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Michigan’s Bass Fishing Mecca

The golf community knows Gaylord, Michigan as Michigan’s Golf Mecca. With over 30 courses within a 30-mile radius of the Gaylord city limits, it is truly a hub for the sport. However, Gaylord is also a hub for another, lesser known hot spot in Michigan’s Sport landscape. It is close to a number of world-class bass fisheries in Northern Michigan. Therefore, Gaylord is also Michigan’s Bass Fishing Mecca.

Gaylord is in the center of the Northern Lower Peninsula along Interstate 75. Draw a circle on a map around Gaylord with a 60-mile radius. Within that circle, there are 20 lakes over 3,000 acres in surface area and dozens smaller. These lakes have some of the finest smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing in the world. In fact, Lake Charlevoix, Burt Lake, Mullett Lake, and Grand Traverse Bay appear on the B.A.S.S. list of ‘Top 20 Bass Fishing Lakes in the Northeast’ and ‘Top 100 in the United States.’


Only two years ago the state record smallmouth bass was caught in Hubbard Lake. Hubbard Lake is about 50 miles southeast of Gaylord. That record was short-lived, however, as a new record fish was caught just last year. This occurred in Indian River, which is the connecting waterway between Burt Lake and Mullett Lake.  In Michigan, a Master Angler Award for the smallmouth bass must measure a minimum of 21 inches to qualify. Fish of that size are easy to catch regularly on Northern Lower Michigan lakes. I have caught and released two Master Angler Award qualifying smallmouth bass already this year. It won’t take a professional angler to catch a trophy size fish either: the state record fish was caught by an angler peacefully enjoying an afternoon from the end of his boat dock.

Get Involved!

Local, regional, and national tournament series have taken note of the incredible bass fishing Northern Michigan has to offer. On any given night of the week, you might find a local bass fishing derby on Northern Michigan’s lakes. There are also weekend club tournaments and larger statewide open tournaments. Information about local and statewide tournaments is on the Michigan DNR’s website. There is also information about local clubs if you want to join fellow fishermen for summertime fun. In addition to local and regional tournaments, larger nationwide fishing qualifiers, like the Walmart BFL Tour, have visited Burt Lake and Mullett Lake. In fact, Kevin VanDam, arguably the greatest fisherman on the planet, called Lake Charlevoix one of the finest smallmouth bass fisheries in the world.

When and Where

Access to nearly all of the lakes in Northern Michigan is available and easy to locate. Local launches provide safe and easy access points to dozens of lakes and rivers at low or no cost. You don’t need to have an expensive boat or high tech equipment either. Dozens of bodies of water allow fantastic bass fishing with a rowboat or from the shore. Many of these lakes can get very busy during the peak summer months with pleasure boaters. However, with such large lakes, there is always room to find a spot to wet a line. Some of the best times to fish are early spring and during the early fall months. The lakes are much less busy with pleasure boaters during these times. During these times, fish are looking to pack on weight before and after a hard Northern Michigan winter.

With an abundance of fantastic fisheries so close to each other, Northern lower Michigan has some of the best bass fishing in the world. The amazing bass fishing opportunities found within a 60-mile radius of Gaylord make the region a mecca for bass fisherman and women. So for your next fishing trip come to Northern Michigan, start in the middle in Gaylord and work your way out. The hardest question you’ll find yourself asking is, “Which world class lake should I fish today?”

Where is your favorite place to go bass fishing? Have you fished in Gaylord before?

One Comment

  1. Great article. Lots I did not know and I’ve lived here 67 years. Do you fish? Check out fly fishing in Big and Little Bay de Noc. Spring spawning makes fishing the flats like visiting Florida. But closer to where our hearts are. In the Mitten.

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