James Marsh fishing Little Manistee River
Fly Fishing The Little Manistee River,
Updated: December 24, 2020
This beautiful little stream starts from
springs near Luther and flows for about
forty miles to Lake Michigan. In its
headwaters, the stream is relatively small
with lots of streamside trees and brush.
It almost never floods, rarely freezes and
never is affected by a drought.

The trout are mostly brook trout with a
few brown trout. The stream gradually
increases in size the further downstream
you travel. At Irons it is about twenty-five
to thirty feet wide. The trout are mostly
browns in this area.

From Irons downstream to Lake
Michigan, a distance of about twenty
miles, you will find brook, brown and
rainbow trout. This is also the section of
the stream that is famous for its
steelhead fishing. The river is much
wider, ranging from about fifty to seventy
feet wide. Salmon also migrate up into
this area to spawn.

This river has a gravel and sand bottom.
Some areas have some silt and a good
population of burrowing mayflies. The
entire stream is mostly smooth flowing
water with a few moderate runs and
riffles. There are lots of deadfalls in the
river, undercut banks and deep holes for
the trout and steelhead to hide.

The steelhead are all wild fish in the Little
Manistee River. Their eggs are used by
hatcheries to stock other streams.

The wild trout are not so easy to catch at
times. Anglers who use generic trout flies
often have a difficult time fooling the
trout. They can become very selective to
certain aquatic insect hatches. Those
anglers who match what is going to hatch
as well as what is hatching do much
better. Determining what the most
plentiful and most available food for the
trout is can be critical towards your
Little Manistee River,
The season varies for trout, salmon and
There is a spring run of steelhead in April.
Spring also provides the best dry fly
fishing for trout because of the many
Salmon enter the river in July and early
August. Trout fishing is good during the
evening drake hatches and in the cool
spring water.
Fly Fishing Guide to the Little
Manistee River
Fly fishing the Little Manistee River is
very diverse and varied. The methods,
strategies and techniques you use strictly
depends on which species of fish you
are pursuing. The headwaters are full of
brook trout with a few small browns. This
area is generally in the area of Luther.
The stream gains strength and size as it
flows below highway M-37 down past
Bass Lake Road . Brown trout are the
main species but rainbows start
showing up in this area. Fishing is good in
the area of the Nine Mile and the Six Mile
Bridges. Below the Six Mile Bridge, the
water slow down and the pools become
longer and deeper. This
is a prime area for both steelhead and
large brown trout.

Salmon spawn in the river and the
steelhead enter the river twice a year, in
the spring and again in the fall. Each
species requires a completely different
strategy and usually, a different
method of fishing.

There is a fish weir that blocks the
migration of fish during the spring and fall.
This allows the state to take steelhead
eggs in the spring and salmon eggs in the
fall. When the set quota of eggs are
obtained, the weir is removed. The
steelhead can then jump over the dam
and move on upstream. The eggs are
used in the state hatchery to stock other
streams. The stream is usually blocked
from about the first to the middle of
March to the middle of April. The
steelhead that do not have eggs, called
green steelhead, are released to migrate
on upstream during this process.

From about August 15 until November 15,
the weir is placed to collect Chinook
Salmon eggs. The other salmon, Coho,
Chinook and some Pink Salmon are kept.
All steelhead and brown trout than may
be caught in the weir are released to
move upstream.

There are several special regulation in
effect on the Little Manistee River. From
300 feet below the weir and downstream
to Manistee Lake, the river is closed to
fishing from September 1 until November
14, and from January 1 until March 31.
There is a "flies only" section that runs
from Spencer's Bridge to Johnson's
Bridge. This area is controlled by a club
and mostly private. The January 1 to
March 31 closure also applies to this
Early fall is great for brown trout fishing.
It is also the time the steelhead come
back into the river.
November and December is the best time
for steelhead.
Little Manistee River Fishing
Report: Updated
More good reports are coming in from
cutomers fishing for steelhead. B
swinging and nymphing methods are

Options For Selecting Flies:
Email us (sales@perfectflystore.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 (sales@perfectflystore.com)
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 $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.