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 62 reviews


62 of 62 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    2015 Guide of the Year - 10/1/2015

    This is my 20th year of fish with Chuck Hawkins. He is by far the best fly fishing guide and I expect nothing but the best. Chuck amazes me at the level of detail for each trip, every aspect is fully covered, I'm comfortable that when I step into the boat we have everything needed for the day. On the water Chuck has an incredible instinct for finding fish, when to stay, when to move on, which fly to use, what color and size. He is patient when I throw a fly in a tree and complimentary when I make a nice cast. Spend a day with Hawkins on the water and you will know why his clients keep coming back.

  • 5/5

    Expectations exceeded, and then some... - 6/8/2015

    My amazing wife presented me with a gift certificate for a full-day guided trip with Hawkins Outfitters on our wedding day after much research and reading reviews that placed Hawkins Outfitters as one of the best, if not "the best", guide service in Michigan. This became evident with my initial contacts with Cherie during the scheduling and booking the date, she is such a nice lady and a pleasure to talk with. Based on what I wanted to achieve she paired me with Jon Stefanciw for a full-day float down the Manistee River complete with casting instructions for myself and my wife. The hardest part about this was waiting the few months for the date to actually arrive to get on the river. Prior to the day out on the river Jon contacted me several times to make sure we were ready to go and to confirm the plans for the on the river. One final email came the morning we were to go out with the finalized plans and we were totally excited for the day! Jon met us as discussed, and immediately we knew this was going to be a great day! Jon is extremely outgoing and very knowledgeable about the river and the program he was going to run for us that day. We started out slowly with an assessment of our skill level and basic instructions to allow us to proficiently cast all day long. The bite was slow to start during the peak of the day as the sun was beating down hot and heavy on the river. Jon was constantly having us try different flies and different techniques to draw the trout out of their secret hiding spots. As the afternoon progressed we then did start finding those fish and Jon's casting instructions and knowledge of the river started to pay off. He gave very good feedback to our casting techniques and taught us to read the river for where fish would be lying very well. We took a break about half way through our trip and prepared a delicious dinner on the river. The highlight of the day was just after dinner when I hooked into an 18-inch brown trout that was ready to fight after realizing it was hooked, at which point Jon expertly guided me how to fight the fish and bring it to net. All in all, Jon was an excellent guide that I look forward to calling upon again in the future! His knowledge, professionalism, and humor made it a day that I will never forget. I would highly recommend him, or any of the Hawkins guides, to provide a day full fly fishing fun. They are a class-act company that gives a definite value for the money spent! Thanks Hawkins!

  • 5/5

    Best Day Fly Fishing - 5/19/2015

    My best friend and I spent a day fly fishing with Jon Stefanciew, the day did not disappoint and neither did Jon. Jon was prepared and well organized for the day. He made two fishing rookies (never picked up fly fishing rods) completely comfortable with his knowledge of the river and patient instruction. During our time on the river he taught us three different casts and I lost track of how many fish we caught. Learning to fly fish was a relaxing experience and I can't wait to get back out there. I will be in contact with Jon again soon! If you are looking for a fun day on the river regardless of experience I recommend getting in touch with Jon. You will not be disappointed when you book a day on the river with him.

  • 5/5

    Amazing fly fishing lesson - 5/13/2015
    By: from Traverse City, MI

    My best friend and I recently booked a fly fishing trip with Jon Stefanciw. Our goal was to learn some basic techniques and most importantly have fun! Jon took us out for a day on the Manistee River and he did not disappoint! He is such a patient instructor. His expertise and laughter made the day an absolute blast! Jon took the time to explain the river currents, 3 different fly fishing techniques and why we were using different flies at different times. I never felt uncomfortable or frustrated. It helped to have an instructor with that kind of knowledge and connection to the river. I never felt rushed or tired. It amazed me how much fly fishing took my mind off of all of life's stresses. I was able to relax and just focus on what I was doing in the moment. I wasn't thinking about anything else. Every time we caught a fish I would feel this rush of excitement and I could not stop smiling! For two adventurous best friends that are motivated to continue to push ourselves to learn new challenges, it was a perfect day! Jon has the ability to help you understand fly fishing and make you feel safe. As well as make you laugh! We had an incredible day and we cannot wait to go again! Hawkins Outfitters runs an organized operation and I would recommend a guided trip with Jon to anyone at any fishing level. Northern Michigan is lucky to have a such an experienced, passionate guide! I see more fly fishing in my future!

  • 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....

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

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