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Trip Report: Northwest Michigan Fall Fly Fishing

Published by Greg Yothers [albatross] on 10/02/2011 (4889 reads)
The rivers and streams of the northwest portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan are teaming with wild salmonids. Bruno and I discovered this almost by accident in October 2010 when we detoured to NW Michigan on a trip to the Salmon River in Pulaski New York after Tropical Storm Nicole blew the Salmon River out to 20,000 CFS.

Bruno called fellow board member Acristickid on his cell phone as we headed up Route 79 North from Pittsburgh and Acristickid told us to turn left when we got to Erie and head for Michigan!

The heart of the fishing near Wellston in Northwest Michigan is 8 hours driving time from Pittsburgh which compares favorably to the seven hour drive to Pulaski New York for anglers in Western Pennsylvania. We fished October 10-12 in 2010 which was a little late for the salmon in Michigan.

This year Bruno, Brian Charlie and I made our way north again. We fished September 18-21 which was close to the peak of the Chinook Run. The Coho salmon also were out to play this year. Our trip was a little early for the steelhead, they run late October to late April. Part of the appeal of fishing in Northwest Michigan is that nearly all of these fish are naturally reproducing from ancestors stocked decades ago. The spawning gravel in these rivers and streams is immaculate!

We caught a few King salmon on our own, but the best day of the trip was our day our on driftboats with guides from Schmidt Outfitters on the Manistee River. They put us over a Coho hotspot. Bruno and I hooked and landed many of these wonderful fish that really love to take a fly. We also hooked a few King salmon with the guides, but the landing of Kings was more difficult.

"We had a wonderful trip. I have to also thank the guys from Ray Schmidt Outfitters. Guide Nick Homan was awesome to spend the day with. He did a great job and provided the best river lunch I have ever had," shared Bruno.

The nature of these rivers and streams is that a lot of fallen trees litter the streambed. The fish know where these obstacles lay and seek them out to ensure their freedom. The resident trout, browns, rainbows, and brooks, can all be caught with egg patterns once the salmon start getting active on the redds. We caught some smaller trout this way, but many of the locals look forward to the opportunity to catch bigger resident and lake run trout into his manner.

The bigger rivers in this region are tough for the wading angler and a driftboat is almost a requirement. But there are smaller rivers and streams suitable for the wading angler. Bruno and I were fortunate to meet a pair of anglers from West Virginia while fishing the Betsie River. One of the anglers had a nasty tear in his neoprene waders. I was able to patch his waders with the UV adhesive I carry, which made us instant friends with this pair. They shared a shot of bourbon with us and promised us a mule trip on the Cranberry River in West Virginia. Always nice to make a new friend!

More pictures from our trip can be found here.

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The comments are owned by the author. We aren't responsible for their content.
Author Thread
Published: 2011/10/3 0:05  Updated: 2011/10/3 0:05
Joined: 09/11/2006
Comments: 10
 Re: Trip Report: Northwest Michigan Fall Fly Fishing
Great story, Greg. Looks like a mighty fun time was had by all.

peace-tony c.
Published: 2011/10/3 7:31  Updated: 2011/10/3 7:31
Joined: 09/09/2006
From: Monessen, PA
Comments: 2882
 Re: Trip Report: Northwest Michigan Fall Fly Fishing
Yes, enjoyable read and the photo gallery was great.
Published: 2011/10/3 10:39  Updated: 2011/10/3 10:39
Joined: 10/17/2007
From: florida
Comments: 1980
 Re: Trip Report: Northwest Michigan Fall Fly Fishing
Very nice post with great pictures. From all the grins it must have been a really memorable trip. I'm adding Michigan to my trip list. GG
Published: 2011/10/4 20:57  Updated: 2011/10/4 20:57
Joined: 01/21/2008
From: Pittsburgh
Comments: 75
 Re: Trip Report: Northwest Michigan Fall Fly Fishing
Great story. Congrats to all on a successful trip. Some great fishermen with some nice fish.

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