Michigan presents some of the most consistent fishing of any state throughout the year. But when it comes to fall fishing in Michigan, the decreasing temperatures present a whole other level of well-fed lunkers.

With the Great Lakes, channels, bays, and streams intertwined among the peninsulas, truly any body of water in this great state displays outstanding fishing. That being said, here are the best of the best fall fishing hot spots in Michigan.

1. Manistee River

Manistee river high bank rollaway/Michigan horse shoe/autumn in Michigan

Image credit: Todd Maertz via shutterstock

The Manistee River has a bit of a legendary status in the “Great Lakes State.” But, it is especially recognized in Michigan for its fall fishing. That is because this waterway is busting with salmon, trout, and steelhead.

The Manistee River offers 190 miles of ample space to target fall’s favorite catches. Salmon fishing starts in August, with abundant Chinook and coho salmon in September. In the upper reaches, brown trout are the prime targets for fall fishing. But, when that wraps up, it’s all about the steelhead run in October as they feast upon salmon roe. 

Fly-fishing presents the easiest way to maneuver the river and trophy-sized inhabitants. Nonetheless, one thing is for sure; the Manistee River is one of the best rivers for fall fishing in Michigan. And bites are limitless.

2. Grand Traverse Bay

Are you looking for a salmon fishery with a large window of opportunity? Take a look at Grand Traverse Bay. Grand Traverse Bay is still going strong when some other areas experience drying of the kings or cohos. Making it a top-notch location for fall fishing in Michigan.

But don’t get fooled by the other Traverse Bay that’s located on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Lake Superior; this one is found in the Leelanau Peninsula of Lake Michigan. 

Nevertheless, Grand Traverse Bay isn’t just revered for salmon; with deeper water, it teases trophy-sized lake trout, brown trout, and steelhead waiting to clamp down on a flashy trolling spoon.

It should be noted that Grand Traverse Bay does contain a vast smallmouth bass population. Smallies are as big as seven pounds, pulled near the shore.

3. Betsie Lake and Betsie River

There’s a whole lot of Betsie found near Traverse City, and she loves fall salmon. In the grand scheme of fall fishing in Michigan, salmon come inland from Lake Michigan through Betsie Lake and down the Betsie River. Which, in return, rewards anglers with a salmon season spanning into November.

On the other hand, the Betsie River snakes all the way to Green Lake and is the best-kept secret for a secluded getaway to a hunt camp or cabin in Northern Michigan. 

Find yourself a bend in the river among the fall foliage and cast flies to your heart’s content. Chinooks and cohos are abundant in September and October. But the action doesn’t die down. Instead, steelhead takes over the Betsie River and hangs around well into December. 

Aside from salmon, “the betsies” offer an incredible pike fishery, with rock bass just as plentiful.

Driving the point home that fall fishing in Michigan is, unlike, no other destination in the US.

4. Au Sable River

If you have ever spoken to an angler from Michigan, you may have heard tales about the fish being a fabled size. What if those weren’t fibs? But rather sought-after game fish from the river with a mythical reputation. That is the Au Sable River.

Although not the longest stretch of trout, salmon, and bass fishing river, it offers some of the most reliable water for wrestling trophies. Averaging four feet deep with deep riffles, swirling pools, and dams throughout, it depicts what could be described as perfect fly-fishing water. 

From April to late August, the insect hatches promote a non-stop food supply, which leaves the fish hanging around. Target brown trout from October to December. The biggest draw is the steelhead, which can be found on the Au Sable River for eight months, stemming from the spring and fall runs. That occurs every October and November. 

The salmon like to tease anglers. Just when you think the coho and Chinook runs have wrapped up in October, the Atlantic salmon show up and stay until December. Making the Au Sable River the cream of the crop when it comes to fall fishing in Michigan.

In Closing

Sadly, this list only scratches the surface of fall fishing hot spots. Other astonishing mentions include the Muskegon River, Tittabawassee River, Platte Bay, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan. 

Michigan is a cornucopia of fishing, with countless shore fishing opportunities, expert charters, deep lake fishing, or ample fly-fishing rivers in just about any direction. 

If you haven’t considered it before, fall fishing in Michigan should be at the top of your list. Plan your trip today and check out these hot spots. You’re guaranteed to come back with a maxed-out fish limit. Just don’t forget your fishing license!

Have you gone fishing in Michigan? If so, what did you pull in on your line? Please let us know in the comments!