Best Fly Fishing in Michigan

A person fly fishing from a boat in a serene Michigan pond, surrounded by lush greenery and tranquil waters
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Michigan’s abundant freshwater resources offer a haven for fly fishing enthusiasts. Home to a variety of fish species and a network of pristine rivers and lakes, you can pursue the art of fly fishing across the state’s scenic landscapes. From the legendary Au Sable River system, known for its blue ribbon trout streams, to the diverse habitat of the Manistee River, Michigan provides a rich range of environments that support a vibrant fly fishing culture.

Mio Pond

A serene pond nestled in the Michigan wilderness, surrounded by lush greenery, ready for the perfect fly fishing experience

When you’re seeking a serene fly fishing spot in Michigan, Mio Pond should be on your list. Situated on the Au Sable River, this impoundment area is accessible for both beginner and experienced anglers. The calm waters of Mio Pond offer a peaceful setting for a day of casting your line.

Here is what you need to know about fly fishing in Mio Pond:

  • Species: Primarily, Mio Pond is home to various species of trout, a favorite among fly fishers. You have the opportunity to catch the prized trout, often the highlight of any fishing trip.
  • Tackle: Make sure to equip yourself with the appropriate fly fishing gear, such as rods, boxes, waders, and flies designed for trout fishing to increase your chances of a good catch.
  • Techniques: Employ surface lures for topwater action. Fishing around the structures like pads and logs with rubber frogs or torpedos can be particularly effective for bass and pike.


  • Mio Pond is surrounded by areas that provide easy access, so you can find suitable spots for a comfortable fly fishing experience.

Before you head out, consult with local resources for any recent changes or updates on regulations and the condition of the fishing spot to ensure a successful outing. It’s always wise to be well-informed about the location you plan to fish in.

Remember to respect the natural habitat and local regulations while enjoying your fly fishing adventure in Mio Pond, Michigan.

Tippy Dam

When you’re seeking a premier fly-fishing experience in Michigan, Tippy Dam on the Manistee River stands out as a go-to destination. Not only is it renowned for its Steelhead runs, but the river also boasts impressive migrations of King and Coho Salmon, especially in the fall.

  • Steelhead: Often considered the crown jewel of Tippy Dam, these robust fish provide exciting challenges throughout the year. Spring and fall are peak times for steelhead.
  • Salmon: The King and Coho Salmon runs in autumn turn the waters below Tippy Dam into a bustling hotspot for anglers.
  • Bass: While lesser known, the area supports healthy populations of both smallmouth and largemouth bass, offering additional fly-fishing opportunities.
SpeciesBest Season

The river below the Dam is wide, with varying depths that create diverse fishing conditions. Safety is paramount, so exercise caution as currents and depths can be deceptive, especially during run-off periods.

Fishing Tips:

  • Prepare for a range of conditions and techniques, from nymph fishing to euro nymphing.
  • Bring suitable gear to handle the powerful fish and potentially tough conditions.
  • Consider hiring a guide to maximize your experience; they can provide invaluable local knowledge and tips (Northern Michigan Guide Service).

Anglers should also be mindful of regulations and obtain all necessary permits. With preparation and respect for the river’s ecosystem, you’ll find that fly-fishing at Tippy Dam could be a highlight of your angling adventures in Michigan.

Baldwin River

When you set out for fly fishing in Michigan, the Baldwin River ought to be on your list. As a tributary of the famed Pere Marquette River, it offers a serene and promising spot for anglers seeking trout. The Baldwin River’s clear, cool waters are ideal for a variety of fly fishing techniques throughout the season.

Gear Up:
You’ll want to arm yourself with a 9-foot 4-wt fly rod, and don’t forget to match your fly reel with floating line for optimal performance on this river. A tapered 9-foot leader, accompanied by a tippet size ranging from 3X to 5X, is a standard choice that caters well to the types of flies you’re likely to use here.

Flies to Consider:

  • Dry Flies: Essential for the Baldwin River where hatches can create exciting surface action.
  • Nymphs: Versatile and effective, especially when fish are less active on the surface.

Proper timing can greatly enhance your fly fishing experience on the Baldwin River. Pay close attention to the hatches that occur, particularly if you’re aiming for larger brown trout. The Hex hatch is a notable period when stepping up to a six- or seven-wt fly rod could give you an advantage.

Flies Only Section

A serene river flows through a lush forest

When you’re seeking a premier fly fishing experience in Michigan, the Flies Only area of the Upper Pere Marquette River offers an intense angling adventure. This eight-mile stretch is exclusively dedicated to fly fishing, ensuring a serene and undisturbed environment for your pursuit of salmon and steelhead.

Your gear should be precise:

  • A fly rod approximately 9 feet in length
  • A matching fly reel
  • Floating fly line for optimal presentation
  • Tapered leader, 9-foot long, with a tippet size ranging from 3X to 5X matching the flies

Artificial flies only rules apply, which means no natural baits are allowed, leveling the playing field and creating a true test of your fly fishing acumen. Here, it’s just you, your flies, and the fish.

The riverbed’s prime spawning gravel is ideal for the target species, contributing to the health and sustainability of the fish population. In this sanctuary, you are part of a cherished ecosystem, treating the river with respect and consideration.

If you decide to venture into this sanctum of fly fishing, please remember to check the local fishing regulations for any updates on rules or catch-and-release guidelines.

The Flies Only section not only protects the aquatic life but also preserves the purity of the sport. Your adherence to these rules reflects your commitment to the sport and contributes to maintaining the river’s legacy.

For a closer look at the specificities of this section, refer to Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing Michigan by The Wading List.

Croton Dam

The Croton Dam, located on the Muskegon River in Michigan, is a significant structure that has a strong influence on your fly fishing experience. Built over a century ago, this dam has been instrumental in creating the perfect habitat for various fish species you’re likely to target.

Key Features:

  • Tailwater Habitat: Below the Croton Dam, the Muskegon River is considered a tailwater, which provides a stable environment for fish year-round.
  • Species: The river supports a diverse population including Chinook salmon, which offer you an exciting challenge during their peak runs.

Fly Fishing Tips:

  • Seasons: Visit during the fall for your best chance to catch Chinook salmon.
  • Techniques: Utilize a drift boat to navigate the tailwater for effective fishing.

Flow and Access:

  • Controlled Releases: The dam’s controlled release schedule can affect water levels, so check local reports before you plan your trip.
  • Access Points: You can find several access points along the river that are influenced by the dam’s operations.

By targeting the areas below Croton Dam, you can expect a fly fishing experience that benefits from the regulated flows and sustains a rich aquatic life, making it one of the best spots for fly fishing in Michigan. Remember to respect the local fishing regulations to maintain the health and sustainability of the fish populations.

Forks Campground

The sun sets over a tranquil river, surrounded by lush green trees and a rustic campground. A fly fisherman casts his line into the water, surrounded by the serene beauty of the Michigan wilderness

Tucked away among a serene blend of pines and hardwoods, Forks State Forest Campground is your escape to the natural beauty along the Boardman River. As a fly fishing enthusiast, you’ll discover a peaceful retreat with 9 sites, which are specially catered to provide you the ease of access by water – a real boon for your fishing expeditions.

Campground Features:

  • Accessibility: Primarily for tents and small trailers.
  • Water Access: The campground prides itself on providing potable water.
  • Sanitation: You have access to well-maintained vault toilets.

Given its proximity to the river, Forks Campground is a fly fisher’s haven with plenty of opportunities for catching fish using your best techniques. Paddling is also a popular activity here, allowing you to explore the area and fish from different vantage points.


  • Vault toilets
  • Easily accessible potable water
  • Sites suitable for tents and small trailers

Do take note, the sites at Forks are known for being particularly sunny, offering a pleasant atmosphere for your fly fishing adventure. Whether you are seeking a quiet weekend of trout fishing or a basecamp for exploring the numerous nearby off-road vehicle trails, Forks State Forest Campground offers a straightforward, no-fuss outdoor experience for anglers and adventurers alike.

Depot Pond

Crystal clear water reflects the surrounding forest. A fly fisherman casts his line into the tranquil pond, surrounded by lush greenery

Depot Pond, a hidden gem in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town, offers an exceptional fly fishing experience. With the Huron River running through Washtenaw County, this area boasts some prime fly fishing spots. You’ll find Depot Pond conveniently situated within this community, providing easy access for anglers.

When planning your visit, consider these attributes of Depot Pond for an effective fishing trip:

  • Accessibility: Easily reachable for a quick fishing session.
  • Fish Species: Home to a variety of fish, including bass and panfish.

To enhance your experience, make sure you equip yourself with the appropriate gear. Here are the essentials you’ll need:

  • Fly Rod: A suitable rod for this pond would be a mid-length, moderate action rod that provides the finesse needed for the type of fish found here.
  • Flies: Match your flies with the local insects or use general freshwater patterns.

Remember, the best fly fishing practice always includes catch and release, ensuring sustainability of the fish population in Depot Pond for years to come. Enjoy the tranquility of this spot away from the hustle and bustle, and make the most of your time on the water in this unique Michigan locale.

Deadman’s Hill Overlook

The sun sets over Deadman's Hill, casting a warm glow on the tranquil river below.

Located in the heart of Michigan’s landscape, Deadman’s Hill Overlook is a picturesque spot that any fly-fishing enthusiast should visit. You’ll find the overlook nestled in the Mackinaw State Forest, where it presents a stunning vantage point over the Jordan River Valley.

Scenic Views:

  • Witness an unmatched panorama of the valley’s vast expanse.
  • The vista is especially vibrant during the peak Michigan fall foliage.

Watersheds and Rivers:

  • The Jordan River is a renowned trout stream, a gem among Michigan’s watersheds.
  • The overlook offers a strategic outlook to both the river and its surrounding waters, providing a perfect backdrop for your fishing adventure.

Access and Trails:

  • Reach the overlook via Deadman’s Hill Road.
  • Several trail loops are accessible from here, ideal for extending your experience beyond the riverside.


Remember to respect the natural habitat and to adhere to all fishing regulations while enjoying the serene blending of sky, land, and water at Deadman’s Hill Overlook.

Homestead Dam

When you’re seeking a premier fly fishing experience in Michigan, the Homestead Dam on the Betsie River is a destination worth your attention. This area is favored for its runs of Coho salmon and steelhead. In the fall, Coho salmon journey upriver, providing an exciting opportunity for anglers.

SeasonTarget Fish
August – OctoberKing Salmon
October – SpringSteelhead

For the best experience, you’ll want to equip yourself with the appropriate fly fishing gear. Choose a rod with enough backbone to handle these strong fish, typically a 7 to 10 weight rod, combined with a suitable reel and line setup.

On your visit to Homestead Dam, your strategy should involve:

  • Monitoring the water levels and clarity, as these greatly affect fish behavior.
  • Starting with streamers and egg patterns, adjusting your fly choices based on activity and hatch conditions.
  • Focusing on the varying depths and structures, such as gravel beds and deep holes, where fish may hold.

Fly fishing at the Homestead Dam requires patience and persistence, but the rewards are well worth the effort. The river’s dynamic environment challenges your skills and offers an authentic experience in the pursuit of these prized freshwater game fish.

Berrien Springs Dam

When you’re searching for premier fly fishing locations in Michigan, the Berrien Springs Dam on the St. Joseph River stands out as a noteworthy spot. Recognized for its robust runs of steelhead, this area offers year-round fishing opportunities.

The St. Joseph River, which flows into Lake Michigan, provides a diverse range of fishing experiences. Below the Berrien Springs Dam, you’ll find excellent conditions for targeting steelhead. It’s important to understand that while the Manistee River is also famous for its fishing, particularly for brown trout, each river has its unique characteristics and seasonal patterns.

Fishing Season:

  • Steelhead: Primarily spring and fall runs, though they can be caught year-round.
  • Brown Trout: Best pursued from late spring through the fall months.

Gear Recommendations:

  • Rod: 7 to 8-wt fly rods are preferred for steelhead.
  • Line: A floating fly line will serve you well for most situations.
  • Leader: A tapered 9-foot leader with a 3X to 5X tippet is ideal for the smaller flies.

When planning your trip, consider local regulations and acquire the necessary fishing licenses. The Berrien Springs Dam area is not only a great place for catching fish but also for immersing yourself in the tranquility of Michigan’s outdoor landscapes. Remember to respect the local fish populations by practicing catch and release when appropriate.

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