Walleye Fishing on Manistee River Michigan: Expert Tips and Techniques

Manistee River Michigan PIC

Walleye fishing enthusiasts will find the Manistee River in Michigan a prime location for this popular sport. This river, which is home to a wide variety of fish species, offers excellent opportunities for walleye fishing, especially during certain times of the year. Anglers both experienced and novice will appreciate the diverse environment this river provides for fishing, as well as the richness of the walleye population within it.

The Manistee River flows from its source in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan and eventually connects to Lake Michigan. Known for its scenic beauty and diverse array of fish species, the Manistee River is a popular destination for anglers targeting not only walleye but also salmon, steelhead, trout, and pike. In order to have a successful walleye fishing trip, it is essential to be acquainted with the areas of the river that are most productive, as well as the best times and techniques to apply in pursuing this elusive fish.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Manistee River in Michigan is an excellent location for walleye fishing, with diverse habitats and thriving fish populations.
  • Knowing the prime fishing spots, times, and techniques will enhance the angler’s chances of success in catching walleye.
  • Aside from walleye, the Manistee River is also home to other fish species such as salmon, steelhead, trout, and pike, offering diverse fishing opportunities.

Where To Fish On The Manistee River

The ‘Walleye Alley’ Section Below Tippy Dam

This area is well-known among anglers for its productive walleye fishing. The waters below the dam provide an excellent environment for walleye to thrive. Fishermen typically target these fish by casting and jigging their lures around structures such as rock piles, submerged trees, and deep pockets. The steady currents will move baitfish, providing ample food for aggressive walleye.

Manistee River Mouth Where It Meets Lake Michigan

At the junction of the Manistee River and Lake Michigan lies another prime location for walleye anglers. As the river flows into the lake, it creates a mixing zone where walleye like to feed. Trolling with deep-diving crankbaits or bottom bouncers with spinner rigs can yield great results in this area. The Manistee Lake and harbor channel is also a popular spot, where anglers can experience success by jigging or drifting with the current.

Channels And Holes Throughout The Main River

The mainstem of the Manistee River offers a variety of channels, bends, and deep holes that can hold good numbers of walleye. Currents can attract these fish to specific spots by carrying food sources downstream. Anglers should cast and retrieve their lures along the edges of channels and drop-offs, as well as around any visible structure or cover. Concentrate on areas where water depths change abruptly, as these transitions can be walleye magnets.

Key Tributaries Like The Little Manistee River

The smaller tributaries that feed into the Manistee River, such as the Little Manistee River, also offer excellent walleye fishing opportunities. These smaller waterways can provide a refuge for walleye, offering cooler water temperatures and access to food sources found in the tributary’s shallower areas. Focus on fishing the mouths of these tributaries where they meet the main river, and don’t be afraid to probe the smaller channels and backwaters where fish may be hiding.

When targeting walleye in the Manistee River system, it’s essential to remain flexible and adaptive to changing conditions. With numerous fishing spots available throughout the river and its tributaries, anglers should have no shortage of opportunities to land their prized catch.

Best Times To Fish The Manistee River For Walleye

Spring – Spawn And Post-Spawn Periods

During spring, walleye fishing on the Manistee River can be highly rewarding for anglers. In this season, walleyes move into shallower waters to spawn. The spawning period generally occurs from late April to mid-May, with the fish seeking out rocky or gravelly substrate.

Post-spawn, the walleyes remain in shallow areas, recovering from the spawning process. This is an excellent time for anglers to target them, as they will be actively feeding to regain their energy. Using live bait or artificial lures that mimic the walleyes’ natural prey can increase the chances of a successful catch.

Fall – Pre-Spawn Staging

As water temperatures cool down in fall, walleyes start to prepare for spawning by moving into deeper waters and staging near structures like dams. During this period, the fish tend to be more aggressive, making it an ideal time for walleye fishing on the Manistee River. Anglers will find success using a combination of both live bait and artificial lures that mimic baitfish, as walleyes will be actively feeding to build up energy reserves for the upcoming winter months.

Night Fishing During Summer

In the summer months, the Manistee River experiences a significant increase in recreational activities, leading to increased boat traffic and disturbances during the day. As a result, walleyes can become more elusive and may be difficult to locate. Night fishing, during this time, can be an effective strategy for targeting walleyes.

The reduced activity and noise at night allow walleyes to come into shallower waters to feed. Anglers can capitalize on this by fishing near structure, such as submerged logs, weed beds, or in the vicinity of dams. Using lures that generate vibrations or glow-in-the-dark tackle can help to attract the attention of the walleyes, increasing the chances of a successful catch. Remember always to exercise caution and safety measures when night fishing.

By targeting walleyes during these specific times of the year and employing the appropriate techniques, anglers can enjoy fruitful and memorable fishing experiences on the Manistee River in Michigan.

Manistee River Walleye Fishing Tips And Techniques

Equipment – Rods, Reels, Line, Lures/Bait Rigs

For successful walleye fishing on the Manistee River, the right equipment is essential. Anglers should use medium action rods, ideally 6 to 7 feet in length. A quality spinning reel should be paired with the rod, and it is recommended to use monofilament line with a test strength of 6 to 10 pounds. Lures and bait rigs such as jigs, crankbaits, spinner rigs, and crawler harnesses are effective in various situations.

Drift Fishing With Jigs Or Crawler Harnesses

Drift fishing is an excellent technique for walleye fishing in the Manistee River. Using jigs or crawler harnesses in combination with the natural current, anglers can cover a lot of water quickly. Target areas like eddies, deep holes, and current seams where walleye are likely to be hiding.

Casting Crankbaits And Stickbaits

Casting crankbaits and stickbaits is another popular method for catching walleye in the Manistee River. These lures mimic baitfish, which walleye actively feed on. Focus on casting near structure like underwater logs, rocks, and dams where walleye tend to congregate.

Trolling With Bottom Bouncers And Spinner Rigs

When targeting walleye in deeper sections of the Manistee River, trolling with bottom bouncers and spinner rigs can be very effective. This method allows anglers to cover large areas systematically, focusing on specific depths where walleye may be holding. Keep the lure close to the bottom, as walleye often feed on the river floor.

Using Live Bait Like Nightcrawlers And Minnows

Live bait is always a solid option for walleye fishing. Nightcrawlers and minnows are proven to attract walleye actively feeding in the Manistee River. Hooking the bait through the nose (minnows) or head (nightcrawlers) and casting your bait near walleye holding areas like deep holes, current seams, and structure is a highly productive approach.

By employing these tips and techniques, anglers can expect to enjoy a successful day of walleye fishing on the Manistee River, home to a thriving walleye fishery.

Popular Manistee River Walleye Fishing Spots

Nine Mile Hole

The Nine Mile Hole is a well-known spot for walleye fishing on the Manistee River. Anglers can find plenty of walleye as they often frequent this deeper section of the river. During the early spring and late fall, the walleye are more active and easier to catch, making it one of the best walleye fishing spots in the area. Besides walleye, Nine Mile Hole also offers opportunities for catching salmon and steelhead.

High Bridge Area

Another popular location for walleye fishing along the Manistee River is the High Bridge Area. This spot, located near a bridge over the river, is known for its deeper water and strong currents, creating perfect conditions for trophy fish. Walleye are often found hiding behind structure in this area, so anglers should use jigs and live bait to entice them. The High Bridge Area is not only great for walleye but also supports other fish species like salmon and steelhead.

Mouth Of Pine Creek

The Mouth of Pine Creek is a prime spot for walleye fishing on the Manistee River due to the confluence of two waterways. The combination of currents from Pine Creek and the Manistee River creates conditions that attract walleye and other fish species. Anglers can expect some of the best walleye fishing in this area, and they should focus their efforts on fishing near the creek’s mouth or along the transition zone where the two waters meet.

Bend Near Rainbow Rapids

The Bend near Rainbow Rapids is a popular spot on the Manistee River for walleye fishing. The rapids create oxygen-rich water and provide cover for the walleye, making it an ideal location to fish. Anglers looking for trophy fish should focus on fishing during the early morning hours and late evening, when walleye are most active. The Bend near Rainbow Rapids also offers opportunities for catching other fish species like salmon and steelhead that frequent the Great Lakes region.

Regulations And Licensing For Fishing The Manistee River

Overview Of Michigan Fishing License Requirements

To fish for walleye in the Manistee River, it’s essential to purchase a Michigan fishing license, as required by the state. These licenses can be acquired online, in-person, or through authorized vendors. There are options available for short-term and annual licenses, as well as discounts for senior citizens and active military members. Make sure to carry your valid fishing license with you while fishing to avoid any potential fines.

Seasons And Limits For Walleye On Manistee River

The Manistee River is subject to Michigan state fishing regulations, which include specific seasons and catch limits for walleye. These guidelines ensure the sustainability of the fish population and protect against overfishing. Be sure to consult the current Michigan Fishing Guide or state resources for up-to-date information on walleye seasons and catch limits. Keep in mind that regulations may vary depending on the river section and could change throughout the year.

Tips For Proper Fish Handling And Conservation

To maintain a healthy walleye population and minimize the impact of fishing pressure, anglers should practice proper fish handling and conservation techniques. Here are a few tips:

  • Use appropriate gear: Equip yourself with the right fishing tools, such as a net and pliers, to help with safe fish handling. A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod is recommended for trout, while a 7-wt or 8-wt rod is more suitable for walleye and salmon.
  • Minimize handling time: Avoid removing fish from the water for extended periods, as this may cause stress and harm to the fish.
  • Wet your hands: Before handling a fish, wet your hands to reduce the loss of protective slime on the fish’s body.
  • Release technique: If you plan to release the fish, gently remove the hook using pliers and carefully place the fish back into the water. Allow the fish to swim away on its own.
  • Obey area regulations: Some areas of the Manistee River, such as sections near dams, may have stricter regulations to protect fish populations. Always adhere to these rules and respect any posted signs.

By following these guidelines, anglers can contribute to the conservation of the Manistee River’s walleye population, ensuring an enjoyable fishing experience for generations to come.

Lodging And Accommodations Near The Manistee River

When planning a Walleye fishing trip on the Manistee River, Michigan, finding comfortable and convenient lodging is essential. This section will cover various options, including campgrounds, cabins, hotels, and motels, as well as the services and amenities available nearby.


There are several campgrounds near the Manistee River offering great fishing access and a chance to unwind in nature. One such campsite is Tippy Dam Campground & Cabins, located just steps from the Tippy Dam on the Big Manistee River. It’s an ideal location for a fishing trip and offers a relaxing environment for campers.


For a more comfortable and private lodging option, several cabins are available in the area. North Rivers Lodge is a fly fishing and paddlesport vacation destination, offering restored early 20th Century log cabins. Situated on the spring-fed headwaters of the Little Manistee River, surrounded by the Manistee National Forest, it’s an ideal location for a serene and enjoyable fishing trip.

Manistee River Lodge in Wellston is another option for cabin rentals, providing cozy accommodations and easy access to the Manistee River for fishing, canoeing, and snowmobiling.

Hotels And Motels In Manistee, Wellston

For those looking for more traditional lodging options, Manistee and Wellston offer various hotels and motels. These accommodations provide easy access to the Manistee River and are equipped with modern amenities to ensure a comfortable stay.

Services And Amenities Available Nearby

Many of the campgrounds, cabins, and hotels in the Manistee River area offer additional services and amenities to make your fishing trip more enjoyable. Fishing outfitters such as Tilmann Outfitters provide gear rentals and guided tours. Restaurants, grocery stores, and other essential services can also be found in nearby towns like Manistee and Wellston.

In conclusion, finding appropriate lodging and accommodations near the Manistee River is crucial for a successful and enjoyable Walleye fishing trip. With various options available, such as campgrounds, cabins, hotels, and motels, you can find a suitable place to stay while taking advantage of the great fishing opportunities in the area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of year for walleye fishing on the Manistee River?

The prime walleye fishing season on the Manistee River typically occurs in spring and fall. During these seasons, the walleye are often more active and closer to the shorelines, making them easier to target. However, walleye can be caught year-round, with summer and winter presenting unique challenges depending on water temperature and fish behavior.

What are the size and bag limits for walleye in Michigan?

In Michigan, the legal size limit for walleye is a minimum of 15 inches. Anglers are allowed to keep up to five walleye per day. These regulations help maintain a healthy walleye population and sustainable fishery. Make sure to check the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website for any updates or changes to these regulations.

What techniques are effective for walleye fishing in the Manistee River?

Successful walleye fishing on the Manistee River involves various techniques depending on the season and conditions. Some common methods include trolling, casting, and jigging. Trolling involves using lures or bait behind a moving boat, while casting requires accurate casts near structures and drop-offs. Jigging involves using a weighted lure or jig and repeatedly lifting and lowering it to attract walleye. Adjusting your methods based on water temperature, fish behavior, and river conditions will increase your chances of success.

Are there any recommended walleye fishing charters or guides on the Manistee River?

Several fishing charters and guides specialize in walleye fishing on the Manistee River. Fishing with an experienced guide can significantly improve your chances of success, as they are familiar with the river and can help you target productive spots. One example is FishingBooker, where you can find guided fishing trips specifically targeting walleye.

What areas of the Manistee River are known for good walleye fishing?

Walleye can be found throughout the Manistee River, but some areas are known to be more productive than others. One spot is where the river meets Lake Michigan, where the Big Manistee River feeds into the lake. Look for other locations with changes in water depth, structure, and current, as walleye tend to congregate in these areas.

What depth should I target when fishing for walleye in the Manistee River?

The ideal depth for walleye fishing varies depending on the time of year, water temperature, and available food sources. In general, walleye are more likely to be found in shallower waters during the spring and fall, while they may move to deeper water during the summer and winter months. Adjust your approach based on the season, weather conditions, and walleye behavior to improve your chances of finding and catching these elusive fish.


Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

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