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Top Fishing Charters in Manistee

Fishing in Manistee

Manistee fishing charters offer you a fantastic “Big Lake and Big River” experience. The city is located on the west coast of Lake Michigan, the mighty Great Lake. The majority of fish species enter the Lake from the Big and Little Manistee River systems, which allows you to wet a line year-round.

Manistee has been a Shipping Port of Call on the Great Lakes for over a century now. While strolling down Riverwalk, having a dinner in a local restaurant, or enjoying a drink outdoors in a pub, you will see many ships passing by. Manistee marinas are home to some of the most experienced Michigan charter boats, which introduce anglers from all over the country to some fantastic fishing.

Manistee fishing spots

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan and its deep waters are home to massive King Salmon, fast and furious Brown Trout, Lake Trout, acrobatic Steelhead, and Coho Salmon.

Manistee fishing guides have their boats ready by late March when it’s time to chase the spring Brown Trout along the shoreline. Even though fishing can be somewhat chilly at times, the enthusiasm warms everyone up. If you decide to open the season with a local captain, you can even have a mixed bag catch. When Smelt begin to show up in late April, the spring season moves into summer.

Late May brings Steelhead lovers from all over the states to the waters Lake Michigan. Manistee charter boats are fully packed with anglers of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals. In addition to Rainbow Trout, early Salmon begin to show as well.

These hard-fighting monsters are moving deeper and deeper offshore as summer progresses. You will be targeting Steelhead in around 900’ of water by mid-July. Even if it feels like too far from shore, you will only understand the fun of it when you bring the first Salmon or Steelhead to the boat.

Come July, and Lake Trout, young Coho Salmon, and early Kings make the bulk of all the Manistee charters. These fish can be found several miles up or down the coast. The weather is usually stable during the peak season.

Late summer and fall are all about the elusive hunt for 30-pound King Salmon. Cohos also sneak into the mixed bag, ready to head to mouths of the rivers for a run upstream.

The Big Manistee River

Manistee is home to the Big and Little Manistee Rivers. These freshwater wonders hold great numbers of fish year-round.

The Manistee River runs around 230 miles through Michigan’s northern lower peninsula. Before flowing to Lake Michigan, the River passes many villages on its way. It is rich with rocky bottoms and cool waters that move fast, as well as calm pools and vigorous currents. You simply can’t wish for a better Trout habitat.

The Manistee River holds Brown Trout, Michigan Strain Chinook Salmon, and Gilchrist Creek Brownies, as well as Steelhead, Coho Salmon, King Salmon, and Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout that migrate to these waters.

Manistee Lake

Manistee Lake is your best bet for the occasional Walleye. The Lake is shallow and has a lot of weed edges, that can hold various types of Panfish. You can try targeting Perch, Bluegill, and Rock Bass. Fish the mouth of the Little Manistee River with a local guide if you don’t feel like venturing out to the open waters of Lake Michigan.

Manistee fishing techniques

When you are leaving the dock to fish the Manistee waters, get ready for a challenge. Lake Michigan Salmon, especially Chinook, are great fighters. Those eating machines are almost always hungry and are powerful swimmers.

When it comes down to chasing Trout on Lake Michigan, your captain will take you to colder waters. Trout enjoy hanging out in moving waters as they run up and down rivers. Great Lake Trouts are known for their massive sizes, so get ready to battle a big one.

Common lures for Trout fishing include imitations of larger bugs, zooplankton, worms, swimbaits, crainkbaits, and salmon eggs. Spoons and spinners are also used to hook Trout.

Manistee Lakers enjoy cold waters as much as Salmon do. As the season begins, you should find them at about 30’ of water, while later they will move to the depths up to 45’. Lake Trout enjoy chilling in the same area as Salmon, which makes it easier for you to catch one after another.

Trolling with downriggers, dipsy divers, and planer boards is considered to be the most productive fishing technique in Manistee.

Need to know

If you are over 16 years of age, you will need to purchase a Michigan All Species fishing license (daily or annual). You can get one online or at any sport shop and license retail center.
 

Manistee
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Manistee Fishing Seasons

Steelhead can be good this time of year. Book a local guide and head to the area’s river systems. Little Manistee River can be closed for fishing. 

You can join a local angler and get your hands on Steelhead during a warm-up. Get your tackle ready, find a suitable guide, and plan your fishing trip. 

Trollers and pier anglers can be getting some nice numbers of Brown Trout this time of year. Catch rates are usually pretty good. The rivers has good Steelhead fishing. 

Head to the north pier for Perch in the morning hours. Steelhead and Brown Trout can also be caught on spawn. Troll the shoreline for whatever is biting or head to Manistee River. 

Baitfish can hang out in the harbor right now, and so are Salmon. Chinook can be taken in 140-220’ of water. Large numbers of Lake Trout are also around. Fishing is heating up!

Fish from a boat, a pier, or from the shore. Everything seems to produce good results right now, as long as you have a professional guide by your side. Catch them all if you can!

Troll with spoons and flies from a boat. Get your hands on Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Steelhead. Lake Trout can also be caught in 180-300’ of water. 

Fish with flies, meat rigs, and plugs for Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon. Head to Lake Michigan or explore the bite in Manistee River. Salmon will be moving upstream soon. 

If you head north of the port, you can explore the waters up to 150’ deep for Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon. The Manistee River and Lake are also good for fishing now. 

The rivers hold nice numbers of Steelhead and the occasional Brown Trout. Boat fishing can be somewhat slow tight now but the Steelies bite is consistent. 

Big Manistee River holds decent numbers of acrobatic Steelhead, which you can search for if the weather allows. Pier fishing could be good until freeze up. 

Big Manistee River is the place to be right now if you feel like fishing for Trout. The locals use jigs tipped with worms. Be careful if you want to try ice fishing. Don’t go out without a local guide. 

Manistee Fishing Calendar

What People Are Saying About Manistee

"Half day trip with Capt. John"

Marc Perkola fished with Michigan Sport Fishing Company on July 7, 2018

There’s quite a few charters, do your homework and pick a decent size boat with experienced crew.

"Full Day Trip with Captain Lenny"

Peggy Lee fished with Slipknot Charters on April 14, 2018

We ended up having to reschedule due to weather. May is a better month if planning on catching Salmon as they are just coming out and weather is a little warmer. Just dress for the weather in layers because you can always shred the layers to stay comfortable.

"Afternoon trip with Capt. Lenny"

Dennis Good fished with Slipknot Charters on July 21, 2017

Do your research and book a Charter with an experienced, knowledgeable, Capt. who has lots of good reviews. These are the pros and know where the fish are and how to get them. Bring light jacket as temps on water can be quite cooler than on shore. Although charters can take up to 6 people, 3-4 people is best as you get optimum rotation on the "hot" rods without crowding. Have fun.

Top Targeted Species in Manistee

Lake Trout

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Brown Trout

Salmon (Coho)

Nearby Fishing Destinations