Jordan River Fly Fishing In Michigan

The Jordan is a small to medium size river located in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Steelhead and salmon migrate this river while resident trout abound. Averaging from 20-60 feet wide throughout much of its journey, the Jordan River eventually flows into the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix at East Jordan. Lake Charlevoix empties into Lake Michigan creating the steelhead and salmon fishery this river provides.
Traveling from Traverse City on MI Route 31 and along Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, you would eventually reach MI Route 66 and Lake Charlevoix after an approximate 50 mile drive. Once on 66 a 15-30 minute drive to the south would put you along the Jordan River. A beautiful and pristine river will be found encased in a forest of hardwoods and characterized with a bottom of silt, sand, gravel and large rocks. You would also find a river averaging 20-50 feet wide filled with wild brook and brown trout. It runs clear most of the time through and around beautiful riffles, runs, pools, fallen trees, logs, and boulders.
Brook Trout
Brook trout are found best in its headwaters starting near the junction of US Route 131 and Michigan’s Route 32 downstream to the town of Chestonia. They are beautifully colored and eagerly take a well presented or ill presented fly. Matching the hatch is not always necessary as these indigenous fish are not overly selective (at least not all the time-there are exceptions). As always, check all the Special Regulations before fishing.
Brown Trout
Brown trout can be found throughout the entire river but best in its middle to lower reaches. The farther downstream the more large fish you will find. Some browns reach impressive sizes of 20 or more inches. When the browns are feeding upon dry flies they take more careful planning and will often become selective to a certain hatch. Long and light leaders will help in the fooling process. Nymph and streamer fishing will at times produce a large brown.
Steelhead enter the Jordan in the greatest numbers during the springtime when the driving instinct to spawn increases. Late March, April, and early May is the best time although they can be found during the fall and winter months as well. Steelhead fishing is best in the larger lower reaches of the river. They can be found sulking behind boulders, fallen logs, or holding in a tight seam of a deep run or pool. Floating lines with long light leaders and split shot (traditional nymphing techniques) will work. Generic nymphs (hares ears, zug bugs, montana nymphs, etc.) are the best bets during the spring. Woolly buggers, egg sucking leeches, and egg patterns are also effective.
The upper river is tight and narrow while the lower river is larger and provides room for better casting. The lower river is not overly wide averaging approximately 50 feet but has many deep runs and pools. Careful wading is necessary. Several (well over 10) feeder creeks increase the rivers volume along its path and account for the deep pools and hard flow found in its lower reaches.
The Jordan River can be found along side roads leading off of US Route 131, MI Route 32, and MI Route 66. A few side roads that follow or cross the river include Mount Bliss Road, Graves Xing off of MI 66, Penny Bridge Road, Old Bridge Road, and Jordan River Road. Access is available in many areas along its path.
Michigan’s Jordan River provides the angler with migratory runs of steelhead and salmon from fall through spring along with quality hatches of mayflies for its resident trout throughtout the summer. If your looking for a smaller stream to test your skills, stop by the Jordan next time your in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula.