Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Betsie River Michigan
Although not as popular as some of Michigan's streams,
the Betsie River is one of the state's better steelhead,
salmon and trout streams. It's a tributary of Lake
Michigan. The river has a good population of both brown
and rainbow trout as well as its annual runs of steelhead
and salmon. It's a beautiful river that's a pleasure to fish.

Salmon move into the river from September through the
middle of October. Steelhead follow them and start
coming into the river as early as late September. They
continue and remain in the river to spawn until early

Fly fishing the Betsie River for trout can be done all year
but most anglers prefer the Spring and Summer months.
The river is known for its prolific hatches of aquatic
insects and fine trout fishing as well as its steelhead and
salmon. The uppermost section of the river has plenty of

The Betsie River begins from Green Lake. The very
uppermost part is relatively small, but there's plenty of
trout. The river size increases from the flow of Grass
Lake Creek, a small tributary. The river flows through
Wallin and then picks up more water from the
confluence of Little Betsie Creek.

The best areas for salmon and steelhead starts as far
upstream as Wolf Road. Fishing is normally good all the
way to Lake Michigan, depending on the water levels.
There's over twenty miles of good steelhead water. Most
anglers consider the best steelhead fishing to be below
the Route #115 Bridge.

The lower part of the river is larger, averaging up to
seventy feet in width. There larger and deeper pools
and runs with some shallow riffles. Access is fairly
plentiful with many bridges providing access points.
There are a few roads that parallel the river in some

You can fish the Betsie from a small pontoon type boat
or canoe or by wading. Many anglers ignore the smaller
Betsie in favor of the Manistee and Boardman Rivers
nearby, but that isn't always the best approach. The
Betsie has some very good runs of salmon and
steelhead and an excellent population of trout.

The season varies with the species and location.
Springtime is the best time for trout because of the
numerous hatches. Steelhead can be caught as late as
the end of April depending on the weather.
Summertime continues to be a good time for trout.
Salmon first enter the river and the steelhead follow.
Steelhead begin entering the Betsie River as early as
middle of September. The fishing is good throughout the
Fall. Trout fishing remains good during the Fall.
All but the coldest days of Winter can be good for
steelhead. The extremely cold water of January and
February can make the fish sluggish but otherwise,
fishing remains good throughout the Winter.
Type of Stream

Brown Trout
Rainbow Trout
Brook Trout

Medium to Large, averaging up to 50
foot wide

Northwest Michigan

Nearest Towns

Varies with species

Special Regulations
Yes, be sure you check them prior to

Fair to Good

Non-Resident License
State of Michigan

National Weather Service Link

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Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Betsie River Fishing Report:
11/09/13 Local customer reporting steelhead just now
entering river. He caught none but saw two fish taken.
Water is still low. He called to order flies.  
12/12/13 Very, very cold. High to day 14 degrees. No
reports of anyone fishing during the last couple of days.
Fishing Report Updated 02/22/18
(Bottom Of Page)
12/31/13 Cold air has created very cold water and
hampered the fly fishing opportunities for the steelhead.
Our local contact has fished or hasn't seen or heard of
any steelhead caught during the past week. Stream
levels are also high at this time.
01/28/14 Very cold weather and water continues to be a
problem for anglers. No reports of any fish being caught.
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
10/07/14 Higher water has brought lots of salmon in the
river and steelhead are following them. More rain is in
the forecast and more chromes should be arriving. Both
eggs and streamers are catching fish.
11/08/14 Lake run browns are being caught in decent numbers.
11/29/14 A few steelhead are in the river but bad weather and water levels have prevented
good catching.
12/15/14 A customer reported catching three steelhead this past week. Check out our
Steelhead Flies.
02/04/15 Sorry for the lack of reports
08/31/15 A few Kings have moved into the Betsie and a little rain will bring many more.
11/09/15 Finally, a few kings and more steelhead are being caught. Egg flies like the Veiled
Crystal Beadhead egg fly and Estaz egg flies are working good. Nymphing using the Perfect  
Giant Black steelhead stonefly nymph and Cinnamon Caddis larvae are working oood.
01/31/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. The water has been very cold, barely above freezing
where it isn't frozen. Hopefully, the water will warm up a little this coming week. The weather
is going to be warmer.
02/10/16 Fishing has been good when the levels have been right and the weather averaging
its normal wintertime temperatures but the water is back very cold again and the "catching"
slowed due to slush ice in the water. Nymphs are by far the best fly option at this time.
10/10/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. We have a new local contact. Some Chinook Salmon
are in the river but some are getting a little red.
11/07/16 The steelhead run is running a little behind but expect them anytime now.
07/28/17 Sorry, we had to drop this from our schedule of posting fishing reports. We are
going to resume it again.
08/28/17 Expecting salmon to enter the river anytime, but so far no reports of it.
09/04/17 Salmon are entering the lower river and some are being caught. We had one good
report this past week.
09/11/17 More good reports on anglers catching salmon. It is very good right now.
10/02/17 There are still lots of Chinook and Coho being caught. More rain is needed.
10/09/17 There are still chinook salmon below Homestead dam.
10/24/17 The chinook are changing colors and about to finish up the spawn. Steelhead are
entering the river in good numbers. Shoot us an email for a fly selection.
11/15/17 Steelhead are in the river. Swinging, nymphing under indicators and egg flies are
working good.
11/29/17 The river is still turning out steelhead. Stream levels are okay and falling.
12/13/17 The (accidentally erased)
12/20/17 The water is cold but steelhead are still being caught mostly on SH nymphs like our
Cinnamon Sedge SH, and others.
01/03/18 The river is cold, for sure, but steelhead are still being caught by our
customers. Fish steelhead nymphs like our Green Sedge larva or Black stonefly SH.
nymph near the bottom under a strike indicator.
01/11/18 There is snow forecast everyday for the next week. The highest temperature will only
be 26 degrees, so there will continue to be lots of slush ice in the water. Steelhead are sluggish.
01/25/18 There are plenty steelhead in the river but the cold water temps slows the action. Fish
Steelhead nymphs like Helligrammies/Black steelhead nymphs and others under indicators in
the slower water runs.
02/01/18 A few steelhead were caught this past week. Water levels are still up and a little dingy.
02/22/18 The river is blown out due to heavy rain. Watch the levels and fish when it drops back