Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Rifle River - Sterling - Michigan

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midges Mid-day 18-22 Zebra Midges, WD-40
Blue-winged Olive Afternoon 18-22 BWO Emerger, Olive Dun
February Midges Mid-day 18-22 Zebra Midges, WD-40
Blue-winged Olive Afternoon 18-22 BWO Emerger, Olive Dun
March Blue-winged Olive Afternoon 16-20 Pheasant Tail nymph, Olive Dun
April Blue-winged Olive, Caddis Afternoon, Evening 16-20, 12-16 Elk Hair Caddis, Olive Dun
May Sulphur, Caddis Afternoon, Evening 14-18, 12-16 Pheasant Tail Nymph, Elk Hair Caddis
June Stonefly, Sulphur Morning, Afternoon 6-10, 14-18 Golden Stone, Light Cahill
July Stonefly, Caddis Morning, Evening 6-10, 12-16 Golden Stone, Elk Hair Caddis
August Terrestrials, Caddis All Day 12-16, 14-18 Ants, Hoppers, Elk Hair Caddis
September Terrestrials, Blue-winged Olive All Day, Afternoon 12-16, 16-20 Ants, Hoppers, Pheasant Tail Nymph
October Blue-winged Olive Afternoon 16-20 BWO Emerger, Olive Dun
Midges Mid-day 18-22 Zebra Midges, WD-40
November Blue-winged Olive Afternoon 18-22 BWO Emerger, Olive Dun
Midges Mid-day 18-22 Zebra Midges, WD-40
December Midges Mid-day 18-22 Zebra Midges, WD-40
Blue-winged Olive Afternoon 18-22 BWO Emerger, Olive Dun

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

The Rifle River – Sterling region offers some of the best spots for fly fishing. Top places to Fly Fish:
  • East Branch: The East Branch is abundant in trout. The best time to visit is spring season, when the fish are most active.
  • White’s Bridge: Situated in the lower section of the Rifle River, White’s Bridge is famous for hatches of Brown Drakes and Hexagenia in June.
  • Sage Lake Road: The stretch along Sage Lake Road is good for Brown trout year-round. Early morning is the best time for trout fishing.
  • Grousehaven Lake: As an impoundment section, Grousehaven Lake has stable water levels and is stocked with Brown trout and Walleye.
  • Pipe’s Road: The riffles and pools along Pipe’s Road are known for large Brown trout, particularly in late spring.

Best Access Points

The Rifle River at Sterling is an excellent location for fly fishing. Some of the best access points for the pastime at this location include:

  • Sage Lake Road Bridge: This public access point is easily reachable and a popular spot amongst fly fishers. It offers anglers the chance to catch various species such as brown trout.
  • Rifle River Recreation Area: This state park provides multiple access points along the river. It’s particularly good for rainbow trout.
  • Melita Road Bridge: Good access point with decent fly-fishing opportunities, you can find several varieties of fish.
  • The City Park in Sterling: The park has an open bank that is easily accessible. It is common to fly fish for steelhead here.

Remember, each of these locations keeps changing with the seasons and water conditions. It’s best to carry requisite fishing permits.

Local Fish

  • Brown Trout – Known for their rapacious appetites and quick strikes. They are mostly observed during early mornings and late evenings.
  • Rainbow Trout – Easily recognisable by the vibrant colours on their body. They are typically found in cooler waters.
  • Brook Trout – Native to the area, they can often be found in shallow and clear waters where insects are plentiful.
  • Northern Pike – Offering a challenging experience, these can provide thrilling and aggressive strikes.
  • Smallmouth Bass – Popular for their vigorous fights when hooked. They typically inhabit deeper pools in the river.
  • Bluegill – This species is perfect for beginners learning the sport. They are easy to attract with flies imitating small insects.
  • Yellow Perch – These fish are mostly found in the deeper and colder parts of the river with a preference for minnow-based flies.
  • Walleye – Walleyes provide a thrilling catch due to their elusive nature. They are actively caught at night or during overcast days.

About The River

The Rifle River, in Sterling, Michigan carries captivating tales from the past. Originally a logging river during the great Michigan lumber era, it was gloriously dotted with floating logs embarking on their downstream journeys. Today, famously known for its 76-mile course, the river is a beloved destination for nature aficionados.

  • Abundant Wildlife: The lush landscapes around the river are bursting with a variety of flora and fauna, creating the perfect backdrop for hiking and nature photography.
  • Fishing Oasis: Home to brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout, it is an angler’s paradise, offering a thrilling fishing experience.
  • Recreational Hub: Canoeing, camping, and tubing are some of the favorite recreational activities, pulling in countless outdoor enthusiasts every year.

The enchanting saga of the Rifle River is one of transformation, from a hardworking logging river to a cherished retreat, revealing Michigan’s remarkable journey through time.


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