Information about the Manistee, Little Manistee, Pine, AuSable, Pere Marquette, Bear Creek and Big Sauble are rivers we call home. Learn about them here.

Rivers and lakes in our region were formed by glaciers and flow from upwelling ground water in what is called the Niagaran Reef. Glacial deposits called Moraines are hills of ground up rock. The ground up rock ends up to be gravel and sand. Perking thru gravel material is water, clear and cold. These rivers were highways for Native Americans, traveled by canoe or pathways along side. Natural bridges were log jams that helped build habitat for wild river creatures like fish and fur bearing critters. All these rivers are listed as Michigan Blue Ribbon Trout streams by Michigan DNR.

In the mid to late 1800’s lumberjacks felled almost all large old growth forests along these great waterways. It changed these rivers forever. Some wild endegenious creatures disappeared and are now extinct. The Michigan genus Grayling fish is one of them.

Manistee River The Manistee River is the English name for what Native Americans called “Spirit of the Woods”. Starting from a spring in Northern Crawford County, Michigan, the Manistee winds it’s way 232 miles to Lake Michigan. Traversing thru the Pere Marquette State Forest and the Manistee National Forest, this river is made of legends. Once teaming with native Grayling, it now is home to native Brook Trout and introduced Rainbow and Brown Trout.The Manistee has two dams, Hodenpyl and Tippy. Both dams produce electricity and were part of early settlement of the region. The tailwaters below Tippy Dam hosts one of the worlds best migratory fisheries for Steelhead and Salmon. Locals refer to this river as “The Big Manistee”. The Manistee is designated a National Scenic River.

Little Manistee River This river is not actually part of the “Manistee” but rather both are a tributary to Manistee Lake. The river was named the “Little Manistee” because of it’s relative small size compared to the Manistee. 64 miles long it rises from Ellsworth Township in Lake County, Michigan. Clear, cold and very stable flows make this river perfect habitat for many species of fish, including Brown, Rainbow and Brooke Trout. The river also has runs of migratory fish from Lake Michigan of Steelhead and Salmon. The local Native American Tribe is named after this river, “The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians”.

Pine River The Pine is a tributary of the Manistee, it’s biggest tributary. This river was originally called the South Branch of the Manistee but re-named by lumberjacks in the later part of the 1870’s because of it’s rich population of Cork Pine (old growth White Pine). The lumberjacks called the river the “Piney” later changed to simply the Pine. This river is Lower Michigan’s coldest highest gradient river and has excellant fishing for Brooke, Rainbow and Brown Trout. The river is formed by it’s many branches that form the 49 mile long mainstream. The Pine is designated a National Wild and Scenic River.

Bear Creek The Bear is named for a great swamp in Northern Manistee County, Michigan. Bear Swamp is still home to many Michigan Black Bears. This friendly creature wanders the river valley and swamps with little worry, the swamp is a wicked place. This is wild Trout fishing at it’s best. Pocket water for rising Brookies and twitching a Wet Skunk. The upper Bear is a wading river, a small watercraft can be used in the lower sections. Mostly private lands so tread easy. The Bear is designated a National Wild and Scenic River

Pere Marquette River The PM as it’s referred to locally is named after the great French explorer Father (Pere) Marquette who tromped these parts form 1668 until his death in 1675. He died near the mouth of this river later to become know as the Pere Marquette. This is Michigan’s second most famous Trout stream. It cascades 64 miles thru giant pine and hardwood forests with clear, clean, cool water. Perfect Trout habitat. Small enough to wade big enough to float it attracts thousands of anglers from far and wide. The PM is mostly a Brown Trout stream but the occasional Brooke and Rainbow Trout are taken. During migratory fish seasons this is a very busy river. Trout season is pleasant and uncrowded. The PM is designated a National Wild and Scenic river.

AuSable River In the Native American tongue, AuSable means “with sand”. This is the holy grail for fly anglers. Folks from around the world come to cast a fly in the gentle waters sometimes called the “Holy Waters”. This is Michigan’s most written about fly fishing river and for good reason. One can wade for what seems an eternity casting to rising Trout. The waters from the AuSable start just a few hundred feet from where the Manistee begins. The Manistee flows west to Lake Michigan and the AuSable flows east 138 miles toward Lake Huron. It has many branches, East Branch, North Branch and South Branch, all famous Trout waters. All these smaller tributaries eventually form a great river that empties into Lake Huron at Oscoda, Michigan.

Big Sauble River This small river traverses thru Lake and Mason County, Michigan and empties into Hamlin Lake before entering Lake Michigan. 52 miles of river from Sable Chain of Lakes at the start to the Lake Michigan shoreline. This is mostly a wading river but can be floated with a small watercraft. It’s upper reaches are gin clear and excellent Brooke Trout fishing, while the middle and lower reaches are mostly Brown Trout. It’s most famous for it’s Giant Mayfly hatch in June.

Tippy Dam Pond This lake formed by the construction of Tippy Dam in 1914-1916 and is about 1600 acres of riverine lake. It’s about 5 mile long with dozens of inlets and bays, perfect Smallmouth Bass habitat. Many species of fish call this lake home and it’s a fly anglers dream. There’s hardly a day where you can’t find a quiet lagoon or bay to lay out a nice line to a likely spot. Early mornings and evenings are especially good but the heat of the day can be very good for Smallmouth. No homes are on this body of water, it’s all inside the Manistee National Forest.

231.848.4191   P.O. Box 211 - 918 Seaman Rd. - Wellston, MI 49689

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