Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Boardman River in Michigan
The upper headwaters of the Boardman River is a pleasant place to fish in a small
stream habitat. It probably only averages twenty to twenty five feet wide. Both its
North and South branches also provide good fishing. The area they merge to form
the main stream is called the "Forks". There are several places you can access the
upper portion of the river. Brown Bridge Road runs fairly near most of the upper
section from the Forks to Brown Bridge Pond. It can be accessed at the Forks, Trail
Camp, Shecks Place and at points along the Brown Bridge Road.
This part consist mostly of shallow water flowing over a gravel bottom with lots of
Below Brown Bridge Pond, the river flows a little faster down to Keystone Pond and
below that, Sabin Pond. There are some larger fish in this area than they are in the
upper part. Deeper pools along the way provide holding places for the larger brown
trout. Much of it flows through private property. Access in this section of the river is
Below Sabin Dam the water is open all the way to Traverse Bay for Salmon and
Steelhead migrations. This section of the river can get quite warm in the summer. It
holds only a few trout. A fish weir is placed in the stream during certain times that
prevents the salmon from moving upstream. This allows eggs to be taken for
hatchery use. Some move upstream before it is placed and therefore some are in
the river during the spawning time.
The water flows slowly into Boardman Lake. Below the lake, there is another dam
and a fish ladder, creating another section in the river before it reaches the Bay.
Steelhead can be caught in this section which is actually in Traverse City, during
late fall, winter and early spring.
The steelhead move into the river to spawn around the middle of March. They can
be caught until the first of May. These fish return to the lake after the spawn. They
enter the river again during the fall and can be taken on salmon eggs, large
nymphs and streamers. The river is full of spawning salmon at this time of the year.
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