Manistee River

Tippy Dam Manistee RiverManistee River Fishing Information

Also known as the “Big” Manistee, the Manistee River begins its nearly one hundred mile journey to Lake Michigan a few miles east of Mancelona. For roughly twelve miles, the Manistee flows parallel to the renowned AuSable River until it turns southwest to continue on its way to Lake Michigan.

When it comes to fishing in the Manistee River, the waters here have a sizeable trout population in the upper portion with runs of steelhead and salmon below the Tippy Dam.

Trout Fishing

The river’s natural features, a bottom composed of sand, silt, and gravel, fallen logs, undercut banks, gorgeous pools, deep runs, and tight bends, make it a prime spot for trout.

The upper reaches, from around Mancelona Road (M-38) to over thirty miles downstream to M-66, are the best section of the river for trout as they provide overhanging brush and good cover for the fish. This section of river is small at first (about 15-25 feet wide), but it eventually gets wider (about 100-120 feet) and faster as it approaches the M-66 Bridge. You can typically find brook trout are commonly in the upper portion of this section and brown and rainbow trout in the downstream portion.

While trout in this river vary in size, most people who’ve fished the Manistee before find that larger trout usually live in the mid to lower reaches of this section. Also, if you’re planning a trip to the Manistee for some trout fishing, be sure to go during the summer. In the fall, trout fishing slows down, especially in the upper section.

Steelhead and Salmon Fishing

While the upper portion of the Manistee is known for trout, the portion below Tippy Dam is known for steelhead and salmon. Given the environment in this section, with its fallen logs, deep pools, fast-moving runs, and calm riffles, it’s no surprise: it’s the perfect environment for steelhead and salmon. Since the river here is big, is tough to wade in spots, and has a sandy, rocky bed, it’s suggested that those who are looking to fish in this part of the river use a drift boat.

If you’re looking for a calmer environment for salmon or steelhead fishing experience, check out Bear Creek. It’s a feeder to the Manistee found on the north side of the river, and can be found along River Road or off of Coates Highway to the north.

When it comes to timing, August to September is perfect for fishing Chinook and Coho salmon because this is when their populations are at the highest concentration. As for steelhead, early October is the best time for them because that’s when they enter the stream to feed on salmon roe.

Access

Anyone looking to fish the Manistee River can find access in multiple spots.

Manistee River Access Points

Upper Reaches

In the upper reaches of the Manistee River, you can access the river near M-38 (Mancelona Road). Access can also be found in this section of the river from other spots below Mancelona Road: in the town of Deward off of Fayette Road, County Road 612 Bridge, the CCC Bridge, and Sharon Bridge.

Lower Reaches

Access to the lower river can be found from numerous side roads off of M-55.

 

Manistee River Access Info

Muskegon River Fly Fishing Guide Services

Support Groups

  • Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited
  • Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council
  • The Steelhead Site
  • Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited

Weather Information

Manistee River Special Regulations

Manistee River – From Headwaters downstream to M-72:

  • Open Season – Last Saturday In April – September
  • Possession Season – Last Saturday In April – September
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest Limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout 10″, Brown Trout 12″, Rainbow Trout 12″, Splake 10″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″

Manistee River – From M-72 downstream to CCC Bridge:

  • Open season – All year
  • Possesion season – Brown trout, Brook trout, Atlantic salmon Last Saturday In April – September. Other species all year.
  • Tackle – Artificial flies only
  • Daily Harevst Limit – 2
  • Brook Trout 10″, Brown Trout 15″, Rainbow Trout 15″, Splake 15″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″

Manistee River – From CCC Bridge downstream to US 131: Type 2

  • Open Season – Last Saturday In April – September
  • Possession Season – Last Saturday In April – September
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest Limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout 10″, Brown Trout 12″, Rainbow Trout 12″, Splake 10″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″

Manistee River – From US 131 downstream to M-115: Type 4

  • Open Season – All Year
  • Possession Season – Brown trout, Brook trout, Atlantic salmon Last Saturday In April – September. Other species all year.
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest Limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout 8″, Brown Trout 10″, Rainbow Trout 10″, Splake 10″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″

Manistee River – From Tippy Dam downstream to Railroad Bridge below M-55 (T21N R16W Sec. 6): Type 3

  • Open Season – All Year
  • Possession Season – All Year
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest Limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout 15″, Brown Trout 15″, Rainbow Trout 15″, Splake 15″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″ Manistee River – from Hodenpyl Res. downstream to Red Bridge: Type 4
  • Open Season – All Year
  • Possession Season – Brown trout, Brook trout, Atlantic salmon Last Saturday In April – September. Other species all year.
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest Limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout 8″, Brown Trout 10″, Rainbow Trout 10″, Splake 10″, Lake Trout 24″, Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon 10″, Atlantic Salmon 15″

Note: All stretches of water not listed are Type 1 Regulations

  • Open Season – Last Saturday In April – September 30th
  • Possession Season – Last Saturday In April – September 30th
  • Tackle – All
  • Daily Harvest limit – 5/3* * 5 fish, with no more than 3 fish 15 inches or larger, and no more than 1 atlantic salmon.
  • All grayling must be released immediately.
  • Brook Trout – 8″ Lower Peninsula 7″ Upper Peninsula
  • Brown Trout – 8″ Lower Peninsula 7″ Upper Peninsula
  • Rainbow Trout – 10″
  • Splake – 8″
  • Lake Trout – 24″
  • Coho, Chinook, & Pink Salmon -10″
  • Atlantic Salmon – 15″