Steelhead and Salmon Run Rivers
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we have a very healthy number of steelhead and salmon runs in our rivers. Below are some of those rivers that come to mind.
Marquette, Mi. Steelhead, King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Brown Trout, Brook Trout. Falling over 15 miles down a very steep gradient of nearly 600 feet the Carp is one of the best kept secrets of the UP. Clear cold waters rampaging over granite rock and boulders with a gravel bottom offer the angler a variety of fish all the way up to the Carp River Falls about 5 miles upstream. From the river mouth in the Marquette Lower Harbor local anglers give moderate pressure to this river but nothing like a downstate quality stream. Fly fishing and/or spin cast generally with spawn is the ticket here. Easy parking and lodging almost next door make the Carp an excellent destination river. Guides Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447) Fly/Bait/ Tackle Gander Mountain (906-226-8300)
Marquette, Mi. Steelhead, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Pink Salmon, Chinook Salmon . The Chocolay River rises in east central Marquette County and flows north into Lake Superior at the village of Harvey about 4 miles east of Marquette. About 35 miles long the watershed is approximately 250 square miles. The Upper Chocolay drains permeable sand and gravel moraines in an area of steeply sloping glacial drift, which release and abundance of cold groundwater into many tributaries. Ninety percent of the river is ice free even during the coldest winters and the gravelly moraines provide an abundance of spawning habitat. Salmonoid reproduction here is excellent. The river is fished year-around. The Chocolay was a fabled Steelhead stream in the 20th century and still has an excellent run today. Many Steelhead even overwinter in the river. Many fish rest in the downstream holes at bends in the river and at tributary mouths. Brook Trout are found in the upstream portions and in the tributaries. The river can be floated with a small canoe or kayak. Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447) Fly/Bait/Tackle Gander Mountain-(906-226-8300.
Little Garlic River
Marquette, Mi. Steelhead. Brook Trout. Located about 10 miles north of Marquette on county road 550 the Little Garlic is a notable Steelhead River especially during the early part of the season with the spring run-off. Filled with large granite rocks and boulders the river is fishable either at the rivermouth or upstream from the DNR parking lot just west of County road 550. You can trek upstream about 3 miles to the Falls. Just below the falls there are many small pools that hold many spawning Steelies. I've spent hours at the base of the falls just watching the fish trying to make the up bound leap. Spawn works best for the Spin casters and muddlers and streamers for the Fly Fisherman. Lodging; Guides Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447) Fly/Bait/Tackle Gander Mountain (906-226-8300)
Munising, Mi. Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Brook Trout, Steelhead, Brown Trout. Enters Lake Superior at Munising Bay. Open to fishing all year, for species in season, from mouth upstream to railroad bridge. Very good fishing at the river mouth for coho and steelhead. Excellent water quality. The upper and middle part of the river consist of rolling hills of sand with numerous veins of gravel and pockets of small rocks. Gradient is moderate to fast and the cold water inflow is good even into the summer. The last two miles are old lake bed with slow water flow. Valley Spur Creek, Wagner Creek, and Fish Hatchery Creek are excellent Brook Trout tributaries. River mouth and at least 2 miles upstream best fishing. Motels in Munising . Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447)
Laughing Whitefish River
Deerton, Mi. Steelhead, Coho Salmon, Pink Salmon,Brook Trout. The Laughing Whitefish River flows north for about 20 miles through hilly and rolling hardwoods before emptying into Lake Superior about midway between Marquette and Munising. A beautiful
lightning-quick stream due to its steep gradient the river runs cold and clear over a slick bottom of broken rocks, gravel cobblestones and boulders. Be sure to wear felt soled waders or carry a staff.Several unnamed tributaries less than a mile in length add volume to the flow which is bankful in the spring and fall and often slower in the summer. This river continues to produce nice steelhead in the spring and pink salmon runs in the fall. Best fishing is the rivermouth, downstream from M-28 to the campground, and upstream from M-28 to the Soo Line Railroad Tracks in Deerton. Lodge: Whitefish Lodge (906-343-6762) Guides. Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447) Fly/Bait/Tackle- Gander Mountain (906-226-8300)
Big Huron River
Skanee, Mi. Steelhead. Coho Salmon. Pink Salmon. Twin Branches of the Big Huron river flow for about 20 miles each in Eastern Baraga County before joining above Big Eric's Bridge six miles east of Skanee. About 9 miles later, the Main Stream empties into Lake Superior just across the line in Marquette County. The Big Huron is the best Steelhead stream in the area and is one of Lake Superiors top Steelhead streams. From West Branch Falls downstream, the river hosts Steelhead in the spring and fall, with Coho and Pink's showing up in the fall. It joins the East Branch just above Big Eric's Bridge in a fast long rocky area. many anglers camp in the state forest campground at the bridge, where the spring Steelheaders gather to drift spawn bags, night crawlers, yarn flies,and Okie Drifters. From here to the mouth the river features areas of sand, gravel, and rock with deep pools in the bends. The bends are more attractive to fall anglers who work the! ir colorful spinners and small spoons throught the holding water. The river is navigable for canoeists willing to carry down to the deep water below Big Eric's Bridge. At the mouth is a scenic campground with sandy beach and tall Red Pines. Resorts in Area. Motel in Lanse. Fly/Bait/ Tackle Indian Country Sports (906-524-6518) Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447)
Skanee, Mi. Steelhead. Coho Salmon. Brook Trout. Actually they are 3 rivers that drain into Lake Superior via Huron Bay. Slate, Ravine, and the Silver. All have runs but we feel the Silver to be the best of the trio. Spring runs of Steelhead, fall migrations of salmon, and the resident brook trout populations make the Silver an excellent fishing stream. The Main Stream descends through rugged topography that ranges in elevation from 1600 ft. near the headwaters to 690 feet at the mouth in a short 20 miles. The wide stream valley is narrowed in spots by bedrock outcroppings. The clean-running beautiful river has two major waterfalls and lots of heart-stopping fast water chutes that are impossible to negotiate with a canoe. Waders must use extreme caution.The best steelhead fishing occurs below the Silver Falls, which has a public access for 3/4 mile. There is also a public access near the river mouth which affords some surf-fishing opportunities. Resorts in Area. Motel! 's in Lanse. Fly/Bait/Tackle-Indian Country Sports (906-524-6518) Guides-Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447)
St. Mary's River
Sault Ste. Marie, Mi. and Ontario. Atlantic Salmon. Steelhead. Chinook. Pink Salmon. As the drain plug for Lake Superior the St. Mary's River, which seperates the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula from Ontario carries a tremendous amount of water south for 68 miles to Lake Huron. It ranks 8th among American rivers for rate of flow. One of the most diverse fisheries in North America the St. Mary's is home to 80 species of fish, at least of which 44 spawn here. This incredible body of water is world renowned for the Atlantic Salmon fishery in the Rapids. The rapids stretch across much of the river below the International Bridge and have become very popular with steelhead and salmon fishermen. Steelhead enter the rapids first, showing up from Lake Huron in early to mid-May.The run peaks around Memorial Day and then continues until mid-June. Atlantics show up in the Rapids in early May and this fishing continues until mid-June also. In the fall Pinks and Chinooks hit t! he rapids until mid-October. If fishing the Rapids use the buddy system. Don't do it alone and have a wading staff. Its best to get a guide for the first time at least. Of couse the fishing in the river downstream from the rapids is also excellent trolling from a boat. Lodging. Several Motels in area. River Cove Condo's (906-632-7075) Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447)
Gladstone, Mi. Brook Trout. Steelhead. Chinook Salmon. Brown Trout. Coaster Brook Trout. The Days River arises from a lowland swamp of the Escanaba River State Forest in Northwest Delta County and flows southeast for about 40 miles until it empties into the northwest side of Little Bay de Noc in Lake Michigan, just north of Gladstone. It is a medium sized second class trout stream whose lower end averages 25-30 feet in width and ranges to 4 feet in depth. Most of the stream substrate is limestone bedrock, cobble or medium sized gravel. The Days River has enjoyed a long history of good to excellent trout fishing keyed to water volume in its system. Anadroumus runs of Steelhead, along with Coaster Brook Trout, plus Chinook Salmon occur in the spring and fall respectively. The Main Stream of the river is open year-around. The better Brook Trout fishing, of course, is in the upstream regions.
Many Resorts and Motels. Fly/Bait/ Tackle Bayshore Bait and Tackle (906-786-1488) Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters-(906-228-5447)
Rapid River, Mi. Brook Trout. Steelhead. Chinook Salmon. Splake. The Whitefish River flows into Little Bay de Noc on Lake Michigan in Delta County after coursing south for some 50 miles. It is currently a canditate for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Besides good Brook and Rainbow Trout fishing in both its East and West Branches, the river hosts dependable runs of Steelhead, Chinook Salmon, Brown and Coaster Brook Trout, as well as Splake. The East Branch drains about 55,000 acres of land, more than half of which lies within the Hiawatha National Forest. The remote undisturbed river runs for 17 miles before joining the West Branch in Central Delta County. It is one of the U.P.'s largest rivers to support a good population of native brook trout. The West Branch arises in Northwest Alger and Northeast Marquette Counties. It flows over bedrock shield terrain with some cascading drops and rock ledges. Mostly wadeable at 20-30 feet wide, the river! averages 4 feet deep. The West Branch is a very good Wild Steelhead river. Natural reproduction of Steelhead is good on gravel riffles located downstream from FR-2236 in scattered areas between FR2236 and Trenary. Fishing pressure is light to moderate. All eight tributaries of the West Branch are designated trout streams.Many Resorts and Motels. Fly/Bait/ Tackle Bayshore Bait and Tackle (906-786-1488) Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters-(906-228-5447)
Mohawk, Mi. Brook Trout. Steelhead.Coho Salmon.The Gratiot River begins at No Name Pond east of M-26/US41 about 5 miles northeast of Mohawk in Keweenaw County. A fast clear stream it twists its rushing way for some 20 miles before emptying into Lake Superior seven miles below Seven Mile Point. The upper portion is a good Brook Trout stream, and the last mile downstream from Lower Falls hosts spring runs of Steelhead. From No Name Pond which contains trout, to M-26/US41 the waterway is small and flanked by jungle-like brush. By the time it reaches the highway it varies from 10-20 feet wide and is still overhung with tag alder and the stream bed contains lots of rocks. At Upper Falls the river widens to 25 feet and contains trout holding holes to 4 feet deep. From here to the mouth it is home to Rainbow Trout, which naturally reproduce along with the occasional Coho. This slick running rocky river is not canoeable and wading anglers should use extreme caution. Motels ! in Copper Harbor and Calumet. Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447)
St. Ignace, Mi. Brook Trout. Brown Trout. Steelhead. Chinook Salmon. Pink Salmon. Atlantic Salmon. The Carp River emerges from a trio of lakes -Carp, Frenchman, and Wegwaas-in southwest Chippewa County near Trout Lake. After passing through a small portion of the Lake Superior State forest,this flow twists its way for about 50 miles through the wetlands and dense forests of Mackinac County and the Hiawatha National Forest enroute to its terminus at St. Martins Bay in northern Lake Huron. The Carp earned an early reputation as one of the eastern U.P. 's finest trout streams and produced Brookies to 3 pounds and larger as recently as 20 years ago. Two branches form the Main Stream. The North Branch supports a small self-sutaining population of brook trout. It recieves hatchery -origin Brown Trout and both wild and hatchery reared Steelhead. The Steelhead along with Chinook Salmon and occassional large schools of Pink Salmon, freely ascend the river in fall from its mouth. Portions of the lower river have been designated as Wild or Scenic, and the upstream portion is a candatite for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Nearly all of the river can be fly-fished, but expect to encounter neckdowns, sharp curves, and bankside brush. The North Branch hosts better fishing than the South Branch. Pink Salmon show up in late summer and early fall. Spring steelhead run all the way up to the state land and are spawning in the newly exposed gravel. Motels in St. Ignace. Guides- Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447)
Manistique, Mi. (Rivermouth) Germfast, Mi. (Headwaters) Steelhead. Chinook Salmon.Brook Trout. Brook Trout fishing is good in the Upper Portion of the Manistique River just south of the confluence of the Main Branch and East Branch of the Fox. This is the beginning of the Manistique. From this point it twists and turns its way southwesterly some 50 miles adding several tributaries along the way and emptying into Lake Michigan at Manistique. The upper river is basically warm water and does not hold many trout. Below the Upper Dam in the city of Manistique there is a long flume which contains rapids and broken rocks and is wadeable. This area, of course, is where you'll find the Steelhead and Chinooks during their spawning runs. Other warm water species of fish are also very plentiful here. Motels in area. Guides -Uncle Ducky Outfitters (906-228-5447)