Salmon Fly Fishing
The majority of our salmon fishing is done on the Manistee River below Tippy Dam down to the mouth of the river. Secondly on the Betsie River, in the lower stretches and finally on the Pere Marquette River. Tippy Dam is the upstream barrier to the King and Coho Salmon migration on the Manistee. Since there are no barriers on the Betsie and Pere Marquette Rivers. Consequently the fish can make it to the headwaters.
Pre Spawn King Salmon
King salmon usually start moving into the Manistee, Pere Marquette and Betsie Rivers in late July and early August. At that time they can be hooked using a variety of large, flashy streamers. We have developed these flies specifically for them. Fresh from Lake Michigan these fish are full of energy and still on the prowl. Therefore they can be willing to take a stripped fly. When hooked these ultra fresh kings are a handful. In addition to being big and mean, they can be hard to land. Eight to ten weight rods and stout leaders are the rule. Due to the freshness of the fish this is when fishing for Kings below Tippy Dam on the Manistee River is at it’s best.
Spawning King Salmon
As Kings move upstream and begin to think about spawning their color darkens. They begin to lose the aggressiveness that they exhibited earlier. Due to their size, even though they begin to weaken because of the rigors of spawning, King salmon still put up a tremendous fight.
As they begin to spawn the probability of hooking them on streamers lessens and nymphs and eggs come into play. As the spawn gets going the majority of the fish are concentrated in the first couple of miles below Tippy Dam on the Manistee River. On the Pere Marquette and Betsie Rivers they concentrate near the larger gravel areas on. By early September the spawn is in full swing, and steelhead start to become are main focus.. By mid-October the spawn is about complete.
In October we begin to see the arrival of Coho Salmon. They are a much more aggressive feeder than King salmon. Consequently we will target Cohos with stripped flies similar to what we use for trout and fish them normally through November.
In summary fishing for kings on the lower Manistee River below Tippy Dam is fantastic. Early in the run they are tackle busting monsters, as the spawn begins they are a great way to introduce anglers to fly fishing for big fish.