees make casting tough in some spots.

It took about two hours to get there via 131. I drove 31 back and I think it took a little longer.

Manistee River Streamflow data:

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