Little Manistee River Fly Fishing

One of Michigan’s “Blue Ribbon” trout streams, the Little Manistee flows northwest from it’s spring source to Lake Michigan at the village of Manistee. This great trout river was one of Michigan’s first to have a “flies only” section designated by Michigan’s legislature. Wild brown trout are abundant in the main river, with brook trout in the upper river and many of it’s tributaries.

The Little Manistee River in northern Michigan. The Little Manistee River is the source of all Great Lakes steelhead. The steelhead in the “Little” as it’s often called, are all wild fish. The state Department of Natural Resources has been using the eggs of these steelhead to source hatchery steelhead. The hatchery steelhead are exchanged with other Great Lakes states, and Little Manistee fish are found from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin

As a result of this wild strain and the egg taking process, the Little Manistee is subject to special regulations, such as closed dates at the beginning of the spring and fall migration of steelhead and salmon. Still, its clear, cold water and public access makes this a favorite with us and other anglers. Large fish are often seen, and caught, but the challenge is certainly part of the process. The Little Manistee is not a tributary of the Manistee, but they both empty into Manistee Lake before reaching Lake Michigan at the town of Manistee.