HookedinFishing » Michigan Fishing

Michigan Fishing

The state of Michigan offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities for anglers. Michigan has more than 11,000 lakes and 3,000 rivers.

Laws & Regulations

Educate yourself on Michigan’s fishing laws and regulations to ensure you stay legal and avoid costly fines.

Where to Fish in Michigan

Best Fishing Lakes in Michigan

  • Lake Huron – Lake Huron offers many species including: salmon, pike, walleye, perch, trout, panfish, and bass. It holds the state record fish for White Perch.
  • Lake Erie – Lake Erie is known as one of the best Walleye and Smallmouth Bass fishing locations in the world.
  • Lake Superior – The largest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Superior holds the state record for Lake Whitefish and Lake Trout.
  • Lake Michigan – The third largest Great Lake, Lake Michigan offers great salmon, trout, and Steelhead fishing. The state records for Brown, Lake, and Rainbow trout and Atlantic Salmon were all caught on Lake Michigan.

Best River Fishing in Michigan

  • Pere Marquette River – A great river with an abundance of Chinook Salmon and Steelhead.
  • Grand River – The Grand River offers a great variety of fishing but is mosttt known for Salmon, Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Largemouth, and Smallmouth Bass. The state record Chinook Salmon and Black Buffalo was caught on the Grand River.
  • Manistee River – The Manistee River is another top location for Salmon and Steelhead fishing.

Fish Species in Michigan

Michigan has over 50 species of fish, most of which are not seen by anglers. Below you will find the common game fish that anglers typically see when fishing in Michigan.

Largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, brown trout, bluegill, and common carp lined up on a white background

Bass | Catfish| Crappie | Panfish | Perch | Pike | Trout | Salmon| Other Species

Bass

Michigan has 4 types of bass including: Largemouth, Smallmouth, Hybrid Striped, and White Bass.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are the most targeted species for freshwater anglers. They can be found in every state other than Alaska. They are the largest species of bass.

Learn more about largemouth bass

Smallmouth Bass being held out of water

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass are the most aggressive bass which makes fishing for them a ton fun. They have a ton of fight which makes up for their smaller sizes. Even though they are smaller than largemouth they still can get pretty big.

Learn more about smallmouth bass

Hybrid striped bass on white background

Hybrid Striped Bass

  • Hybrid mix of striped and white bass
  • Broken horizontal strips on body
  • Two separate tooth patches on back of tongue

Learn more about hybrid striped bass

White bass being held out of water

White Bass

  • Silver-white to pale green color
  • Dark back, with white sides and belly
  • narrow dark stripes through the length of their sides
  • White bass look like shorter versions of striped bass.

Learn more about white bass

Catfish

Michigan has 4 types of catfish including: Channel, Flathead, Brown Bullhead, and Black Bullhead Catfish.

Kid showing channel catfish they caught

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish have a slender scaleless body with a forked tail. They have an olive green to light grey color body with small black spots along their body.

Channel catfish can grow up to 52 inches long and 60lbs. The average size you will see is 1-3ft long and 1-15lbs.

Learn more about channel catfish

Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish have a flathead and a smooth scaleless body. They have a pale yellow to light brown colored body with a cream belly.

Flathead catfish can grow up to 3-ft long and weight 123lb. The average size you will see is 10-15lbs.

Learn more about flathead catfish

Brown Bullhead Catfish

  • Olive to yellowish brown body
  • Dark brown spots throughout body
  • Four pairs of dark barbels
  • Squared tail
  • Sharp spines on dorsal and pectoral fins
Black bullhead on white background
Image by George Chernilevsky

Black Bullhead

  • Dark greenish or yellowish brown
  • belly is yellowish or white
  • Black chin barbels
  • Upper jaw projects beyond the lower jaw
  • Anal fin usually has 17–21 rays

Crappie

Michigan has both black and white crappie.

Black Crappie caught with small jig being held out of water

Black Crappie

Black crappie have white bodies with a dark green and black back. Throughout their bodies they have black and brown spots.

Learn more about crappie

White Crappie

White crappie have a white to silver body with a dark green back. They have blotches that make vertical bars across their sides.

World Record: 5 lb 3 oz – 21 inches long

Panfish

Michigan has 6 types of panfish including: Bluegill, Green sunfish, Redear Sunfish, Rock Bass, Pumpkinseed, and Warmouth.

Bluegill being held

Bluegill

  • Large, deep bodied sunfish with a small mouth
  • Sides are dark bluish-green in color with vertical bars throughout their body
  • They have a large dark spot at the rear of the soft dorsal fin
  • Their belly is deep orange to rust color
  • Adults can grow to 16 in. but usually reach 6-11 in.

Learn more about bluegill

Green Sunfish

  • Large, robust sunfish with a large mouth
  • Blue irregular stripes of color on the sides of their head
  • Large black spot at the rear of their soft dorsal fin
  • Adults can grow to 12 in. but usually reach 8-10 in.

Learn more about green sunfish

Redear Sunfish

  • Large, deep bodied sunfish with a small mouth with long, pointed snout and small mouth
  • Adult males have a red margin on the gill cover flap while females have a light orange flap
  • Adults can grow to 15 in. but usually reach 8-11 in.

Learn more about redear sunfish

Rock Bass hooked with small jig being held out of water

Rock Bass

  • Dark green or brown color with brassy yellow flecks
  • 4-5 wide dark saddles over the back and down the sides
  • Often called “redeye” or “goggleye” due to its large, deep red eyes
  • Has 5 or 6 spines in their anal fin
  • Adults can grow to 17 inches but fish exceeding 12 inches are rare

Learn more about rock bass

Pumpkinseed being held in hand out of water

Pumpkinseed

  • Molted blue, orange, yellow, and olive green coloring
  • Wavy blue lines on cheeks
  • Orange belly
  • Black earflaps with red or orange boarder
  • 10 spines on the front of dorsal fin with a rounded back

Learn more about pumpkinseed

Warmouth

  • Medium-sized, robust sunfish with a large head and mouth
  • Dark olive to grey colors with brownish sides and yellow markings
  • Dark red-brown lines flowing from the back of their eye
  • Adults can grow to 12 in. but most are less than 10 in.

Learn more about warmouth

Perch

Michigan has 4 types of perch including: Walleye, Yellow, White, and Sauger.

Walleye being held out of water

Walleye (Sander canadensis)

  • Olive back that gradients down to gold side
  • 5 dark bars along sides
  • White tip on tail

Learn more about walleye

Yellow Perch being held

Yellow Perch

  • Yellow to gold coloring
  • White belly
  • Green to yellow eyes
  • 6-8 dark bands along their sides
  • Dorsal fin with 12-14 spines and a second dorsal fin with 12-13 soft rays plus 2-3 spines
White perch being held out of water

White Perch

  • Silver to greenish body
  • White Belly
  • Faint lines down their sides
  • Lower jaw protrudes beyond upper
  • 3 spines on anal fin
  • 7 – 10 inches long
sauger fish

Sauger (Sander canadensis)

  • Bronze to olive color
  • Dark blotches on side with white belly
  • No white on tail

Learn more about sauger

Pike

Michigan has 3 types of Pike including: Muskellunge, Northern Pike, and Tiger Muskie.

Large Muskellunge being held out of water by a man in a kayak

Muskellunge

  • Greenish to golden brown coloring on their backs and upper sides
  • Long thin body with a flat head and mouth filled with sharp teeth
  • 6 to 9 pores on the lower jaw

Learn more about muskie

Northern Pike being held up

Northern Pike

  • Long torpedo shaped body
  • Grey to green body with light-colored spots
  • Yellowish-white belly
  • Scales cover their entire cheek and the upper half of their gill covers
Tiger Muskie on white background

Tiger Muskie

  • Cross between Muskellunge and Northern Pike
  • Dark spots (juvenile) or vertical stripes/bars on a light background
  • Long, cylindrical-shaped body
  • Lobe-shaped dorsal and ventral fins far back on the body near the tail
  • Duckbill-shaped snout

Trout

Michigan has 4 types of trout including: Brook, Brown, Rainbow, Lake Trout, and Steelhead.

brook trout being held above water

Brook Trout (Salmo trutta)

  • Worm like markings along back & head
  • White edges along fins
  • Found in eastern North America, Europe, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia

Learn more about brook trout

brown trout being held out of water with a fly in it's mouth

Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

  • Silver & golden brown
  • Orange to red spots with silver rings around them
  • Found throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Western Asia

Learn more about brown trout

rainbow trout being held out of water by angler

Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

  • Distinct red pink stripe down their side
  • Black spots throughout body
  • Square, broad tail

Learn more about rainbow trout

Lake trout laying on gravel with scattered leafs

Lake Trout

  • Dark green to brown or greyish color
  • Darker on top half of body
  • White to yellow spots throughout body
Steelhead trout being held out of water with a stream in the background

Steelhead

  • Steelhead are rainbow trout that migrate to the ocean
  • Larger and less colorful than rainbow trout
  • Silver and streamlined body with rounded head
  • Black dots and red to pink stripe down their sides

Salmon

Michigan has 4 types of salmon including: Atlantic, Chinook, Coho, and Pink Salmon.

Atlantic Salmon on white background

Atlantic Salmon

  • Large black spots on the gill cover
  • Black x-shaped spots above lateral line
  • 8-12 anal fin rays
  • Upper jaw does not extend past their eye
Chinook Salmon on white background

Chinook Salmon

  • Blue-green on head and back
  • Silver on sides
  • Irregular black spots on tail, back, and upper fin
  • Black markings around gums
  • Male Chinook salmon have a distinctive hooked nose at the top of the mouth and a ridged back
  • During the mating season, both male and female salmon develop a reddish tint around their back fins and tail
Coho Salmon being held out of water

Coho Salmon

  • Bright silver body
  • Small black spots on the back
  • White gums
  • Spawning adults of both sexes have dark backs and heads with reddish sides

Pink Salmon

  • Smallest of the Pacific salmon found in North America
  • Young pink salmon are completely silver without any dark vertical bars or spots
  • In the ocean, adults are bright greenish-blue on top and silvery on its sides
  • Develop large black spots on their back and all over their tail when they return to freshwater
  • Males develop a large hump, and hooked jaws when entering spawning grounds

Other Species

Michigan has 4 other types of game fish including: Longnose Gar, Common Carp, Freshwater Drum, and Bowfin.

Longnose gar swimming in front of rock wall

Longnose Gar

  • Brown to dark olive coloring
  • Dark spots on back, sides, and fins
  • Elongated jaws that form a needle-like snout nearly three times the length of its head
  • Upper jaw has a row of cone-shaped teeth
  • Diamond-shaped interlocking scales
A common carp being held out of the water

Common Carp

  • Babels in each corner of their mouth
  • Olive-brown to reddish-brown with a yellow belly
  • Large and thick scales

Learn more about common carp

Freshwater drum on white background

Freshwater Drum

  • Humped back with sloping forehead
  • Gray body with bronze reflection and white lips
  • Rounded triangular tail
Bowfin on white background

Bowfin

  • Green and brown coloring on side and back
  • Silver to white colored belly
  • Black spot surrendered by orange ring on tail
  • Paired fins and anal fin are bright green
  • Jaw has strong conical teeth

Michigan Fishing Records

Find Michigan’s fishing records for over 50 species and how to qualify & submit your catch for the record fish program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common fish in Michigan?

The most common fish in Michigan are bass, catfish, crappie, and various panfish.

Are there wild trout in Michigan?

Michigan has 4 types of wild trout including: Brook, Brown, Rainbow, Lake Trout, and Steelhead.

Is there snakehead in Michigan?

Snakeheads aren’t known to be in Michigan. In Michigan anglers are required to report and kill any snakeheads caught.

What is the biggest fish caught in Michigan?

The largest fish ever caught in Michigan was a Lake Sturgeon weighing 193 lbs on Mullett Lake in 1974.