The final leg of our journey took us south down the Lake Michigan coast to the quaint little town of Manistee. The Big Manistee River flows into Lake Michigan and once again offers plenty of recreational opportunities.
We tried to check into our hotel at 11am but were turned away. The Microtel said our room wouldn’t be ready till 4pm so we had to find a way to pass time till then. The two choices I offered my wife were, Orchard Beach State Park or 5th Avenue Beach Park. I opted for the later because I knew the pier had a picturesque lighthouse at the end.
A weather front had come through last night really dropping temperatures. We walked out to the 5th Avenue Beach and saw two crazy souls swimming in the frigid waters. The actual beach area is quite expansive providing plenty of room to spread out towels, beach chairs or to play games. There are nearby bathrooms and changing areas. Below is the view from the beach.
Below is a view of the beach and the town of Manistee from the perspective of the lighthouse.
After a tailgate lunch in the back of the 4-Runner, we decided to drive out to Manistee National Forest. It was only a 15 minute drive straight east to enter the National Forest. I was hoping to find hiking trails or a river access area to explore. We did manage to find a river access point on the Little Manistee River but the brush and growth along river was so dense, it was impossible to walk anywhere. We did stumble onto signs for another salmon weir so we followed them. This was a great stop. The weir wasn’t staffed but there was an observation deck from which we could watch all the salmon doing their thing in the river. Kayakers came down river and portaged around the weir.
Seeing all the salmon in the river got us excited for our guided fishing trip the next day. We left the weir and headed to our hotel which was ready by now. We were plenty hungry by this point and ready to eat. Downtown Manistee was like traveling back in time to 1955 with Marty McFly in his DeLorean. My cover photo shows the movie theater marquee and main street.
Don’t let the old school look fool you. There were several modern restaurants with outstanding food. We ate at The Fillmore which reminded me of a cross between a brewpub and a Starbucks. It had couches and padded sitting chairs for people wishing to converse over a beer and appetizer. I had a mouth-watering Elk Burger and truffle fries. I would highly recommend The Fillmore.
Our next morning was an early one. Our King Salmon fishing guide wanted us to meet him on the river at 6am. The boat ramp was a solid 30 minute drive from our hotel and lay deep in the heart of Manistee National Forest. We met our guide, made introductions and zoomed off down the river in pitch black darkness.
This was a totally new experience for me. I have never fished and tried casting a fishing rod in the dark. I quickly learned how difficult it is to judge distance as I air-mailed my lure into a tree along the bank. Just as daylight broke over the horizon, I hooked into my first salmon. The silence was broken with a violent eruption under the water. I fought the fish for 45 seconds straining to take back line before it snagged on an underwater tree and literally broke the lure off in its mouth. Sadly, this turned out to be my only hook-up of the day.
Our fishing trip was a great learning experience and we enjoyed it immensely. I wasn’t able to capture pictures of Bald Eagles soaring overhead, the herons or other wildlife we saw. Even my wife said at the end of our trip, “We are going back to do that again.” Our journey back home the next day took place without incident. In summary, the Regular Guy can’t recommend northern Michigan enough. I have you have enjoyed reading about our adventures. My next post will be in mid-November after I return from North Dakota.