PERE MARQUETTE RIVER, MICHIGAN

Sunday, September 13, 1998

Salmon fever hits again. Jim and I headed to the Maple Leaf Access after enjoying my bachelor party in East Lansing. We got there around dinner time and mostly scouted for the good holes. We saw a salmon here and there, but not in any concentrations. None were on the redds -- the ones we saw were swimming upstream and ducking in and out of the deep, dark holes. Wading was very easy because the water was exceptionally clear and low.

I got a few good casts at salmon, and even had one take my fly. It popped off my tippet after about 2 seconds.

Talked to a few other guys who were wading or being guided in drift boats. They all had the same look of despair. Maybe tomorrow ...

Monday, September 14, 1998

The rain started slowly at 5:00 in the morning. It was amazing I woke up to put the fly on the tent considering how many chili dogs I ate last night.

Greg stopped by and got us out of the tent at 9:00, but it was still raining. He took one look at all the other guys already in the good holes and took off to another stretch of the river.

Jim and I tried the more promising holes and had some good chances at salmon. Still, nothing doing.

I did catch one very nice brown trout on a spring wiggler. Took his picture and sent him on his way.

Maybe after the honeymoon ...


Friday, July 31, 1998

For the first time I fished the Little South Branch of the PM. "Little" is a good term for it. In places, a couple of steps would get me from side to side.

As I approached the stream at 9:00 in the morning, I saw a doe and a fawn run across my trail. (It was the only trail I could find that didn't cross private property.) Tanner could smell them and wanted to chase, but he was a good dog and stuck with me. Then, a few minutes after I entered the water, I saw the deer again. This time, 50 yards upstream, they watched me cast to the rising brookies. A classic moment.

It was easy to catch the many, many brookies on a blue winged olive. (I think they were brook trout, but some looked like rainbows. Maybe they were little steelhead?) After a while I just stood in the low, clear water watching the trout surface and resurface to invisible insects.

After catching and releasing my fill, I headed for bigger water. First I drove to the south branch of the PM, but couldn't find a spot where the river looked any good. The water was way to low and slow. Then I drove to the Muskegon for an afternoon of watching the suckers swim around my feet.


Monday, April 6, 1998

Back to the Maple Leaf access again, this time with hopes of finding some steelhead.

With all the rain last week, the reports have been saying that steelhead were on the move. I'm not sure if the reports were right about that, but I do know that they were right about the high water.

It was so high that I could only wade in a few spots, and those spots didn't get me to the holes I wanted to be in.

Along with the high water came all the silt. Some have said the water looked like tea. I'd call it more of chocolate milk.

At any rate, Tanner and I checked out a lot of the river. It was a nice warm sunny day to be out on the river.

I saw one trout surface a few times on the opposite bank, and that was all the action I saw. Kinda disappointing, so I decided to find fish further north.

With a couple hours of daylight left, we drove up to the Little Manistee by Six Mile Bridge.


Saturday, February 21, 1998

It hasn't snowed all month and the snow is gone for the most part. The past week has seen rain nearly every day so I had hoped the steelhead would be running up the river. Unfortunately it wasn't so today. I talked to probably a half dozen fishing parties and nobody had any luck.

However, I had a good time taking Tanner and Sarge out to the river for some fun. I fished at the Maple Leaf access, the same spot at which we had gone salmon fishing this fall.

I wanted to cross the river to reach some of the good gravel beds, but the river was a bit too high to try to wade across. Instead, I drove around the river to where the map shows a lot of state land along the river.

I found no true public access, unless you happen to be staying at the Barothy Lodge. Their private property effectively closes off the public land from public access. Even in their advertisements, they claim to have access to 7 1/2 miles of river access. I'm sure they do. It's a beautiful setting, complete with full houses for rent, a swimming pool, tennis courts and swiming swans. I looks like a great place to stay. Too bad I can't fish that stretch of the river without trespassing.


Friday, October 10, 1997

Before meeting up with the guys from college for a weekend of salmon fishing, I drove straight to the river where I thought I might find them. As it turns out, I just missed them at the river and then again at the house we had rented from Baldwin Bait and Tackle. I fished at the same spots in the Maple Leaf access that I had been at on October 1.

Tanner was with me so the salmon I did see were spooked pretty easy. I saw a few salmon but not many. When I talked with the guys, they had seen lots of them a little further upstream. Greg caught one jack in the mouth. The other guys on the trip were Paul, Kaz and Keith.

Saturday, October 11, 1997

Paul made us all a very good breakfast before the sun came up. We even got to the river by 8:00.

Didn't see many in the early hours like we had expected. As the day wore on, we saw more and more salmon on the gravel beds. Greg accidentally snagged a couple, and I even helped him briefly land one.

he water was about normal depth and clarity. The weather was really nice even though we had frost overnight.

As a our fishing luck wasn't so good, we started drinking around 11:00 a.m. and didn't stop until bedtime. We drove back to the house for a late lunch and relaxed before heading back to the river. Our luck was pretty much the same. We saw some on the beds and in the holes next to the beds, but the salmon weren't biting.

When it got dark we went to Government Lake Lodge for a pretty good dinner.

Sunday, October 12, 1997

We slept in a bit this morning before packing up, cleaning up and heading out to fish the river again. This time we went to the boat launch off of M37. Nobody saw any salmon, Greg saw a couple nice browns and I caught a few micro trout. After a while Greg and I took off to fish the Muskegon.


Wednesday, October 1, 1997

Took off from work around noon and headed to the river below the flies-only section. I've been reading that I ought to try it and that advice was right on. It's an area called Maple Leaf access.

I saw several people here even though I knew tons of people were fishing the river. I found that the DNR had done some erosion control work in the area. The access is across from Taylor Road between Branch and Walhalla. I first took the dirt road straight to the river and found a lot of cars from out-of-state there. Then I turned around and took the branch of the road that went downstream. At the end of that I found a couple of campers set up semi-permanently, but no one else. It's just a short walk down a lot of steps to the river. Plenty of wading access and bank fishing can be found along this bend in the river.

At the river I saw a couple of guys on their own across the river and one guy on my side. Also saw about four guides taking boatloads of clients down the river. It rained the night before and I think that encouraged the salmon to come upstream. In the afternoon I saw a few salmon but not many because Tanner was playing in the water a lot.

In the evening, I put Tanner in the truck and got down to serious fishing. At the hole at the bottom of the steps I saw at least 10 salmon swimming down deep and up on the gravel riffles. I fished there for a couple of hours and only accidentally snagged one in the tail. Several made runs at my flies but none took them. I went through 10 or so flies because of all the logs in the water. I'm sure my presentation was part of the problem and I probably should have tried some of the other holes with my flies. A guy downstream from me said he saw 10-15 in his hole and had seen 20 more further downstream. He caught one last weekend but nothing today. It got dark about 8:00 and I drove home then.


Thursday, March 27, 1997

Skunked on my first fishing trip of the year. I tried the area below Gleason's Landing. The water was a bit high so it made wading and spotting fish difficult. The weather warmed into the 60s today, the warmest day yet this year. Earlier this week it rained and slowly warmed so I hoped that the steelhead would be active.

I fished from 1:00 to 7:00 and never saw a thing. One guy said he had caught three in the morning but couldn't land them. All the other guys I talked to were also getting skunked.

I took Tanner with me; this was his first fishing trip ever. He stayed by my side or right nearby the entire time. He even took a couple quick dips in the river. On of his dunkings happened as he was snoozing on the riverbank and rolled over into the water.


Saturday, November 2, 1996

The big steelhead/salmon weekend with Paul, Jim Kazmeier and Greg Lake started out early. Last night, the guys showed up at my house late and drunk. We had a few more beers (and were briefly joined by Michele and Brian, who were in town for a tennis tournament) before heading out to Sensations for a drink. Went to bed at 3:00 and were supposed to get up at 5:30 but finally got up at 6:30. Actually hit the river around 9:30, which wasn't too bad.

We stayed at Johnson's Pere Marquette Lodge in cabin #3. It was spartan and rustic, but had eveything four guys and a dog would need. They have pretty good river access and we fished it for an hour or so with no luck.

Paul and I agreed we should go to Gleason's Landing. Saw only one other guy there who caught a couple of rainbows. We split up and fished the river pretty hard but never saw anything. The water was a little high and tea-colored from rain earlier in the week. We even got snowed on for a good part of the day. Paul and I went far down stream, all the way to private property, much further than I had been before. We found one really nice stretch of gravel and some good holes, but still found nothing. Paul saw one living carcass of a salmon.

We went back to the cabin in the afternoon and I never fished again that day. Too damn cold, not enough fish. Paul and Jim did a bit of fishing around the cabin and saw a pike, but no steelhead.

I cooked my coho salmon from the Platte River, which was still very good eating. We tried to go bowling in Baldwin but all the lanes were filled. Ended up watching TV and cutting each other up all night.

Sunday, November 3, 1996

We all got up fairly early, but not early enough to have ambition to fish. Jim had to get back to Cincinnati by 5:00 to bowl, so they left right after eating breakfast. I drove home and stopped by the County Park along the Muskegon River. Nice park and good access, but it doesn't look like the fishing would be very good here.


Monday, March 18, 1996

Left early from work because nothing was going on there. Not much going on in the river either it turned out.

I spent the whole day working different access sites along the river. Weather was nice and sunny but a bit cold, around 40°. Water was pretty clear since nearly all the snow had melted off earlier in the week and it hadn't snowed or rained since then.

Started at Ledge Hole access and waded up and down the public land. Only a few guys out today, didn't see any of them catch anything. Then went to the M-37 boat launch, much easier wading up there. A few good holes to cast to.

Also went to Gleason's Landing. Saw plenty of cars in the parking lot but didn't see as many fishermen. There is much better holes and access here than I remember. Also noticed that the spot where I got the truck stuck last time is directly across from the camping area on this side of the river.

Finally hit Rainbow Rapids. Upstream is heavily, heavily posted. I didn't remember that. I did go downstream a bend or two until I found private land. No really good holes here, but some of it is okay.

On the way home I drove to the access just upstream of South Branch Road. It looks pretty cool. There's a rope swing and some areas to set up a tent. It doesn't look like they encourage camping, but there weren't any signs saying you couldn't. Driving out of there I saw two turkeys and many, many deer scattered through the farmlands.


Sunday, February 25, 1996

A sudden warm-up this week melted a lot of snow and encouraged me to check out the PM. It took 1.5 hours to drive to Baldwin via US131.

I drove to Gleason's Landing but the parking lot was filled with 10 -20 cars so I moved on to Bowman Landing. There were only three cars here. I talked with most all of the people, none of them caught or saw a thing. Two guys were from Jenision. They said the 6th St. Bridge in GR was the best place to go for steelhead. Like them, Redwood and I didn't see any fish.

I walked about a mile downstream looking for good holes to fish and I hit most of them. Wading was tough because the river was full and tea-colored. There was also 5" of snow still on the ground. I lost about five flies trying to fish all the logs that looked promising. Used wooly buggers, glo-bugs and prince nymphs.

I took a nap in the parking lot and then drove across the road to a 2-track access that leads to fishermen trails. Got the 4Runner stuck in the snow - it took 1/2 hour to get out. Dirt finally worked after using logs and sticks under the wheels. I had to dig out with my hammer. I was beginning to wonder if I could sleep here all night.

The fishing wasn't any better through here, and the access from the bank was probably a little worse. It's worth going back and exploring some more though.

Driving back to GR I hit an owl as it swooped out of a roadside tree and into my grill. I went back and saw that it was dead. I felt bad about it, and wondered if killing an owl was a sign of anything to Native Americans.

Pere Marquette Info

>Dave's PM reports for 99-02

>River maps: 51k, 66k, 149k

>Fly-fishing Tips for Salmon

>Hatch Chart

>Salmon & Steelhead Run Timing

>Float Times

>Wild and Scenic River

>Blue Ribbon Trout Stream

>Streamflow Data:
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