Western Upper Michigan: Great Year-round Fishing

Western Upper Michigan is well known for its ice fishing. Whether you’re looking to hook walleyes, perch, bass, lake trout, northern pike or a variety of panfish, the Western U.P. has got you covered in winter. In fact, some experienced anglers say that winter is the best time to fish, because with the warm weather gone, so are the weeds. An ice fishing excursion can be as simple as drilling a hole in the ice and dropping in a line while perched on an overturned bucket. Ice fishing can also be an all-day outing complete with an elaborate ice shanty boasting all the comforts of home. With the proper clothing and equipment, and knowing the condition of the ice and following safety precautions, ice fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience.

Hunker down over a hole in the ice in areas near Watersmeet in Gogebic County—it offers fantastic ice fishing on many lakes. There are also numerous resorts and motels for lodging that provide direct access to the lakes.

Four-season fishing adventures
In addition to Lake Gogebic and Watersmeet areas, over 500 lakes and 2,000 miles of rivers and streams await the angler in the Ottawa National Forest. Numerous opportunities for lake fishing are mostly located in the southern half of the forest. A variety of lake sizes and depths support several fish species, including northern pike, walleyes, large and smallmouth bass, muskies, trout and a variety of panfish. If you’re a fly fisherman, brook trout and brown trout are commonly found in the rivers of the Ottawa. You will also find areas for rainbow trout, steelhead and lake trout, salmon, largemouths, smallmouths, bass and walleyes.

Generally, spring and early summer are the best times for lake fishing. Late summer is somewhat slower, with fall fishing somewhere in between. Access to water varies, from a paved boat ramp and parking lot to an undeveloped trail. Check out the Michigan DNR Fishing Guide for seasons and regulations.

Other outdoor activities

  • Snowmobiling on groomed trails with snowmobile equipment rentals available.
  • Excellent groomed cross-country and downhill skiing, with rentals, shops and a casino nearby.
  • Hunting for all types of game.
  • Hikers can experience forest areas abundant with wildlife.
  • Photographers can take advantage of the natural beauty of the area and view many birds.

For more information on ice fishing in the Western U.P. and other outdoor adventures visit ExploreWesternUP.com.