Copyright 2020 James Marsh
Fly Fishing St. Joseph River Michigan
The St. Joseph River, also known as the St. Joe, is a
large, 206 mile long river that begins in Michigan, enters
Indiana and re-enters Michigan before flowing into
Lake Michigan. Fly fishing the St. Joseph River can be
fantastic at times. The river has a great summer run of
Skamania steelhead. These are large fish that can run
up to twenty pounds.

There are four dams on the St. Joseph River but there
are fish ladders that allow the anadromous species of
fish to travel on upstream. These are located at
Buchanan, Niles, South Bend and Mishawaka dams.

The river also has some tributaries that hold fish at
times. Tthe Dowagiac River, Brandywine Creek and
Pipestone Creek will host some of the salmon and
steelhead, depending on the time of the year and water

This river is mostly fished from a boat. There are a few
areas where it can be waded on good water levels.
Some of the tributaries also offers some wading
opportunities. The St. Joseph River consist mostly of
large, deep pools and deep runs.

Access to the St. Joseph River is very good. There are
plenty of boat ramps and side roads that access the
stream as well as some pull offs along some major

The summer run steelhead are in the river's claim to
fame. The states of Indiana and Michigan plant over a
hundred-thousand fish in the river.  Large schools of
steelhead cruise the water and at times are very visible
to the angler. Sight casting to the large steelhead is a
common practice.

The coho salmon enter the river in September and
average five to eight pounds. These fish very
aggressive and often are found in schools.  The king
salmon begin to show up right after the coho. The kings  
average weighing about twelve pounds. Our Perfect Fly
Hex Nymphs work great on the Kings.

The season is species dependant. Check the current
Winter run steelhead are still in the river during the
Summer run steelhead are in the river from the middle
of May to the end of September.
Winter run fish start in the river in October. Coho
Salmon enter the river in September. Chinook enter in
Winter is the best time for the winter run steelhead.
Type of Stream

Coho Salmon
Skamania Steelhead

Small to Medium

Southwestern Michigan/northern

Nearest Town
St. Joseph Michigan
South Bend Indiana

Species dependant, see current

Good in most areas

Non-Resident License
State of Michigan

National Weather Service Link

USGS Stream Flow Data:
At Niles

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St. Joseph River Fishing Report - Archive:
11/27/13 Steelhead being caught but slowed down some due to cold water. Customer
ordered more
Green Sedge and Cinnamon Caddis Steelhead flies. Caught two using these.
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
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 (
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
Priority Mail.  
Fishing Report Updated 03/08/2020
(Bottom Of Page)
10/07/14 Sorry for the lack of reports. There are some Coho and Chinook Salmon in the
river but few anglers are seeking them.
10/18/14 The Coho run is ending. Few steelhead spotted.
12/25/14 Anglers are catching a few steehead. The water is cold and most are using nymphs.
Check out the
Perfect Fly steelhead flies. Levels are high right now.
01/13/15 Two good reports from customers using our black stonefly steelhead nymphs;.
01/20/15 No reports from last week but conditions remain only fair at the best.
02/12/15 Still very cold water and not many steelhead being caught. A few were caught on
our Giant Black steelhead and other nymphs.
03/05/15 Ice has been a big problem but conditions should improve soon.
05/09/15 Some steelhead are being caught below the dam at Berrin Springs.
St. Joseph River Fishing Report:
11/15/15 Levels have been high but about down to normal. There are some fish in the
system but they are scattered. It is taking a lot of cast but they are being caught. One
customer has had some good luck on our
Estaz Egg flies and Veiled Beadhead Crystal Egg
11/29/15 Anglers are catching plenty of steelhead but low water levels are making it tougher
than it could be. Egg flies and nymphs are outproducing swinging streamers. Rain is on the
way the next two days and that should help.
01/31/16 The water has been very cold the past month, either frozen or near frozen with a
average temperature not over 35 degrees. That makes it tough. It has also been high and
muddy. It is falling and the weather warming up some, so keep a close check on the stream
levels and you may have some good shots at some fish.
03/28/16 The water is back near the normal level with a water temperature of about 42
degrees. Steelhead are reported to be moving through the Berrien Springs ladder. We
don't have any very recent reports but it should be good right now. There is a lot of rain in
the forecast, so watch the levels.
07/10/16 Skamania steelhead are in the river now in good numbers and being caught by
our customers. We received two good reports this past week. Water levels are only most
of the time and should continue to be. Niles and Buchanan accesses are reported good.
08/08/16 Skamania Steelhead are still being caught in good numbers. Fish the highly
oxygenated water like runs and riffles. Smallmouth bass fishing is also good. Fish the
Perfect Fly crayfish patterns near the bottom.
08/22/16 Stream levels are high right now and the water still warm. Smallmouth bass fishing
is good. It is turning cooler and this should help the trout and steelhead fishing.
10/03/16 Stream levels are up and fish are coming into the river big time. Watch the levels
and go as soon as you can. Send us an email and we will help you with fly selections.
10/10/16 Good numbers of salmon and steelhead are being caught near the Berrien Springs
dam. Steelhead nymphs, and egg flies are working and swinging is getting a fairl share.
10/24/16 Good numbers of steelhead are still being caught. Same with smallmouth bass.
The water has been a little high lately but back down near normal at this time.
11/14/16 Reports not good. Low water is preventing the steelhead from showing up in good
numbers. The coming week has little chance of rain and improved levels.
11/28/16 The water levels are up in good shape and customers are catching a lot of
steelhead. Swinging and Nymphing are both working. Good conditions exist.
12/05/16 Steelhead are still being caught in good numbers. Swinging and nymphs are both
working. The stream levels are a little high but that brings the fish in.
12/19/16 Good stream levels exist and good numbers of steelhead are being caught. Swinging
and nymphing are both working.Green Sedge larva and Cinnamon Caddis larva flies are hot.
12/26/16 The stream is flowing at 4360 cfs at 6.83 ft which is high. The water is a little
warmer or about 37 degrees. Watch the levels and fish when they drop some.
01/16/17 The stream levels are very high, but some steelhead are being caught. The weather
and water is warmer, water about 34-35, so still use Steelhead nymphs like our
Green Sedge
and Cinnamon Caddis Steelhead flies.
01/30/17 The stream levels are high but the river has a lot of steelhead in it. We had reports of
a few being caught. The weather and water is turning colder and we are sure this is going to
slow things down. It is only 35 degrees at this time. Nymphs and eggs are the best fly choices.
02/27/17 The river is flowing just a little above normal and our customers are catching some
nice steelhead. Watch the levels. There is some rain and lots of snow in the forecast.
Swinging is getting the most fish at this time.
03/13/17 Conditions are good with levels just a little above normal and the water with just a
little color. Steelhead are being caught in good numbers swinging, on eggs and nymphs.
03/27/17 Steelhead are being caught in good numbers below the Berrien Springs Dam.
Steelhead nymphs like our Giant Black stonefly and egg flies are working.
04/23/17 The Berrien spring ladder is showing some fresh steelhead runs. The river has
been high but falling and should be in good shape soon.
05/07/17 The stream is flowing at 6140 cfs at 7.66 ft, Normal level at this time of the season is
about 4300-4400 cfs. Some fish are still being caught swinging.
05/22/17 Smallmouth bass are being caught in good numbers. Stream levels are down in
okay shape.
07/10/17 The Skamania steelhead are coming in at Berrien Springs. Smallmouth bass fishing
is excellent. Check out our
smallmouth flies:
07/24/17 Smallmouth bass fishing is red hot. Poppers are working early and late. A few
Skamania are being caught.
Perfect fly Key Lime Popper
Key Lime Popper - click to enlarge
08/07/17 The smallmouth bass fishing is excellent. They are taking poppers on the surface and
our Perfect Fly Crayfish patterns on the bottom .
08/14/17 More good smallmouth reports. Fish our crayfish patterns during the middle of the day.
09/11/17 Chinook and Coho are showing up in the fish ladder. Smallmouth bass fishing is still
09/18/17 There are king and coho salmon at Berrien Springs ladder. There's also a few
steelhead. We didn't receive any reports of any caught yet. Smallmouth bass fishing is still good.
10/02/17 Kings and Coho salmon are being caught at Berrien Springs and Pucker Street
dams. No steelhead reports yet. Now is the time to get setup with flies, custom tied leaders
and Single-handed  and Spey rods. Send us an email and let us help
10/09/17 Lots of coho being caught near Berrien Springs. Expecting steelhead any time now.
11/15/17 There are steelhead in the river. Fish are being caught on eggs and swinging flies.
Send us an email for a recommended fly list.
11/22/17 The stream levels are high, flowing at 6290 cfs and 7.97 ft. at Niles. There are
plenty of steelhead in the river. Fish as soon as the levels permit.
11/29/17 Stream levels are down and still falling from a little above normal levels. Good
numbers of steelhead are starting to be caught swinging, Extaz eggs and SH nymphs. Send us
and email for recommend fly list.
12/06/17 Still getting good reports from customers fishing for steelhead. Sucker spawn, Extaz
eggs and others, as well as swinging and nymphing is working.
12/13/17 The stream levels are a little high, at 3530 cfs at 6.10 ft. but steelhead are still being
caught mostly swinging and nymphs. The water is cold, about 36 degrees.
12/20/17 Stream levels are still a little high but okay. Decent numbers of steelhead are being
caught. Nymphs are working better than anything, but Estaz eggs are still catching a few.
01/03/18 Fish below the dam at Berrien Springs. Steelhead are being caught on Steelhead
nymphs under indicators. The water is in the mid to high thirties.
01/25/18 The stream levels are okay, and some steelhead are being caught. The weather
and water is cold, water about 33-35, so still use Steelhead nymphs like our Green Sedge
and Cinnamon Caddis Steelhead flies.
02/01/18 A few steelhead are being caught by the few anglers fishing. Fish the slow to still
water in holes with steelhead nymphs for the best results.
02/15/18 The water is still very cold and the fish lethargic but it is warming up and conditions
should be good very soon.
04/05/18 There are plenty of steelhead in the river but the water is clear and low. Rain is
needed. Warmer water would help. Use steelhead nymphs and egg flies like our Estaz
patterns and steelhead nymphs like our Green sedge also work under these conditions.
04/12/18 The stream is flowing just a little above normal level. More steelhead are being
caught with the higher level. Lots of snow on the way.
04/19/18 We are still getting good reports from customers fishing the river for steelhead.
09/06/18 The water is still warm, too warm for salmon which should start entering the river
soon. Smallmouth bass fishing is still very good.
09/20/18 There are coho and some chinook at Berrien springs. Let us hear from you. We
didn't receive any catch reports this past week.
09/30/18 Kings and Coho are being caught. The stream levels are just a little above normal
which is good. Send us an email for a fly list.
10/08/18 The stream levels are currently high but Coho and Chinook salmon are being
caught when stream conditions permit. The higher water levels does bring in more fish.
10/17/18 A few fish were caught this past week, we think mainly to do with the foul weather.
This week should be much better.
11/07/18 There are good numbers of steelhead at the Barrien Springs dam and some
upstream from there. Swinging and nymphs are turning up the most fish.
11/26/18 The stream levels are very high, 5470 cfs at Niles. Steelhead were being caught in
good numbers. Fish as soon as it falls back down some.
12/16/18 Steelhead are being caught again. Fish deep and slow with spawn and our SH
nymphs. The water is cold, so fish slow and deep.
12/24/18 Good numbers of steelhead are being caught. The warmer water has them turned
on. We received three good reports from this past week.
01/02/19 The river is in very good shape with more steelhead being caught. This coming week
should be as good or better as the weather continues to be warm.
01/09/19 The river is high but with plenty of steelhead. Some are being caught but it will be
better when it drops some.
01/16/19 The river is still producing good numbers of steelhead. Swinging, numphs and eggs
are working but our Steelhead nymphs like the Hex is doing best. Fish it under a strike indicator.
01/24/19 The cold weather and lower water temps have the "catching" a little slow. Fish our
Perfect Fly steelhead nymphs in the deeper water. It should warm back up some.
02/13/19 The fish are sluggish, near lethargic, but this should improve within the next couple of
02/20/19 The water is still cold but steelhead are still being caught. Our steelhead nymphs
are working best. Fish the in the deep holes below an indicator.
03/25/19 Good numbers of steelhead are being caught. There are lots of fish moving through
the ladders and they are being caught swinging, on eggs and nymphs below the dam.
04/12/19 Still catching plenty of steelhead. Our Crystal meth, sucker spawn eggs - cream and
pink and our Veiled bead-head Crystal eggs.
05/05/19 The river is up and stained and we didn't receive any rports. There are still plenty of
steelhead in the river.
05/27/19 The steelhead fishing is done but smallmouth bass are being caught in good
numbers. Shoot us an email for a recommended fly list.
07/07/19 Skamania steelhead are being caught in good numbers by our customers. We
received two good reports this past week.
07/14/19 There are lots of skamania steelhead being caught. Conditions are currently very
good. Send us an email for a recommended fly list.
07/22/19 More good reports on the steelhead have come in. They are being caught in good
numbers. Better get it while the gettin's good.
07/31/19 We had one report on Skamania steelhead this past week. Stream levels are high
but should be falling back down soon.
09/01/19 Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Salmon should start showing up in the river at the
fish ladder anytime now
09/11/19 Chinook and Coho salmon are entering the river. There have been a lot of fish
that passed the Berrien Springs ladder.
09/22/19 More chinook and coho reported at the ladder.
10/03/19 Chinook and coho are both in the river. We didn't receive any reports from anglers.
10/21/19 River levels are still above normal and rising. The Coho run is about over, but
there are a few steelhead in the river. There are several hatched taking place.
10/29/19 The river is running above normal, but in good shape. Chinook should begin to
enter the river and Steelhead should be picking up as well. Several good hatches are still
taking place.
02/18/2020 The stream is turning out steelhead. Our customers are having success with our
Perfect Fly Steelhead nymphs.
03/08/2020 Steelhead are being caught and more fresh fish are moving in. The water is still
cold and our Steelhead nymphs are working best.