Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Betsie River Michigan
Although not as popular as some of Michigan's streams,
the Betsie River is one of the state's better steelhead,
salmon and trout streams. It's a tributary of Lake
Michigan. The river has a good population of both brown
and rainbow trout as well as its annual runs of steelhead
and salmon. It's a beautiful river that's a pleasure to fish.
Salmon move into the river from September through the
middle of October. Steelhead follow them and start
coming into the river as early as late September. They
continue and remain in the river to spawn until early
Fly fishing the Betsie River for trout can be done all year
but most anglers prefer the Spring and Summer months.
The river is known for its prolific hatches of aquatic
insects and fine trout fishing as well as its steelhead and
salmon. The uppermost section of the river has plenty of
The Betsie River begins from Green Lake. The very
uppermost part is relatively small, but there's plenty of
trout. The river size increases from the flow of Grass
Lake Creek, a small tributary. The river flows through
Wallin and then picks up more water from the
confluence of Little Betsie Creek.
The best areas for salmon and steelhead starts as far
upstream as Wolf Road. Fishing is normally good all the
way to Lake Michigan, depending on the water levels.
There's over twenty miles of good steelhead water. Most
anglers consider the best steelhead fishing to be below
the Route #115 Bridge.
The lower part of the river is larger, averaging up to
seventy feet in width. There larger and deeper pools
and runs with some shallow riffles. Access is fairly
plentiful with many bridges providing access points.
There are a few roads that parallel the river in some
You can fish the Betsie from a small pontoon type boat
or canoe or by wading. Many anglers ignore the smaller
Betsie in favor of the Manistee and Boardman Rivers
nearby, but that isn't always the best approach. The
Betsie has some very good runs of salmon and
steelhead and an excellent population of trout.
The season varies with the species and location.
Springtime is the best time for trout because of the
numerous hatches. Steelhead can be caught as late as
the end of April depending on the weather.
Summertime continues to be a good time for trout.
Salmon first enter the river and the steelhead follow.
Steelhead begin entering the Betsie River as early as
middle of September. The fishing is good throughout the
Fall. Trout fishing remains good during the Fall.
All but the coldest days of Winter can be good for
steelhead. The extremely cold water of January and
February can make the fish sluggish but otherwise,
fishing remains good throughout the Winter.
|Type of Stream
Medium to Large, averaging up to 50
Varies with species
Yes, be sure you check them prior to
Fair to Good
State of Michigan
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Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Flies
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
For Steelhead and Salmon
7, 8 , 9 or 10 weight for appropriate type
rod, sinking, sinking tip and floating
10#, 12# in 9 to 15 feet lengths
10# and 12#
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly 7, 8, 9 and 10 ft. single hand
For 7 to 10 weight lines
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
KISS Strike Indicators, Lanyards, etc.
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Betsie River Fishing Report:
11/09/13 Local customer reporting steelhead just now
entering river. He caught none but saw two fish taken.
Water is still low. He called to order flies.
12/12/13 Very, very cold. High to day 14 degrees. No
reports of anyone fishing during the last couple of days.
Fishing Report Updated 02/13/19
(Bottom Of Page)
12/31/13 Cold air has created very cold water and
hampered the fly fishing opportunities for the steelhead.
Our local contact has fished or hasn't seen or heard of
any steelhead caught during the past week. Stream
levels are also high at this time.
01/28/14 Very cold weather and water continues to be a
problem for anglers. No reports of any fish being caught.
10/07/14 Higher water has brought lots of salmon in the
river and steelhead are following them. More rain is in
the forecast and more chromes should be arriving. Both
eggs and streamers are catching fish.
11/08/14 Lake run browns are being caught in decent numbers.
11/29/14 A few steelhead are in the river but bad weather and water levels have prevented
12/15/14 A customer reported catching three steelhead this past week. Check out our
02/04/15 Sorry for the lack of reports
08/31/15 A few Kings have moved into the Betsie and a little rain will bring many more.
01/31/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. The water has been very cold, barely above freezing
where it isn't frozen. Hopefully, the water will warm up a little this coming week. The weather
is going to be warmer.
02/10/16 Fishing has been good when the levels have been right and the weather averaging
its normal wintertime temperatures but the water is back very cold again and the "catching"
slowed due to slush ice in the water. Nymphs are by far the best fly option at this time.
10/10/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. We have a new local contact. Some Chinook Salmon
are in the river but some are getting a little red.
11/07/16 The steelhead run is running a little behind but expect them anytime now.
07/28/17 Sorry, we had to drop this from our schedule of posting fishing reports. We are
going to resume it again.
08/28/17 Expecting salmon to enter the river anytime, but so far no reports of it.
09/04/17 Salmon are entering the lower river and some are being caught. We had one good
report this past week.
09/11/17 More good reports on anglers catching salmon. It is very good right now.
10/02/17 There are still lots of Chinook and Coho being caught. More rain is needed.
10/09/17 There are still chinook salmon below Homestead dam.
10/24/17 The chinook are changing colors and about to finish up the spawn. Steelhead are
entering the river in good numbers. Shoot us an email for a fly selection.
11/15/17 Steelhead are in the river. Swinging, nymphing under indicators and egg flies are
11/29/17 The river is still turning out steelhead. Stream levels are okay and falling.
12/13/17 The (accidentally erased)
12/20/17 The water is cold but steelhead are still being caught mostly on SH nymphs like our
Cinnamon Sedge SH, and others.
01/03/18 The river is cold, for sure, but steelhead are still being caught by our
customers. Fish steelhead nymphs like our Green Sedge larva or Black stonefly SH.
nymph near the bottom under a strike indicator.
01/11/18 There is snow forecast everyday for the next week. The highest temperature will only
be 26 degrees, so there will continue to be lots of slush ice in the water. Steelhead are sluggish.
01/25/18 There are plenty steelhead in the river but the cold water temps slows the action. Fish
Steelhead nymphs like Helligrammies/Black steelhead nymphs and others under indicators in
the slower water runs.
02/01/18 A few steelhead were caught this past week. Water levels are still up and a little dingy.
02/22/18 The river is blown out due to heavy rain. Watch the levels and fish when it drops back
03/01/18 Stream is still high and muddy. It is falling and should be back in shape soon.
03/22/18 The stream is a little low but otherwise in good shape and there are plenty of spring
steelhead in the river. Swinging, steelhead nymphs and eggs are working good.
04/05/18 Coho are in the river in good numbers and so are steelhead. The stream is low and
clear. Use Steelhead nymphs like our Green sedge, Black stonefly and estaz egg flies.
04/12/18 The river is on the way up from rain. Decent numbers of steelhead have been caught
recently. It is currently low enough to fish.
04/26/18 The steelhead is about done, with a few drop backs being caught and a few fresh
ones. Trout fishing should be getting good very soon and some are already being caught.
Smallmouth bass fishing should also start picking up.
05/24/18 Smallmouth bass fishing in the lower section is very good. Popping bugs like our Foam
poppers are starting to work. Trout are also being caught.
06/06/18 Poppers are catching lots of smallmouth bass. Our crayfish patterns and Stealth
Bombers are also working.
07/18/18 Trout are being caught in the upper river. Lots of hatches - slate drakes, cream
cahills, cinnamon caddis and others. Smallmouth bass fishing is good on the lower river.
08/02/18 King salmon are entering the river. Smallmouth bass fishing is still good. Trout fishing
is also good in the upper section of the river.
08/23/18 No reports on the salmon. Smallmouth bass fishing is still very good. Taking popping
bugs early and late, and our crayfish patterns during the day.
09/06/18 Chinook Salmon are entering the river and being caught at Homestead Dam.
Smallmouth fishing is still very good.
09/10/18 There are a few salmon in the river but cooler water is needed for more fish to
09/30/18 There are a few Chinook being caught. Stream levels and conditions are okay.
10/08/18 The Chinook are about spawned out. A few coho have been caught and
hopefully, that will get better.
10/17/18 Still a few ripe Chinook around but few Coho were caught the past week, probably
due to the inclement weather.
10/31/18 Steelhead are being caught. Swinging is working great.
11/06/18 Good numbers of steelhead are being caught swinging and on nymphs. Send us an
email for a fly list. firstname.lastname@example.org
11/18/18 The cold weather and snow has slowed the "catching" down as well as the number of
anglers. There are still a few steelhead being caught.
12/02/18 The catching has slowed down a little but steelhead are still being caught. Our SH
nymphs like the Hexs, cinnamon caddis larva and Giant black nymphs are working good.
12/16/18 The water has had a lot of color to it but clearing and dropping as of now.
Steelhead are still being caught.
01/02/18 Stream levels are down and more steelhead are being caught. Swinging, eggs and
steelhead nymphs are working.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
01/09/19 The river is high again and fewer steelhead are being caught but the river is full of
them. Swinging and steelhead nymphs are working best.
01/16/19 Steelhead are still being caught in good numbers. Steelhead nymphs like our Hex is
catching most of the fish. You can fish them under an indicator. Swinging and eggs are
catching a few.
01/24/19 Steelhead are a little sluggish but still being caught. The water is colder and it should
improve when it warms up a little. For now fish our Perfect Fly steelhead nymphs.
02/13/19 It is going to warm up a little and the fishing should improve with in the next few days.
The steelhead are currently a little sluggish from the cold water.