Surrounded by the Great Lakes, over 11,000 inland lakes, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and over 170,000 species of fish that call it home, all make Michigan a fisherman’s paradise. Some of the fish in Michigan are prized and great for putting on the table. Here are some of the top fishing spots in Michigan where you can find these tasty little swimmers.
Also known as a Musky, this fish is known as “the fish of 10,000 casts” because it’s supposed to be pretty elusive. Here in Michigan we have two different types that can be found, the Great Lakes Muskellunge and the Northern Muskellunge. The Upper Peninsula is the perfect place to find both of them, especially the Northern Muskellunge. One of the best spots you can fish is Lake Michigamme, which is one of Michigan’s largest lakes, aside from the Great Lakes. This 6 mile long, 70 foot deep, 4,292 acre lake can be found in Marquette and Baraga Counties, and there are plenty of places you can rent boats and purchase bait and tackle. Before you set out to catch Muskellunge, you need to make sure that you have strong line. Not only do these guys need to be a minimum of 42 inches to keep, they have sharp teeth so they can break the line easily. Using large plugs, spoons, and spinners, and baiting with large suckers, you can usually catch these guys by casting or trolling shallow weedy areas in the cooler weather, or deeper areas in the hot summer. If you’re looking for a place to stay or need a boat rental, check out Michigamme Shores Campground. They have campsites for RVs, tents, and rent cabins as well!
Northern Pike can be found all over Michigan, and they are one fish that can be hard not to find. Pretty much every lake and river has them from the mitten to the UP. One of the best places in the state to find these toothy predators is near where Lakeshore RV is located! The Muskegon River offers them a great home, which gives you amazing fishing opportunities. The best spot to find them is in Newaygo! Because of the Croton Pond and Hardy Pond along with the river in this area, the fish have a pretty big habitat that allows them to grow big and plentiful. Head to Newaygo County Park and you can launch right into Hardy Pond which will lead to the breaklines that fall into the river channel. This is where these fish love to hang out! These fish aren’t super picky, so most bait will work, but minnows are a great start. They do have large teeth so make sure you have strong line and a wire leader.
Walleye is another fish that can be found all over Michigan and they’re not only easy to catch, they taste great! With the spread of VHS, much of the fish in lakes and streams have dwindled. One place that hasn’t been hit and sustains many Walleye by natural reproduction is Lake Leelanau in Leland Township in the Upper Peninsula. If you’re fishing early in the season, you want to fish the bottom of the lake with lead-head jigs baited with minnows. Later in the season you will have better luck trolling with spoons or plugs using spinners or crawler harnesses. Fishing in the morning, late in the evening, or even at night should yield great results as these guys will hide in the deep waters during the day and come out to feed in more shallow waters when it’s darker.
There are tons of different types of Salmon found in Michigan but one of the most popular is the Chinook Salmon. These fish are large and will give you a run for your money, but if you can reel them in you’ll have one heck of a feast! The Manistee River is the perfect spot to find these king salmon and you can even charter a guide and boat! These fish take pretty much any bait and are best found in deep water when the sun is up. When the sun begins to go down, you can find them in more shallow areas. Other fish in the Manistee River include Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, and Sturgeon.
Fly fishing for wild trout can be an amazing adventure and Michigan has many spots to choose from when it comes to this. There are plenty of different rivers and steams with lots of different types of trout. One of the absolute best places to find trout of any kind is the Au Sable River. This 138 mile long river runs from Grayling to Oscoda, where it empties into Lake Huron. You can also find Steelhead out on this river. Because there are many different types of trout, all kinds of bait and technique can be used. Take advantage of this DNR awarded Blue Ribbon trout stream and get yourself some great fish!
Perch & Bluegill
These two fish are best caught when it’s colder so they are both great for ice fishing! One of the best palaces to find both is Cisco Lake in Gogebic County. This lake has a lot of vegetation and tons of different types of fish, so it’s a great ecosystem that is self-sustaining with natural reproduction. The best way to get a perch on your hook is to use live crayfish. They love them and will go for them every time. If you can’t find crayfish, then the next best bet is live minnows. Either way, live bait is the way to go. Bluegills are one of the easiest fish to catch because they are pretty brave and have little fear of the fisherman. Bluegill will take most any kind of bait, but they really love crickets, wax worms, and beetles.
These are just some of the top fishing spots Michigan has to offer. If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, check out the Michigan DNR’s website as they offer tons of info on the different types of fish, where to find them, and how to catch them!