Spearfishing in Michigan

A shallow crystal clear bay in Lake Michigan, on a sunny day. This would be a great location to spearfish.
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Michigan, with its vast waterways and rich aquatic ecosystems, offers a prime location for spearfishing enthusiasts of all levels. From the Great Lakes to inland lakes and rivers, Michigan provides a diverse range of underwater environments to explore and a variety of fish species to target. However, spearfishing requires specialized equipment and knowledge, including understanding the regulations and licensing requirements, choosing the right gear, and accessing local resources to maximize success. In this article, we will explore the best places to spearfish in Michigan, the species of fish you can catch, the best times to spearfish, gear recommendations, local resources, and more, to help you embark on an unforgettable spearfishing adventure in Michigan.

Best Places for Spearfishing in Michigan

When it comes to spearfishing in Michigan, there are several excellent locations that offer diverse underwater ecosystems and abundant fish populations. Here are some of the best places for spearfishing in Michigan.

  1. Great Lakes: Michigan is renowned for its Great Lakes, which offer excellent spearfishing opportunities. Each of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario) has its own unique underwater ecosystem and species.
  2.  Lake St. Clair: Located between Michigan and Ontario, Lake St. Clair is known for its clear waters and abundant fish population. Spearfishers can target species such as pike, muskellunge, walleye, bass, and panfish.
  3.  Inland Lakes: Michigan is home to numerous inland lakes that offer great spearfishing opportunities. Some popular choices include Torch Lake, Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake, and Burt Lake.
  4.  Rivers and Streams: Michigan’s rivers and streams are not only ideal for fishing but also offer opportunities for spearfishing. Target species like trout, salmon, and bass in rivers such as the Pere Marquette, Au Sable, Muskegon, and Manistee.
  5.  Upper Peninsula: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, including spearfishers. Explore the crystal-clear waters of the UP’s inland lakes and rivers, such as Lake Gogebic, Lake Michigamme, or the Sturgeon River.

With its diverse array of lakes, rivers, and the majestic Great Lakes, Michigan offers spearfishers a plethora of incredible destinations to explore and create unforgettable underwater adventures.

Spearfishing Walleye in Lake Huron, Michigan

Species of Fish You Can Catch While Spearfishing in Michigan

Michigan’s diverse waters also harbor various other fish species suitable for spearfishing.

  1. Pike: Michigan is home to northern pike, a predatory fish known for its aggressive nature and thrilling spearfishing pursuits. These freshwater giants can grow to impressive sizes, making them a prized catch for spearfishers.
  2. Muskellunge: Spearfishing enthusiasts in Michigan can target muskellunge, commonly referred to as “muskie.” These elusive and powerful fish provide an exciting challenge, with their long bodies, sharp teeth, and remarkable speed in the water.
  3. Walleye: Known for their delicious flesh and challenging behavior, walleye are a popular target for spearfishers in Michigan. These prized game fish are often found near underwater structures and provide a rewarding catch.
  4. Bass: Michigan offers both smallmouth and largemouth bass species, providing spearfishers with diverse opportunities. Known for their aggressive strikes and impressive fighting abilities, bass offer an exhilarating spearfishing experience.
  5. Panfish: Michigan’s waters are teeming with panfish species such as bluegill, sunfish, and crappie. These smaller-sized fish are abundant and make for an enjoyable spearfishing adventure, especially for beginners or those seeking a relaxed fishing experience.
  6. Trout: Michigan boasts excellent trout fishing opportunities, including species like brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. Spearfishing for trout requires stealth and precision, as these wary fish inhabit clear, cold streams and rivers.

Overall, spearfishing in Michigan offers a vast array of fish species to target, from freshwater giants to smaller panfish, providing endless opportunities for adventurous spearfishers to explore and appreciate the state’s breathtaking natural beauty.

Best Time of Day and Year for Spearfishing in Michigan

Determining the best time of day and year for spearfishing in Michigan depends on various factors such as the target species, water temperature, and seasonal patterns. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:

Time of Day:

  1. Early Morning: Many fish species are more active during the early morning hours when the water is cooler and fish are actively feeding.
  2. Late Afternoon/Evening: Similar to mornings, the late afternoon and evening can be productive times for spearfishing, especially during warmer months when fish become more active again.

Seasonal Considerations:

  1. Spring: Spring can be an excellent time for spearfishing in Michigan as fish become more active after the winter months. Look for spawning periods when fish are more concentrated and vulnerable.
  2. Summer: In the summer, early mornings and evenings are preferred due to warmer water temperatures. Some fish species may move to deeper areas during the day to escape the heat.
  3. Fall: Fall can be an optimal time for spearfishing as fish prepare for winter and feed more actively to build up energy reserves.
  4. Winter: In colder months, some spearfishers engage in ice spearfishing on frozen lakes and rivers, targeting species like pike and walleye

Remember to research specific species behaviors and consult local fishing resources or experienced spearfishers in Michigan for more precise information about the best time of day and year for spearfishing.

Lake Michigan Walleye Spearfishing

Best Spearfishing Gear for Michigan

When preparing for spearfishing in Michigan, it’s essential to have the right gear to enhance your safety, efficiency, and overall experience. Here are some of the best spearfishing gear items to consider:

  1. Speargun or Pole Spear: The primary tool for spearfishing, a speargun or pole spear, allows you to accurately aim and target fish underwater. Choose a speargun or pole spear that suits your skill level and the type of fish you intend to pursue.
  2. Wetsuit: Michigan’s waters can be cold, especially during certain seasons. Invest in a wetsuit or dive skin appropriate for the water temperature to provide thermal protection and enhance your comfort during extended dives.
  3. Weight Belt and Weights: Achieving proper buoyancy control is crucial for spearfishing. A weight belt and weights allow you to achieve neutral buoyancy, making it easier to stay submerged and maneuver underwater.
  4. Dive Fins: Dive fins provide propulsion and help you move efficiently underwater. Opt for fins that are comfortable, fit well, and offer good maneuverability for your spearfishing adventures.
  5. Dive Mask and Snorkel: A high-quality dive mask with a comfortable fit and a snorkel is essential for clear vision and efficient breathing while exploring underwater. Look for a mask with a low-volume design and a snorkel with a purge valve for easy clearing.
  6. Dive Knife: A dive knife is a versatile tool that can be useful for cutting lines, freeing yourself from entanglements, or dispatching caught fish. Choose a dive knife with a secure sheath and a corrosion-resistant blade.
  7. Dive Float or Buoy: A dive float or buoy with a dive flag is crucial for signaling your presence to other watercraft and ensuring your safety while spearfishing. It also allows you to secure your catch or store additional gear.
  8. Dive Gloves: Protect your hands from cold water, abrasions, and potential cuts by wearing durable dive gloves. Choose gloves that provide dexterity and grip without sacrificing comfort.
  9. Dive Watch: Monitoring your dive time and depth is essential for safety. Consider investing in a dive watch or dive computer that can track your dive parameters and provide accurate information during your underwater expeditions.
  10. Dive Light: For enhanced visibility in low-light conditions or when exploring underwater crevices, a dive light can be invaluable. Choose a reliable dive light with appropriate brightness and battery life.

Remember to select gear that fits properly, suits your skill level, and complies with local regulations. Regular maintenance and inspection of your gear are crucial to ensure optimal performance and safety while spearfishing in Michigan’s waters.

Best Local Spearfishing Resources in Michigan

When it comes to spearfishing in Michigan, having access to local resources can greatly enhance your experience and knowledge of the area. Here are some of the best local spearfishing resources in Michigan to help you connect with the spearfishing community and gather valuable information:

  1. Local Dive Shops: Local dive shops often have knowledgeable staff who can provide guidance on spearfishing gear, local regulations, and recommended dive spots. They may also offer equipment rentals, dive trips, and spearfishing classes.
  2. Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR): The Michigan DNR website is an excellent resource for information on fishing and spearfishing regulations, fishing seasons, catch limits, and licensing requirements. It provides up-to-date information to ensure you comply with the laws and regulations governing spearfishing in Michigan.
  3. Spearfishing Clubs and Organizations: Joining spearfishing clubs or organizations in Michigan can provide valuable opportunities to connect with experienced spearfishers, participate in group dives, and gain insights into local hotspots. These groups often organize events, workshops, and educational seminars related to spearfishing.
  4. Online Forums and Communities: Online forums and communities dedicated to spearfishing can be a valuable resource for connecting with fellow spearfishers, asking questions, and sharing experiences. Websites like Spearboard (spearboard.com) or social media groups can provide insights into local conditions, tips, and even organize meetups.
  5. Local Fishing Reports: Stay updated on local fishing reports for the area you plan to spearfish in. These reports, available online or through fishing apps, provide information on recent catches, water conditions, and potential hotspots. Checking reports can give you a better understanding of current fish activity and increase your chances of success.
  6. Charter Services: Consider booking a spearfishing charter in Michigan. These guided trips are led by experienced captains who know the local waters well. They can provide valuable insights, take you to productive spearfishing locations, and offer guidance throughout the trip.
  7. Michigan Spearfishing Events and Competitions: Keep an eye out for spearfishing events and competitions happening in Michigan. Participating in these events can introduce you to new spearfishing techniques, connect you with experienced spearfishers, and foster a sense of community among fellow enthusiasts.

Utilizing these local resources will help you make the most of your spearfishing adventures in Michigan.

Spearfishing Traverse City, Michigan

Best Spearfishing Charters in Michigan

While there are several reputable spearfishing charters in Michigan, here are some of the best options known for their expertise, professionalism, and exceptional spearfishing experiences:

  1. Great Lakes Guide Service (St. Ignace, MI): Great Lakes Guide Service offers spearfishing charters on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. With experienced guides and well-equipped boats, they provide thrilling spearfishing adventures targeting species like pike, walleye, and more.
  2. Lakeshore Scuba (Holland, MI): Lakeshore Scuba offers spearfishing charters on Lake Michigan, specializing in targeting species such as salmon and trout. Their knowledgeable instructors and guides ensure a safe and rewarding spearfishing experience.
  3. Thunderduck Sportfishing Charters (Cheboygan, MI): Thunderduck Sportfishing Charters offers spearfishing charters on Lake Huron, near the Straits of Mackinac. With experienced captains and top-notch equipment, they provide opportunities to target various species, including pike, muskellunge, and walleye.
  4. Double Trouble Sportfishing Charters (Manistee, MI): Double Trouble Sportfishing Charters offers spearfishing charters on Lake Michigan, targeting species like salmon and trout. Their skilled guides and well-maintained boats ensure an enjoyable and successful spearfishing excursion.
  5. Fish Bone Charters (Traverse City, MI): Fish Bone Charters provides spearfishing charters on Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. Their experienced guides have extensive knowledge of the area, offering opportunities to target species like salmon, trout, and more.

When choosing a spearfishing charter in Michigan, consider factors such as the charter’s reputation, safety record, customer reviews, and the specific species you wish to target. It’s also essential to inquire about the charter’s equipment, accommodations, and any additional services they offer. Always communicate your preferences and expectations with the charter operator to ensure a tailored and rewarding spearfishing experience.

Regulations and Licenses for Spearfishing in Michigan

When engaging in spearfishing in Michigan, it is important to be aware of and comply with the regulations and licensing requirements set forth by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Here are some key regulations and licenses to consider:

  1. Fishing License: To spearfish in Michigan, you must possess a valid Michigan fishing license. The license can be obtained online through the DNR website or through authorized license vendors throughout the state. Different license options are available, including options for residents and non-residents, as well as short-term or annual licenses.
  2. Species-Specific Regulations: Michigan has specific regulations regarding catch limits, size restrictions, and open seasons for different fish species. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure compliance. The DNR website provides detailed information on species-specific regulations and any special regulations for certain areas or waters.
  3. Gear and Method Regulations: Michigan has specific regulations regarding spearfishing gear and methods. These may include restrictions on the types of spears, spearguns, or pole spears allowed, as well as rules on the use of underwater lights or other accessories. Be sure to review and follow these regulations to avoid any legal issues.
  4. Protected Species: Some fish species in Michigan may be protected or have special regulations due to conservation efforts. It is important to familiarize yourself with the list of protected species and any associated restrictions to avoid unintentionally targeting or harming these species.
  5. Safety and Environment: Spearfishers should always prioritize safety and the well-being of the environment. This includes practicing responsible fishing techniques, avoiding damage to aquatic habitats, properly disposing of trash, and respecting protected areas or restricted zones.

It is essential to regularly check the Michigan DNR website or contact the local DNR office for the most up-to-date regulations, as they may be subject to change. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines or other penalties.

Spearfishing Grand Haven Pier, Lake Michigan

Where to Stay While Spearfishing in Michigan

Michigan offers various accommodation options for spearfishers, ranging from campgrounds and cabins near the water to hotels and resorts in close proximity to popular spearfishing locations. Here are some suggestions on where to stay while spearfishing in Michigan:

  1. Campgrounds: Michigan is known for its beautiful state and national park campgrounds, many of which are located near lakes, rivers, or the Great Lakes. Consider camping at locations such as Ludington State Park, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, or Straits State Park for easy access to prime spearfishing spots.
  2. Cabins and Cottages: Renting a cabin or cottage near the water can provide a comfortable and convenient base for your spearfishing adventures. There are numerous vacation rental platforms where you can find waterfront accommodations, particularly in areas like Traverse City, Alpena, or Mackinaw City.
  3. Resorts and Lodges: Michigan boasts several resorts and lodges situated near excellent spearfishing areas. These establishments often provide amenities like boat rentals, guided fishing trips, and convenient access to waterfront locations. Look for resorts in locations such as Houghton Lake, Torch Lake, or the Upper Peninsula.
  4. Waterfront Hotels: Many cities and towns in Michigan offer waterfront hotels or accommodations with lake views. This option provides convenience and comfort, particularly if you prefer a hotel experience. Cities like Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Marquette have waterfront hotels that cater to visitors interested in water activities like spearfishing.
  5. Vacation Home Rentals: Platforms like Airbnb or VRBO offer a wide range of vacation home rentals throughout Michigan. Renting a house near your preferred spearfishing location can provide you with the flexibility and comfort of a home away from home.

When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as proximity to spearfishing spots, available amenities, and your personal preferences for comfort and convenience. It is also helpful to consult local fishing or spearfishing forums, as fellow enthusiasts may have recommendations or insights on the best areas to stay while spearfishing in Michigan

Tips and Tricks for Successful Spearfishing in Michigan

To enhance your chances of successful spearfishing in Michigan, here are some valuable tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  1. Research Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with Michigan’s fishing regulations and any specific rules or restrictions related to spearfishing. Stay updated on catch limits, size restrictions, protected species, and gear requirements to ensure compliance and sustainable fishing practices.
  2. Choose the Right Gear: Select appropriate spearfishing gear based on the target species and the conditions you’ll encounter. Ensure your speargun or pole spear is suitable for the size and behavior of the fish you intend to hunt. Consider using a wetsuit or dive skin to protect yourself from the cold Michigan waters.
  3. Understand Fish Behavior: Learn about the behavior, feeding patterns, and habitats of the fish species you wish to target. Understanding their preferences and tendencies will help you locate them more effectively and increase your chances of a successful catch.
  4. Scout the Area: Before diving in, spend some time scouting the area where you plan to spearfish. Look for potential hiding spots, underwater structures, and signs of fish activity. Pay attention to areas with vegetation, rocky structures, or drop-offs, as they often attract fish.
  5. Consider Water Clarity: Water clarity can vary in different parts of Michigan. Optimal visibility is crucial for successful spearfishing. Plan your dives during periods of better water clarity, which are often after a few days of calm weather or when the wind is blowing in the right direction.
  6. Practice Stealth and Patience: Move slowly and quietly underwater to avoid startling fish. Patience is key as you observe their behavior and wait for the right opportunity to strike. Avoid sudden movements that could scare away your target.
  7. Observe and Learn: Take the time to observe the underwater environment, not only for fish but also for other marine life and their interactions. Understanding the ecosystem as a whole will enhance your spearfishing experience and appreciation for Michigan’s aquatic environment.
  8. Dive with a Buddy: Spearfishing is best done with a diving buddy for safety reasons. Having a partner nearby can provide assistance in case of an emergency and increase your overall enjoyment of the experience.
  9. Continuously Improve: Spearfishing is a skill that can always be improved. Learn from each dive, evaluate your techniques, and seek advice from experienced spearfishers. Attend workshops, join local spearfishing communities, and share knowledge to grow as a spearfisher.
  10. Respect the Environment: Practice responsible fishing and leave no trace behind. Respect the natural habitat, avoid damaging marine life or vegetation, and properly dispose of any waste. Help preserve the beauty of Michigan’s waters for future generations.

Remember to prioritize safety, follow ethical fishing practices, and always abide by local regulations while spearfishing in Michigan.

Saginaw Bay Michigan Spearfishing


In conclusion, spearfishing in Michigan offers a thrilling and immersive experience for enthusiasts seeking underwater adventures. With its diverse waterways, from the Great Lakes to inland lakes and rivers, Michigan provides ample opportunities to target various fish species and explore stunning underwater landscapes. By adhering to the regulations and licensing requirements, choosing the right gear, and accessing local spearfishing resources, spearfishers can maximize their chances of success and deepen their knowledge of the sport. Michigan’s natural beauty and rich aquatic ecosystems make it a prime destination for spearfishing enthusiasts of all levels. So dive in, embrace the challenge, and create unforgettable memories as you connect with nature and immerse yourself in the exhilarating world of spearfishing in Michigan.

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