Little Manistee River Fishing

Salmon fishing

Salmon at Little Manistee River Weir

The Little Manistee River is one of those storybook trout streams in Michigan. It is a smaller Northern Michigan stream that is shallow and gravelly, yet has the deep 6-8 foot holes at many bends. Walking along it’s banks or kayaking it’s you can feel complete seclusion. There are several stretches of river that you will only see a couple private cabins while the rest is Public Land with low lying cedar swamps.

The “Little Man” or “Little River” as known by most, is famed for it’s trout fishing and early king salmon runs. The Michigan DNR has a weir off Old Stronach Road. The weir is in place each spring to collect Steelhead eggs and each fall for Chinook and Coho eggs. The river is closed downstream of the weir to Manistee Lake from September 1st to November 14th and from January 1st to March 31st. I know that sounds like a lot of time, but like I mentioned before, early salmon run.

Depending on weather, most northwest Michigan salmon streams don’t flood with fish until October. But, the Little Man has a fishable king salmon population in early August most years. The nice thing, you don’t get the crowds like October. From August 15th to September 1st you usually can’t find a day when the weir doesn’t have fisherman traveling the legal 300 feet downstream, but there are several access points below the weir that hold salmon.

Upstream of the weir, there is very little fishing pressure. Most people see the weir and the huge stacks of salmon and just assume the fish aren’t upstream of the gates. You won’t be getting the fresh run fish that come at every rainy day, but there are fishable numbers that have swam upstream before August 15th.

The river is small compared to the standard river in northern Michigan and very clear. This makes stealth the most important fishing tool. The big salmon and trout are found in the numerous log jams that can be found at about every turn in the river. The key is patience and stealth. If you see the fish swimming, it most likely has already seen you. There are many big fish to be caught all summer long, but the salmon can be tricky to land with the many log jams I mentioned. When hooked, the large kings will immediately head for the cover, peeling line off your reel. If you’re skilled enough at the fight, you can pull in quite a fish for a small stream. Otherwise, rainbows, browns, and brookies can be found in the same holes.

Whether it’s combat fishing or privacy you’re looking for, The Little Manistee River has it. Kayaking, fishing, wading and swimming are all fun on this river. With its many access points and abundant public land with beaten paths along the banks, the first time visitor can definitely find fish.

If you have any comments on the Little Manistee River, leave them below or go to http://www.fishmich.com/counties/manistee-lakes/little-manistee-river.php and share your fishing knowledge.

Shiawassee River Fishing

Shiawassee River

When somebody from Shiawassee County says “let’s go fishing”, 9 out of 10 times they’re heading to the Shiawassee River. That could be because of the lack of choices in the area, but more likely, because of the great fishing this river provides. It’s better known to residents as “The Shi”. I grew up in the small farm town of Corunna right on The Shi. It is where I fished exclusively until about 14 years old and I still know of many self named holes like “the horseshoe” or “the pike hole”. There are several long stretches with treed banks that feel somewhat remote like from Shiatown to Vernon or Goodall Rd. to Lytle Rd. or several stretches where the river flows through towns.

Now it’s not the cleanest river by any means, but most residents can tell you one time or another that they swam in it as a kid. I can also tell you stories of digging up green worms along it’s banks. With all that said, it’s not a river for somebody looking for a meal, but if you’re looking for an action packed fishing adventure, this river is for you. It’s not really well known around the state, but any local will claim it’s the best river they’ve ever fished. I recently talked to Captain Chris Noffsinger of Northern Adventures Fishing, www.northernadventuresfishing.com, who has gained notoriety as a great smallmouth bass guide and tournament angler. Chris said he started off fishing the Shiawassee as a kid and commented on the great smallmouth bass fishery it provides.

From catching big carp on a hook and night crawler to a nice pike on a Rat L Trap to a fighting smallmouth on a tube jig or spinner, this river has it all. It’s not uncommon to take a 2 hour float trip and hook into 20+ fish. It is easily accessed in many places by shore or easily floated in a canoe or row boat. The most common fish species targeted are Smallmouth Bass, Pike, Carp, Suckers, Panfish, Catfish, Largemouth Bass  and walleye. There are many parks and dams that allow fishing including Shiatown, downtown Vernon, downtown Corunna and several in downtown Owosso.

The best part is, The Shi just keeps getting better. With several dam removals the spring walleye run continues farther and farther upstream. The river has been getting cleaner over the years and with better management will continue to clean up.

If you have fished this river in the past, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t yet, give it a try next time you’re in the area. Check out www.fishmich.com/counties/shiawassee-lakes/shiawassee-river.php for more information on Shiawassee River Fishing or leave a comment there to help out new fisherman visiting the river.