Fishing the tributary rivers and streams is very popular. Fall brings the legions of anglers seeking the fall run salmon and trout. The winter months on the rivers are more peaceful as solitary anglers seek the steelhead and brown trout. Spring sees another group of anglers seeking spawning steelhead. Chinook or King Salmon, originally from the Pacific Ocean, have been stocked in Lake Michigan for the past 30 years. There is now significant natural reproduction occurring in several streams and tributary rivers. The Chinook generally spawn in the rivers during the months of September thru October in Lake Michigan. Fishing for Chinook in the tributary streams and rivers generally takes place in the fall from late August thru October. Coho or Silver Salmon, originally from the Pacific Ocean, have been stocked in Lake Michigan for the past 40 years. There is also natural reproduction occurring in several streams and tributary rivers. The Coho generally spawn duringLake Michigan Tributary River Chinook or King Salmon the month of October in Lake Michigan.
Fishing for spawning Coho in the tributary streams and rivers takes place in the fall from September thru November. Steelhead or Rainbow Trout, generally spawn in the spring during the months of February thru May in the Great Lakes. Fishing for Steelhead or Rainbow Trout in the tributary streams and rivers generally takes place in the fall from late August thru the following May. Brown Trout generally spawn in the fall from October thru January in the Great Lakes. Fishing for Brown Trout in the tributary streams and rivers generally takes place in the fall from late August thru January. Lake Trout generally spawn in the fall in October in the Great Lakes. Lake Trout seldom enter tributary streams and rivers.
Most states that surround Lake Michigan have strict fishing regulations for Tributary River and Stream fishing for salmon and trout. Generally fishing is allowed 30 minutes before sunrise till 30 minutes after sunset. You must check the state and local regulations for specific information about legal fishing methods prior to your fishing trip. Some states also have restricted fishing methods and techniques (flies only) based on certain areas on an individual river. Catch and release fishing is practiced by many of the river and stream anglers. Please respect the personal choice of the other anglers when fishing the tributary rivers and streams.
Fishing methods, techniques and tactics vary greatly on the different Lake Michigan Rivers and Streams. Many rivers in the state of Michigan are large enough to have a significant boat fishery on the rivers. Drift boats, jet boats, and a variety of other watercraft are used year around. Bank fishing can be done in some areas when access is permitted. Generally the most popular fishing method is done wading the rivers and streams with either hip or full chest waders. Wading the rivers and streams can be very relaxing, with the sounds of the water running past. Fishing techniques used include: fly fishing, floats, drifting, plugs, spoons, trout beads, bait, spinners and a variety of other methods.
Specific techniques and tips related to each type of fishing can be found in the different categories. Salmon, trout, steelhead, and other species of fish fishing articles are also included.
General information, safety and equipment:
- Tributary River and Stream Access Locations Information and access maps for several tributary rivers and streams that flow into Lake Michigan.
- River and Stream Flow Rates Information about current water flow rates and waters depths for most Lake Michigan tributary rivers and streams.
- Luhr Jensen Technical Reports: (requires Adobe reader)
- Click to download the Adobe Reader
- Casting Spoons and Spinners
- River Drift Fishing Techniques
- Hot Shot and Side Planers
- Hot Shots in Rivers
- Diver/Bait Backtrolling
Species Tactics, Tips and Techniques:
- Cold Water Steelhead Fishing
- Salmon and Steelhead Fishing Tips (Piscatorial Pursuits)
- Salmon and Steelhead Fly Fishing Tips and Techniques
- SalmonFly.net (Salmon Fly Tying)
- Steelheader.net (Steelhead Fishing Tips)
- Steelheader Magazine (Steelhead Fishing Tips)
- Stream Trout and Steelhead Techniques