Mention Michigan’s Big Manistee River and most anglers think of salmon and crowds. I’ve learned different. In the Upper Hodenpyl section, above Tippy Dam, it’s all wild browns, stocked rainbows (some holdovers) and a few brookies. The salmon can’t get up there. On a recent drift-trip with friends Bruce Richards and Ray Schmidt, we nailed them well starting just below the Hodenpyl Dam. Targeting larger fish, we employed big black marabou or rabbit-fur strip streamers-both conehead-weighted and non-weighted. Yellow-colored offerings work as well. Schmidt has a neat tandem-hook streamer he invented called the Rattlesnake. Another local favorite is the Madonna, a purple rabbit-fur strip with a muddler head and lots of flash. Fish the banks, the snags and middle-river holding water behind boulders. We targeted brown trout, but near the launch below the dam you’ll catch a bunch of holdover rainbows.

Contact: Ray Schmidt (888-221-9056 or 231-848-4191;