Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Pere Marquette River in Michigan
There are three basic fish groups that you can catch from the Pere Marquette. They are the
salmon, steelhead and trout. Each of these there categories of fish require different methods
of fishing. Catching a thirty pound Chinook salmon is quite different from catching a trout on a
trico mayfly imitation.
The Chinook Salmon enter the river in late August to early September. These are large fish
averaging from fifteen to twenty-five pounds. Many run over thirty pounds. They are caught
several ways. Drifting nymphs and swinging spey flies are two of the most popular methods
used. They can also be caught on streamers. This activity last until the middle of October.
Winter steelhead move out of the lake and into the river to spawn in late February and early
March. They migrate upstream to their spawning areas and eat stonefly and caddisfly larvae
along the way. They spawn in March, April and May. During this time, anglers can sight fish for
them. This can be some very exciting fishing.
In the early fall, wild steelhead enter the river again from Lake Michigan and feed on the
salmon roe. This starts the steelhead migration cycle all over again.
There's an eight mile long, artificial flies only, catch and release special regulation area in the
upper section of the river from highway M-37 downstream to Gleason's Landing. Even though
this is one of the more crowded sections during the prime trout season, it has enough trout to
provide plenty of action for everyone.
From Gleason's Landing to the mouth of the lake, a distance of about twenty miles, the river is
much deeper with strong runs and riffles and long, deep pools that hold both trout and
steelhead. Wading is possible in some areas but many prefer to fish this section from a drift
boat. Rainbow Rapids downstream to the Wahalla area is a good section for both large brown
trout and steelhead, when they are in the river. There are many places you can access the
stream in this long section of the river.
The large brown trout are often caught using streamers fishing undercut banks, deep pools,
piles of logs and tree tops. During the late spring and early summer, there are a tremendous
number of salmon fry in the river. The large browns feed on them and is one reason they grow
to such a large size.
Just about any day of the year you can find a place and a fly fishing technique that will catch
steelhead, salmon or trout on this great river. It is one of the best fly fishing destinations in
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