Fishing is a great way to spend time with family, friends or business acquaintances; the thrill of hearing the cry “FISH ON” provides a lifetime of memories. Whether it’s a line ripping salmon or a sky-rocketing steelhead jumping 6 feet in the air, you’re sure to catch on to the love of fishing while visiting Manistee County.
The Manistee River, which runs approximately 232 miles through the Northern Lower Peninsula, passes through several villages before reaching Lake Michigan at the City of Manistee. The river’s rocky bottom, fast moving cool water and vigorous currents with calm pools makes it a perfect habitat to hold and reproduce an abundance of fish. You can expect to catch steelhead as well as Chinook salmon and coho salmon on your fall fishing adventure.
Steelhead (Rainbow) Trout Also known as rainbow trout, steelhead are genetically the same as stream trout but can grow to a larger size if they live in Lake Michigan.One of the most exciting fish to catch, they can certainly be a challenge to get into the boat. Almost like acrobats of the lake, steelhead are known for high flying jumps with lots of twists and backflips.
Chinook (King) Salmon Chinook Salmon are also called King Salmon or Kings. This species will make up the bulk of your catch most of the year. Chinook average from 2-20 pounds, with 6-15 pounds being the most common. No other Lake Michigan sport fish pulls like a king salmon. A king typically matures in four years, and then returns to the river where it was born and prepares to spawn. Some of the largest kings are as much as 4 year old.
Coho Salmon Sometimes referred to as silver salmon, or just cohos, Coho salmon are similar in appearance to kings, but quite different when it comes to the fight. Cohos like to roll, jump and do whatever they can to get off the hook. Their average size is smaller than kings, typically between 1-6 pounds, but they can sometimes get much larger. Coho tend to travel in schools, so where you find one, there are usually many more.
Visitors to Manistee County can also book a fall fishing trip through several available charter companies, such as: Tilmann Outfitters: For river fishing, the Big Manistee is world renowned for its fresh, record setting Salmon, Steelhead and Brown Trout. Cruise down the Big Manistee with Captain Michael on either his roomy 18′ Sea Arc. We can fish the Big Manistee near the shoreline or in the deep holes for giant Salmon and Steelhead, or the near-shore coastal waters at the mouth of Lake Michigan.
Also, we can simply spend some time exploring some of Manistee’s unspoiled wilderness areas and abundant wildlife along the river. River Haven Guide Service: Fall Steelhead is possibly the most exciting fishing experience on the Manistee River. These fish usually start to show up around the first week of October. Feeding on the eggs of the recent salmon run, they are very chrome in color, hungry, aggressive and put up a fight.
First Class Charters: Ideal for families or corporate groups, the charter is led by an experienced U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain with 25 years of experience. This charter is great for fishing Salmon, Steelhead, Brown Trout and Lake Trout. The tour is docked 10 minutes from Lake Michigan on the Manistee River Channel.
Schmidt Outfitters: Schmidt Outfitters is a fly fishing outfitter that was established in 1976 in Wellston. They provide destination guide services on some of Michigan’s most famous trout, steelhead and salmon waters like the Manistee River, Bear Creek and Pine River. With professional fly fishing guides, a fully stocked fly shop, fly fishing schools, casting pond, it’s no wonder that anglers from around the world visit our waters and enjoy our services. You will, too. For more information about fishing in the Manistee area, go to www.visitmanisteecounty.com
About the author: Growing up in Manistee, Kathryn Kenny spent her childhood fishing on the Manistee River systems and the Big Lake with her two older brothers; a family tradition that has been passed down to her daughters. Kathryn is the executive director of the Manistee County Visitors Bureau.