Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Little Manistee River in Michigan
The methods, strategies and techniques you use strictly depends on which species of fish you
are pursuing. The headwaters are full of brook trout with a few small browns. This area is
generally in the area of Luther. The stream gains strength and size as it flows below highway
M-37 down past Bass Lake Road . Brown trout are the main species but rainbows start
showing up in this area. Fishing is good in the area of the Nine Mile and the Six Mile Bridges.
Below the Six Mile Bridge, the water slow down and the pools become longer and deeper. This
is a prime area for both steelhead and large brown trout.
Salmon spawn in the river and the steelhead enter the river twice a year, in the spring and
again in the fall. Each species requires a completely different strategy and usually, a different
method of fishing.
There is a fish weir that blocks the migration of fish during the spring and fall. This allows the
state to take steelhead eggs in the spring and salmon eggs in the fall. When the set quota of
eggs are obtained, the weir is removed. The steelhead can then jump over the dam and move
on upstream. The eggs are used in the state hatchery to stock other streams. The stream is
usually blocked from about the first to the middle of March to the middle of April. The steelhead
that do not have eggs, called green steelhead, are released to migrate on upstream during
From about August 15 until November 15, the weir is placed to collect Chinook Salmon eggs.
The other salmon, Coho, Chinook and some Pink Salmon are kept. All steelhead and brown
trout than may be caught in the weir are released to move upstream.
There are several special regulation in effect on the Little Manistee River. From 300 feet below
the weir and downstream to Manistee Lake, the river is closed to fishing from September 1 until
November 14, and from January 1 until March 31. There is a "flies only" section that runs from
Spencer's Bridge to Johnson's Bridge. This area is controlled by a club and mostly private. The
January 1 to March 31 closure also applies to this section.
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