The Ultimate Guide To the Best Fishing Lakes in Michigan: Top Destinations To Reel In A Catch

John Malcolm
John MalcolmPublished: May 2, 2023
The Ultimate Guide To the Best Fishing Lakes in Michigan: Top Destinations To Reel In A Catch

Prepare for a thrilling adventure as we pack our rods, reels, and bait and head to the Great Lakes State – Michigan. This fantastic location offers a magical experience with over 11,000 inland lakes, 3,000 miles of freshwater shoreline, and access to four of the five Great Lakes. Without a doubt, Michigan offers a fishing paradise.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or new to fishing, Michigan has incredible destinations to catch fish and make an unforgettable memory.

With outstanding natural beauty, the lakes in Michigan are the perfect spot for fishing. There are incredible species of fish to discover, and our top tips will impress you.

Most popular fish in Michigan.

Michigan is undoubtedly a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. But first, let's look at the different fish species found in Michigan's lakes and rivers before we dive into the top fishing locations in the state.

  • Walleye. Known for its exceptional taste, this fish is commonly found in locations like Walleye Lake and Saginaw Bay.
  • Northern Pike. Recognized by its elongated body and aggressive nature, anglers often target it in the Manistee River.
  • Muskellunge (Musky). The elusive "musky" is a prized catch among anglers, and it can be found in Lake St. Clair, Hubbard Lake, and certain inland lakes.
  • Largemouth Bass. Widely distributed throughout Michigan's waters, the largemouth bass provides an exciting challenge for fishermen, with popular spots including Muskegon Lake, Burt Lake, and Lake Leelanau.

With Michigan's abundant fish population, it's no wonder why it's one of the most famous fishing destinations in the country.

Our methodology for finding the best fishing lakes.

We knew we had to be thorough in our search for the best fishing lakes in Michigan. When it comes to fishing, every detail counts, from the type of fish to the average size of the catch. So we rolled up our sleeves and dove headfirst into researching all Michigan fishing locations.

Of course, we've fished a many lakes throughout Michigan, but there are so many we had to pluck out some of the best others have tried.

Here's how we found the best lakes in Michigan to fish—

  • Conducted comprehensive research to identify Michigan's finest fishing lakes.
  • Analyzed various factors, including fish species diversity and the lakes' popularity among anglers.
  • Checked out social media platforms and online forums to gather insights from fellow fishing enthusiasts.
  • Paid special attention to experiences shared by anglers who successfully caught specific prized fish like walleye and bass.
  • Resulted in a curated list of Michigan's top fishing destinations, ranging from the pristine waters of Lake Michigan to lesser-known inland lakes.

Our approach ensures a comprehensive and informative guide to the best fishing spots in Michigan for anglers seeking trophy catches.

Lake Erie.

Lake Erie Fishing in Michigan
Lake NameLocationProminent Fish Species
Lake ErieSoutheast MichiganBrown Bullhead, Carp, Chain Pickerel, Channel Catfish, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Crappie, Lake Trout, Largemouth Bass, Muskellunge, Northern Pike, Rainbow/Steelhead Trout, Rock Bass, Round Goby, Sheepshead, Smallmouth Bass, Smelt, Sturgeon, Suckers​​.

Lake Erie is a well-known fishing hotspot in Michigan, attracting numerous anglers worldwide, and for a good reason—it is the "Walleye capital of the world."

The lake is abundant in walleye and smallmouth bass, making it a favorite destination for fishing enthusiasts. The lake also boasts other fish species, such as perch, northern pike, and rainbow trout.

Once you set foot in Lake Erie, the vast blue water that stretches over 241 miles will leave you spellbound. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned angler, Lake Erie offers a unique and unforgettable fishing experience.

There are a variety of fishing locations to choose from on the eastern and western shorelines of the lake, as well as along its islands that offer excellent fishing opportunities.

For example, Sandusky Bay boasts a wealth of yellow perch, while Hubbard Lake, located nearby, is a popular walleye fishing destination. Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron, another famous fishing area, is home to fish species such as brown trout, lake trout, and rock bass.

Lake St. Clair, a natural lake situated on the Canada-United States border, is a prime location for catching largemouth bass, muskie, and lake sturgeon. We'll dive into some of these momentarily.

You don't need an expensive boat or fishing gear in Lake Erie to catch a trophy fish. With a little bit of luck, the right equipment, and the right fishing spots, you can spend the entire day reeling in your favorite fish species.

Lake Leelanau.

Lake Leelanau Fishing in Michigan
Lake NameLocationProminent Fish Species
Lake LeelanauLeelanau CountySmallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Variety of Panfish, Channel Catfish, Bluegills, Rock Bass, Walleyes, Brown Trout, Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Steelhead​​​​​​.

Lake Leelanau is a well-kept secret to Michigan's anglers - a hidden treasure trove for fishing enthusiasts. The lake is famous for its pristine and pure waters where the fish species abound.

Notably, it's the perfect destination for angling aficionados.

Walleye fishing on the lake is an unparalleled experience that entices anglers. The yellow perch and smallmouth bass species are also a favorite of some anglers.

We were slaying the smallmouth and largemouth bass when we fished this lake a few years back.

The unique topography of Lake Leelanau, with its narrow and elongated shape, allures exotic fish like the Northern pike. The weed and sunken structures are ideal for the species' habitation and abundance.

Brown trout and rainbow trout are a significant attraction here, making it worth the effort to catch them. It can be pretty challenging, but, indeed, the thrill when you see one is incomparable.

Anglers can fish from their boats and kayaks and prefer locations like Clay Cliffs Natural Area, Crippen Creek, and Woolsey Memorial Airport.

These locations are famous for abundant species of largemouth bass, rock bass, and lake trout throughout the year.

Fishing-loving individuals, whether beginners or experts, can experience the adrenaline rush and excitement that Lake Leelanau provides.

Lake Mitchell.

Lake Mitchell Michigan
Lake NameLocationProminent Fish Species
Lake MitchellWexford CountyBluegill, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Black Crappie, Rock Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Bullhead​​​​.

Lake Mitchell is a natural wonder situated in the heart of Wexford County, Michigan, that never ceases to amaze. This breathtaking lake enchants visitors with its stunning views, leaving you awe-struck and captivated.

This fabulous location is home to many fish species, including northern pike, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass, that you can catch and marvel about. And trust me, you won't be alone in this pursuit.

Fishermen from around the state and beyond come to Lake Mitchell to seek adventures and brag-worthy fishing trips. It's an angling experience unlike any other.

If you're seeking an adrenaline-fueled experience, then the hunt for walleye fishing in Lake Mitchell will make your day. Walleye has become one of the most sought-after fish species, and this lake offers plenty of its kind.

If you're new to fishing; the locals have your back! The community around Lake Mitchell is known for its friendly and helpful attitudes, which means all you need to bring is your love for fishing, and they'll take care of the rest.

You wouldn't want to miss out on the fishing locations that Lake Mitchell has to offer. Whenever you're planning your day or if you're a night owl looking for an adventure, there will be countless available fishing spots around.

Michigan has a lot of beautiful tourist destinations to offer, but Lake Mitchell tops the list when it comes to fishing expeditions. It's a chance to create new memories and experiences with your family and friends that you will keep forever.

Lake St. Clair.

Lake Leelanau Fishing in Michigan
Lake NameLocationProminent Fish Species
Lake St. ClairMichigan and Ontario borderBluegill Sunfish, Yellow Perch, Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Northern Pike, Walleye, White Bass, European Carp, Muskellunge​​​​.

Lake St. Clair is a hotspot for fishermen in Michigan, boasting an impressive variety of fish species. Anglers can choose from an array of fish, including the likes of walleye, bass, yellow perch, muskie, and lake sturgeon. It's a dream come true for all fishing enthusiasts out there.

When fishing in Lake St. Clair, it's best to use various techniques and baits to maximize your chances of catching multiple fish species. For example, if you're targeting walleye or yellow perch, using jigs would be the way to go. On the other hand, soft plastic lures or live bait can help catch smallmouth bass or pike.

Not only is Lake St. Clair fantastic for experienced anglers, but it's also a place great for all skill levels and ages. Targeting rock bass is a great experience for children or beginners because it is easy but equally captivating.

Plus, with all the superb views and tranquility, it's a perfect destination for family fishing trips.

Lake St. Clair is a must-visit destination from late May to July if you're interested in muskie fishing. This time is optimal to get the ultimate experience with muskies.

Fishing in Lake St. Clair is an unforgettable adventure and something every angler should consider. With such a diverse and rich range of fish species to catch and a lovely environment to take in, it's a fantastic experience for all fishing enthusiasts out there.

Burt Lake.

Burt Lake Fishing in Michigan
Lake NameLocationProminent Fish Species
Burt LakeCheboygan CountyWalleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Panfish, Channel Catfish, Black Crappie, White Crappie, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Bluegill, Green Sunfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Rock Bass, Yellow Perch, Muskie, Sturgeon​​​​​​.

Burt Lake is a Michigan gem, one of the largest inland lakes in the state, and a beloved fishing spot for many enthusiasts. This body of water is a haven for anglers who enjoy hooking various fish species, such as northern pike, rock bass, and smallmouth bass, among others.

You might even be lucky enough to catch some walleye, rainbow trout, lake trout, or brown trout while basking in the stunning beauty of Burt Lake's serene surroundings.

We had the opportunity to visit Burt Lake last summer for a fishing trip, and let me tell you; it was an experience we will never forget. I managed to land my first-ever lake trout, and my excitement knew no bounds!

The plethora of fish species that call Burt Lake home was terrific. I caught some huge smallmouth bass, and my friend even reeled in a colossal lake sturgeon, which was quite a sight to behold. This trip was everything I needed-- tranquility, excitement, and some quality fish stories for later.

If you desire a fishing experience in Michigan like no other, Burt Lake is the perfect spot, no matter your expertise level. Exploring the different areas of this tranquil lake could take you up to the whole day and more, and the fish are incredibly active, so make sure you bring plenty of bait and tackle.

With its stunning ambiance and the numerous fish species available, a trip to Burt Lake for fishing is the true definition of an angler's dream come true.

Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan Water
Lake NameLocationProminent Fish Species
Lake MichiganWestern Coast of MichiganCoho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Yellow Perch, Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, Lake Trout, Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Walleye

Lake Michigan is a fascinating lake that is home to various fish species. The lake comes in third place as one of North America's most massive lakes and is renowned for its exceptional fishing experience in the state. The clear waters, which are characteristically deep, make it a favorite pick among anglers of different skill levels. Lake Michigan will provide an unforgettable fishing adventure if you're looking for fun-filled excitement.

One way to enjoy fishing on the lake is by visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The site offers access to several piers and docks for a more hands-on fishing experience. If you're not confident fishing on your own, don't worry; boating and fishing charters are available to guide you through the process.

The Manistee River is another location that shouldn't be left out on your itinerary when planning your Lake Michigan fishing excursion. The river flows into Lake Michigan and is home to different fish species, including rainbow trout, salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. As an angler, you can choose to fish from onshore locations or venture out onto the river by canoe or kayak.

Lake Michigan is undoubtedly a unique location for all fishing enthusiasts. The scenic views and diverse fish species make it an excellent option for an exciting fishing trip. Regardless of your skill level, you're sure to catch something.

Grab your rod, tackle, and pick a Michigan lake!

It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned angler or just starting out; fishing spots of all difficulty levels are abundant throughout Michigan. So now that you know where to go, grab your buddies, pack your gear, and get ready to reel in the big one.

Go fishing like a pro in Michigan's great outdoors!

However, landing that excellent catch freely takes patience, technique, and the appropriate gear. Keep in mind that fishing in Michigan is more than just catching fish; it is about enjoying the experience, the breathtaking natural surroundings, and the excitement of catching that trophy fish. Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the stunning views around you, and feel the exhilaration of success.

John Malcolm

John Malcolm

Expert Angler

John is a highly skilled angler with over two decades of experience and a passion that has led him to participate in numerous tournaments, including reeling in a remarkable 9lb bass on Lake Okeechobee. His dedication to fishing and willingness to share his expertise make him a respected ambassador for the angling community, inspiring others to appreciate the sport.

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