Manistee County is located on Lake Michigan, a part of northwestern Michigan. Historic Manistee, the Victorian port city, is the county seat, and it features a riverwalk running through downtown to Lake Michigan. The coastline villages include Onekama, Arcadia, Bear Lake, Copemish, Kaleva, Brethren, and Wellston. This area offers so much for people that enjoy the being around the water. Fishing, boating, beaches and plenty of accommodations, restaurants and shops make this a popular tourist destination in Michigan.
Salmon and trout are the primary species of fish in this area for most anglers. With Lake Michigan here and some very good river fishing available, it’s easy to forget about the other game fish here. Anglers can also catch walleye, big pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, muskie and a variety of panfish.
Primary Species of Fish
The primary species of fish here are salmon, trout and perch in Lake Michigan. In the area lakes and rivers, you have a lot of other fish here too. Salmon, steelhead and brown trout are available in the Manistee river. Walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are also available in this area.
Secondary Species of Fish
Anglers usually come here for the salmon and trout fishing. Some fish for the walleye, pike and bass. Muskie are available too in Hamlin Lake. Panfish are in the area lakes and in some of them, the fishing can be very good. Perch are also available in Lake Michigan.
Popular Places to Fish
Many people come here to fish the big lake for salmon and trout. You can find several fishing charters available and boat launches in case you want to go out in your own boat. Trolling is the most popular technique for targeting salmon and trout on Lake Michigan. On the lake, anglers catch king salmon, coho salmon, brown trout, steelhead and lake trout.
Manistee River (Big Manistee)
The river offers some excellent fishing for king salmon and steelhead. Brown trout have been caught in the river too, but they are here in much smaller numbers. The Manistee River is one of the best steelhead rivers you can fish in the midwest. There are good numbers of fish and some very big fish in the river too. The salmon fishing starts getting good in August and runs into October. The steelhead fishing picks up in late fall and runs through the winter into the spring.
Arcadia Lake is connected to Lake Michigan. This lake has a diverse fishery with northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and a variety of panfish such as perch, rock bass, bluegill and other sunfish are available. There are also times of the year that salmon and trout can be found in the lake in catchable numbers. Brown trout are popular here in the spring from the stocking efforts that have been moved from Portage Lake to Arcadia Lake.
Bear Lake is not a very deep lake. It’s maximum depth is around 23 feet and the majority of the lake is less than 20 feet deep. This does make it easier to find active fish. The lake has a variety of fish such as walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch, bluegill and other sunfish.
Hamlin Lake is just south of the city of Manistee. This lake gives anglers another option to fish in the Manistee County area. In this lake, fish include tiger muskie, northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, perch, crappie and bluegill. Lake Michigan salmon and steelhead are seasonally plentiful at the dam site within the Ludington State Park. The Pere Marquette River connects Hamlin Lake to Lake Michigan.
Manistee Lake connects the Manistee River to Lake Michigan. This lake has a diverse fishery due to the fish that run through here for their spawning migrations. At times, you will find salmon, steelhead and brown trout in the lake. Walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and northern pike are availabe and panfish such as crappie, perch and bluegill can also be caught. It’s not the prettiest lake to fish in this state, but it does offer some good fishing.
Pere Marquette River
This river connects Hamlin Lake to Lake Michigan. The fishing can be very good for salmon and trout in the spring and fall months as these fish run up the river to spawn.
Portage Lake is a good-sized lake that gets a lot of traffic from boaters and anglers. You can catch a variety of fish in this lake such as walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch, bluegill and rock bass. This lake is stocked with walleye and it has become a popular walleye lake as a result of the stocking.