Jon's Guide Service Fall 2017 Newsletter

(September Salmon, October & November Fall Steelhead)


September and October in Michigan provide some of the best fishing opportunities available during the year. Autumn is in the air, and the forests are full of fall color. The local rivers are full of salmon that entered rivers in Late August and early September in the tens of thousands! Fall steelhead have entered the river to feed heavy on the salmon roe buffet from salmon spawning. 

will be chasing salmon and steelhead until the Michigan winters close the rivers again with snow and ice.




About the Guide 

I have been a fishing guide in Michigan for over 30 years. Rivers such as the Pere Marquette, Manistee, AuSable and Betsie have been playgrounds and my office for many seasons.  FFF certified casting instructor, Orvis endorsed guide and school instructor, Head Guide of the largest outfitter east of the Rocky Mountains, and  fly shop owner have built years of experience in fishing & fly fishing Michigan waters and around the world. Join me and explore the great fishery and experience that Michigan rivers have to offer. My guide service is about providing a safe, educational experience that will be remembered for years to come. Our goal is to put you on the best fishing your day has to offer!

Guide: Captain Jon Kestner    

Jon Kestner (Jon’s Guide Service)
5421 E. Main St.
South Boardman, MI 49680



 River Reports, Maps, Guided Fly Fishing in Michigan for the following Species and Rivers:

Michigan River and Fishing Reports  

  Muskegon River Fly Fishing

Manistee River Fly Fishing

Guided Fall Steelhead Fishing


Steelhead on a Fly!

Steelhead on Streamers!



How to Rig for Trout & Steelhead

Drift Fishing / Float Fishing / Swinging Flies

Do you know your knots?

Check out this icon for info on knots


Destination Travel

All Inclusive 7 day Fishing package

Non Fishing All Inclusive

All Inclusive Fishing 7 Days Starting at


Contact us for preferred group pricing!








 (231) 590-3483 



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Fall Steelhead!

Steelhead Streamers!



What flies do I use for Steelhead?

Thousands of patterns have been tied for Steelhead over the years. It can be hard to decide what pattern to use. I like to break the Steelhead patterns I use in the Midwest, into four (4) different groups; Nymphs, Eggs, Attractors, and Streamers. To have an idea of what we want to fish, we have to have an understanding of what Steelhead eat. A Steelhead has a diet of aquatic insects as well as smaller fish and roe or fish eggs.

Fishing nymphs or aquatic insect patterns for Steelhead has become very popular in the midwest. There are three (3) groups of importance when looking for patterns to fish for Steelhead: mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis.


Egg patterns are what a good number of Steelhead fishermen use to catch Steelhead, and is one of the best patterns to use for fall Steelhead! Egg patterns imitate the roe or fish eggs of spawning fish in the river system. Eggs, as well as general nymphs and Streamers, can be tied in bright or hot colors, and can be productive for catching Steelhead. These patterns are called attractor patterns. Attractor patterns are good when the water is high and dirty or when fish are in an aggressive mood.


Streamers have been the roots of Steelhead fishing in the northwest portion of the country for years. Streamers may include leeches, baitfish patterns, sculpin, as well as attractors, as mentioned before.




Flies for Steelhead Gallery  

What determines the flies I use for Steelhead?

Picking the fly to fish, based on conditions, is important. If the water is low and clear, the pattern should be natural and sparse. If the water conditions are high and dirty, the use of brighter and full dressed flies will allow the fish to find your pattern. Are there fish spawning or eggs drifting down the river? Do you see any hatches taking place? These are the things that I use to help determine what to fish. During the peak seasons of Steelhead fishing, an egg pattern will almost always be a good choice. In low water or in bright fishing conditions, my egg pattern is natural and realistic. In high dirty water, my egg pattern is bright and on the large side. A hatch can be a key to putting on a pattern. Wading traffic can also help determine what to fish. Anglers walk around the stream and will kick loose nymphs such as the popular green rock worm or caddis larva. When picking out nymphs to fish, remember that the Hex (Hexagenia Limbata), as well as several stone flies, will stay in the river for multiple years before hatching, thus making them always available for fish. A simple rule of thumb, when the flow is low, or temps are low, and wade fishing is low, aquatic insect flow is low. If the water temp increases, flow increases due to melt off of snow or rain, and if wading traffic is up, aquatic insect flow is up.  


How do I fish for Steelhead?

There are three basic ways to present a fly to a Steelhead. The most common way is to use a technique called chuck-n-duck. This system uses a small diameter fly line (shooting line or running line .020 -.034), a butt section of 8’ or longer and a dropper weight attached to the end of the butt section. From the butt section, weight, tippet, and flies are added. This system runs to the bottom and follows the bottom while presenting the flies. The second technique is to use a floating line. This system works best for fishing shallow water or site fishing. The ability to mend and cast are at a higher level with this technique. Rigging a floating line can be as simple as attaching a tapered leader to the fly line, a fly, and a pinch of weight. The use of a strike indicator can be used to help detect the take. An indicator can also be used to fish a 90 degree presentation or to fish the flies elevated over snags and debris. The use of spey or two-handed rods has helped this technique become popular. The longer fly rod makes casting, mending, and presentation easier on the angler as well as more productive.

Another common way of fishing for Steelhead is to swing or strip flies. I find this technique to be more productive in the fall, but have had success in the spring as well. The use of a sinking line will help keep flies down in the strike zone while swinging or stripping flies. The most effective techniques are based more on ease of presentation and how long the fly stays in the strike zone.  


Where do I fish for Steelhead?

Michigan has many great rivers and streams to fish for Steelhead. Some of my favorite rivers are the Manistee River below Tippy Dam , Pere Marquette River below M-37 bridge (flies only section – Wahalla bridge area) , Muskegon River below Croton Dam - Newaygo , and the Betsie & White River. When choosing a river to fish, ask yourself what you are looking for. Some rivers are easy to wade; others fish better with a boat. Will the river or section of river to be fished be crowded? I try to fish where good numbers of fish can be found but where I am not influenced by others all day long.

A key to fall Steelhead fishing is Salmon! Since the fall run is based on spawning Salmon, and the fish use gravel to spawn and lay eggs, find gravel and Salmon and you will find fall Steelhead. Some of my best days have been fishing a deeper pocket or pool below spawning gravel. Fall Steelhead look for Salmon roe, so look for Steelhead to sit below spawning flats. I look for flow, structure, and enough depth for fish to hide if they need to.







Jon's Guide Service books several guides and can provide fishing and guiding services on the Manistee River, Betsie River, Platte River, Pere Marquette River and Muskegon River.