The Clinton River is an excellent place to enjoy the spring steelhead run. This page provides everything you need to know to enjoy this awesome urban fishery!

VIDEO: 5th Annual Clinton River Steelhead Outing

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Get involved in the Clinton River Coldwater Conservation Project

Best Fishing Access Points

Clinton River at Yates Park, Rochester Hills

Yates Park (located at the intersection of Dequindre Road and Avon Road / 22 Mile Road) is probably the most popular fishing spot for steelhead in the Clinton River watershed, and draws quite a crowd right at the dam. Fewer anglers go downstream below the cider mill, where there are literally miles of parkland all the way to Ryan Road. Anglers must enter and fish off the north bank; the south bank is private land owned by the Detroit Sportsmen’s Congress. If you are in the river and fishing from the north bank, you are on public land and won’t be trespassing anywhere. Yates Park on Avon Road is owned and operated by the City of Rochester Hills, and there is generally a parking fee in effect on weekends.

Clinton River at River Bends Park, Shelby Township

River Bends Park (entrance at Ryan Road south of 22 Mile Road) is a continuation of Shelby Township’s great parkland along the river (part of the former Rochester-Utica State Recreation Area, which was sold by the state to Rochester Hills and Shelby Township). The park covers both banks all the way nearly to Utica, with the interior park roads providing a lot of fishing access. (Check with Shelby Township Parks & Recreation for hours and fees.)

Clinton River at Dodge Park, Sterling Heights

There is a nice run of spawning pike through Sterling Heights in the spring, so there’s a good chance of steelhead too. Sterling Heights Nature Center on Utica Road east of Van Dyke is a good access point with parking.

North Branch at Wolcott Mill Metropark, Ray Township

Although we don’t have firsthand experience, the river at Wolcott Mill looks like ideal steelhead water, and there is lots of access from the metropark from the Mill Entrance off of Kunstman Road in Ray Township. All HCMA metroparks require an entrance fee.

Lower River at Shadyside Park, Mt. Clemens

The lower river is wide and deep, so you’ll need a small boat to fish from…which lots of steelhead anglers do every spring in other Michigan rivers. Shadyside Park has a boat launch ramp.

Water Conditions

Steelhead fishing is always a hit or miss proposition, even on the best steelhead river. It is very weather dependent…water temp, air temp, amount of rain and runoff. ALL anglers venturing onto the Clinton River, or any Michigan river, this time of year need to be mindful of the weather and water conditions. High, fast water is to be avoided….it can be dangerous, plus the fishing is not going to be good in those conditions anyway. Anglers can gage the river’s condition by going to the USGS streamflow monitoring sites, listed below.

USGS Streamflow Data:

If these show high-flow spike in water levels, anglers should stay home and off the water. This is real-time data, so anglers can see that the rivers are too high just by checking the USGS website. During high water, there is also the risk of bacterial contamination from sewage overflows that could affect several stretches of the river.

Fishing Regulations

For Clinton River steelhead fishing regulations, go to MDNRE’s 2010 Fisheries Regulations. Included are the official trout stream designations for both the Main Branch (Yates Park to Lake St. Clair) and North Branch (up to Cascade Dam outside Romeo). These are “Type 4″ waters. Be sure to review Type 4 Regulations. Steelhead are actually rainbow trout, so look for the regulations for rainbow trout:

  • open season (all year)
  • minimum length (10″)
  • tackle types allowed
  • possession rules

A valid fishing license is required, along with a trout/salmon stamp. Licenses can be purchased online, and are good from April 1st of the current year until March 31st of the next year.

The spring steelhead run is when fishing on the Clinton River is best…with spring flows and the help of the DNR Fisheries fish stocking program to give it a boost…and before the multiple pressures of summer heat and low water levels take their toll. As more of the public becomes aware of the enjoyable recreation on the river with the spring spawning run, hopefully it will generate more support to work on solving some of the river’s other problems.

Fish Consumption Advisory

CRWC supports and recommends catch and release fishing in order to reduce pressure on the fishery and due to the consumption advisories that exist for many Great Lakes fish. The major contaminants of concern are mercury and PCBs.