Betsie River Trip

thirdcoaststeelheader

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I took a trip to Northwest Lower Michigan for the holiday weekend. Reached there on Wednesday night and missed the late November warm-up by just a day. On the night of my arrival, the temperature started to drop. It was a very cold three days, which had me wishing that I packed more base layers and a heavy winter parka.

The fishing was good. Spent maybe eight hours at the river each day. I swung a little and nymphed both with and without indicators. I hooked up once on the swing. That fish didn’t stay hooked, tried to pull me into the wood and I zigged when I probably should have zagged.

I also rolled beads and Hex nymphs at them. Both produced equally well. Seven fish landed, largest was about 12lb. Also, there were a number hooked that got off, broke the tippet or spit the hook. Even with the water being off colored and blown out, it seemed like the bigger fish were reserved when it came to tippet sizes. Tippet sizes like 4x fluorocarbon got a few lunkers on, 2x took some smaller fish, but up from that and there didn’t seem to be any interest.

Before embarking on this trip, I planned to spread out and fish the Pere Marquette and maybe the Manistee too, but ended up at the Betsie every day. It looked like the fish were swimming right in from Lake Michigan. They were very chrome, so I didn’t want to change spots.

The weather really got nasty Saturday night. Everything was covered in a sheet of ice under a layer of snow on Sunday morning. I didn't look at the Betsie before leaving but most likely it is blown out now. It was already very high the days before the storm. When headed southbound I noticed the other rivers that cross with 31 to be flooded.

Kind of wish I took more pictures. Only pulled my camera out this one time while there:

1.jpg
 

partsman

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Thanks for the report, and nice fish in the pic. Water levels have kept off the water, things just seem to settle down and then we more rain and/or snow. Im hoping maybe next week and I can get up to my favorite river.
Mike.
 

thirdcoaststeelheader

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I looked for a river picture that I took, this is the one I found. On this particular trip, I realized when leaving that that one fish pic was the only time I took the camera out.

2.jpg
 

okaloosa

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I looked for a river picture that I took, this is the one I found. On this particular trip, I realized when leaving that that one fish pic was the only time I took the camera out.

View attachment 20201
looks like a beautiful section. I only drove by the Betsie once when I lived in Traverse City 35 years ago and it looked like a difficult river to fish without a boat especially for classic single hand fly fishing....
 

thirdcoaststeelheader

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The Betsie at the peak of the salmon run and then during steelhead season is a different experience. I find that during steelhead season the anglers on the river, be them fly fishing or float fishing, are mostly all fishing ethically. Most of the fish caught are released, people clean up after themselves, angler etiquette and decorum are good, etc. Keeping steelhead may even mildly offend some there. There is natural reproduction in the river and thus releasing fish is better for the fishing habitat.
 

okaloosa

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The Betsie at the peak of the salmon run and then during steelhead season is a different experience. I find that during steelhead season the anglers on the river, be them fly fishing or float fishing, are mostly all fishing ethically. Most of the fish caught are released, people clean up after themselves, angler etiquette and decorum are good, etc. Keeping steelhead may even mildly offend some there. There is natural reproduction in the river and thus releasing fish is better for the fishing habitat.
amazing how salmon seem to bring out the wort in some people....
 

bonefish41

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Zombie salmon and dams bring out the damned...but if they eat zombies fine but at the Manistee dam and wherever snagers can cast I've hooked steel with snag cuts...at least they are released at least those that I have caught...however, since old and need guide and boat I prefer the ambiance, admittedly somewhat elitist, the regulated Pere Marquette...where there's no combat snaging or at least when and where I go...which is after salmon for Steel...whilst the Betsie vid that was posted is disgusting that times 10 in quantity is Tipy dam on the Manistee during Zombie time. I fished it once but never again. But then there is the Grand River in Michigan which allows chumming for Steel...but there are wonderful west coast rivers and streams also ...the upper Manistee, Little Manistee, Pere Marquette, Baldwin, and the best the Pine
 

strmanglr scott

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@thirdcoaststeeheader, Were you fishing at the dam or downriver? You do use USGS for monitoring water levels right?

The Betsie is a beautiful river and imo, one to stay far away from September through end of October. The salmon fishing there is crazier than any other place.

I stopped by the dam early September, the salmon hadn't really gotten going strong yet. Must've been 40 cars in the lot at least, probably closer to 60. I didn't even gear up, I just walked down to where you can fish by the dam. I counted over 30 people fishing just in my field of view, that doesn't include people standing around not fishing. That's not turning my head and looking downstream. It's a zoo, with all the animals that come with it. I just turned and left. Drove past a couple downstream bridges, 3-4 cars at each. Smh, next river.
 

strmanglr scott

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Zombie salmon and dams bring out the damned...but if they eat zombies fine but at the Manistee dam and wherever snagers can cast I've hooked steel with snag cuts...at least they are released at least those that I have caught...however, since old and need guide and boat I prefer the ambiance, admittedly somewhat elitist, the regulated Pere Marquette...where there's no combat snaging or at least when and where I go...which is after salmon for Steel...whilst the Betsie vid that was posted is disgusting that times 10 in quantity is Tipy dam on the Manistee during Zombie time. I fished it once but never again. But then there is the Grand River in Michigan which allows chumming for Steel...but there are wonderful west coast rivers and streams also ...the upper Manistee, Little Manistee, Pere Marquette, Baldwin, and the best the Pine
You are aware, no steel or salmon in the Pine R. Great trout river. I don't fish that enough.
 

bonefish41

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Yes as to the Pine all wild no Steel or Salmon...but I'm too old to wade the Pine and very limited choice of guides who have Permit access and time to fish the good conditions...fished the upper but I quit wading it when I turned 70...
 

okaloosa

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What about the Boardman? I lived in Traverse for 1 yr and caught steelies and even lake trout in the lower Boardman and I remember no crowds and no jerks, but that was 1988....and below the 2nd dam I dont think I ever saw anyone!
 

thirdcoaststeelheader

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I fished the Homestead to 31 stretch. The flow was strong and the water levels were higher than usual.

This was my third time there this year. The first was for spring steelhead. Then, I found an early push of kings in mid-August when the river was empty of people. I didn't intend to fish salmon during the August trip but found them moving through, jumping the dam, so gave it a go. The fish looked like they had just entered the river system.
 

thirdcoaststeelheader

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@thirdcoaststeeheader, Were you fishing at the dam or downriver? You do use USGS for monitoring water levels right?

The Betsie is a beautiful river and imo, one to stay far away from September through end of October. The salmon fishing there is crazier than any other place.

I stopped by the dam early September, the salmon hadn't really gotten going strong yet. Must've been 40 cars in the lot at least, probably closer to 60. I didn't even gear up, I just walked down to where you can fish by the dam. I counted over 30 people fishing just in my field of view, that doesn't include people standing around not fishing. That's not turning my head and looking downstream. It's a zoo, with all the animals that come with it. I just turned and left. Drove past a couple downstream bridges, 3-4 cars at each. Smh, next river.
I fished the Homestead to 31 stretch. The flow was strong and the water levels were higher than usual.

This was my third time there this year. The first was for spring steelhead. Then, I found an early push of kings in mid-August when the river was empty of people. I didn't intend to fish salmon during the August trip but found them moving through, jumping the dam, so gave it a go. The fish looked like they had just entered the river system.
 

Ard

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river.jpg

I'm guessing they were taken with a phone?

I saved your image to my desktop then edited it (rotate right) and then posted it in portrait style. You can do this to the post but may need to work from a computer. I use an Acer notebook.
 
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