DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Huron River in Michigan

The Huron River in southern Michigan is best known for it's robust population of smallmouth bass.  The best part is that fishing in these waters doesn’t require a wilderness trek – the river runs right through Ann Arbor.

With the state of Michigan being 40% covered in water, you can fly fish across the state. But the Huron River is a unique option that is fully accessible and a lot of fun to spend time at.

Fly fishing for smallmouth bass on the Huron River near Ypsilanti, Michigan

As far as fly fishing in the Detroit metro area goes, the Huron River is considered the best. While Clinton River and Paint Creek are additional options, the Huron River offers trophy-sized smallmouth bass, as well as spring and winter steelhead in certain areas. It’s best fished by kayak or canoe but also provides options for walk-in access from several parks.

Floating the Huron River

Drift boats can find access in the river, but they may need to be dragged in and out of the water in areas like Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. However, there are boat ramps at the park near the mouth of Lake Erie, Belleville Lake, and Kent Lake. The only other boat launch is located near Flat Rock in the lower part of the river.

Warmwater Fishery

The Huron River is largely known as a warm water fishery that has pike, panfish, and largemouth bass in the slower waters. However, it is best known for the huger numbers of smallmouth bass that it offers, especially near Dexter through Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Steelhead Fishing

At Ann Arbor, the Huron River has several dams that build ponds where species like catfish and carp can also be found. In addition, when moving below Bellville Lake near Flat Rock Dam, there are steelhead throughout much of the year. This turns the Huron River into a four-season fishing experience for fly fishers.

Trout Fishing

Access to the Huron River is available to millions of people, but it doesn’t get in as many anglers as you might expect. It offers moderate water temperatures and an excellent gradient for fly fishing seasonal trout, as well as pike and smallmouth bass. Both wild and stocked fish are available, including bred trout ranging from eight to 25 inches for fly anglers. 

Huron River Map and Fishing Access Sites

Map of the best places to fish on the Huron River in Michigan.

Get directions to fishing access points and real-time stream flow data with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish the Huron River

The Huron River is located in Oakland and Livingston Counties, with excellent access through the banks on many local parks. Just north of Wixom is a great access point in the spring to bring in trout and other fish. Near Ann Arbor, the Barton Pond area also offers up sunfish, pike, and both large and smallmouth bass.

Those who don’t mind a crowd can head to Proud Lake to reel in stocked trout at the beginning of the season on April 1st. It can be a bit chaotic, but it offers an excellent way to start out your fishing for the year if you find a great spot. 

Several boat launches are provided at Kent Lake, where anglers have many fishing options. Largemouth bass are common, as are some large pike. This is a fun spot at any time of day, but evenings are great for beating the heat and experiencing fishing right on the water.

For smallmouth bass, the area between Delhi Park and Hudson Mills is a good choice. It has a gravel bottom run with a good current, along with log jams and slow pools. A nice spot for those in boats can be found between Argo Pond and Delhi Park for pike and largemouth bass.

Best Time to Fish the Huron River

One of the things that make the Huron River so exceptional is the fact that you can fish any time of the year. So, for anyone who wants to catch steelhead, spring is a good time to visit the waters. However, this season also opens up the trout season and there are plenty of fish to catch, from browns to brook trout and rainbows. 

Many of these fish continue to be active throughout the summertime, although some can slow down as the temperatures start to rise. However, a lot of the fishing spots will get crowded with people who want to enjoy swimming, water sports, and more. Therefore, searching out more isolated locations is best for those who want to focus fully on angling.

Both steelhead and smallmouth bass can be caught in the fall months. Fly anglers will want to spend time in areas with boulders, log jams, and other obstructions for the latter. Then, head through some of the pools and seams to bring in the fish that you’re looking for. 

Even winter is a good time for fishing the Huron River as steelhead hide out below Bellville Lake for savvy anglers. Smallmouth bass might be the most common fish to pull out of the waters, but those with patience and the right gear can find other fish throughout the year.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the Huron River. There are 19 dams on the Huron and water levels vary considerably throughout the watershed.

The USGS stream gauge at Ann Arbor, MI provides a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions maybe not be ideal.

HURON RIVER AT ANN ARBOR, MI

  • Temperature: 64.22 ° F
  • Streamflow: 188 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 12.13 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph
USGS

Best Flies for Huron River

Some of the most recommended fly patterns for the Huron River include the Schultzy’s Low Water Crayfish, Ian’s Epoxy Minnow, Schultzy’s S3 Sculpin, and the Cone Head Muddler Minnow. The Bead Head Woolly Bugger Streamer and Mickey Finn can also be useful when trying to bring bass out of the waters.

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 7-wt fly rod and matching fly reel with floating line is perfect for fishing for smallmouth bass on the Huron River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 1X to 3X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Need Gear? 

Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.

Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.

High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.

Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet.  3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.

Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable.  If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.

Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market.  Excellent foot and ankle support.  Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.

Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!

Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats.  Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish.  Simply the best nets on the market.

Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam.  If you need more storage - you have too many flies!

Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.

Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.

The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes.  Game changer.

Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!

Huron River Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Huron River fly fishing report and update on current conditions are listed below:

Fishing Regulations

The state of Michigan requires that all people who are 17 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.

You can purchase a Michigan state fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the  Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Trip Planning Tips

The easiest way to enjoy a fly fishing trip to Huron River is by taking a flight to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Since this river is close to a major city, it’s easy to get around for food, lodging, and other necessities.

There are a few tackle shops in the area, but the most popular is Schultz Outfitters, which is designed for fly fishers. They carry all the gear you could need and can offer information about fishing in this part of Michigan.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Michigan

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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