Another Michigan tailwater, the Manistee river runs over 200 miles through the northern lower peninsula through the villages of Sharon, Smithville and others, eventually into lake Michigan at Manistee. The upper stretches of the Manistee above Tippy Dam is relatively narrow compared to its same water cousin below the dam. The upper stretches are home to the famous “hex” hatch, amongst others and holds some of the largest brown trout in the state. Below Tippy, the river takes on a classic tailwater appearance the first few miles, before it transforms into a slower moving, moderate current speed river system that resident rainbow and brown trout call home. Being a “run of river” tributary to lake Michigan, it receives excellent migratory runs of fall salmon and spring steelhead.
Upper Manistee River
The upper Manistee river is a spring fed river system, which begins around the Houghton Lake area, and flows nearly 100 miles west into Lake Michigan in the town of Manistee. The upper Manistee is known for the famous “hex” hatch, which hatches at dusk, in June and traditionally brings the largest trout in the river to the surface for their once a year feast on these giant mayflies. The upper Manistee, being a moderate river in size, spans from 15-40 yards in width for a majority of the river system and is best fly fished via dry fly, streamer and indicator nymphing techniques. Designated a “Michigan wild river” by the Michigan DNR, and with a protected “flies only – catch & release” stretch, the upper Manistee draws both anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from across the country.