Pere Marquette River

The Pere Marquette River, the birthplace of brown trout in the United States and named after French explorer Jacques Marquette, is one of the best rivers for trout, steelhead, and salmon fishing in the Great Lakes area. Located on Michigan’s western shoreline, the Pere Marquette flows 64 miles from Lake County to Marlborough, where its tributaries, Little South and Middle Branch, meet to form the main river to feed into Lake Michigan. The river’s great water quality comes from two of its other tributaries, Kinney Creek and Waldon Creek.

Sections of the Pere Marquette have specific regulations set in place, such as the upper portion of the river. This 8 mile-long area, from M-37 to Gleason’s Landing, is designated artificial flies only, catch-and-release. Check the special regulations for details on this section and others located on the Pere Marquette.

Access Points and Productive Fishing Spots


Access points to the river are fairly easy to find and pretty evenly spread out downstream from Baldwin. The upper river and  upper regulations’ “flies only” area, especially, have several access points. Within the “flies only” area, access points can be found in M-37, Ledge Hole, Green Cottage, Clay Banks and Gleason’s Landing. Route 10 north of Baldwin and other side roads will lead you to the river and other access points, as well as bridge and access spots around Branch and Wahalla, Michigan. Farther downstream, areas such as Indian Bridge, Custer, and Scottville provide good access to the lower river.


Productive Fishing Spots

While the Pere Marquette River as a whole provides excellent fishing, certain spots are better for specific species of fish than others. For example, trout angling is great on the Middle Branch and upper main stream of the Pere Marquette. The Middle Branch is small, averaging approximately 25 feet in width with plenty of boulders, fallen trees, and sharp bends to make it a great area for trout to live. In the mainstream area or “flies only” there are impressive brown trout that reach twenty inches and above. The water in this section is some of the best that the Midwest has to offer, and as a result, it can get very crowded during peak seasons.

Gleason’s Landing to the river’s mouth is a long and extremely productive section of Pere Marquette. Here the river has very deep pools and powerful runs and riffles which hold steelhead and large resident trout very well. Drifting a black stonefly nymph or egg pattern behind a fallen tree or in a deep run here could produce a fifteen pound steelhead or a twenty-four-inch resident brown! The potential of this section is enormous. Below Gleason’s Landing, the river gains more volume and depth. The river’s speed increases and wading becomes even more difficult. Most anglers float fish this section of river.


When it comes to trout, steelhead, and salmon fishing, the Pere Marquette is one of the best rivers for catching huge fish of these types. Many anglers come to this river each season to try for either its first class trout fishing during the spring and summer or its steelhead fishing during the fall, winter, and early spring.

Late May through early July is usually the perfect time for dry fly fishing. Mayflies on the Pere Marquette include Hedricksons, Sulphurs, Blue-winged Olives, Gray Drakes, Brown Drakes, and Hexagenia Limbata (“Michigan Caddis,” one of the largest mayflies) among others. Stoneflies include a variety of species with Little Black Stones being most popular especially as nymphs for steelhead. The “Hex” hatch is one of the most popular for big fish, especially in the lower river below Wahalla bridge, at dusk and going into night. For summertime fishing, terrestrial and streamer fishing are also options the Pere Marquette offers.

Although the wade fishing and access are good on the Pere Marquette, the use of a guide will always provide a safe, educational experience, and put you on the best fishing the river has to offer at that time of the year.

Click here for Flow Data for the Pere Marquette river

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Special Regulations, Pere Marquette

Check the DNR site for all the latest regulations.

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