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The Fish

"Thank you again  for helping me be in the right place at the right time, and of course using the right fly."

--Mark Willing reflecting on his 23.8lb. Steelhead he caught and released while fishing with Ultimate Outfitters on October 19, 1999...the #1 Steelhead entered in the MDNR's Master Angler Program (Catch and Release Category) for the entire year...all types of fishing, in all waters!!

The STEELHEAD is by far the crown jewel of these magnificent waters.  Since the reintroduction of Steelhead 
into the GreatLakes in the early 60's, they have flourished. We now have fishable populations of Steelhead 
in many of our rivers twelve months of the year. 

These great fish make their annual spawning runs in the spring of the year.  We will normally see fish starting to show up in mid March.  The spawning period will last into the first of May. This time frame is an excellent time to come chase these fish. We have excellent success targeting these fish on their way up the river and then again as they descend back to the lake.

(The Steelhead to the left was taken by Todd Staniszewski, 
on the left, on 3-26-04. It weighed 21.5lbs.!!)

Our summer run Steelhead begin showing up normally in early June. The Skamania strain of Steelhead, these fish are known for their torpedo shaped bodies, long and slender. With the warm water temperatures of summer, these fish are incredible fighters. Long runs and lots of "air-time" is the norm when you hook a "Skam". 

(right: Tom Healy with a picture perfect 
example of a great summer-run Steelie.)

Fall is THE time to catch a Steelhead around these parts.  Nothing compares in freshwater to the fight of a fall Steelhead.  These fish are in the river for one purpose and one purpose only.....to feed. Everything about a fall Steelhead...from the take, to the uncontrollable first 30 seconds of the fight, to the cart-wheeling runs.....once you catch one, you'll be hooked for good!

(left: Dave Hoovler with a perfect fall Steelhead of 16.5 lbs.)

Our winter Steelheading is the most overlooked! Winter fishing can be some of the most beautiful, secluded time you will ever spend on a river. These days are comfortable while fishing from boats equipped with heaters. Our fall fish remain the focus of our pursuit. These fish stay in the system throughout the winter and are the first fish to spawn in the spring. Any positive change in winter weather can turn these fish on. Some of our BEST Steelhead days of the year occur during the months of November through March.

(Dennis Chinonis and Larry Cappel hold over 26lbs. 
of Steelhead with the incredible double they took)

Whatever time of year you decide to make your Steelhead pilgrimage, we promise you a quality outing. The beauty of the Manistee River is hard to match in this part of the country. Couple that with the abundant wildlife you'll see during the day (bald eagles, deer, turkeys, mink, etc.), and you will be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a few days away from work!

(left: Jana Soltman with a typical Manistee River October Steelhead.)



Our prime days for Steelhead are March and April in the spring, October and November in the fall. These are the hardest days to get as they are high in demand. To book days during these months we recommend making reservations at least a year in advance.

Once you have established days during these times, we will offer you these days until you no longer want them.  This gives you the assurance that once you get the days you want, you won't have to worry about getting them from year to year.

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