Manistee River

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 Chinook and Coho salmon, fall Steelhead, fall and winter lake run Brown trout and spring Steelhead.

Flow data for Manistee river near Sherman, MI

Flow data for Manistee river near Wellston, MI

Map of Manistee River 

Manistee River from Tippy Dam to Manistee

Manistee River from Tippy Dam to Manistee


History of Manistee

Missionaries visited Manistee in the early 19th century, and a Jesuit mission house is known to have been located on the NW shore of Lake Manistee in 1826. In 1832, a group of traders from Massachusetts built a log house up the Manistee River. However, they were soon driven off by the Ottawa.

The village of Manistee was one of about 15 Ottawa villages along the shore of Lake Michigan in 1830. Much of the Manistee River Valley, including Manistee itself, was an Ottawa Reservation from 1836-1848.

The first permanent Euro-American settlement was made on April 16, 1841, when John Stronach and his son, Adam Stronach, arrived at the mouth of the Manistee River in a schooner loaded with fifteen men and equipment, and established a saw mill.

On October 8, 1871, the town was practically destroyed by fire; on the same day the Peshtigo Fire, the Great Chicago Fire, and fires in Port Huron and Holland occurred.   Manistee was incorporated as a city in 1882.