Manistee River Smallmouth Bass

Red Bridge on the Manistee River Closure

Red Bridge on the Manistee River will be closed this summer!

The bridge on Coates Highway crossing the Manistee is slated for replacement this coming summer. Beginning on or about April 2nd and through August the road will be completely closed while they replace the approximately 200 foot long bridge. The project is slated for completion at the end of September, 2019.

Smallmouth Bass and Trout Fishing

The water above and below the bridge is one of our favorite big smallmouth destinations in July and August. Where the bridge crosses the river is the back waters of Tippy Pond. This area has great smallmouth bass water. It’s also the take out spot for the trout water above the bridge coming down from Hodenpyl Dam near Mesick. In addition to great fishing water the river from Hodenpyl to Red Bridge is a very popular canoe and kayak destination.  Along with amazing hiking along the North Country Trail.

Manistee County Road Commissioner, Mark Shodden has stated that the boat ramp will stay open during the entire construction process. He has requested that all river users be cautious when on the water near the bridge. The good news is that we will still be able to fish that water though detours will be required to get to it.

Capt. Chuck Hawkins

American's Favorite Flies

American Favorite Flies, New Book

Chuck Hawkins and Russ Maddin featured in a new book, America’s Favorite Flies

American's Favorite Flies

This is a new book, America’s Favorite Flies. It showcases 224 favorite flies from such notables as Yvon Chouinard, Lefty Kreh, Joan Wulff, Craig Mathew, Huey Lewis and others including Russ and I. All of the profits are given to two nonprofit organizations. They are the Native Fish Society and the James River Association.

America’s favorite Flies is fun to read. In addition to Russ and I, I’ve seen other Michigan anglers featured. John Kluging and Dennis Potter are in the book. Each fly tier answered some questions and did a write up about themselves and or the fly the called their favorite fly. I’ve enjoyed both the stories and the photos,  I’m sure you will too . There is also a ton of artwork by well know artists including Dave Ruimveld, Bob White and others. This is a substantial book, 656 pages, 1700 color images, it weighs 7 1/2 pounds! It is is a great coffee table book for the avid fly angler! You can get more information about it at American’s Favorite Flies.

How to Purchase America’s Favorite Flies

America’s Favorite Flies is available for sale for $145, shipping included, directly from the printer. It may be purchased by emailing me at or by calling 231-228-7135. If you would like Russ and I to sign it, we will be happy to! Just add $10 to the price to cover the extra shipping.

As Jason Borger says in the introduction “These pages represent the diverse fly patterns of a diverse group of anglers,but more than that  these pages celebrate experiences and revere waters. With an underlying mission of preservation and conservation, America’s Favorite Flies is a visually engaging storybook for all fly fishers who share such ideals”

Many thanks to John Bryan and Rob Carter for inviting Russ and I to participate and for creating such a beautiful book.

Capt. Chuck

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Bridge

I’m happy to announce after nearly super human efforts from Jim Anderson and Dave Boberg of UMRA and the very generous contributions from many of our clients the new boat launch near CCC Bridge on the Upper Manistee is nearly done. Way back in August I let you all know it was in the works. Predictably Jim and Dave ran into a bureaucratic nightmare getting 4-6 agencies to sign off and to then pull permits. Without going into which agency was the logjam I’d like to congratulate these gentlemen and all of our donors on a job well done. Thank you.

The new launch is just downstream of CCC Bridge on river left (as if you are looking downstream) just below the large dock. Notice the bridge in the photos. The construction includes an increase in parking along with the standard slide that has proven so bullet proof in the past.

The Upper Manistee River Association jumped into this project the minute it was realized that we had a problem with the loss of a private launch just downstream. I encourage all of you that use the river with boats, kayaks, canoes, even tubes to join and support UMRA. You can join here. I encourage all those guides to commit and send a few bucks too!

Thanks to all involved!


CCC Boat Ramp Construction

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

In Northern Michigan, the larger hatches are done around July fourth. That begins one of our favorite pastimes, Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan. Many anglers put away their rods when the Hex hatch is over thinking that the best fly fishing of the year is behind us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan can produce many surprises!

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Manistee River Trout fishing

CCC Boat Launch

New CCC Boat Launch

Access….critical to our use and enjoyment of Michigan’s many rivers. Kayaks, canoes, river boats, drift boats and humans all need safe and reliable access to the river. In addition we need access that does not harm the river by allowing sand in the stream or damaging streamside vegetation.

Last year long time property owner, Jim and Mary Ann Weber sold their place just downstream of CCC Bridge. The Weber’s believed strongly that the river belonged to everyone and graciously made their property available to launch and retrieve boats. This solved the problem with the launch on the upstream side of the bridge. It is narrow, concrete and often gets blocked by campers. Inadequate to say the least.

This is where the Upper Manistee River Association got involved to help. UMRA, with funding  primarily by Hawkins Outfitters clients, has lead the charge in improving canoe/boat launches between M-72 and Sand Banks. These launches were all existing but in disrepair, not protecting the river.


UMRA and more specifically Dave Boberg, president and Jim Andersen, head of the restoration committee, jumped in and spearheaded an effort to build a launch on the downstream side of CCC Bridge. This has been a long and frustrating process. Due to the various entities that have to sign off on a project of this nature. However they have accomplished the seemingly impossible, all agencies necessary have signed off and permits are waiting. The money has been raised, thanks again to those that donated!

There is one final step, a comment period mandated by the DEQ. The purpose of this blog/correspondence is to ask all of you to hit this link below….

Since your comments can be very short and to the point I hope many of you take a moment and let the DEQ know how you feel.  Asa result we will hopefully have a dependable boat launch that protects the river is needed in the area of CCC Bridge.

Therefore thank you in advance for letting the DEQ know the need for this. Have a great summer.

Capt Chuck

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Water Resources Division (WRD), has posted the following notice to the MiWaters home page.  To make comments and view documents please click on the following link:

Gray Drake

Gray Drake

Gray Drake

photo by Ann Miller

Gray Drake

Gray drakes are a very important hatch in some area rivers. Most notably the Pere Marquette and Muskegon Rivers though they occur in most of our trout streams.

Starting as early as mid May these size 10 or 12 mayflies are the first really big bug to show up. Gray Drakes spin at dusk generally in large numbers over riffles.

Gray Drakes are very easy to identify, the have a thin body and a very visable white stripe around the head.

Life Cycles

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Hex hatch

Hexagenia Limbata

The Hex Hatch The most highly anticipated may fly hatch in Michigan is the hex hatch. These large mayflies bring the largest fish in the river up to the surface to feed. Hexagenia Limbata is a floating filet mignon to a trout. Therefore the Hex Hatch, whether duns or spinners probably produces more large trout […]


Isonychia bicolor Dun – Slate Drake

Isonychias, are the best mayfly for anglers in Michigan! In Michigan, and elsewhere, the Isonychia mayfly provides the best dry fly opportunities of the year. That’s heresy to many in fly anglers in Michigan, who would argue vehemently that the mighty Hex beats Isonychias hands down. Isonychias are the best mayfly in Michigan for many […]

Sulphur Dun

Sulphur Hatch

Sulphur Hatch

Sulphur Hatch

Many anglers that I know in Northern Michigan consider the Sulphur hatch to be the very best hatch of the year. It is a fairly long and usually very prolific hatch. It can last as long as a month in northern Michigan. Due to the usually large numbers of bugs, Sulphurs will produce some very large fish for the size of the dry fly.

There are two Sulphurs, the Ephemerella  invaria and the dorothea. The first to hatch the invaria is a size 12-14 and the next bug, dorothea is a size 16-18. Don’t worry, that’s the last of the Latin!

What you really need to know about sulphurs follows. It is good to carry Sulphurs from size 12 to 18. I’m a big fan of the Robert’s Yellow Drake pattern and use it primarily for my sulphur imitation. I carry it in all four sizes. Hatch times vary by bug and weather Sulphur Dunbut look for them anytime from mid afternoon until dark for the little guys. Fish can get very selective on these flies. At times you may encounter duns of one size hatching and spinners of another size falling at the same time. They can also get focused on emergers of any size. Close observation is key here.

Speaking of spinners, they are a different color than the duns. Instead of the sulphur yellow they spin having changed to a tannish to rusty color. So again you need to have three or four sizes of rusty spinners. Sulphurs will spin over riffles very late in the day, even at dark.

To effectively fish the Sulphur hatch a fly angler should have emergers, duns and spinners in at least two sizes, 14 and 18. It is better to carry them in all four sizes, 12-18 if possible. You should be on the water by 3:00 pm and stay until close to dark.  You need to be very observant because this time of year is generally the most complex time of year hatch wise. In addition to all of the sulphurs there are many other mayflies that may be present.

Good luck, see you on the water.