Rivers of Northern Michigan

Boyne River

Our home water.  The Boyne River is relatively small (less than 40 feet) for most of its length, however, do not let its small size fool you.  Throughout the system are very prolific hatches of mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, midges and terrestrials and the trout are generally eager to take a well presented fly.  The North Branch and South Branch of the Boyne hold a generous amount of beautiful wild brown and brook trout.  The water is tight on these branches, technical casting is required, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.  There are opportunities for fishing along the South Branch within walking distance of the Resort.  Just north of the Resort, the two branches meet and make their journey through some fantastic fishing opportunities on their way to Lake Charlevoix.  The Everett E Kircher Private Trout Preserve is just below the confluence…with the cold water coming together, the Preserve is the best private access water northern Michigan has to offer.  At the end of the Preserve, the river dumps into Kircher Pond.  Much like the Preserve, the pond’s only access is through a trip with Boyne Outfitters.  The pond’s diverse waterfowl, scenery and monster northern pike and smallmouth bass can lead to a very rewarding adventure.  Kircher Pond then spills through the BOYNE Resorts hydroelectric dam to make its last leg to the lake.  Below the impoundment down to Lake Charlevoix, the river has great hatches as well as fantastic opportunities at steelhead and salmon in the spring and fall.  The Department of Natural Resources annually stocks a generous amount of brown and rainbow trout at Dam Road, which can lead to some fantastic fishing opportunities in the lower stretches of the river.

Jordan River

The largest tributary to Lake Charlevoix, the Jordan River is a gem to northern Michigan fly fishing.  Renowned for being the first river to be designated ‘wild and scenic’ under the State of Michigan’s Natural Rivers Act in 1972, the river is a beautiful escape from the ordinary.  From its spring-fed headwaters located near the junction of US-131 and M-32, the river flows for approximately 25 miles before pouring into Lake Charlevoix.  The river varies in size from the tight technical headwaters to averaging 20-50 feet across for most of its length.  The river above Graves Crossing Road is loaded with beautifully colored brook trout eager to take a fly with brown trout mixed in as well.  Further down the system, the brown trout start to get larger with fish over 20 inches possible.  Steelhead and salmon are very prevalent throughout the system in the spring and fall, respectively, however steelhead can be found in fair numbers in the late fall and winter as well.  The water stays cold (rarely above 60 degrees) and clear throughout most of the year which produces extremely prolific hatches and healthy trout throughout the system.  Close to the resort, the Jordan makes a fantastic opportunity for a full or half day float, or a walk & wade trip to the upper stretches, whether you are fishing or just enjoying the scenery of northern Michigan.

Sturgeon River

Another fantastic ‘blue-ribbon’ trout stream, the Sturgeon River is the fastest river in the Lower Peninsula.  Not quite whitewater, the river has an average descent of 14 feet per mile, which keeps the water cold and well oxygenated.  On its 40 mile journey north to Burt Lake, the river has plenty of fantastic fishing opportunities.  Quick turns, scenic bluffs and a variety of flora and fauna make this a very beautiful river. With a fair amount of road crossings, access to the river is not difficult, however much of the riparian shoreline is privately owned, so once in the water it is best to stay in the river.  With its quick flow, the Sturgeon has great runs and riffles as well as deep outlying pools which hold a very good population of brown and rainbow trout.  As with most of our rivers in northern Michigan, the Sturgeon gets a little larger in the lower stretches and can hold trout over the 20 inch mark.  In the heat of the summer, the Sturgeon also gets a push of summer-run rainbow and brown trout out of Burt Lake which can lead to a good shot at a trophy class fish on a dry fly.  Steelhead are also available in the spring throughout the system.

Pigeon River Country

Another Created in 1973 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Pigeon River Country encompasses approximately 105,000 acres of beautiful northern Michigan, which is the most continuous state land ownership of the 15 units within the State Forest System.  Pigeon River Country provides unlimited opportunity for outdoor activites; however, the fishing is some of the finest in the Tip of the Mitt.  Three rivers flow through the forest...Sturgeon, Pigeon & Black...and offer endless supply of clear, cold water and Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout.  The Pigeon River is also a designated Natural River under the Michigan Natural Rivers Act.  The Forest is also at the heart of Michigan's elk range, which can provide some excitement while trekking the backcountry in search of trout.  In the fall when the temperatures drop and the colors start to turn, you may even hear a bull elk bugle while you wet your line.  The best way to explore the forest is with one of our experienced guides on our Walk & Wade Adventure where we can get you into the backcountry away from the crowds and into some true northern Michigan trout fishing!

Upper Manistee

The upper reaches of the Manistee River, or the Upper Manistee as most refer to it, is classic trout water in true form and arguably contains some of the best fly fishing opportunities in the Midwest.  The river varies in size and depth throughout the upper stretches; however trout can be found in all the classic lies.  With overhanging cedars, classic bends, and submerged logs, the river is not only beautiful but also a sanctuary for large trout.  Special regulations exist throughout much of the system to ensure success.  Brook, brown and rainbow trout are found throughout this stretch of the river with the first two found in the most numbers. Sizes vary, however trophy trout in the 20”+ range are caught throughout the year.  Tiger trout, a rare hybrid between brown and brook trout, occur naturally in the Upper Manistee and can be found on occasion.  This is where modern day streamer fishing got its start.  Pioneered by Kelly Galloup, streamer fishing can be a very effective way to fish the Upper Man.  However, hatches are extremely prolific in this river as well, with all of the classic hatches occurring and the big bugs in epic proportions.  Fishing with terrestrial patterns and late night mousing is also very popular and effective methods of raising a large trout on this water.  The Upper Manistee is one of the most beautiful stretches of river in the Lower Peninsula.  Almost void of the canoe traffic common with other rivers throughout the state, as well as the less developed sections of shoreline and adjacent forests, a day trip just to relax and see the views can be very rewarding.