This recent trip to MI was more like a recon mission than a fishing trip. Over the next 5 years I promised myself I would try and explore as many MI, WI, and local waters that have piqued my interest either from books, friends, other fisherman, or blogs I’ve read. I’m essentially looking for beautiful scenic places to fish that arise the same passions I feel when I go out west. My local IL waters fail to arise that kind of passion but I haven’t given up on them yet.
As I concentrated on stopping my own momentum making my way down a steep gravel path on The Big Manistee I didn’t know what to expect. When I got to the bottom I was stopped cold in my tracks by what was in front of me. A beautiful scenic river with tree laden bluffs starting their annual blaze of glory and prime spawning gravel laden with Salmon. I instantly felt like I was on a western river and it was one of the most beautiful river I’ve seen. I knew this was a big river and after finally becoming a half decent switch rod caster, I saw the Manistee as one big playground. Covering big scenic water with a switch rod is easily the most fun I’ve had with a fly rod. The water I was fishing was somewhere below Tippy Dam and I am eager to see what the Manistee has in store between Hodenpyl Dam and Tippy Dam and the fabled Fly Only stretch of the Manistee closer to it’s head waters. There’s actually a back packing trail that follows the Manistee River between Hodenpyl and Tippy that I’m dying to do too. During my 6 hours of blissful fishing I didn’t get a single tug but it didn’t matter the slightest to me. I also spotted a half dozen browns in the 14″-18″ range. It’s clear this stretch of river breeds lunker browns and you will find them concentrated around spring feeders and tucked under large sunken debris. The river was also quite powerful and I found I needed to use a pretty heavy sink tip to get my fly down. One cool thing I saw and forgot to take a picture of were Kings stacked in a feeder I crossed which was no more than 5 feet wide. You could have noodled them.