DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Two Hearted River in Michigan

All it takes is a glimpse of a brook trout in a river like the Two-Hearted River to believe that they are fish made specifically for the Michigan environment. This stunning river is located in the eastern upper peninsula and offers the best of Michigan – large, gorgeous trout.

The upper peninsula is known for offering some of the best brown and brook trout waters in the United States, including the "Big Two-Hearted River". This is one of the most famous streams in the state, not least of which because it was the title of a short story written by famous author, Ernest Hemingway.

Fly fishing the Two Hearted River in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan

The Two Hearted River is a magnificent body of water that spans 100 miles of Michigan before emptying into Lake Superior. The main section of the river almost lines up with the shoreline of this huge lake. However, it also includes four major branches that connect to create the main stream.

North, South, West and East Branches

The south and west branches form up to create the main river just over 30 miles above the lake. The north branch enters the main river just a bit downstream and creates a much stronger flow of water. As for the east branch, it joins around three miles below the Reed and Green Bridge, which is about 10 miles upstream of the lake.

Main Stem

The Two-Hearted River flows through the popular Lake Superior State Forest and has long been considered one of the best streams for fly fishing for trout in the entire state of Michigan. One of the reasons this river is famous is due to Hemingway, who mentioned a river of the same name in “Nick Adams Stories.” It largely flows through the forest in the lowland in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Access Challenges

Access to the river can be complicated in some areas unless the angler has a boat since it runs through an area that could best be termed as marshland. There are also areas of the river with runs, rapids, and riffles with a rocky bottom. The water in the Two Heart is extremely clear but has a slightly yellow tint if removed from the river.

River Transitions

The river will start to slow back down below the High Bridge, and the bottom changes from sharp and slippery rocks to small cobble and sand. The river has some structure and includes several undercut banks. In this same area, Dawson Creek will also enter the river.

Lower River

The area located below the Reed and Green Bridge is characterized as the lower section of the Two-Hearted River. It is best fished from some sort of watercraft.

Two Hearted River Map and Fishing Access Sites

Map of the best places to fish the Two-Hearted 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 Two Hearted River

The Two-Hearted River can be fly-fished from almost any location. If you are using a canoe, you can reach the waters from County Road 407 at the High Bridge for access to the mouth of the river. Country Road 418 also crosses over the North Branch and runs parallel with the river to the south and west branches.

The east branch is another area that is teeming with brook trout and capable of being fished while wading. You can reach this area of the river from County Road 435 and 410. The best fly fishing in this area will be in the lower section during the trout-closed season.

The Two-Hearted River Reed and Green Campground is another access point. This is a challenging area of the river with deep holes and dark water. Steelhead and brook trout are the most common and typically fished from a canoe or a kayak.

To reach this area, drive south from Deer Park on County Road 407, about three miles to County Road 410. Turn left and continue for just under five miles until you see the sign for the campground. Hook a left onto County Road 374 and follow it to the campground on the right side of the road.

Best Time to Fish the Two Hearted River

The Two Hearted River is available for fishing in all seasons. While brook trout are the most common fish in the waters, you can also catch pink salmon, Coho salmon, steelhead, and stocked rainbow trout.

Trout Fishing

When it comes to trout, you’ll need to adhere to the trout fishing season, which runs from the last Saturday in April through the end of September. However, fishing is available even outside of these dates if you head below the Reed and Green Bridge. 

Spring and Fall Steelhead and Salmon Fishing

Trout might be the most common catch in Michigan for fly anglers, but what this river is known for are the runs of salmon and steelhead. Spring steelhead runs typically peak in early May.  Fall steelhead follows the salmon migration and reaches its' peak in November. 

Winter

If you choose to fish during the winter months, make sure you are equipped for it with warm clothes. Also, check on the river conditions to be sure the water isn’t frozen in the section of the river you want to visit. Fish may be more sluggish in these months but can still be caught in the Twin River.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the Two Hearted River. While there is not a USGS stream gauge on the Two Heart, the gauge on the nearby Tahquamenon River 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.

TAHQUAMENON RIVER NEAR PARADISE, MI

  • Streamflow: 536 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 3.89 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph
USGS

Best Flies for Two Hearted River

The Two Heart sees good hatches of Hendricksons, sulphurs, BWOs, drakes, caddis and stonelies.  There is also a very healthly population of sculphins in the river that make up a good portion of the diet of resident trout.

Here is a list of general fly pattern recommendations for the Two Hearted River:

Dry Flies

  • Yellow Sally (#12 - 16)
  • Yellow Humpy (#10 - 18)
  • Parachute Sulphur (#14 - 18)
  • Parachute Adams (#12 - 22)
  • Light Cahill (#10 - 18)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#8 - 16)
  • Yellows Stimulator (#8 - 14)
  • Chernobyl Ant (#8 - 12)
  • Griffith's Gnat (#16 - 24)

Nymphs

  • Pheasant Tail (#12 - 20)
  • BH Hare's Ear (#12 - 20)
  • Rainbow Warrior (#14 - 22)
  • Pat's Rubber Legs (#4 - 12)
  • Golden Stonefly (#6 - 10)
  • Tellico Nymph (#12 - 18)
  • Zebra Midge (#16 - 22)
  • WD40 (#16-20)
  • Y2K Egg (#12 - 16)

Streamers

  • BH Wooly Bugger (#2 - 6)
  • Sculpzilla (#4)

Need flies? 

Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box. 

Dry Flies
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant

Nymphs/Wet Flies
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black

Streamers
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod and matching fly reel with floating line is perfect for fishing for trout on the Two Hearted River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

You'll want to step up to a seven- or eight-wt fly rod for steelhead and salmon.

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!

Two Hearted River Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Two Hearted 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 closest town to the Two-Hearted River is Newberry, which means you will want to fly in at Chippewa County International Airport. However, the town is about an hour’s drive from the airport so you will want to have a rental car or another form of transportation to get you to a fishing access area.

There are a few restaurants in Newberry, along with a few hotels so you won’t need to drive out of town to sleep or gather supplies. The area also has a small selection of tackle shops so you can fill your fly box during your trip to 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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