Fishing in West Michigan

Photo Credit: Baldwin Creek Lodge

Everywhere you look in West Michigan, you’ll find that you’re not far from a lake, river, or stream, all of which contribute to the great fishing found all throughout West Michigan. Whether you’re taking a charter boat out on Lake Michigan, learning to fly fish in the Pere Marquette River, or simply restocking your tackle box, West Michigan is a fisherman’s paradise.

Baldwin Fishing

Baldwin Bait & Tackle offers Fly Fishing Schools, guided fishing trips, and on-site accommodations. Fly Fishing School will teach you a great deal, including fly basics, line mending, trout behavior and anatomy, how to fish the dry fly, the wet fly, the streamer, and nymph, and much more. Guided fishing trips are catch and release, and most are fly fishing only. They like to encourage today’s youth to fish, so a youngster as a partner is always welcome! A full day trip consists of 8 to 10 hours of fishing, and a half day trip is 4 to 5 hours. McKenzie style drift boats are used, and tackle is included. You’ll need to bring chest waders, rain gear, and any flies you would like to bring (additional are available for purchase & use throughout the trip).

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The Pere Marquette River Lodge has one of the most personable guide staffs in the Midwest. They love to teach and watch others as much as they love to fish. The Pere Marquette River Lodge is nestled on the banks of the world famous Pere Marquette River. They are the only Platinum Level Orvis Dealer and Orvis Endorsed Lodging Outfitter Guide Service in the mid-west. They offer clean, comfortable lodging in the main lodge, rustic cabins and two houses on the river. The lodge boasts some of the best home cooked food around during their peak seasons (Steelhead & Salmon). The staff are both very courteous and knowledgeable of the surrounding waters. Their full service Orvis fly shop is staffed and outfitted to meet your every need while ensuring your best destination fishing experience. The guide staff is well-versed on many of the local rivers: Pere Marquette, White, Pine, Ausable, Manistee and the Muskegon.

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Baldwin Creek Lodge specializes in guided fishing trips for steelhead, trout (brown and rainbow), king and coho salmon. Baldwin Creek Lodge is headquartered in Baldwin, MI, and located in the center of Century Circle: to the north they have the Little Manistee, Big Manistee, and Pine River, to the south they have the White and Muskegon River and in their backyard they have the National Wild and Scenic Pere Marquette River. They have a wealth of knowledge and passion for what they do. Baldwin Creek Lodge has spent years fishing local waters, fine tuning their knowledge base in order to put you on the best fisheries when they are fishing their best. Whether this is your first time with a rod in your hand or you are an avid angler, they invite you to join them for world class fishing on some of the most wild and scenic rivers right here in West Michigan!


There are few things they like better at Red Moose Lodge than escorting individuals down the river to catch the fish of a lifetime. The rewards from river guiding are two fold: First is assisting a fly-fisherman and educating them about all facets of fly-fishing. Second is to supply them the best opportunity at a trophy fish, while providing a great and safe experience on the river. Clint Anderson is your fishing guide at Red Moose Lodge, and included with his knowledge of the Pere Marquette River from M-37 to Lake Michigan, he also has experience and guides on the Manistee, Muskegon and White Rivers. He’s an Orvis Endorsed Flyfishing Guide, has all State and Federal licenses to guide those rivers, is insured, and certified in First Aid/ CPR.  Book a trip and get ready to spend some time on the water. Clint and Red Moose Lodge would love to show you a great day on the river.


Beaver Island Fishing

Whether it is angling for some trophy size small-mouthed bass on the outer islands, drift fishing for walleyes on Lake Geneserath, or bait-fishing for lunker bluegills, sunfish or large-mouthed Bass on the inland lakes, Beaver Island offers a plethora of fishing options. A stocking program by the Beaver Island Wildlife Club and the DNR has helped to develop a sustaining Walleye Fishery in Lake Geneserath the largest of the seven inland lakes on the island. Last summer Jessica Curtis, an MSU sophomore fishing on Fox Lake, caught the largest pumpkinseed sunfish taken in Michigan waters last year. Every lake on the island has its own charm, pristine views, solitude, and the chance for you to reel in the fish of your dreams. Boats are available for rent on the island, as well as bait and fishing gear. The nearshore waters of Lake Michigan are home to a rebounding small-mouthed bass population where lunker fish reside. Easy access is available to the island with the Beaver Island Boat CompanyFresh Air Aviation, and Island Airways.

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Bellaire Fishing

Discover the village of Bellaire, surrounded by glacier-carved hills and steep valleys. It is centrally located on the Chain of Lakes, connecting 75 miles of waterway. Several of the larger ones, like Torch Lake and Elk Lake, are considered among the most beautiful in the world, and the region has long been a favorite destination for boats and fisherman. A fisherman’s paradise, Antrim County features 14 lakes making up the Chain of Lakes with Walleye, Largemouth Bass, Muskies, Pike, Perch and more.

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Boyne Falls Fishing

Considered the best private-access stretch of blue-ribbon trout stream in Michigan, the Everett Kircher Preserve can be accessed exclusively through guided trips with Boyne Mountain’s Boyne Outfitters. A gem to both novice and seasoned anglers alike, the Preserve is one full mile of beautiful scenery, manicured banks, and amazing riffles and pools. The Preserve is the best the Boyne River has to offer, and is truly the epitome of a northern Michigan trout stream with its exceptional hatches and beautiful, healthy trout.  At the end of the Preserve is 80-acre Kircher Pond. With its fantastic warm water opportunities for scrappy smallmouth bass and voracious northern pike, you have some of the best private water in the Midwest. A grilled shore lunch or dinner will top off your day.

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Cadillac Fishing

Pilgrim Village Resort and Fishing Shop in Cadillac, Michigan, has been owned and operated by Steve and Sue Knaisel since 1983. Located on the east shore of Lake Mitchell, just a short distance from a navigable canal connecting to Lake Cadillac, Pilgrim Village gives boaters and fishermen easy access to two famous lakes. They offer a variety of accommodations, along with a full line bait and tackle shop and boat rentals. Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop offers everything from basic sinkers and hooks, to tackle for the more advanced fishermen. In live bait, they carry leaf worms, wax worms, crawlers, crickets, spawn, and three sizes of minnows, along with wigglers and leeches when in season. Ice fishing is one of their specialties. Select from over 10,000 ice jigs, Clam and Shappell shanties, Vexilar flashers or Aqua-Vu cameras or hundreds of rods and reels. You can purchase hunting and fishing licenses or your snowmobile permits and map, all at one location. The Fishing Shop is open daily from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. Their knowledgeable staff can help you with information to catch more fish. At the Pilgrim Village, they can supply everything but the fish!


Charlevoix Fishing

Charlevoix boasts some of the best fishing around because of its species diversity, thanks to their location on Lake Michigan, Round Lake, and Lake Charlevoix, with lots of streams and rivers between. There are also many smaller lakes surrounding Charlevoix that boast plenty of panfish opportunities. You can book a guided fishing charter to learn the tricks of the trade. The annual Trout Tournament takes place on June 10-12, 2016. Beaver Island is also a great spot for flats style and fly fishing with miles of shallow, crystal-clear water along its pristine shoreline.

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Coldwater Fishing

Home to more than 100 lakes, including two chains of lakes, Coldwater Country is a haven for relaxation on the water. Anglers are bound to find the perfect hot spot to reel in the catch of the day. Bluegill, perch, pike, and walleye are amongst the fish caught in this area. Pontoon and other rentals are available.

Empire Fishing

There are several lakes and rivers to fish near Indigo Bluffs RV Park & Resort. If it’s Salmon or Lake/Brown Trout you are after, it doesn’t get any better than catching a Lake Michigan charter trip with Captain Bill and Watta Bite Charters, who work directly from Indigo Bluffs.

Grand Haven Fishing

Nelson Charters offers charters out of the Port of Grand Haven for King Salmon, Coho, Lake Trout, Steelhead Brown Trout, and Perch, as well as offering afternoon boat excursions for anyone that would like to take a relaxing ride down the Grand River out into Lake Michigan. Captain Mike offers charters for 1-6 people on Third Wish, a 31 foot Tiara. The trips are fun and personable, and the fishing is great! Nelson Charters supplies all the fishing equipment, as well as cleaning and packaging your fish. You will need a Michigan All Species Fishing License. You can buy your fishing license at a store near you or online through the DNR. April and May has some of the best perch fishing of the year. Call or email to schedule your spring trip.

nelson charters

Grandville Fishing

Cabela’s in Grandville offers an online Fly Fishing University, free of charge for anyone looking to learn! For those interested in learning how to fly fish, these courses have been created in cooperation with the Federation of Fly Fishers. They have modules covering all aspects of fly fishing, and will continue to offer new content in the future. As an added bonus, anyone who takes the class will be awarded a free Federations of Fly Fishers membership. This is the perfect way to learn the basics of a sport that leads to a lifetime of enjoyment. Modules include “Introduction to Fly Fishing,” “Fly Reel Training,” “Fly Rod Training,” “Fly Casting Techniques,” and more.

Holland Fishing

When you’re in Holland, you can fish one of the finest freshwater fisheries in the world. The vast blue water of Lake Michigan washing upon Holland’s western shore is home to trophy lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, and King and Coho salmon. And the area’s inland lakes and rivers are known for walleye, perch, bluegill, and bass. Launch your own boat at a public boat launch. Try your luck fishing from the break wall at Holland State Park, or choose from the area’s many experienced, licensed charter boat captains to guide you to your catch of the day.

Fish on a Lake Michigan salmon fishing charter service that is a customer oriented operation with CoHooker Charters. They are a Lake Michigan sport fishing charter service that specializes in the wholesome family recreation of salmon fishing, trout fishing, and Steelhead fishing on Lake Michigan. They welcome both business and family groups, ages 5 to 95. CoHooker has provided quality sport fishing experiences for individuals with all types of handicaps, from all walks of life and from all over the world!


Kalamazoo Fishing

All of the Kalamazoo County Parks offer great fishing opportunities. Markin Glen is great for shore fishing with a fishing lake and two fishing piers. Scotts Mill and River Oaks also offer shore fishing. Cold Brook offers fishing opportunities on Blue Lake and Portage Lake. A fishing pier is available as well as a boat ramp. Fish on Gourdneck Lake or Hogsett Lake at Prairie View. A boat ramp is available for fishing boats only. River Oaks also has a boat ramp to access Morrow Lake and the Kalamazoo River. A fishing license (not available for purchase at the parks) is required and all Department of Natural Resources regulations are to be followed.

kzoo parks

Ludington Fishing

Is catching salmon on your bucket list? At Stowaway Charters, they provide their customers with a professional and courteous fishing charter. They try to make your fishing experience fun and enjoyable. You’ll experience ‘hands on’ fishing, using quality fishing equipment. Stowaway Charters can teach you how to fish, and guide you into landing that trophy Salmon or Trout. You have Captain Ed Stowe’s guarantee that he will do his best to ensure your fishing trip is as successful as possible.

Experience exciting Lake Michigan fishing for salmon and trout from Ludington, one of Lake Michigan’s top producing ports, aboard Therapy Too Sport Fishing Charters. The season starts in April by trolling southern Lake Michigan shores for chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, browns and lake trout. July through September, they fish the deep water of the lake for big salmon, lake trout, browns, and those challenging steelhead. Their 38′ Tiara is new, comfortable and fast, featuring a large cockpit and a full complement of superior fishing gear. The helm is fully interfaced, state-of-the-art electronics, with satellite and radar, designed to get you where the fish are, quickly and safely. Enjoy big game sport fishing on Lake Michigan from Ludington, Lake Michigan’s premier fishing port.

Muskegon County Fishing

Muskegon County is a premier destination for freshwater fishing in waterways including Lake Michigan, Muskegon Lake, White Lake, inland lakes, streams, and the world-renowned Muskegon River. If you’d like to do battle with a king salmon or a high-flying steelhead, choose a fishing charter on Lake Michigan! The Port of Muskegon offers king salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, and lake trout fishing. The Muskegon River, or the “Mighty Mo,” is one of the best fish factories in the Midwest for steelhead, trout, king salmon, brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and walleye; fish from the bank or hire a guide to take you to the hotspots!

Muskegon County offers 24 charter fishing options with all equipment provided. Enjoy sun and waves while the crew does the work and you reel in the fish.  Also, there are several area restaurants that will prepare your fresh catch as soon as you get off the boat!

Newaygo County Fishing

The Muskegon River in Newaygo County offers some of the best fishing in the country. There are several fishing guides to choose from and there are numerous public access points throughout Newaygo County. April and May are peak season for Steelhead. The Harrington Inn is the perfect place to use as your home base for an extended fishing trip.

Rodney Fishing

Cran-Hill Ranch in Rodney has access to two lakes for those staying at their Family Campground. Hillview Lake offers a fishing dock and fish-cleaning hut, located at the east end of the campground. For personal watercraft, a boat launch is located a half mile east of the Ranch. You may rent a boat or fish from the small dock at Cranberry Lake. Guests may access the lake by foot or by vehicle. Michigan fishing license rules apply for both lakes.

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Saugatuck Fishing

For the ultimate in Lake Michigan sport fishing, step aboard one of the many charter boats from the ports of Saugatuck and Holland with Big Lake Outfitters of Saugatuck. They partner with the Saugatuck/Holland Area Charter Boat Association in order to provide you the ultimate experience in Lake Michigan sport fishing for salmon, trout, and perch! They have the largest fleet of charter boats in town! Big Lake Outfitters of Saugatuck can accommodate families, company outings, and parties of all sizes, and offer both morning and afternoon departures from their docks.

South Haven Fishing

Pyle’s Porthole knows everything you need to know about fishing, and is open all year round! They know the best places for fishing in South Haven, as well as the surrounding areas in Van Buren County. Pyle’s Porthole has everything you will need for a fun, successful day of fishing, from one day rentals to fresh, live bait and tackle. Pyle’s is conveniently located downtown South Haven.

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St. Joseph Fishing

There are many fishing charters in St. Joseph, Michigan, but Sea Hawk Michigan Fishing Charters has an established reputation built on success. Captain Russ has been running year-round salmon and trout fishing charters for over 25 years. You’ll experience big game fishing for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan aboard a 36′ Tiara with a 14′ wide fishing deck, as well as guided river fishing trips for the steelhead, salmon and the area’s famous skamania steelhead from a fully enclosed heated river boat on the St. Joseph River. Sea Hawk Michigan Fishing Charters also offers Sunset Cruises.

sea hawk

Originator Fishing Charter operates Fishing Charters and participates in Fishing Tournaments from Ports on Lake Michigan as well as the St. Joe River. Fish aboard a 36’ Tiara with a hard top and a 14’ wide fishing deck. At Originator Charter, they provide all the equipment for you to enjoy the great experience of catching King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Steelhead, Lake Trout and Brown Trout from Southwest Michigan Ports on Lake Michigan as well as the St Joe River. Captain Jerry also provides guided river fishing trips for “World-Class” Steelhead, the areas Skamania Steelhead & Salmon from a 26’ fully-enclosed heated river boat on the St Joe River.

Book your charter fishing trip with Originator now, and take advantage of their special offers! Enjoy $40 off any St. Joseph River Steelhead trip and $100 off any Lake Michigan charter booked during March and April, Mon-Thurs. As an extra bonus, book now for $40 off a four-person, $50 off a five-person, and $70 off a six-person charter booked on a non-holiday, Monday through Thursday.

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March, April and May are very good months to get fast limits of spring Salmon. Coho are quick, feisty and typically very close to shore. So if you would like to catch Spring Salmon on a great fishing trip, at a reduced price, this is the time. The months of July, August, and September are booking up fast, so if this is your preferred time of year you need to reserve your dates quickly.

Thompsonville Fishing

Crystal Adventures in Thompsonville rents canoes & kayaks for fishing the Betsie River. The Betsie River is designated by the state as a Scenic and Wildlife River – a protected trout stream. The average depth of the section of river that Crystal Adventures covers is 3-4ft. Fishing is prime for steelhead in April and May, king salmon in September and October, and brooke, brown, and rainbow trout all summer long. Crystal Adventures cabins are within walking distance to the Betsie River, a protected trout stream. A large and unique variety of birds call Benzie County home, and of course the fishing is world class. Year-round, our waterways offer opportunities for fun and relaxation for picnickers, serious explorers and fishermen alike.


Traverse City Fishing

For years, veteran fly-fishing enthusiasts have kept the storied streams, lakes and deep waters of the Traverse City area to themselves, letting the rest of the world forget that northern Michigan – haunt of the young Ernest Hemingway and birthplace of the fabled Adams Fly — was once famed as an angler’s mecca. The Jordan River, the Au Sable, the Platte and the Manistee are all excellent fly-fishing streams.

Grand Traverse Bay and the inland lakes near Traverse City (Long Lake and Lake Leelanau in particular) are the favorite smallmouth bass waters of  Kevin VanDam, who is regarded as the best competitive bass fisherman on the planet. Legendary bass angler Hank Parker, host of the popular TV show Hank Parker’s Outdoor Magazine on the Versus network, is another fan.

“The fishing was beyond my wildest expectations,” Parker said. “Not only did we boat dozens of big smallmouth bass — I personally caught the biggest smallmouth of my fishing career, a whopper that topped seven pounds. I could actually see the fish hit my lure in the crystal-clear water, an experience I’ll never forget!”

Local bass guide Capt. Chris Noffsinger, who has garnered a national reputation in the fishing media for putting his clients on big bass, said the bass fishing in Traverse City is “awesome” from the last Sunday in April, when Michigan’s catch and release season opens, through late fall. “It’s also exciting to explore the area’s countless small inland lakes in a kayak or canoe,” he added. “Most of the bass in these pristine waters have never seen a lure.”

For really big fish, of course, anglers head to Traverse City for lake trout, brown trout, steelhead and salmon in Grand Traverse Bay.

Walloon Lake Fishing

Spring is a great time of year to enjoy fishing on one of the many rivers surrounding Hotel Walloon, to name a few the Bear River, Sturgeon River and Jordan River. For the fishing enthusiasts, Hotel Walloon sits on a great lake for perch, bass, walleye and pike. There is a reason Ernest Hemingway said “It’s the great northern air. Absolutely the best trout fishing in the country. No exaggeration.”

Show Your Fishing Pride

Club Mich is is a t-shirt club focused exclusively on awesome places in Michigan. Sign up for one of their rotating t-shirt clubs, and you’ll get a shirt featuring that topic in Michigan delivered each month. Recent t-shirt clubs include Michigan Breweries and Wineries, and they just launched the Michigan Outdoor Outfitters T-Shirt Club! Show your outdoor pride with these Michigan outfitters, featuring outdoor supply shops that sell fishing licenses, tackle, and bait, as well as hunting supplies and outdoor gear and apparel.

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