When To Fish

When To Fish in Michigan

Here’s a visitors guide to some of the best times to fish, and the best rivers for Michigan’s Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead.
This listing should help anglers plan guided fishing trips on our West Michigan Rivers. When is the best time to fish?

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When to fish in Michigan? Here are the best times to go, which rivers fish the best? when and where to go fishing in Michigan. The best times to fish the Muskegon, Pere Marquette, and Big Manistee Rivers for Michigan’s Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead.

Fall Salmon Season

(September, October)

The Pere Marquette River (August 20th – September 20th) is the first river in Michigan, to get early season King Salmon in late August and September. The Big Manistee River and Muskegon also get big numbers of King, Coho, Pink, and Chinook Salmon in September and October, usually a bit later than the Pere Marquette. The Manistee River also receives a large amount of Skamania Steelhead during the summer months.
We usually guide the lower Pere Marquette first. and then the Big Manistee River below Tippy Dam for Fall King Salmon.

Michigan Spring Steelhead

(March April, May)

Later February, March, April, and May are the best times of the year to fish for Great Lakes Steelhead. Michigan’s Pere Marquette River, and the White River near Hesperia are the first to go in March and Early April. Because of their larger size, the Muskegon River and Big Manistee River fish much later in April and May. The Steelhead migration lasts much longer on these two river because of the huge reservoirs that feed cold water into these two rivers. Spring Steelhead are considered the crown jewel of the Great Lakes. Rivers such as the Muskegon, Manistee, White, Pere Marquette, and Grand offer some outstanding steelhead fishing in West Michigan.

Late Fall & Winter Steelhead

(October, November, December)

The best months to fish for early Fall Steelhead is at the tail end of October, November, and December. Steelhead are on fire this time of year! With exciting jumps, drag burning runs, and excellent table fare, late Fall is an excellent time to fish the river. All of the major rivers in West Michigan receive a good push of Fall Steelhead.
Resident Trout fishing is also very good at this time of the year.
Trout feed voraciously on salmon eggs from the spawning Chinook and King salmon at this time of the year.

Skamania Summer Run Steelhead

(July & August)

Although there’s not a lot of Summer run steelhead in West Michigan, a few of our rivers get a good sized push of Skamania (Summer Run) Steelhead. Tippy Dam on the Manistee River gets one of the largest migrations. Usually Skamania are fished above the coffer dam at Tippy. There are several creek mouths on the Manistee River as well. Pine Creek, Bear Creek, and Pastor Creek usually have summer run steelhead at the creek mouths during the hottest portion of the summer.

Summertime Trout & Smallmouth Bass

(May, June, July, August)

May and June offer the best trout fishing in the Great Lakes region. The Muskegon River, Pere Marquette, and Big Manistee River each boast some phenomenal trout fishing during the summer months. May and June is the best for fly fishing and hatches. July and August can also be good, depending on the weather.

July and August fade into tremendous Smallmouth Bass fishing. Pound for pound, Smallmouth Bass are some of the best fighting fish there is! Smallies hit hard and love to jump! The hotter the summer, the better the bite. Smallmouth Bass love hot weather.

Winter Steelhead & Trout

(December, January, February, March)

One the best times of the year to fish is during the winter months. Larger rivers like the Muskegon River and Big Manistee River never freeze during the winter months. Leaving anglers the option of fishing all winter long. Some of the best steelhead fishing in Michigan is during December, January, February, and early March. Good numbers of trout and Steelhead load up in the cold months, making them a little easier to target and catch.
Angling pressure is minimal during the winter months so usually you have the river to yourself, with excellent fishing!