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.
One of the attractions of the Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School is the variety of rivers that surround the resort. While the Manistee River’s "flies only" water lures most of our float and wade trip anglers, the Boardman River and public access is only minutes away. (Note: The famous Adams fly was invented on the Boardman River in nearby Mayfield, Michigan.) The Manistee is nearly a mirror image of its sister river, the AuSable River. Miles of easily waded gravel and sand bottom and easy access makes the Manistee River the river of choice to set out on your own. The river is approximately thirty to sixty feet across in most stretches and boasts prolific hatches. While the Boardman River is a little narrower (twenty to forty feet across in the upper reaches) it too has open stretches that are especially inviting for the novice angler. Both rivers have easy public access, are two to four feet in depth, and are only twenty to thirty minutes from the shop. Spring runs of steelhead and fa
Dave and Kelly Leonhard are Orvis Streamside’s owners. Dave has been a fly angler for more than 50 years and has taught fly casting and fishing to thousands of anglers. Dave Leonhard is a master certified casting instructor for the Federation of Fly Fishers, head of fly casting for the Michigan Council TU Fly Fishing School, a life member of TU, a former director and charter member of the Adams Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Traverse City, Michigan, former president of the Challenge Chapter of TU, owner of Orvis Streamside in Traverse City, and director of casting for the Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School at the The Homestead in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Kelly is a lifelong fly angler. She handles the corporate intricacies of the store and cares for the family’s horses at their small horse farm south of Traverse City. When they can, Kelly and Dave love to fish Montana waters, grouse hunt Michigan coverts, and match the hatches on the Upper Manistee and Boardman Rivers.