Upper Manistee and Boardman Rivers — Overview

May 6, 2013 • Resources, Uncategorized

BOARDMAN RIVER OVERVIEW: The beautiful Boardman River, birthplace of the Adams fly, starts east and south of Traverse City and ends as it flows into the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan. Self-sustaining populations of rainbow, brown and brook trout inhabit all sections of the river, but have higher populations of brook trout in the uppermost sections. Favorite hatches include Hendricksons and black caddis in May, sulfurs, brown drakes and isonychia in June, with gray drakes and the famous hex hatch in late June and July. Late July and August terrestrial, trico, and baetis fishing rounds out the summer. Aggressive fall spawning browns chase large streamers and attracters in September as well. The upper Boardman River closes the end of September while the lower river below Sabin Dam remains open all year.

In September and October, the lower river fills with Lake Michigan Chinook and coho salmon. The salmon run culminates in late October with a fall run of steelhead. Steelhead fishing continues all winter and peaks in March and April. These enormous 8 to 15 pound lake-run rainbow trout draw anglers from around the world. The easy gradient and sand and gravel bottom makes wading comfortable with numerous public access points.

UPPER MANISTEE OVERVIEW: The Manistee is perhaps Michigan’s finest self-sustaining trout stream. More than 60 miles of wadable water from its headwaters to the “flies-only” section downstream, it truly represents Michigan’s colorful fly angling heritage. The river is approximately thirty to sixty feet across in most stretches with an easy gradient and sand and gravel bottom.

April and May offers good hatches of black caddis, Hendricksons and early black stoneflies. Self-sustaining populations of brook and brown trout feed on these early hatches once waters warm into the low 50’s. May brings good numbers of Hendricksons, caddis sulfur mayflies. June begins with sulfurs that hatch early evenings and ends with brown drakes and the famous “Hex” hatch that comes off at dark. These hatches can move fish as large as 30 inches! July begins with the “Hex” (hexagenia limbata) and finishes with the start of terrestrial season. Hoppers, beetles, ants, dominate the trout’s diet for the next month and a half. In September, we turn our attention to streamer fishing and tiny blue wing olive mayflies. October 1, the upper Manistee closes, yet the “Flies Only” section remains open all winter with “catch and release only” regulations. Guides are available daily for float trips.

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