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12 Best Fishing Lakes in Michigan

12 Best Fishing Lakes in Michigan

Michigan is a state blessed with numerous lakes, offering anglers a paradise to pursue their favorite pastime. Whether you’re a passionate angler or someone looking to try their hand at fishing for the first time, Michigan’s lakes provide abundant opportunities to reel in a memorable catch. In this article, we’ll explore Michigan’s twelve best fishing lakes, showcasing their unique characteristics, prime fishing spots, and effective techniques to maximize your angling success.

1. Lake Michigan

One of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, borders Michigan on the west. It has a surface area of 22,404 square miles, making it the second-largest of the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan, with its vastness and depth, is teeming with various fish species, providing anglers with limitless opportunities for a successful fishing expedition.

Lake Michigan is well-known for its excellent salmon and trout fishing. Anglers flock to its shores to catch Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, lake trout, brown trout, and steelhead. The exhilaration of battling these enormous fish will leave you with amazing memories, whether fishing from the shore or a boat.

Incredible sunrise over Lake Michigan and the Mackinac Bridge, colorful water

2. Houghton Lake

Houghton Lake is the state’s largest inland lake in the northern area of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Its vast waterways cover around 20,044 acres, enticing anglers from all over the world. Houghton Lake is a popular spot for panfish like bluegill, crappie, and perch. These nutrient-rich waters are also home to largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye.

Try fishing around weed beds and drop-offs where fish prefer to concentrate on maximizing your chances of success in Houghton Lake. Live bait, such as worms or minnows, combined with artificial lures, such as spinnerbaits or jigs, can produce excellent results. For the best fishing experience, remember to change your techniques according to the season and fish behavior.

Houghton Lake

3. Lake St. Clair

Experience the unparalleled thrill of fishing on the pristine waters of Lake St. Clair, a hidden gem nestled between Ontario, Canada, and Michigan, USA. Known for its exceptional angling opportunities, Lake St. Clair boasts a diverse range of fish species and breathtaking scenic beauty that will leave any fishing enthusiast in awe. With its clear waters and abundant aquatic life, this natural wonder offers an unforgettable fishing experience like no other. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a novice explorer, Lake St. Clair welcomes you to indulge in its world-class fishing adventures.

Cast your line into the azure depths of Lake St. Clair, and be prepared for an exhilarating encounter with its legendary fish population. From the renowned smallmouth bass, muskellunge, and walleye to the elusive northern pike and yellow perch, this angler’s paradise offers a myriad of trophy-sized catches that will test your skills and fuel your passion for fishing. As you navigate through the serene waters, surrounded by picturesque landscapes, the tranquility of the lake serves as the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable fishing expedition. With its captivating charm and remarkable fishing opportunities, Lake St. Clair is truly a haven for anglers seeking an extraordinary adventure.

Lake St. Clair

4. Lake Erie

Lake Erie is a great fishing lake in Michigan for several reasons. First, it is one of the top smallmouth waters in the country, making it an excellent destination for anglers looking to catch bass. Second, it boasts 50 miles of the western basin in Michigan alone, providing plenty of opportunities to catch walleye and other fish species. Thirdly, Luna Pier and Monroe are two departure ports within the state that provide easy access to this popular lake.

Furthermore, Lake Erie is located just west of Ohio along its western basin portion – meaning that those with an appropriate fishing license can also enjoy its waters there!

Erie, Pennsylvania, USA and Tower

5. Burt Lake

Burt Lake, located in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, is a picturesque gem that offers fantastic fishing opportunities. Spanning over 17,120 acres, this lake is known for its abundance of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and walleye. The scenic beauty of Burt Lake adds to the allure of angling in its pristine waters.

When fishing at Burt Lake, try using soft plastic baits or crankbaits for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. Targeting weed edges, rocky structures, and submerged logs can increase your chances of encountering these prized gamefish. For walleye and yellow perch, consider using live bait like minnows or worms and focus your efforts around drop-offs and weed beds.

Burt Lake

6. Higgins Lake

Higgins Lake, located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, is famed for its crystal-clear waters and superb fishing. This deep, frigid lake is home to a wide variety of fish, including lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, northern pike, and smelt. Visitors to Higgins Lake may expect exciting battles with these coveted catches. Target the rocky drop-offs and underwater formations at Higgins Lake to maximize your chances of catching trout and pike. Trolling with spoons, spinners, or plugs is a good way to get these fish to strike. Furthermore, ice fishing throughout the winter months can produce amazing results for fishermen looking for a one-of-a-kind fishing experience.

Higgins Lake

7. Black Lake

Black Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Michigan. The lake is two miles east of Detroit. It connects southern Lake Huron and eastern Lake Erie, providing excellent opportunities for anglers to catch jumbo sizes muskies, walleye, and smallmouth bass. Black Lake also has a shallow bowl which makes it ideal for trolling or any other fishing technique.

The Detroit River flows into Black Lake during the March-April spawning run, allowing anglers to catch large walleye. Additionally, Black Lake has plenty of spots where you can troll for muskies or fish for smallmouth bass in its waters and the river that flows into it.

Black Lake

8. Saginaw Bay

Saginaw Bay, part of Lake Huron, is a renowned fishing destination in Michigan. Spanning over 1,143 square miles, this bay offers abundant fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Saginaw Bay is particularly famous for its exceptional walleye fishing, attracting anglers from across the country.

Trolling with crawler harnesses, crankbaits, or spinner rigs can yield favorable results when targeting walleye in Saginaw Bay. Focusing your efforts around structures like reefs, drop-offs, and weed beds can increase your chances of encountering these prized fish. Additionally, jigging with soft plastic baits or vertically jigging spoons can be effective during certain seasons or in specific bay areas.

Saginaw Bay

9. Gun Lake

Gun Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Michigan due to its deep maximum depth and abundant fish population. It is known for its large pike, bass, perch, and muskie population, making it a fisherman’s dream.

Gun Lake is located in Montmorency County near Baldwin, Michigan. It has an approximate surface area of 1,743 acres and a maximum depth of 85 feet. The lake is known for having clear water that allows for excellent visibility when fishing or swimming in it.

Gun Lake

10. Torch Lake

Torch Lake, with its stunning blue waters, is a favorite destination for anglers looking for a peaceful fishing atmosphere. This glacial lake runs over 19 miles, giving fishermen plenty of space to explore its abundant waters. Anglers can expect to catch smallmouth bass, lake trout, rock bass, and yellow perch in Torch Lake.

Consider utilizing soft plastic baits like tubes, senkos, or crayfish imitations while targeting smallmouth bass at Torch Lake. Trolling with downriggers and spoons can yield good results for lake trout. Use live bait like worms or minnows for yellow perch and rock bass, and concentrate your efforts near weed beds and rocky structures.

Torch Lake

11. Hamlin Lake

Hamlin Lake, located in the western region of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, offers anglers diverse fishing opportunities amidst stunning natural beauty. This 5,000-acre lake is a favorite among anglers targeting species like largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and panfish. In addition to fishing, visitors to Hamlin Lake can enjoy boating, swimming, and camping.

When fishing for largemouth bass at Hamlin Lake, try using topwater lures during the early morning or late evening hours for exciting surface strikes. For smallmouth bass, using crayfish imitations or jerk baits can prove effective. Northern pike can be caught using spinnerbaits or live bait such as large minnows. Panfish like bluegill and crappie can be enticed with small jigs tipped with live bait.

Hamlin Lake

12. Crystal Lake

One of the top fishing places in Michigan is Crystal Lake because of its incredibly clear water, which enables massive catches of lake trout, steelhead, and salmon. The small but stable pike population makes it an even better spot for trophy hunting. Additionally, the abundance of vegetative cover grounds a rich food chain that attracts prey such as yellow perch and lake trout.

Crystal Lake is located in Marquette County in Northern Michigan and has an area of 9,854 acres with depths ranging from 50-120 feet deep and shallow waters that are perfect for panfish hunting. It also offers scenic views at sunset or sunrise from its peaceful surroundings.

12 Best Fishing Lakes in Michigan- 1

Tips for having the best experience possible on your fishing trip

1. Plan and decide where you want to go fishing. Research the best lakes in Michigan for your preferred species, as well as any regulations that may apply.

2. Pack the right gear for your trip, including fishing equipment, food, and water supplies, a first aid kit, and sunscreen if necessary.

3. Ensure you have all of the necessary licenses and permits before heading out onto the water; these can usually be obtained from local bait & tackle shops or online beforehand.

4. Once at your destination lake, find a safe spot to park your vehicle and set up camp if desired; plenty of designated camping sites around many lakes allow overnight stays with proper permits acquired beforehand from local authorities.

5 . When it comes time to cast out into waters, locate fishable areas using knowledge gained from research or advice from locals who regularly frequent this particular body of water.

6. Make sure you know where exactly you’re allowed to fish before stepping onto any given lake; each state has regulations regarding which bodies of water can be fished in, so do your research beforehand!


Michigan’s lakes offer many fishing opportunities for anglers of all experience levels. Whether you’re seeking trophy-sized smallmouth bass, thrilling battles with salmon and trout, or a peaceful angling getaway, Michigan’s lakes have something to offer. Remember to check local regulations, use appropriate gear, and respect the environment while enjoying your fishing adventures in the Great Lakes State.


What is the best time of year to fish in Michigan?

The fishing season in Michigan varies depending on the species and location. Generally, spring and fall offer excellent fishing opportunities.

Can I fish from the shore in Michigan?

Absolutely! Michigan has many public access points and shore fishing opportunities. Just make sure to follow local regulations and respect private property.

What types of fish can I catch in Michigan’s lakes?

Michigan’s lakes are home to a wide range of fish species, including bass, trout, salmon, walleye, pike, panfish, and more.

How deep are the lakes in Michigan?

The lakes in Michigan range in depth from 50 to 120 feet. Some deepest lakes include Crystal Lake, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron.

Are there fishing guides or charter services available in Michigan?

Yes, there are numerous fishing guides and charter services available throughout Michigan. They can provide expert guidance and enhance your fishing experience.

What species are most sought after in Lake Michigan?

Many anglers seek out Lake Michigan for its abundance of salmon and trout. Salmon is typically found in the deeper waters near the lake’s center, while trout tend to stick to the shallower waters along the shore. Other popular fish in Lake Michigan include perch, whitefish, and walleye.