Photos: Discovering Michigan’s Wild Trout Waters

Written by: Tyler Coleman


Michigan’s state fish, in its native waters, is quite a prize.
Photo by Anastasia Coleman

Well, it didn’t take long before my love for small-stream trout fishing had me out and on the hunt. Where we are currently living, there are a few close areas you can fish for browns and the occasional steelhead smolt, but only a couple hours away in most directions you can find some really nice trout waters.

There is an overwhelming amount of water in this state, so we started doing research and set out to explore anything that sounded promising. The weather has been up and down so some days the creeks look more like rivers and the fish are tough to find, but that’s part of fly fishing. The first adjustment we have had to make is adapting to fishing much larger waters. Since most of the streams in Arizona are tiny compared to what we’ve found in Michigan, I took some time to read more about the different types of streams and where fish hold in Tom Rosenbauer’s The Orvis Guide to Small Stream Fishing. As an amateur fly fisherman, I try to learn as much as I can from anyone willing to share knowledge on this art. Learning something new always has its challenges so here are a few things I have been focusing on more recently.


Sebastian is always excited to see a fish.
Photo by Tyler Coleman

Fishing locally and around the northern part of the state has given us the chance to learn a lot more, and we’ve even caught some fish. The constant variables of Mother Nature are always making things interesting, but when you finally feel that line pull tight, it all pays off. All the information on the Internet gives us an advantage over anglers in the old days, when you had to rely on a paper map and some old fishing stories. But when it comes to understanding new fisheries, nothing beats time on the water and miles in the boots.

In one of our local spots I felt I was making mistakes in every place I tried to fish, so I set out determined to find more than creek chubs in this creek. I decided to try a new hopper-dropper set up and drifted the flies passed a large log I had seen in the past. Right when the fly hit the water, I could see creek chubs and a nice little brown trout come out to investigate. The fish seemed to have chased each other off–or maybe I wasn’t as hidden as I thought–so they did not eat my fly. It pained me to do so, but I walked away and tried another spot. That brown could have been my first trout in this creek, rumored to have a very healthy population of them.


Clear water, hungry fish, and great views are fine rewards.
Photo by Tyler Coleman

It seemed that no matter what I had done, the only fish I could catch was a chub. When I switched to larger flies, I just caught larger chubs in the ten to twelve inch range. After about half an hour, I decided to try a new approach on that same spot and was surprised to see a trout larger than the previous one come straight for my fly with absolutely no hesitation to eat. My hopper was quickly submerged, and the fight was on. The trout had my 3-weight glass rod bent like a horseshoe, as the fish darted for cover in the logs and then shot out into the air like a dolphin. Luckily I was able to get the fish into my net, and my Anastasia captured a nice photo before we sent the trout on its way. The fish was a nice reward from a lesson learned. Here are a few more pictures from our Michigan adventures in search of wild trout.

Tyler Coleman recently moved from Arizona to Michigan. Check him out on Instagram at @thecolemancollection. He is a frequent contributor to this blog.


A husband-and-wife double of small browns.
Photo by Tyler Coleman

Fog rolls in at the end of a great day of fishing.
Photo by Tyler Coleman

This fall brown fell for a streamer.
Photo by Anastasia Coleman

These young rainbows (steelhead?) were willing to eat hoppers all day long.
Photo by Tyler Coleman

This brown was a lovely brick of butter.
Photo by Anastasia Coleman

I walked away from this fish, let the spot rest, and returned for success.
Photo by Anastasia Coleman

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