Michigan Fishing Lakes: The Definitive Guide | Wild Hydro (2024)

There are few states like Michigan when it comes to the sheer size and number of Lakes within (and around!) it’s borders. Although Michigan is well known for the border it shares with the Great Lakes of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Eerie, did you know Michigan is home to over 11,000 inland lakes within it’s boundaries?

It’s no wonder anglers from all over the USA flock to their favorite Michigan Fishing Lakes during summer vacation. With so many lakes to choose from you are guaranteed to find a secluded fishing place teeming with bass, crappie and catfish just waiting to be caught!

In this guide I am going to give you a run down on some of the most popular lakes to fish in Michigan, how to find them, and what types of fish you can look forward to catching when fishing in Michigan’s many lakes.

Table of Contents

Fishing Lakes in Michigan

From Lake Trout to Brown Trout and from Salmon to Steelhead, the inland lakes of MI are stocked full of fish that anglers of all skill levels can chase and land. The hardest part is choosing which lake you are going to head down to next time you are in Michigan. Here a few of my favorite Michigan Fishing Lakes, some of the larger lakes are very well known but there are plenty of hidden gems that the locals keep to themselves. Let’s check them out.

Burt Lake

Burt Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a hidden gem. Located 30 minutes north of Newberry, MI, this natural lake is 1,500 acres in size. Burt Lake is as deep as 100 feet, and is 1.5 miles long and 1 mile wide. The lake is stocked with perch, bass, bluegill and walleye. The surrounding area offers a variety of activities including boating, fishing, snowmobiling, hunting, hiking and biking.

Burt Lake is a 1,300-acre lake in the Upper Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan in Schoolcraft County. Burt Lake is 8.5 miles long and lies at an elevation of 1,092 feet. Its maximum depth is 120 feet and it has a shoreline of about 23 miles. The lake is adjacent to the Huron National Forest. and was named for Reverend John Burtwho settled near the lake in 1842. Burt lake is a popular fishing destination and is home to species such as walleye, perch, bluegill, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.

Hamlin Lake

Hamlin Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a 1,500-acre lake with 8 miles of shoreline and an average depth of 25 feet. The lake is located in a picturesque valley in the Hiawatha National Forest, and is fed by springs and runoff from surrounding hills. The lake is stocked with walleye, muskie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch, northern pike, panfish, and trout. Hamlin Lake is one of six lakes in the 2,000-acre Lake of the Clouds Recreation Area and was named for General Hannibal Hamlin, who was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Houghton Lake

Houghton Lake in Michigan is one of the best places in the state to enjoy a relaxing vacation. Located in the Upper Peninsula, Houghton Lake is Michigan’s largest inland lake. Houghton Lake is also the second-deepest lake in the state. Houghton Lake offers plenty of activities to enjoy. You can take a kayak or canoe out on the lake, or enjoy a relaxing day fishing. Houghton Lake also has several beaches, including Houghton Lake Park, which features a swimming beach, picnic area, playground, and restrooms. Houghton Lake is also a great place for boating. You can rent a boat, or bring your own. Houghton Lake has several boat launches.

Hubbard Lake

Hubbard Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is 37 miles long and 1 mile wide. It’s the largest inland lake in Michigan. The lake’s crystal clear waters are 75 feet deep. Hubbard Lake is home to over 1,000 islands and 15,000 acres of forest. Anglers can catch a variety of fish including walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskie, northern pike, perch, whitefish, and crappie. You’ll find many resorts and cottages along the lake’s shores.

Lake Charlevoix

Lake Charlevoix is the third largest lake in Michigan. The best time to visit Lake Charlevoix is when the leaves are changing colors, usually in October and November. The sunsets are gorgeous. The water is crystal clear. The fishing is absolutely tremendous!

The 3 mile long Lake Charlevoix is a narrow man-made lake about 1 mile wide created by a dam on the Jordan River. It is 60 miles long, but narrows down to 3 miles between Boyne City and Charlevoix, Michigan. Lake Charlevoix is a deep lake, as deep as 300 feet in some places and it is home to many islands including Round Island, Fox Island, and Fisherman Island.

The Lake Charlevoix area has many beaches, including Boyne City Beach, Charlevoix Beach, and Norwood Beach and numerous marinas such as Boyne City Marina, Charlevoix Harbor, and Fisherman’s Island Marina.

Lake St. Clair

Lake St Clair in Michigan, USA, is the deepest lake in the northern hemisphere and the ninth deepest lake in the world. It is approximately 22 miles long and 8 miles wide, covering an area of 388 square miles. The depth is 618 feet (188 m) and at its deepest point, it is 2,300 feet (700 m) below sea level. The lake was formed at the end of the last glacial period and it drains into the St Clair River, which flows into Lake Huron.

The lake is famous for its large population of lake trout which are the largest freshwater fish in North America.

Mullett Lake

Mullett Lake in Michigan is one of the most beautiful lakes in the state. The 3,900-acre lake offers 27 miles of shoreline and is 75 feet deep at its deepest point. The lake is 15 miles long and 2.5 miles wide at its widest point. The lake is fed by 11 small streams, and the water is clear and cold, making it an ideal habitat for fish. Fish species include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and perch.

The lake is a popular destination for fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. There are 18 public parks, 3 public boat launches, and 2 public beaches on Mullet lake. The Mullett Lake area also boasts a number of picturesque waterfalls, including Beemer Falls, Laughing Whitefish Falls, and Big Manitou Falls.

Lake Gogebic

Lake Gogebic in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. With 15,000 acres of water and 1,000 miles of shoreline, the lake offers endless opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. A favorite destination for anglers, Lake Gogebic is home to walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and perch. The Lake Gogebic area offers a wealth of activities. In addition to the lake, visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, and snowmobiling on more than 400 miles of trails. In the winter, snowmobilers can access trails directly from the campgrounds.

Manistique Lake

Manistique Lake is a 2,600-acre lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is connected to Lake Michigan via the Manistique River. The lake is about 140 miles east of Marquette. Manistique Lake is a popular fishing and boating spot. It is also known for being one of the best Walleye and Northern Pike fishing spots in the Upper Peninsula. The Manistique River connects the lake to Lake Michigan. Fish species in the river include Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Chinook Salmon. The river is also a popular canoeing and kayaking spot.

Elk Lake

Elk Lake in Michigan is 1,000 acres of pure heaven. With 11 miles of shoreline, this lake is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Elk Lake is located in Wexford County, Michigan. The lake is home to fish such as panfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and muskellunge.

Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanau in Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula is the largest lake in the Grand Traverse Bay area. The 3,000-acre lake provides many recreational activities, including boating, fishing, swimming, and hiking. The lake is surrounded by many resorts and vacation rentals, as well as several campgrounds. Fish caught at Lake Leelanau include largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, perch, and rainbow trout.

Michigan Lakes Fish Chart

The below table shows the main species of fish that you can find in each of the Michigan Fishing Lakes.

Michigan LakesBassCatfishCrappieWalleyePanfishPerchTroutMuskiePike
Burt Lake
Hamlin Lake
Houghton Lake
Hubbard Lake
Lake Charlevoix
Lake St. Clair
Mullett Lake
Lake Gogebic
Manistique Lake
Elk Lake
Lake Leelanau

Map of Michigan Fishing Lakes

The below map shows you where in the state of Michigan you can find each lake. Further maps of Michigan’s Lakes are available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

The Last Cast

Next time you find yourself with some free time or some unused vacation, why not consider spending a weekend (or longer!) fishing in Michigan’s Lakes. Bring your family, bring your boat and bring your fishing rod! There are literally more lakes in Michigan than any one of us will be able to see in one lifetime, so you might as well get started today!

Which Michigan Lake do you like to fish the most?

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Where is the best place to fish in Lake Michigan? ›

The waters between Big Sable Point, to the north, and Little Sable Point, to the south, offer the "big-lake" fishermen the best fishing to be found on Lake Michigan. Proximity to deep waters, excellent offshore structure, warm shoal waters, and natural river mouths make a perfect habitat for growing trout and salmon.

Can you fish on a private lake in Michigan without a license? ›

If the water you're fishing is entirely enclosed by your land (such as a private pond), you don't need a license. However, if it borders your land (such as a river) you do.

Do property lines extend into the lake in Michigan? ›

Inland Lakes and Property Lines

Riparian owners on inland lakes own the bottomlands of the body of water, but the property lines do not extend straight into the lake as one might think. Instead, Michigan law handles this issue in two different ways, depending on the shape of the lake.

Is coho salmon safe to eat in Lake Michigan? ›

The safest fish to eat are yellow perch, smelt, coho salmon, rainbow trout and lake trout less than 20 inches long.

What is the number one fish in Lake Michigan? ›

CHINOOK SALMON (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha)

Common Names: Chinook salmon, king salmon, spring salmon, blackmouth, tschawytscha, chin, king, magnum, Chinook Salmon are the most sought-after game fish on Lake Michigan.

What is the hardest fish to catch in Michigan? ›

Lake trout are some of the hardest fighting fish in Michigan but require gentle handling.

Can you catch and release fish without a license in Michigan? ›

In Michigan, everyone ages 17 or older must have a fishing license to fish. You're required to carry your license and the ID you used to purchase it and show both if requested. You'll also need a license when you're targeting amphibians, crustaceans and reptiles in public waters in the state.

Can I fish without a fishing license in Michigan? ›

If you are 17 years of age or older and fish in Michigan, you must purchase a fishing license. If you are under 17, you may fish without a license, but you are required to observe all fishing rules and regulations. If turning 17 at any point during the current season (April 1 - March 31) you'll need to buy a license.

What happens if you fish without a license in Michigan? ›

Fishing Without a License in Michigan — Is It Legal? Under Michigan law, it is illegal to fish without a license in most cases. If you are caught fishing without a license, you could be charged with a misdemeanor. Penalties for the crime include up to 90 days in jail and $25 to $250 in fines.

Do you own the beach in front of your house in Michigan? ›

Lakefront property owners may own the land down to the water's edge, but the public trust doctrine nevertheless allows the public to walk on the land between the water's edge and the “ordinary high water mark,” the place on the shore up to which the presence and action of the water is so continuous as to leave a ...

Can I dig a pond on my property in Michigan? ›

According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), you will need a permit to construct a pond if any of the following are true: The pond will either connect to, or be within 500 feet of, an existing body of water such as a lake, river, or stream.

Can I put fence on property line Michigan? ›

No permit is required to install a fence. Fences may not exceed six (6) feet in height. Fences may be placed up to the property line, except for on a corner lot: corner lots require fences to be placed a minimum of ten (10) feet back from the property line on the non-addressed roadway.

Can you eat walleye from Lake Michigan? ›

Choose smaller, younger fish that are lower in chemical contamination. Instead of catching and eating catfish or carp, try bluegill, perch, walleye, rock bass, and black crappie. Fish in less contaminated waters. Avoid eating fish organs, heads, or skin.

What is the best tasting salmon in Lake Michigan? ›

The Coho Salmon is one of the best-tasting fish in Lake Michigan. The action can be fast as you can see in the picture. They run in big schools its not uncommon to sometimes get doubles triples and quads. Fishing for them can be very fun and rewarding with the number of Coho's you will put in the cooler.

What's the biggest salmon caught in Lake Michigan? ›

And on Aug. 7, 2021, a 47.86-pounder was caught on a Ludington, Michigan, charter boat, breaking a state mark that had stood for 43 years. The Michigan record also set an all-time Great Lakes mark, narrowly surpassing a fish caught Sept. 7, 1991, in Lake Ontario's Salmon River in New York.

What are the best months to fish Lake Michigan? ›

June, July, and August are also good months to go out on Lake Michigan and target our Salmon and Trout species. We offer trolling, casting, and bait fishing depending on the conditions. Skamania Steelhead are also available during the summer months and are explosive when hooked.

What is the best fish to catch in Lake Michigan? ›

7 Epic Fish You Want to Catch in Lake Michigan
  • Chinook Salmon. Known as the “King Salmon,” Chinook Salmon are some of the most sought-after game fish in Lake Michigan. ...
  • Coho Salmon. ...
  • Smallmouth Bass. ...
  • Walleye. ...
  • Northern Pike. ...
  • Lake Trout. ...
  • Brown Trout.
Aug 2, 2023

Where is the best place to fish without a boat? ›

Places like subdivision ponds, quarries, golf course water hazards, marinas, and bridges offer savvy anglers the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime, without the expense and hassles of boat ownership.


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