Best Fishing Spots in Michigan

Crystal clear lake surrounded by lush green forests. Fishing boats dot the water.
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Michigan’s diverse landscape of lakes, rivers, and streams makes it an angler’s paradise. You will find an array of fishing spots that cater to both novice and experienced fishermen. From the vastness of Lake Michigan to the more secluded waters of the state’s inland lakes and rivers, Michigan provides a variety of fishing environments. The state is home to an extensive variety of fish, including salmon, trout, walleye, bass, and muskie, ensuring that there’s always a new challenge awaiting you.

Lake Michigan, the second-largest of the Great Lakes, presents limitless fishing opportunities. Renowned for its salmon and trout, it also has an abundance of bass and catfish. The lake’s shoreline is dotted with charming towns like Menominee and Muskegon, which serve as gateways to exceptional fishing experiences. Similarly, the deep and expansive Lake Superior offers remarkable fishing at spots such as Keweenaw Bay and St. Mary’s River, where you can indulge in the serenity of the area while fishing for various species.Whether you choose the grandeur of the Great Lakes or the seclusion of smaller water bodies, Michigan’s fishing spots are sure to impress.

Ludington State Park

When you visit Ludington State Park, you find yourself surrounded by the natural allure of shimmering water and sky. Prepare your tackle box for an engaging fishing experience where Lake Michigan, Hamlin Lake, and the Big Sable River converge.

Seasonal Fishing Guide

  • Spring to Fall: Ideal for salmon and trout in Lake Michigan.
  • Year-round: Catch walleye, perch, and bass in Hamlin Lake.

Fishing Options

  • Charter Fishing: Skilled captains are available to guide you on Lake Michigan.
  • Shore Fishing: Try your luck along the banks of the Big Sable River.

Park Features

  • A historic 112-foot lighthouse overlooks the fishing grounds, drawing not just anglists but also those interested in maritime history.
  • Numerous trails offer a pleasant retreat post-fishing, to explore the diverse flora and fauna.

Tawas Point State Park

Tawas Point State Park, situated in northern Michigan, offers a serene environment perfect for your next fishing adventure. As you plan your visit, consider staying at one of the 80 transient slips or 40 seasonal slips available at the East Tawas State dock.

Fishing Opportunities

In addition to these activities, your fishing experience is enhanced by the park’s prime location on Lake Huron. This provides you with the chance to enjoy a variety of fish species in a picturesque setting.


  • Tawas Point Lighthouse
  • State Dock Facilities
  • Beach Resort Proximity

With your comfort in mind, the Tawas Bay Beach Resort is conveniently located in front of the state dock, allowing you easy access for your fishing excursion.

To reach Tawas Point State Park:

  • Travel about three hours from both Detroit and Grand Rapids.
  • Access via US-23.

When you visit Tawas Point State Park, you’ll find yourself on a sand spit that opens up to Lake Huron, presenting an ideal mix of scenic beauty and rich fishing potential. Whether you’re looking to cast from the shore or head out on a boat, Tawas Point provides an exceptional fishing experience that should not be missed.

Pere Marquette River

When you’re searching for some of the best fly fishing experiences in Michigan, the Pere Marquette River should be high on your list. This river, often referred to as the PM, offers a breadth of opportunities whether you’re casting for trout or the feisty steelhead.

Notable Characteristics:

  • Mainstream Depth: Averages between 2 and 4 feet with deeper holes
  • Average Width: Between 30 and 40 feet
  • Current: Moderately fast and consistent

Recommended Gear:

To fish the Pere Marquette River successfully, it’s recommended to use a medium to heavy-action spinning or baitcasting rod paired with a reel featuring a smooth drag system suitable for salmon and steelhead. Choose 10 to 20-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line, depending on the target species. Equip yourself with quality fishing hooks in various sizes, and bring egg sacs, spawn bags, or artificial bait to entice the local prey.

Salmon and Steelhead Migration Schedule:

  • Steelhead: Peaks in October-November and March-April
  • Salmon: Begins mid-August with a peak towards the end of September

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers a rich fishing experience, wrapped in the beauty of pristine Michigan nature. With 21 inland lakes and over 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, you have a generous selection of spots for your next catch. When fishing at Sleeping Bear Dunes, you must abide by the regulations that align with the State of Michigan’s standards. Remember, these rules are in place to ensure sustainable practices within the park.

Ideal Fishing Methods:

  • Kayaking: Paddle out to find your perfect fishing spot in a more personal setting.
  • Wading: Stand in the shallow waters along the shoreline for a peaceful fishing session.

Sleeping Bear Dunes not only promises a bountiful fishing excursion but also an opportunity to reconnect with nature’s grandeur. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a casual fisher, these waters await you with the promise of a memorable catch.

St. Marys River

In Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula, the St. Marys River is a renowned fishing destination that you shouldn’t miss. As it links Lake Superior and Lake Huron, you’ll find a variety of fishing opportunities throughout its 75-mile expanse.

Species to Catch:

  • Whitefish: Best in 20-30 feet deep water during early to midsummer.
  • Walleye: Available after the season opens on May 15, with an average size between one to three pounds.
  • Chinook and Atlantic Salmon: Present in the river.
  • Lake Trout and Pike: Also among the commonly targeted species.

Fishing Tips:

  • Opt for light tackle for a more productive fishing experience.
  • Focus on areas like the “rock pile” for better catch rates.
  • When targeting Walleye, consider using waxworms on ice-fishing teardrops.

Prime Locations:

  • The deep waters of the upper river are typically fruitful.
  • The rapids between Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Michigan are important fishing areas.

Activities Beyond Fishing:

When planning your trip, remember that the summer months are often the best time to visit for fishing.

Grand Haven State Park

If you’re seeking a premier fishing destination in Michigan, Grand Haven State Park is a choice location. Situated along the shores of Lake Michigan, this park offers you not just stunning views but also a rich fishing experience.

Fishing Species You Can Catch:

  • Salmon: Including Coho and Chinook.
  • Trout: Lake Michigan is known for its Trout, especially the Brown, Lake, and Rainbow varieties.
  • Bass: Enjoy catching Largemouth and Smallmouth bass.
  • Other Fish: Bluegill, Perch, and Walleye are also abundant here.

You can engage in various fishing methods such as trolling, casting, and jigging. Local charters are available, allowing you to explore deeper waters for bigger catches, especially during the early fall for salmon.

Fishing Tips:

  1. Pier Fishing:
    • Grand Haven State Park features a pier that extends into Lake Michigan, providing excellent opportunities for pier fishing in addition to boats.
  2. Seasonal Variations:
    • Be aware of the seasonal variations in fish behavior. Consider the time of year as salmon and steelhead runs peak at specific times.

Manistee River

One of the premier destinations for anglers in Michigan is the Manistee River. This river is known for its abundant fish population and variety of species that you can catch, offering a year-round fishing experience.

Species: The Manistee is populated with salmon, steelhead, bass, and walleye. Specific highlights include:

  • Salmon: Chinook and coho salmon make their run in late summer.
  • Steelhead: Look for these fighters around the Tippy Dam area, particularly Skamania steelhead during summer months.
  • Walleye: The record walleye from Manistee Lake, part of the river system, weighed in at a notable 15.94 pounds.

Fishing Techniques:

  • Spinning Rod:
    • Choose a medium to medium-heavy spinning rod with a length ranging from 7 to 9 feet. This length provides casting distance and control.
  • Spinning Reel:
    • Pair the rod with a quality spinning reel of appropriate size. Opt for a reel with a smooth drag system and a good line capacity. Sizes in the 2500 to 4000 range are generally suitable.
  • Fishing Line:
    • Use 6 to 12-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line, depending on the target species. Lighter line is suitable for trout, while heavier line may be necessary for salmon or steelhead.

Prime Locations:

  • The river stretches wide near Irons, favored for brown trout.
  • Downstream towards Lake Michigan, the variety includes brook, brown, and rainbow trout across approximately 20 miles.

Saginaw Bay

Saginaw Bay, located on Lake Huron in Michigan, is renowned for its exceptional walleye fishing. You’ll find the Bay presents a unique challenge due to its vast size and uniform underwater landscape which demands patience and skill.

When to Visit:

For walleye, the prime time is after the spring spawning season, stretching into early summer. Small boat anglers often have success on the Saginaw River through May and into early June, offering an alternative during less favorable open water conditions.

Fishing Techniques:

  • Spinners, crankbaits, and tubes are your go-to lures for bass, with both smallmouth and largemouth being more active in warmer spring and summer temperatures.
  • Walleye often congregate near structural changes such as upstream edges of bridge pilings and the edges of shipping channels.
Key Fishing Areas in Saginaw BayRecommendations
Mouth of Saginaw River and nearby flatsPerfect for exploring during calm weather conditions
Bridge Piling EdgesIdeal for targeting walleye transitions
Shipping Channel EdgesTarget for deeper dwelling fish

Muskegon State Park

Muskegon State Park, located in North Muskegon, MI, is a prime destination for your fishing adventures. Spread over 1,233 acres, this waterfront park offers access to both Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake, presenting versatile fishing opportunities.

Target Species:

  • Salmon: Lake Michigan’s deeper waters attract salmon, particularly in the early morning or late evening.
  • Trout: Including brown, lake, and rainbow trout, which are prevalent in both lakes.
  • Panfish: Enjoy catching a variety of panfish in the calmer waters.

Fishing Areas:

  • Lake Michigan Shoreline: Ideal for trolling for salmon and trout.
  • Muskegon Lake: Offers both deep and shallow-water fishing, perfect for a range of species.

Beginners and seasoned anglers alike find the park’s fishing piers accessible and convenient, with no boat necessary to cast your line.

Holland State Park

Your ideal fishing adventure awaits at Holland State Park, where you can enjoy the bountiful waters of Lake Michigan. Here, you have access to two bodies of water: Lake Macatawa and the much larger Lake Michigan. Both provide ample opportunities to catch a variety of fish.

Target Species:

  • Lake Michigan: King and Coho Salmon, Lake Trout, Steelhead, Brown Trout
  • Lake Macatawa: Walleye, Perch, Bass, Bluegill

You can explore the park’s own Ottawa Beach Marina, situated conveniently for your Lake Michigan excursions. Benefit from its proximity to Lake Macatawa, serving both as a peaceful fishing spot and a gateway to the open waters.

Fishing Methods:

  • On Lake Macatawa: Dock or shoreline fishing for casual outings

Holland State Park also features several amenities that make your trip both comfortable and successful. These include boat launches, fish cleaning stations, and nearby bait shops to ensure you have everything you need for a day on the water.

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