USFS Manistee River – Rainbow Bend Access Site

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Rainbow Bend Boat Launch, Manistee, MI, United States, USA

On the banks of the Manistee River at the U.S. Forest Service Rainbow Bend Access Site, two universally accessible fishing piers provide people with physical limitations the opportunity to experience the world-renowned fishery. Concrete walkways and barrier-free access to a restroom facility make the site convenient for people of all abilities.

Anglers utilize the barrier-free fishing piers at Rainbow Bend during the Chinook salmon runs in the fall of 2011The site, which is used by more than 50 outfitter guides as well as anglers who travel from around the world to fish the Big Manistee, is open year-round 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the Forest Service utilizes the $5 a day/$15 a week user access fee for maintenance.

Parking is available for 20 vehicles with trailers and a concrete ramp provides access for electric or gas motor boats less than 25 feet as well as small vessels such as canoes, kayaks and fishing boats.

Explore the Shores sites incorporate the best use of the fishing resources while limiting the impact on the environment. At Rainbow Bend, longtime tenants required special care of the designers. This site is a popular nesting ground for wood turtles and a great deal of planning went into making sure these sites were not disturbed.

At the ribbon cutting for Rainbow Bend, a nest of wood turtles hatched right next to one of the piers, proving the planning and design of the site was a huge success for all involved.

The Rainbow Bend Access site provides people of all abilities access to the Manistee River, which has been designated a National Wild and Scenic River for its natural, cultural and recreational value. The piers at this site were developed to provide the best opportunity for success to anglers and the picturesque location will thrill anyone who enjoys being outdoors.

Site Amenities:

  • Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Open year-round
  • Parking for 20 vehicles with trailers
  • $5 a day/$15/ week user access fee
  • Concrete ramp for electric or gas motor boats less than 25 feet
  • Access available for small vessels such as canoes, kayaks, fishing boats, and SUPs
  • Barrier free access to restroom facilities
  • Special use permit required for groups of 75 or more
  • World record brown trout caught after launching from this site
  • Spawning gravel located directly in front of piers, used heavily in the fall by Chinook salmon and in the spring by walleye, redhorse and white suckers
  • Nesting site for wood turtles
  • Location of the Little River Band of Ottawa indians steamside sturgeon rearing facility
  • Downstream from Sickle Creek, a small trout stream tributary that sees natural reproduction of Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead and brown trout.
Universal Access:
  • Universally accessible fishing pier
  • Concrete walkways with barrier free access to restrooms facilities
  • Concrete boat ramp
Fish Found Here:
  • Brown Trout
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Lake Sturgeon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Coho Salmon
  • Steelhead
  • White Sucker
Sturgeon Rearing:

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians have been operating a streamside lake sturgeon rearing facility at Rainbow Bend since 2004. Known as “relics of the dinosaur age,” Nme, or lake sturgeon, are one of the longest-lived species in the Great Lakes region and their ancestors date back approximately 500 million years.

However, due to a number of factors, including destruction of their habitat during the logging era, being discarded as waste from commercial nets, over-harvesting and dam construction, the lake sturgeon population has dwindled alarmingly.

Though the tribes streamside sturgeon rearing facility at Rainbow Bend was the first of its kind, there are now three others in Michigan and two in Wisconsin, all working together to save the sturgeon.

By raising them streamside on the banks of the Manistee River, the young sturgeon – which are captured when they’re tiny larvae and released a few months later with a much better chance of survival – imprint on the local waters. In 20 years or so when they of age to spawn, they will come back to these waters and the cycle will continue

Map/Location to  the Rainbow Bend Access Site
Location: From U.S. 31, turn east on Coates Highway.  Continue to Milarch Road, turn south.  Continue to River Road, Turn East, Continue to the Bear Creek Access (Signage will lead you to this location from Coates Highway)

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