Hawkins Outfitters, MI

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide Services in Traverse City, Michigan

Hawkins Outfitters, MI


Hawkins Outfitters is a catch-and-release fly-fishing guide service based near Traverse City, Michigan. We have been in business 19 years, fishing our local lakes and streams. We are fully permitted by both the State of Michigan and the United States Forest Service to use all of the area's lakes, rivers, and streams.

Hawkins Outfitters was founded on the principle that a guide can't control the weather or the fish, so he/she is responsible for controlling everything else. Our boats and equipment are first rate, meals are fresh and tasty, and my guides arrive excited to go to work and help our customers reach their fly-fishing dreams. Our skill at that was one reason we were named the 2010 Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide Service of the Year.
We guide beginners to advanced anglers—young and old alike—with a great attitude and a desire to have a wonderful day on the water.
We are not a shop or a lodge, but rather a group of guides that love to guide and wish to take you fishing on “Any River... Anytime.”

Date Range

We are a year-round guide service because Michigan offers year-round fishing. Spring fishing starts in March and continues through April. May is the preview to summer, with bugs beginning to hatch and the lakes and streams are waking up from winter. September we feel the nights begin to cool, with October bringing the color to the leaves. December starts the long, northern winter. My guides fish every day in winter that the temperatures allow.

What is Provided to Customer

We provide rods and reels, a meal on full-day trips, plus beverages.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

Hawkins Outfitters fishes a 90-mile radius around Traverse City, Michigan. We fish the Manistee, Boardman, Pere Marquette, Betsie and Platte Rivers, along with some other smaller creeks. The Lake Michigan bays in our area, and many inland lakes, give us ample opportunity to fish for all species available

Typical Weather by Season

The weather is typical northern Michigan. Winter starts around Thanksgiving and ends in April. Temps can run from low 30s down to zero. Storms are always possible, but winter on a decent day is a great time to fish.
Spring is May, with summer starting in mid-June. The temps/weather can be unpredictable, with temperatures from freezing all the way up to 80 degrees. The leaves start changing in October, signaling the arrival of fall—a beautiful and busy time of year. Cool to cold mornings give way to nice afternoons.


Sample of Typical Itinerary

Hawkins Outfitters offers single-day trips or trips of any duration that you desire. You are typically with our guides for 8-9 hours after meeting him at an easy-to-identify location.

Our operation on the Garden River First Nation in the fall has three day trips. Please see our website for more information on the Garden River.

In conjunction with my partner Martin Carranza of Chime Lodge, we offer week-long trips to Patagonia in Argentina in Jan-March every year.


Species You Fish for by Season

Michigan has fish that can be caught by fly anglers 12 months a year. Steelhead are available most years from mid-September until the following April, with prime time being October and November, followed closely by December through March. Resident trout fishing runs from late April through November with May and June being prime time. Salmon start showing in August most years and hang around through October.
Small- and largemouth bass, bluegills, pike, and other warmwater species are pursued successfully from May to October in both lakes and rivers. Carp and smallmouth on the Lake Michigan bays are prime in early June.


What Should Customers Bring?

The customer needs to bring their own personal stuff such as sunglasses, rain gear, sunscreen etc.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. At what age can a child start to fly fish?
A. Most kids can pick up basic casting skills and catch panfish around the age of 5.

Q. How far in advance do I need to book my trip?
A. Prime-time steelhead trips for the fall need to be booked by June most years. Prime bug hatches in the month of June are usually full by spring. If you are date-specific in a prime time, earlier is better.

Q. I’ve never Spey cast. Can I still catch steelhead?
A. Yes, we have single-handed rod techniques that will get you hooked up on steelhead.

Q. Do you have accommodations?
A. No, we like to move around and fish a variety of waters depending on species and time of year. We do provide you with a list of housing options when you book a trip with us.

Q. How many days should I fish?
A. That depends on your schedule, ability, and desire. We suggest a minimum of two days if you are traveling a distance or learning a new technique.


Overall: Show Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 58 reviews


58 of 58 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    A game - 1/8/2014
    By: from Chicago, IL, USA

    My wife and I were introduced to Chuck Hawkins when Ed McCoy joined his guide service years ago. We have both fished with Chuck in Canada and Argentina and have had many great experiences as a couple. Chuck, Jon and Ed have always put my wife, family, and guests first. Ed is a great coach and friend and has helped me to find my A game. These guys are definitely within my circle of trust. Tight lines.

  • 5/5

    Making Memories - 1/8/2014
    By: from South Bend, IN, USA

    I have been fishing with Ed McCoy and Hawkins for the last 4 years. I keep adding fishermen and we added Jon Stefanciw 2 years ago. I have brought clients, friends, employees and my 13 year old son up to fish with Ed over that time period. Whether we are fishing for Salmon on the Pere Marquette or Steelhead on the swing in the Manistee. Ed and Jon are always on the fish. The fact that my son said that his trip and his 20lb salmon that he took on the PM was the highlight of his year is reason enough to go back and fish with Ed every year. I have told Ed before that they are not just fishing guides, they guide regular folks like me to memories that will last a life time. If you are looking to fish the waters around Travers City you will not find a better group of guidies than at Hawkins.

  • 5/5

    Hard Worker/Good Teacher - 1/7/2014
    By: from Grosse Pointe, MI

    I've been a Hawkins customer for about 7 years now. I've fished mainly with Ed McCoy and found him to be a first rate, knowledgeable and hard working guide who just won't quit. Ed's priority is your fishing experience. What's more, he is an excellent and patient instructor who is more than willing to employ (and teach) a variety of different fly fishing techniques. Ed spends as much or more time on his home waters than anybody out there and he knows what's going on with the river and the fish. I've spent a lot of days on the river with Ed and not one of them has been high stress!

  • 5/5

    Perpetual Customer - 1/7/2014
    By: from Michigan

    Why did I title my review “Perpetual Customer”? Because that is what I am at Hawkins Outfitters. I travel for work and get a chance to fish throughout the continental USA. I would say I have used over 10 different guide services over the years. All of these have been highly recommended by friends. Most have been Orvis Endorsed Outfitters and Guides. IMHO, Hawkins is, “The Best of The Best!” Whenever I need to unplug and get a break away from the 24/7/365 hustle and bustle, I call Ed McCoy and make plans. “Any River……………Any Time?” that is a way of life for the Hawkins Crew. I have never been disappointed in the knowledge, professionalism and strive for excellence that Hawkins Outfitters provides. I have fished all seasons, all times of day and every type of technique Ed McCoy and I could come up with. In all the years, I have yet to be disappointed. Just the other day I took someone along who never fished for Steelhead in his life, let alone in the winter on a single digit day! The service and patience paid off for my friend as he brought his first Steelhead to hand. He is hooked for life. If I am asked who I recommend, I say Hawkins Outfitters!, with no hesitation and with full confidence. If you are ever in the area, make a reservation and enjoy what Michigan rivers have to offer. You will receive knowledge and memories of a life time.

  • 5/5

    Ed McCoy - Hawkins Outfitters, MI - 1/7/2014
    By: from Big Manistee River, Pere Marquette River

    Mr. Ed McCoy is an excellent fishing guide. I have taken guided trips with Ed for the past 11 years. He is an incredibly gifted fisherman and a very professional guide. He is highly regarded by his peers in Northern Michigan. Ed has always made the days on the river extremely enjoyable with great fishing, and really good lunches. We have caught Steelhead between 7 and 15 pounds on various trips over the years. He does an excellent job netting fish and retying flies and leaders as required. I would give Ed my highest recommendation as a guide.

  • 5/5

    No finer service anywhere - 1/7/2014
    By: from Traverse City, MI

    As a relatively new flyfisher, the experience I have received from Ed McCoy has been second to none. His respect for the river, the fish, and my learning curve is as good as there is. His devotion to my fishing is the best. Also fished for steelhead w/ Chuck and the time was well spent. Booked 9 dates with Hawkins for 2014. Need I say more....

  • 5/5

    Superior Instructors - 1/7/2014
    By: from Kalkaska, MI 49646, USA

    I have been a client of Capt. Ed McCoy's for 4 years now. Ed is the first person I call when I need to advance my fly fishing tactics. Ed is a phenomenal instructor and is incredibly patient. Recently he introduced me to swinging for steelhead. He taught me the techniques for making the proper cast needed, gear to be used and proper fly selection. I spent two days with McCoy and learned as fast as possible and within 3 weeks later I was off swinging up steelhead on my own from what I learned from Ed. Ed also excels on the trout streams. In my opinion he is at the top of the list of Michigan dry fly guides. His night time mousing game is also incredible and should not be overlooked. Even if your a novice he will instruct you how to catch fish when the lights go out. I found a interest 2 yrs ago in warm water species and asked Ed if he could help.... He send me to fellow Hawkins Guide Jon Ray. Jon Ray showed me the ins and outs of how to catch smallmouth bass and carp on the fly. JR's knowledge of the local warm water fisheries was astounding. He too was very informative and made my success possible. Jon Ray also has a terrific steelhead program and I have had the pleasure of swinging with him. He truly is a artist on the big river chasing steel. Never ending tactics keep JR on the cutting edge of the Great Lakes Steelhead fishery. Hawkins Outfitters guides are top notch in my book. They strive for professionalism!!! Hawkins will help you learn and have success on the fly guaranteed!! Thanks for the amazing last 4 years Hawkins Outfitters and lets get another big one in 2014 Eddy

  • 5/5

    Great Steelhead Experience - 11/27/2013
    By: from Manistee, Mi, USA

    I just completed a great two-day experience on the Manistee with Chuck Hawkins and my Father. Despite some very challenging weather, we caught over a 100 lbs of trout in a day and a half! Even greater than that was the experience gained from Chuck's knowledge of the river, steelheads and the environment. He is an easy person to spend time with and adjusts his advice well according to experience level of the anglers in his boat. I have fished with many guides over the past 12 years in different areas of the country and he ranks at the top of my list.

  • 5/5

    Chuck Hawkins, the guide - 11/27/2013
    By: from Dearborn, Mi

    Chuck Hawkins has been guiding me and a friend for about 8 years. I have learned more from him than all the other guides I have used over the last 25 years. Not only is he a great guide, but he is a great host. There is never a dull moment in his boat. You are either catching a fish, or laughing. And he loves teaching. Especially to youngsters. Let's face it. Eight hours in a boat with someone can be a tough day. Not with Chuck. It is delightful to spend the day with him. He just put me into more steelhead than I have ever caught in 2 of the worst weather days I have ever fished in. He truly is the best.

  • 5/5

    Unique experience - 11/27/2013

    For a southerner many years now, I did not know what to think when I started my trip in November to fish for steelhead. What I found was a great guide and fishing buddies who prepared me well and kept me in the game always. I fished with Chuck for four days from the mid 40's to the single numbers wind chill factor and blowing lake-effect snow. We had a heater in the boat, warm, wonderful soup for lunch, excellent equipment, and the great knowledge of our guide to keep us fishing. There is no question but what Chuck Hawkins knows what he is doing and passes it along to his clients who catch fish. My top fish was 13 lbs and a gem of a steelhead hen. Great fun to fish with such experienced people.

Hawkins Outfitters
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide Services
Chuck or Cherie Hawkins
PO Bx 362
Traverse City, MI 49685

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