MANISTEE RIVER, MICHIGAN

Friday & Saturday, June 5-6, 2004

I arranged a weekend away for Keith, Greg and Chris. We camped out in the Deward area and had a great time. Weather was perfect until Sunday morning when the rain began. For me, the fishing was very good. Friday evening, the trout surfaced a lot but I only got sporadic hits. Still landed a good handful of brookies and browns. On Saturday, the fishing was really good depending on the stretch of river. On certain 100 yard stretches, there were numerous fish around each log. I caught trout on prince nymphs, elk hair caddis, parachute adams and brown drakes. I saw sporadic hatches of all these flies. The trout didn't seem picky, but they would only rise to the first couple good casts. It wasn't worth casting again and again to them. Greg did just as well on Mepps 0 spinners. Both of us lost track of how many fish we caught. Most were around 6-8 inches and a few went up to 11 or 12. Saturday evening we went out again with the idea of getting trout for Keith and Chris. Keith finally got one on a spinner. I put two brookies onto a fly for Chris, but he couldn't get the hook-up.


Saturday, June 7, 2003

The cool spring weather seems to have slowed down the hatches. On the upper stretch near Deward, I hit a favorite couple of bends. With few trout rising, I tried a variety of nymphs, emergers, even streamers. Actually had a few strikes on the streamers. A couple of small but colorful brookies took my crippled pattern. From 2-5 the fishing was okay, but it slowed way down after that. I drove upstream to a few of the other access spots. The one right at Deward was sandy and slow. I stayed until dark. A half hour before, a small hatch went off and I landed one brookie and a nice sized brown. I had to remind myself that the experience is worth a few trout. After all, I'm not fishing to feed myself.


Saturday, June 22, 2002

On Wa Wa Sum weekend, I fished the upper Manistee twice in one day. In the late morning, Dick and I hit the area near Cameron Bridge Road. Neither of us did very well, the smaller fish were taking something on the surface, but it was difficult to tell what. Later in the evening, Scott and I hit my favorite stretch a little further upstream. The action was fair while it was bright out; once it got toward dark, the bigger fish started hitting drakes. I got about three real nice browns in succession.


Friday, May 3, 2002 - Sunday, May 5, 2002

A week after Opening Day, and the crowds were gone. This weekend, Jim, Keith and Chris all made the drive to the upper stretch to camp out and fish. On Friday night, we all got skunked. On Saturday, I'd learn why -- 2 to 4.

Friday, May 3, 2002 - Sunday, May 5, 2002

A week after Opening Day, and the crowds were gone. This weekend, Jim, Keith and Chris all made the drive to the upper stretch to camp out and fish. On Friday night, we all got skunked. On Saturday, I'd learn why -- 2 to 4.

I used emergers, dries and nymphs and had very little luck outside of 2pm to 4pm. During that time, the trout surfaced like crazy. They were chasing emerging hendricksons right out of the river. I was set up at a great run and hole just up the road from where we camped. The water was so clear, I could see the fish come up from the bottom and take the mayflies just as they tried to escape the surface film. I think I caught about 10 trout during this short time. The biggest was a hefty 15 inch brown. Outside of this time, I hooked maybe three fish and landed one. They were really keyed in on emergers and a crippled pattern. They mostly ignored my traditional dry fly.

Interestingly, a guy I talked with Sunday morning had great success using worms just after sunrise. The fish had clustered into the deep holes and apparantly liked worms. I wonder why Chris' corn didn't work.


Saturday, April 28, 2001

Opening Day 2001. Today was one of these great opening days -- the sun was out, the bugs were in the air, and the trout were ready to eat. I arrived at the upper reaches of the river around 3:30. I wish I had gotten there a little earlier so I could have eased into the rhythm of the river. Instead, the fish were lunging for the mayflies and it was time to fish. Within a half hour, I netted three browns and one brookie. All on a parachute adams. I must have picked a good spot (it was the one I struck out on last year) because I only had to wade across the stream to get all four. The hatch slowed down as the afternoon wore on. There were two distinct sizes, medium and large, although they were both the same color. I ended up catching 9 trout today, my most memborable was a 12 inch brookie I got on a long downstream cast, drift, and mend, mend, mend. There were a good number of people out today, and I did feel crowded a time or two.


Saturday, May 6, 2000

I made the long to drive to one of my favorite trout fishing streams in the state to take advantage of a beautiful day and my own personal opening day.

The upper part of the Manistee near Deward was my destination. Tanner, who I usually leave at home, was my companion.

I met several other anglers before I could even put on on my waders. Everyone was in good spirits since they had all landed some trout on dry flies. Fortunately, this stretch of the river has about three miles of access, so the pressure gets spread out nicely.

When I hit the river around noon, little black caddis were the obvious choice. Trout of all sizes were rising to them just about anywhere you expected to see a trout. As the afternoon wore on, the caddis gave way to mayflies. And as the day progressed into evening, the mayflies (either BWO or Brocher's Drake or Dark hendrickson or I don't know) were think in the sky.

I ended up catching about six, the largest a colorful 14-inch brown, the smallest a perfect 6-inch brookie. My only regret is all the trout I missed. It seemed that under every log structure, three or four trout were hiding. As the sun set, the trout surfaced very actively. And this is when I got skunked. I changed flies six times trying to match whatever the trout were eating. Dries, nymphs and emergers of all the obvious choices drew blanks. What gives?


Friday, December 31, 1999

On the last day of the year, or the millenium, depending on your view, Sue and I took the dogs on afternoon cross-country skiing trip along part of the Manistee River Trail. We left from the parking area at the end of South Slagle Road and then headed to the north, following the marked trail. We had about 6 to 10 inches of snow under our skis which made for an easy glide for us and an easy run for the dogs. The sun followed us on the drive, but the clouds took over when we ready to hit the trail. Fortunately the wind was calm and the tempurature wasn't too far below freezing. We didn't go too far -- maybe a mile and a half -- and we took our time since we weren't in a hurry. Our turnaround point was at the overlook of sharpest horseshoe bend in the area. On the way back we watched a bald eagle fly past us on it's way downstream. I yelled, "come back!" and the eagle quickly circled before continuing on its way.


Sunday, May 30, 1999

After spending most of Memorial Day weekend along the Au Sable River, I fished the upper Manistee at Goose Creek Campground. The campground was packed with horse people and families. The fishing was very slow, although I did catch one small brown trout from under a log. He hit a BWO. I remember coming here seven years or so ago, and Paul and I caught a bunch of trout on that overcast day. No such luck with today's blinding sun.

I checked out another part of the river downstream by Portage Creek. There are public access areas above and below the creek. There are also quite a few pull-offs near the CCC Bridge worth fishing. I hooked into a large sucker (or in my optimistic imagination) a tough brown that wouldn't come to the top. The hook tore out of it's jaw before I could see it. I must have been there at the right time -- around noon -- because I only saw two canoes come down the river in two hours of fishing. It's kind of tough to walk along the bank, and the river is fairly deep in spots, so getting around in here takes some effort.


Sunday, August 23, 1998

It's been a long time since I've been to the upper reaches of the Manistee, and I forgot just how pretty the river is. Tanner, Sarge and I came here after a wet backpacking trip along the Pigeon River. I had hoped the river level would be normal, but it was probably a foot above normal because of last night's downpour.

I finally found the river access I was looking for in the Deward area. It's kind of weird driving through here -- it reminds me of a deserted biohazard area. Roads exist but are closed off. Giant fuel tanks lie in the middle of nowhere. Areas that look like they once were very popular haven't been touched.

At any rate, the fishing wasn't any good. The water was well over its banks. I was wading in six inches of water when I was still 20 feet from the river's edge. There appears to be lots of great cover, and I'm sure the trout are here. I just didn't see any. But then again I didn't fish it very hard and the dogs were running all around.


Sunday, April 14, 1997

Took Tanner and Sarge for a nice dayhike starting from the North Country trailhead at Beers Road. (A 2 hour drive from GR.) A little cold today, but the clear skies made a difference. A few inches of fresh snow fell over the past few days, so for the most part I was making fresh tracks.

Got a great view of the river valley after about a half mile of hiking. This is probably the highest vertical point I was at today.

We crossed the river at the suspension bridge just downstream from Hodenpyl Dam. (After our hike I drove around a bit and found that I could have parked my truck at the Dam's fishing access which also overlooks the bridge.)

We traveled along the river for another mile or two until we stopped for lunch at the waterfalls. It took 2 hours to hike here.

No signs of major wildlife today, just a few birds and a couple guys fishing. The water seemed high and cloudy.

It only took an hour and a half to get back because I could see the trail better and we went straight up the big hill after crossing the bridge.


Friday, October 4, 1996

Drove up to the river around mid-day with Redwood. Found a rugged campsite downstream from Tippy Dam by a few miles. The two track road appeared to make its way down to river level, but the road was too steep for my taste. Instead I parked the truck high above on the wooded bluff and slept there at night.

Fished along the river for salmon but didn't catch any. I saw some swim in the few shallow, gravel stretches I could find. Overall, the access to wading was pretty good, it just seemed that the chinook salmon were in the deeper holes a little further than I could get to.

Even tried fishing at night with a lantern, but no luck. I talked to one guy who caught a big steelhead Thursday night. He said the salmon were all over the shallows that night but seemed to be hiding now. Maybe they know when the weekend approaches.

Saturday, October 5, 1996

Woke up early to meet the salmon. Saw a few break the surface of the water, but the story was basically the same as last night.

Hiked quite a ways up the river to see what else was going on. The leaves hadn't changed as much as I thought they would. Saw many people in boats, probably 50, and only one other guy strictly wading. The guys in the boats were doing okay, I saw them land a few. They would just hang out in one spot all the time waiting for their rods to dip down from their mountings on the boats.

On the way out, I stopped at Tippy Dam. Hundreds of people lined both sides of the river. While most weren't obviously snagging, it looked like that was the only way people were landing anything. It was neat to see those big 30 lb. salmon jumping out of the water. From the looks of all the roe spilled onto the many steps down to water level, plenty of people were catching fresh salmon.


Saturday, July 20, 1996

Redwood and I came out for a day of hiking and an evening of fishing. I parked at an overlook where a cabin once stood, cutting three miles of hiking off our trip.

We hiked up to a camping site where Slagle Creek enters the Manistee. Before settling on that site, I hiked back downstream along the river. There seem to be plenty of trails right along the river and many hidden campsites. Took a swim to cool off, plenty of sun and warm temps.

I fished around my campsite quite a bit, but never saw a fish surface nor did I catch one. No hatch going on either. Just a few boaters on the river.

Sunday, July 21, 1996

Woke fairly early and still no hatch on. Hiked up Slagle Creek to the hiking bridge and fished a couple of spots. Hard to cast with all the downed timber. Did see a couple of spooked brookies.

Another nice day, hiked back around noon. On the drive home, I stopped at the Harrietta Fish Hatchery. Their indoor pools were filled with fingerlings, the pond outside held what looked like many big, big trout. Slagle Creek supplies the water for the hatchery and the creek even had a few brookies in it.

 


Saturday, May 4, 1996

The first backpacking trip of the year. I took Melissa, Pam and Redwood to the Manistee River Trail. We left from Red Bridge and hiked to a campsite along the river in the Flower Flats area. Headed out from Grand Rapids by 9:30 and hit the trail around noon.

It was hillier than I thought it would be, but also nicer than I pictured. Lots of scenic vistas of the river and the bluffs a mile or two off. Spring still hadn't hit here as it has in GR. None of the trees were budding, but a few flowers and grasses were.

About 45 minutes into the hike Redwood took off into the woods after some animal. We kept going and watched him nose around under a log. Soon, he backed out and a small porcupine flew out of his mouth. There were probably a hundred quills on his nose and lips. There were many also in his tongue, gums and the roof of his mouth. I pulled out as many as I could with my Gerber pocket tool, but I could only get half. We watched him for a while and he didn't seem to be in pain, so we went on.

Got to camp around 3:30 and sunbathed for quite a while. It was perfect weather no clouds, slight breeze, not too hot.

I later found a quill in my chest. It hurt like hell to pull on it, so I left it for a while. When I next checked it was gone. I think it sunk below the surface of my skin.

The river was totally blown out and silty, so the fishing was terrible. Never even saw one surface. Sat around the campfire and drank Hot Damn while watching the stars.

 

Sunday, May 5, 1996

Rose fairly earlier to cool temps and cloud cover. Kept an eye on Redwood's condition. He seemed tired from the hike and kept licking at his paw and his mouth. Many of the quills had fallen out, but many remained.

I fished a bit, but still saw nothing. We packed up early and took off since the weather was questionable. It sprinkled lightly for most of the hike but was not a problem.

Met up with a forest ranger who said nine of the cabins along the river are supposed to be torn down and their sites naturalized. She said a land deal made 20 years ago required this take place by the end of 1995. She was out taking pictures of the cabins that were still there.

Redwood was pretty good about sticking to the trail today, but did make a dash to the site of the porcupine incident. Thankfully, the porcupine was gone.

Made it back to the car by 3:00 and had dinner at Club 37.

Manistee River Streamflow data:

Manistee River Trail Map

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
BACK TO FLY-FISHING IN MICHIGAN
BACK TO HIKING IN MICHIGAN
HOME