Best Shore Fishing in Michigan

Child fishing on the shoreline of MI.
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Michigan is a haven for anglers with its extensive Great Lakes shoreline and an array of inland lakes and rivers. Shore fishing in Michigan offers a unique opportunity to catch a diverse range of fish without the need for a boat. Whether you’re casting a line into the vast expanse of Lake Michigan or enjoying the scenic banks of Lake Leelanau, the state’s freshwater coasts yield impressive catches of salmon, trout, steelhead, bass, perch, and walleye. Given the variety of seasons in Michigan, you can adapt your techniques and target species throughout the year. Spring might find you at a river mouth seeking the annual walleye run, while summer could have you perched on a breakwater chasing large schools of smallmouth bass. As you explore the state’s scenic shorelines, including bustling piers and quiet, wooded banks, you’ll be part of a storied tradition of Michigan shore fishing that continues to grow.



Lake St. Clair Metropark

Located in Harrison Township, Michigan, Lake St. Clair Metropark offers you a prime fishing experience with its 1.5 miles of inviting shoreline. This park, at 31300 Metro Parkway, is your gateway to enjoy the rich fishing grounds of Lake St. Clair.

Park Hours:

  • Open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Fees:

  • $10 for Daily Vehicle or Boat Pass
  • Option for Annual Passes

As you cast your line, you’ll find yourself amid a diverse range of fish thanks to Lake St. Clair’s connection between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The lake boasts an impressive array of fish species, making it a hotspot for freshwater sportfishing.

Fishing Facilities:

  • Shore Fishing Platforms: Conveniently located near the eastern end of the park.
  • Harley Ensign Boat Access Site: Offers both shore fishing and wading access on the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.
  • Selfridge Boat Access Site: Provides shore fishing along a seawall on Lake St. Clair.

This park doesn’t only offer you fishing access; you’ll also find recreational activities, making it a perfect spot for a family day out where you can enjoy nature and perhaps even reel in pike or giant channel catfish.

Grand Haven State Park

Your fishing adventure in Michigan isn’t complete without a visit to Grand Haven State Park Pier. This pier extends into Lake Michigan, promising a rich fishing experience for enthusiasts like you. The diversity of fish varies with the seasons. You can target:

  • Spring/Early Summer: Steelhead and Salmon
  • Summer: Perch and Smallmouth Bass

The park provides you with a choice of fishing from either a boat or the shore. Should you choose to stay on land, remember that the best part about bottom fishing is its accessibility and the variety of fish it offers.

For those who prefer active fishing, pick up your spinning rods. It’s a popular technique among anglers in Grand Haven due to its effectiveness and the thrill it brings. Here are some tips:

  • Morning Bites: For steelhead, start early when they’re biting.
  • Evening Calm: Salmon tends to be active during the dusk hours.

When you fish at Grand Haven State Park, you’re also immersed in beautiful surroundings, with the lighthouse providing a picturesque background, especially as it comes alive at night. Besides the visual treat, the park is known for its camaraderie among fishermen, both novices and veterans alike, making it a welcoming spot for you to cast your line and potentially reel in the big one.

Tawas Point State Park

At Tawas Point State Park, you’re provided with a prime location for shore fishing in Michigan. The state park offers a well-maintained fishing pier that extends into Lake Huron, giving you direct access to one of the Great Lakes at one of the most scenic spots.

  • Location: East Tawas, Michigan
  • Accessibility: Easy access for anglers
  • Target Species: A variety of fish species including perch, walleye, and northern pike.

Facilities:

  • Seasonal and transient slips at the state dock
  • Nearby amenities for a comfortable fishing experience

Find yourself surrounded by natural beauty with Tawas Bay Beach Resort in close proximity, providing a picturesque backdrop while you cast your line. The local area around the fishing pier not only caters to your fishing needs but also offers attractions such as Motor City Kiteboarding and the historical Tawas Point Lighthouse for your exploration.

Useful Information:

  • Hours of Operation: Dependent on park times; check local listings.
  • Permits: A valid Michigan fishing license is required.

Ludington State Park

When visiting Ludington State Park, you’re in for a rewarding shore fishing experience. The park offers several prime locations where you can cast a line. Whether you’re by the river or at Lost Lake, you have the chance to catch various warm water species.

Locations for Shore Fishing:

  • Along the River: The shores of the river within the park provide access to a diverse range of fish.
  • Lost Lake: This secluded spot is ideal for a peaceful fishing setting.

In the early summer, the area presents excellent opportunities for charter fishing. You can expect to find brown trout, lake trout, as well as salmon and steelhead in these waters. If you’re into fly fishing, the Pere Marquette River is particularly known for offering an excellent experience during this time.

For the best chances of a good catch, consider the following advice:

  • June: Ideal for perch fishing. The rocky waters off the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant and the inland lakes such as Hamlin, Lincoln, and Pere Marquette are favorable spots.
  • Lake Michigan: Close to the park, Lake Michigan’s offshore fishing can yield steelhead and coho in deeper waters, typically 200 to 400 feet, around 60 to 90 feet down.

Pere Marquette River

The sun sets over the calm waters of Pere Marquette River, surrounded by lush green trees and rocky shores, perfect for shore fishing in Michigan

Michigan’s Pere Marquette River is a prime location for shore fishing, offering a variety of species like trout, steelhead, and salmon. The river flows through picturesque scenery, providing you with not only great fishing opportunities but also tranquil natural views.

Recommended Gear:

  • Trout: A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with a matching reel and floating line. Use a tapered 9-foot leader with a tippet size between 3X to 5X.
  • Steelhead/Salmon: Opt for a seven- or eight medium action spinning rod.

Key Locations:

  1. Baldwin area: The town of Baldwin on M-37 serves as a good reference point for accessing the river.
  2. River mouth at Ludington: Ideal for accessing Pere Marquette Lake and fishing the lower river or Lake Michigan.

Fishing Tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with the local regulations as some sections are fly fishing only and catch and release throughout the year.
  • Early mornings or late afternoons can be particularly productive times to fish.
  • Staying mobile and following the river’s flow can lead you to discover new and lucrative fishing spots.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

When you’re searching for some of the best shore fishing spots in Michigan, Saugatuck Dunes State Park deserves your attention. With its 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, the park provides ample opportunities for anglers to cast their lines.

Location and Accessibility
Saugatuck Dunes State Park is nestled at 6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423. To reach the prime fishing spots, you’ll trek across sandy trails through a pristine environment. Be prepared for a sandy 0.75-mile hike if you take the Beach Trail marked with yellow markers.

Fishing Experience
The seclusion of the park’s beach yields a peaceful fishing setting, away from crowded spots. As you fish, enjoy the scenic backdrop of forested dunes.

Facilities
Amenities are minimal, so remember to bring necessities like water. There’s a primitive restroom available, should you need it.

Trail Options

  • Beach Trail: 0.75 miles each way, the most direct path to the beach.
  • North Trail: Approximately 2.5 miles, offering a longer hike through varied terrain.

Preparation Tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes appropriate for sandy and potentially uneven trails.
  • There is no on-site concession; pack snacks and drinks.
  • Check weather conditions as lakefront areas can experience sudden changes.

Whether you’re looking for solitude or the thrill of a potential catch, Saugatuck Dunes State Park provides a unique mix of natural beauty and fishing potential that sets it apart in Michigan.

Holland State Park

The sun sets over the calm waters of Lake Michigan, with a sandy shore lined by fishermen casting their lines into the tranquil waves

Your fishing adventure at Holland State Park offers a picturesque experience with the opportunity to reel in a variety of fish. Situated south of Grand Haven, the park provides you with access to the north sea wall, a prime spot for shore fishing. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, the park caters to all levels.

Key Features:

  • Accessible Fishing Pier: Take advantage of the pier to fish without the need for a boat.
  • Diverse Fish Population: Lake Michigan is teeming with lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, and both king and coho salmon.

When you’re fishing in Lake Macatawa, which flows into Lake Michigan, look out for the good fishing spots that many anglers talk about. Your encounter with fish species could range from walleye and perch to bluegill and bass, offering a well-rounded fishing experience.

Facilities at Holland State Park:

  • Parking is available for your convenience.
  • Use the campground if you plan an extended stay.
  • Restroom facilities are present to ensure comfort during your fishing trip.

Before you set out, make sure to check local fishing regulations and acquire the necessary fishing license. This will ensure your fishing exploits are both enjoyable and lawful.

Platte River State Fish Hatchery

Established in 1928, the Platte River State Fish Hatchery is located in Beulah, Michigan. It’s a critical facility for the rearing and stocking of salmon in Michigan’s waters.

What You Can Find Here

  • Salmon Species: The hatchery produces Atlantic, Chinook, and coho salmon.
  • Egg-Take Station: It serves as the main egg-take location for coho salmon in the Upper Great Lakes.
  • Visitor Experience: You have access to interpretative facilities and trails.

Public Areas of Interest

  • Lower Weir: This is the harvest facility where you can witness adult salmon returning.
  • Upper Weir: Observe the egg-take process, which is pivotal for the hatchery’s operation.

Visiting Tips

  • Visitor Center: Start here to grab a self-guided tour map and to learn about Michigan hatcheries through available videos.
  • Blue Fish Trail Marker: Follow this to explore the hatchery’s buildings.
  • Hours of Operation: Check ahead for access times to plan your visit accordingly.

For fishing enthusiasts, this hatchery isn’t just a source of stock for Michigan’s salmon population; it’s a learning hub where you can immerse yourself in the intricacies of fish rearing and management. Whether you’re looking to understand more about where the fish in the Great Lakes come from or just appreciate the cycle of salmon life, the Platte River State Fish Hatchery is the place to be.

Betsie River

The Betsie River, nestled in Benzie County, Michigan, is a prime destination for shore fishing enthusiasts. Roughly 30 miles south of Traverse City, this river is easily accessible and offers a variety of fishing experiences. Known for its robust runs of Chinook (King) Salmon and steelhead, your fishing adventure can be both challenging and rewarding.

Salmon Fishing:
From late August through September, and extending into October, King Salmon migrate up the Betsie. This period is your best opportunity to catch these large fish from the river banks.

Steelhead Fishing:
Starting in October and lasting until spring, steelhead make their run. Particularly, November is notable for steelhead fishing.

Trout:

  • Brown Trout: These trout be found throughout the river system year-round.
  • Rainbow Trout: Also present, look for them, especially in the upper river stretches.

River Characteristics:
With a varied mix of sandy, gravelly, and clay bottoms, the Betsie River provides different habitats for fish. Depths range from shallow flats to deeper, cool holes, ideal for fish to hold in. This variance can be used to your advantage, observing the river’s width of 30 to 60 feet to find strategic spots for casting.

Best Practice:
Prepare to fish away from crowds for a more serene experience. Early morning or late evening might be the most productive times as fish are likely to be more active and less wary.

Gear Considerations:
Bring your waders, as the Betsie’s varying depths mean you might need to wade to find the best shore fishing spots. A fishing vest with ample storage for tackle and snacks is also a good idea, ensuring you’re well-equipped for a day on the river.

St. Marys River

Your fishing adventure along the St. Marys River is sure to be fulfilling. This unique waterway offers an international boundary between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Ontario, Canada. With its starting point at the end of Whitefish Bay, the river flows for 75 miles into Lake Huron.

Prime Locations for Shore Fishing:

  • Pendills Creek: As it feeds directly into Lake Superior, expect to find an excellent feeding ground for various species of fish.

Popular Fish Species:

  • Whitefish: The deeper waters, particularly 20 to 30 feet, are known hotspots during early to midsummer.

When planning your fishing trip, consider these local insights:

  • The area surrounding Sault Ste. Marie is noteworthy; the rapids between the twin cities are prime spots for anglers.
  • Approach with patience: Fishing in these waters rewards those who are willing to wait for the right catch.

Target Species and Peak Seasons

Fishermen casting lines into crystal clear waters, surrounded by lush greenery and colorful autumn foliage, with the sun setting behind the horizon

When you’re planning your shore fishing trip in Michigan, understanding the peak seasons and the behaviors of popular game fish will greatly improve your chances of a successful outing.

Popular Game Fish

Bass:

  • Smallmouth Bass: Active from May through October, with peak activity in June and July.
  • Largemouth Bass: Best caught from late spring to early fall.

Trout and Salmon:

  • Steelhead: Runs in spring (March-April) and fall (October-November).
  • Chinook Salmon: Peak season in late summer and fall (August-September).
  • Coho Salmon: Best time is late summer to fall (August-October).
  • Lake Trout: Available year-round, with best fishing from late May to early June.
  • Brown Trout: Spring and fall seasons offer the best opportunities.
  • Rainbow Trout: Active spring through fall, peaking in spring.

Other Notable Species:

  • Walleye: Walleye are best at night from April to July.
  • Northern Pike: Active from April through October.
  • Yellow Perch: Winter and early spring fishing is productive, with peak season in July and August.
  • Atlantic Salmon: Mid-summer to early fall is optimal.
  • Muskellunge: Late fall, especially in October and November.
  • Whitefish: Best in late fall and winter (November-December).
  • Rock Bass: Available throughout summer, peaking in June.

Seasonal Movements and Behavior

Spring:

  • Fish like steelhead and rainbow trout move into tributaries to spawn.
  • Smallmouth and largemouth bass move to shallow waters to spawn.

Summer:

  • Warm water brings peak activity for species like largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and rock bass near structures.
  • Schools of walleye can be found in deeper, cooler waters.
  • Yellow perch begin to school and are more effectively targeted.

Fall:

  • Salmonids, including chinook and coho salmon, make their spawning runs.
  • Lake trout move shallow, providing exciting fishing from shore.
  • Muskellunge and northern pike become more aggressive before winter.

Winter:

  • Yellow perch can be targeted through ice fishing on Lake Michigan.
  • Some steelhead remain in tributaries, providing continued angling opportunities.

Equipment and Bait Guide

To maximize your success in fishing on Michigan shores, it’s essential to use the right gear and bait. Proper selection can significantly enhance your experience and improve your catch rate.

Choosing the Right Gear

Rods and Reels: For fishing from the shore, a long, medium-heavy spinning rod paired with a durable spinning reel is suitable. This setup gives you the versatility to cast a variety of lures for bass, and trout effectively.

  • Preferred Gear Specifications:

Line and Leaders: Utilize monofilament or braided lines that are strong enough to withstand the varying conditions and larger fish such as salmon.

  • Line Types and Strength:
    • Monofilament: 10-20 lb test monofilament
    • Braided: 14-30 lb test

Downriggers: For deeper waters, downriggers are used to get your bait to the desired depth, but typically are not necessary for shore fishing.

  • Usage: Not commonly used from the shore

Bait and Lure Selection

Natural Baits: Live or cut baits like minnows, nightcrawlers, or insect larvae are effective for many freshwater species in Michigan. For salmon, which may be encountered, consider using larger cut bait such as herring.

  • Natural Bait Choices:
    • Minnows
    • Insects
    • Nightcrawlers
    • Cut bait such as herring for salmon

Lures: Depending on the target species, a range of lures can be used. Spoons, crankbaits, and jigging spoons work well for salmon and other species.

  • Lure Types:
    • Spoons: Mimic baitfish with a fluttering motion, and are great for trout and salmon.
    • Crankbaits: Resemble small fish or prey and are effective for bass.
    • Jigging Spoons: Heavy, often metallic lures best for vertical jigging

When selecting lures, consider the water conditions and the type of fish you are targeting. Bright colors and reflective surfaces usually perform well on sunny days, while darker colors may be more effective on overcast days.

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