Michigan’s Summer Offers Fantastic Fishing


The Great Lakes offer some of the best summer weather around. What better way is there to enjoy this time of the year than by grabbing your gear and partaking in some of Michigan’s world-class freshwater fishing?

Here’s what many anglers will be looking for this summer in a few key parts of the state:

Largemouth and smallmouth bass
Michigan is a prime destination for bass fishermen. The catch-and-keep season opened in May and many anglers focus on targeting them early in the morning or at dusk. Most use surface lures to attract larger fish.

This species is found virtually everywhere in the state, so there’s no shortage. On inland lakes, look for areas with good aquatic plant coverage and find drop-offs so you can target the edges. As the lakes warm, they’ll become more stratified and anglers will find bluegills in the middle of the lake where they’re actively feeding on zooplankton.

Since walleyes are photosensitive, most anglers will wait to target them in the evening in shallow water. During the day—although challenging—anglers will focus on edges and drop-offs.

Northern pike
These toothy predators like to hang around aquatic vegetation. Anglers will often try casting larger lures to attract a strike, as well as fishing with bigger live bait.

Michigan offers plenty of river systems where catfish can be found by casting from shore. Anglers often use live or cut bait to target them during the evening hours.

Western U.P.
Lake Gogebic (Gogebic and Ontonagon counties) offers good opportunities for summer walleyes and yellow perch. This lake is noted for its nearshore fishery for walleyes. New sport fishing regulations at Lake Gogebic allow the option of keeping two walleyes—13 inches to 15 inches—within a five-fish daily possession limit. Smallmouths and northern pike also offer exciting catches. Motels, restaurants, bait shops and boat rentals provide all the necessities for visitors to this 13,000-acre lake. Additional fishing opportunities exist for brook trout in the streams near Lake Gogebic, as well as at Porcupine Mountain State Park 15 miles north on the shore of Lake Superior.

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Eastern U.P.
Anglers can enjoy the Tahquamenon River for the variety. The upper river is known for its excellent brook trout above County Road 442 in Luce County. Moving downriver, the Dollarville Flooding offers good opportunities for muskies, northern pike and yellow perch. The middle portion of the river, starting at the Dollarville Dam down to the Upper Falls, offers muskellunge, walleyes and yellow perch. Muskies move to the mouths of cooler-water tributaries during summer and walleyes will hit the deeper holes where structure is located. Yellow perch can be caught just about anywhere.

Southern Upper Peninsula
Chicagon Lake in Iron County is approximately 1,100 acres, providing a variety including lake trout, lake whitefish, walleyes, smallmouths and largemouths, muskies, northern pike, rock bass, yellow perch, bluegills, ciscos and pumpkinseed. The diversity can be attributed to the many types of habitat available, from shallow areas rich in aquatic vegetation on the western shore to quick steep drop-offs on the eastern shore with depths up to 110 feet. It’s important for anglers to note that aquatic invasive species (zebra mussels, banded mystery snail and Eurasian watermilfoil) have been documented in this lake. Anglers are required to clean, drain, dry and disinfect their boats and equipment to help slow the spread of invasive species.

Northeast Lower Peninsula
Hubbard Lake in Alcona County offers excellent walleye fishing. Fish are suspended over deeper water once the thermocline is established. Rock bass and northern pike are in the vegetated zones near drop-offs, and smallmouths hang around structure, but not too deep. Hubbard is an excellent smallmouth bass lake and holds the latest Michigan state-record smallmouth bass.

Northwest Lower Peninsula
The Cadillac area, with Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell, provide outstanding fishing. These lakes are connected, therefore offering 4,000 acres with three species in particular: largemouths, northern pike and black crappies. Walleyes, which are stocked by the MDNR, smallmouth bass, bluegills, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass and bullheads are also available.

Thumb/Saginaw Bay area
The best opportunities in Saginaw Bay are the walleyes. In the southern part of the bay, anglers troll crawler harnesses off planer boards in relatively shallow water near the mouth of the Saginaw River. As the water warms this month, the fish move progressively deeper, toward the middle of the bay in 18 to 25 feet of water. Best early-summer ports include the Saginaw River mouth, Quanicassee, Linwood, Pinconning, Sebewaing rivers and the bays here. Crawler harnesses are good baits all summer, but crankbaits and small spoons are productive as the water warms up and the fish start feeding more aggressively. By mid-July to early August, a lot of the fish have moved to the deeper waters of the outer bay and the ports of Au Gres, Caseville, Port Austin and Grindstone City.

Southwest L.P.
Corey Lake in St. Joseph County is a 630-acre natural lake located six miles west of the city of Three Rivers. This lake is known for bluegills, largemouths and yellow perch. Black crappies, pumpkinseeds and northern pike also are present. A state-managed boat ramp on the west shore provides public access. Several other public lakes are within a short drive of Corey Lake and offer good panfish, including Harwood, Long, Clear and Pleasant lakes. The DNR stocks rainbow trout in Harwood Lake and muskellunge in Long Lake.

Southeast L.P.
The St. Clair River is part of the connecting waterway in southeast Michigan. The river stretches from Port Huron down through the St. Clair Delta, spanning 43 miles. This river offers opportunities to capture a wide variety of sport fish in the summer months when many anglers tend to focus on walleyes, smallmouths and lake sturgeon. Cool waters from Lake Huron help maintain favorable water temperatures for fish throughout the hot months. The St. Clair system is the only Great Lakes water in Michigan where you can harvest lake sturgeon with a hook-and-line. With ample access sites for shore fishing and boat launching, the St. Clair is a wonderful place to fish in summer.