Michigan's Betsie River is a tributary to Lake Michigan,
run with steelhead and salmon. It also has a very good
population of resident trout. Hatches can be prolific
providing exciting dry fly fishing. The river averages
40-50 feet wide in most areas and is one of the most
scenic in the state.
The spring and summer months on the Betsie are the
best time for the river's resident trout with hatches
of mayflies, caddis, and stoneflies existing. Resident
brown and rainbow trout are found in excellent numbers,
some of which reach large sizes. Some resident browns
have been known to easily break the twenty inch mark,
especially in the river's lower reaches.
Late fall, winter, and early spring are the best
times to fish for the Betsie's salmon and steelhead.
The salmon runs occur in September and will last into
late October. Some steelhead will usually follow the
salmon to eat their eggs. Steelhead will continue to
enter the river through the winter and will stay to
spawn in the spring.
The upper Betsie, above where the Little Betsie empties
in, is a small river littered with fallen trees, shallow
runs, quiet pools, and beautiful trout. The upper portion
of this stretch, from Green Lake (The Betsie spills out
of this lake) to where Grass Lake Creek flows in, is
not known for being a very productive stretch of trout
water. It is still considered small here, averaging approximately
30 feet across with a sand and gravel bottom. Although
trout populations are still good, they are better below
Grass Lake Creek where the Betsie gains some volume,
cool water, and has more deep pools and runs.
CLICK FOR MAP
The river continues and flows through the town of Wallin
before reaching the junction of the Little Betsie. A
few access areas are found in this stretch, one of which
is at Wallin Road bridge. Three species of trout can
be found in this area; brown, rainbow, and brook.
Below the junction of the Little Betsie, the river
gains a little more volume, size, and cool water, averaging
50 feet across with a gravel and sand bottom. Wolf
Road crosses the river a short distance below this
junction. The river above Wolf Road is closed after
September 30th. Check the Special Regulations before fishing. Below this
point, steelhead and salmon fishing can be outstanding
all the way to Lake Michigan. The best steelhead and
salmon water is found below Route 115. Resident trout
fishing also remains excellent throughout this stretch.
Several roads cross the river and many of them provide
access for anglers. A couple of these access points
include Psutka Road bridge and Route 31 bridge. Below
Route 31 the river bottom consists mainly of sand,
silt, gravel, and clay with an average width of 60-70
feet. Several beautiful pools, deep runs, and charming
riffles are found in this approximate 25 mile stretch
from the junction with the Little Betsie to Lake Michigan.
Access can be found in many areas along the Betsie.
Several roads cross and/or parallel the river. Route
31 and Route 115 are the two major roads that cross
the river. Wading in the Betsie is fairly easy. Most
anglers will wade although some choose to use a canoe.
The Betsie River is an excellent Michigan fishery.
Although smaller then many rivers it still harbors
a superb population of resident trout and is run with
tremendous numbers of steelhead and salmon each year.
The Betsie river is a short drive from its neighbors
the Manistee River to the south and the Boardman River
to the Northeast.