The Boardman River is really made up of sections. Below Sabin Dam and above Sabin Dam. Above Sabin Dame, the Boardman harbors a healthy wild brown trout and brook trout population. Fishing can be tough, but also very rewarding when you find yourself in the right place at the right time. Below Sabin Dam you will find fishable numbers of steelhead and salmon, although the runs are not as large as other better known rivers in the region. Near the mouth of the Boardman you can also find smallmouth bass, pike, and even the occasional lake trout.
Fishing access above Sabin Dam:
Use Garfield Road as a starting point, its in the middle of Traverse City.
Shumsky Road Access: Take Garfield Road south out of town until you reach River Road. Turn Right and go about 3. miles to Shumsky Road. Watch closely for a small road/access sign. Turn Left onto Shumsky Road and soon you will find a public access site on your right. Comfortable wading with good fishing can be found both up and down stream. Private property limits other access in this fine stretch.
Below Brown Bridge Road: Take Garfield Road to River Road. Turn Left on River Road, cross the next road, and very soon you will cross a small bridge. Park near the bridge and enter the Boardman on the upstream side. A nice wade through a short stretch in the “Brown Bridge Quiet Area.” You can wade up what used to be the dam, exit at the steps and walk the road back down to your car. Or park at the dam and do the reverse. I prefer to wade up and down stream. Easy wading, a very attractive natural area, and a fine spot for kids & beginners.
Above Brown Bridge Road: For a more solitary experience, you can continue from this small bridge over the Boardman and take Brown Bridge Road (a dirt road) at least 1/2 mile or so upstream. Keep watching on your left and pick a likely pull-off. A hike through the woods on a well used path will get you to the river. Some of this area is still not stable since the dam was removed in 2012. Though the river is now in its old streambed, stabilization of the banks and fresh plantings are ongoing and this small stretch should not be trampled. Some trails further upstream will get you into nice stretches of the upper Boardman. If you continue on Brown Bridge Road you can check out Ranch Rudolf on the river and the fishing access at “Scheck’s” and the “Forks.” Easy wading, medium exertion.