Why Fish the Grand River

The Grand River can arguably be called the best steelhead, smallmouth bass and northern pike rivers in the state.  There is also plenty of opportunity to catch other species of fish such as salmon, largemouth bass, walleye and the occasional muskie.

It’s Michigan’s longest river at 252 miles and has several major tributaries that include, the Thornapple, Maple and Flat Rivers.  In addition, there are several minor tributaries that feed into the system as well.  Those include, Sycamore Creek, Looking Glass, Rogue, Plaster Creek and the Red Cedar River.  The main stream rises in Hillsdale County and flows through Ionia to Grand Rapids and to its outlet at Grand Haven on Lake Michigan.

Many of the sections offer solitude from the crowds, boats and other fisherman.


The history of the Grand River is one of Ruin and Recovery.  There is still this stigma that the Grand that is polluted and a wasteland.   Quite the contrary, as there has been much focus and money dedicated to cleaning up Michigan’s largest and most iconic river.

The Grand River watershed is massive.  It covers 5,572 square miles, 19 counties drain into it and 13% of the Lake Michigan watershed falls within it.  Because of that, there has been a lot of federal, state and private dollars that have gone into cleaning it up and restoring fish habitat.

This coordinated focus has allowed the Grand River’s water quality to improve over the years as evidenced by the most recent Grand River Assessment from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources dated June 2017.


This brings us to today, the Grand has become a world class fishery and one of the best steelhead, smallmouth bass and northern pike fisheries in the state.  It now holds over 95 native fish species with a total 108 fish species inhabiting the watershed.

The Grand River has provided many an angler with Master Angler Awards for species that include carp and flathead catfish to rainbow trout (steelhead), brown trout, lake trout and chinook salmon.


Much of the focus that has helped bring the Grand to where it is today continues.  There is still a lot of money being poured into its continued restoration, particularly with dam removal.  Currently, there are over 232 dams on the Grand River and is tributaries.  This removal has started with Sixth Street Dam, in downtown, Grand Rapids.  $45 million is in the process of being raised and once removed, migratory routes will open up for salmon, steelhead, trout, sturgeon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye and a variety of other species to quality spawning habitat.  Hopefully, over time, other dams can be removed which will open up more migratory routes to more spawning habitat and improve the fishery even further.

So if you want to take advantage of all the Grand has to offer then give Werkman Outfitters a call or send us a message.

2 Comments on “Why Fish the Grand River

  1. Pingback: Werkman Outfitters - Grand River Fishing Report | Grand Rapids, Michigan

  2. Pingback: Werkman Outfitters - Tips on How to Catch Steelhead and Salmon

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