Michigan has over 3,000 miles of coastline, that’s longer than the entire Atlantic seaboard of the United States! Many ports on the four out of five Great Lakes that touch Michigan, as well as Lake St. Claire and many rivers, have great charter fishing. Each of the charters have experienced captains that will ensure that even novice fishers have a great experience. For more information on all charter fishing locations across the state, check out the Michigan Charter Boat Association and follow them on Facebook. Although there are plenty of great choices, some stand out in the list and here’s why:
Grand Haven is a top destination for charter fishing on Lake Michigan. The fishing ports here have ranked at the top every year in several Michigan DNR surveys for: number of charter trips run, number of fish caught, and number of fish caught per angler. Not to mention, Lake Michigan is the number one King (Chinook) Salmon fishery in the world. Additionally, downtown Grand Haven has great restaurants, pubs, bed and breakfasts, and much more. It has miles of world-class sand beaches, and one of the most popular State Parks in Michigan. Of all the ports on Lake Michigan, Grand Haven is #1 in “fish caught per angler hour” according to a 2007 Michigan DNR study.
A bit north of Grand Haven lies Ludington, which is ranked the number one salmon fishing spot in Lake Michigan yearly by the Michigan DNR. If you want great action and big fish, a charter fishing trip in Ludington should be on your list. The Pere Marquette River that flows into Lake Michigan at Ludington is the major contributor of natural reproducing salmon in Lake Michigan. In addition to fishing, there are many more family activities in and around Ludington.
“A typical charter in Ludington starts just before sunrise with a quick boat ride to the current hot area of Lake Michigan. Once there the captain will set his lines to troll for hungry salmon, lake trout and steelhead. The Captain provides all rods, reels, tackle and experience needed. Captains are used to coaching first timers or experienced fisherpeople,” said Bob Mitchell of the Ludington Charter Boat Association.
Escanaba / Gladstone
These two ports on Little Bay de Noc in the central Upper Peninsula are known for their impressive walleye, but salmon and trout are also abound. Little Bay de Noc, with thirty-some thousand acres of water, and nearby Big Bay de Noc, with its ninety-some thousand acres of water, offer a fisherman’s dream come true. Add to this an aggressive fish management program and you have some of the best fishing in the USA! The Bay de Noc area boasts acres of beautiful forests perfect for outdoor activity.
St. Claire Shores
Fishing in Lake St. Claire out of this port is best known for catching muskie, and the port is regarded as the world’s premiere fishing destination to chase and catch that most voracious fresh water predator. Muskie fishing is catch and release. Also, the walleye fishery on the nearby Detroit River is world class and has bass with other warm water species.
Manistee is one of the most productive locations for salmon and trout fishing in the Great Lakes, boasting “the best catch ratio” for salmon and trout over all other Lake Michigan fishing ports. As well, Lake Michigan is not the only place to fish. The nearby Manistee National Forest has beautiful scenery and contain the Pere Marquette, Big Manistee, and Little Manistee Rivers. Wild salmon and trout inhabit these rivers, and they are famous for angling.
Fishing in Lake Erie out of Monroe is most known for its outstanding walleye. Revered as the “Walleye Capital of the World,” people come from all around the region for the fish. Yellow perch are also plentiful along the reefs and islands of Lake Erie throughout the summer. Both walleye and perch are known for their tender, flavorful fillets. Fishing captains specialize in family fishing and you should end up with a cooler full of excellent eating fish, and after your fishing charter you can have your fresh fish cooked at one of the participating Michigan Catch and Cook restaurants.
Lake Superior is known for its crystal clear water and huge lake trout. In the deep places around Munising, you will also find monster salmon in addition to northern pike, which make for good eating. Munising is also located next to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, where you can take a boat cruise around the beautiful cliffs.
Due to poor environmental practices, Lake Huron was once contaminated and was bad for charter fishing, but it has really come back strong in recent years. The walleye fishing on Saginaw Bay is great, and other fish like whitefish and steelhead are plentiful in the region. There is also fishing on the nearby Saginaw River, as well as boat cruises.
Sault Ste. Marie
This interesting port is home to many varieties of sport fish, including wild rainbow trout, coho salmon and splake. Other water activities include boat tours of the Soo Locks; these locks allow ships to bypass the rapids of the St. Marys River that connects Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes. USA Today called the river one of Michigan’s top fishing destinations, offering “a wide variety of fishing habitats, ranging from deep channels and fast rapids to wide-open bays and lakes.”
At the spot where the waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron come together, the gin clear waters of the Straits offer salmon, steelhead and brown trout. For fishing and beautiful scenery, the Straits of Mackinac is probably one of the best kept secrets on the Great Lakes. The gentle, calm waters are within view of Mackinac Island and the world famous Mackinac Bridge. After fishing, take a step back into time with a trip to Mackinac Island.
Where is your favorite place to catch the next big fish around Michigan?