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Welcome to Manistee River Salmon

Our passion is being out on the water. Whether it’s salmon fishing, sight-seeing, or simply taking the family for a spin, we love it all! We are fully licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and offer two different kinds of guided trips:

The first trip offered is a guided fishing trip on the Big Manistee River.

With multiple guides and multiple boats, we can accommodate different fishing preferences as well as larger parties. We fish from jet sleds and drift boats, tailoring your trip to you. We also have multiple federal permits to fish the Huron Manistee National Forest, giving us access to the entire Manistee River. These permits allow us to put our customers as close to the best fishing as possible. These are highly sought-after permits by guides and outfitters, and we are fortunate that we can offer ours for use with our customers.

Most importantly, this is your trip. We will do everything that we can to accommodate you, and make a trip as much fun as possible. Guided fishing trips on the beautiful Manistee are offered in 4, 6 and 8 hour outings. Depending on your preferences and goals for your trip, we have the right guide and trip length to match. You will have plenty of time to try to boat the limit of the river’s King Salmon or Steelhead, and have lots of fun doing it.

We also target other species in the river, like rainbow and brown trout, smallmouth bass, or pike in the spring, summer and fall. The Manistee River is a spectacular fishery, and we are proud to showcase this fishery and its scenery to each customer. We offer guided trips using traditional spinning and baitcasting gear or fly fishing gear, and have guides that specialize in each.

The second is an eco-sightseeing trip, taking you to see the beauty of the river and much of the surrounding wildlife. An Eco-sightseeing trip will last approximately 4 hours.

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Fishing North Michigan’s Rivers

There are many opportunities for several fish species in the Manistee River. This river is known for its awesome run of king salmon in late summer and early fall, and a fantastic steelhead run in the late fall through spring. The Manistee River is also home to an excellent population of walleye, smallmouth bass, and trout. This is a true four-season fishery, and is beautiful and fun no matter which season in which you fish.


King salmon are associated with vicious and memorable strikes, coupled with their explosive pulling power. We will often cast plugs for sing salmon in the Manistee River. Salmon are a territorial fish, and this is a very productive technique. This technique rarely results in a foul-hooked or snagged fish. We also use salmon roe as a top producing technique. Backbounced or under a float, we have the best egg cures available. Carefully cured eggs can often be the difference in a day on the water. Ever since the late 1960s, when salmon made their first run up the Platte River and Bear Creek in Northwest Michigan, they have been peeling line off of anglers’ reels, and delighting them in the process. And of course, salmon make excellent table fare. The Manistee also boasts a run of coho salmon. Cohos were the first salmon species stocked, and are strong, acrobatic, and aggressive, making them a wonderful addition to the spectacular king salmon fishing the Manistee River.


Steelhead are known for their drag-burning runs and acrobatic leaps. These fish can be targeted in several manners: with spinners, small jigs, spawn sacs, or on fly to name just a few. One of the most common techniques on the Manistee River is the use of spawn sacs either under a float or backbounced into the holes and current seams. Another common technique is the use of a pegged bead. Steelhead seem to love beads, and we are happy to feed them what they love! These are beautiful fish, especially when they are bright chrome or deeply ruby colored in the spring. The Manistee River is home to a large population of naturally reproducing fish, meaning that while their origins may not be truly wild, they are helping to sustain themselves. The Manistee River is a fantastic steelhead river, boasting runs of winter, spring, and even summer run fish. This means that we can target these fun fish almost the entire year. Fly anglers and traditional spinning gear anglers all have an equal opportunity for these fish, and we have guides that specialize in each technique, enabling customers to have a fun and memorable day on the water.


There are many ways to target each species of fish in the Manistee River, but casting artificial lures for these fish is our specialty: whether those lures are plugs, soft plastics, or flies cast with a fly rod. The fish in a river system are opportunistic predators, and will readily take these artificial offerings as lure or fly. This is often some of the most rewarding types of fishing that can be offered. The Manistee River is host to many different species beyond the salmon and steelhead, including rainbow and brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, and even sturgeon!

During the spring and early summer, trout fishing can be truly dynamic as there are many hatches on which the trout gorge. Fly or gear, the trout fishing can be fantastic, and the pressure for these beautiful fish is minimal once the steelhead run has wound down.

Bass fishing is equally as good on the Manistee, and these waters are home to some truly big fish. While the norm for a river bass isn’t overly large, bass in the 3-5 pound range aren’t uncommon. They are tremendously powerful in the rivers, and anglers can enjoy these feisty fighters spring through fall.

Walleyes and sturgeon make an annual run up the Manistee to spawn, are available in the early- to mid-spring, and are able to be targeted once the season opens. While landing a sturgeon is extremely difficult, it’s doable, but the walleye fishing is definitely much more of a possibility. And the river plays host to some true giants as well.

Species Availability Chart


In addition to fishing trips on the Big Manistee River, we also offer eco-sightseeing trips. The river itself is incredibly beautiful, and there is nothing like watching a sunrise light up the sky and surroundings. Of course, sunsets from the water are tough to beat too! Fall colors along the river can be truly spectacular.

It is not uncommon to see several of our great nation’s iconic Bald Eagles soaring overhead or perched in a nearby tree overlooking the river. Kingfishers abound, as do Muskrat, Whitetail Deer, Great Blue Herons, Egrets, and Sandhill Cranes just to name a few. For our eco-tours, we provide your choice of boat to compliment your preferences. Enjoy the scenery and wildlife from a quiet and stable drift boat, comfortably floating down the river, under the power of oars. A small kicker motor allows the boat to move up and down the river with ease. For those wishing to see much more of the river, the use of one of our jet sleds is the perfect water craft. A larger outboard motor allows us to cover lots of water, maximizing your time seeing as much of the river as possible. Comfortably appointed and stable, our jet sleds are perfect for an eco tour on the big waters of the Manistee River.

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salmon caught with manistee river salmon fishing guidesalmon fishing michgan charter boatA Nice Fall Steelhead

Dr. Howard Tanner and a nice fall steelhead
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