Fishing: Must-Visit Fishing Areas

These are the areas that fishing enthusiasts love. There are plenty of opportunities in each area, with Lake Michigan, streams, and inland waterways galore.


Cast your line in the sparkling waters of River Country, and you’re sure to catch something great, including lasting family memories, a peaceful afternoon, and even some fish! In fact, the St. Joseph River is a fly fisherman’s dream, with prolific runs of steelhead and salmon.

South Haven is home to many different fishing charters to get visitors out on the water and participating in fishing experiences. Here, you’ll find salmon, trout, steelhead, perch, bass, muskellunge, northern pike, and more in Lake Michigan and the county’s inland lakes. The South Haven area’s fishing scene also includes tournaments and events throughout the boating season.

Home to more than 100 lakes, including two chains of lakes, Coldwater Country is a haven for relaxation on the water. Bluegill, perch, pike, and walleye are amongst the fish caught in the area. Anglers are bound to find a hot spot (or two) for reeling in the catch of the day.

The Berrien Springs Dam and Fish Ladder in Berrien Springs is one of Southwest Michigan’s favorite fishing spots. Recent major modifications to the dam include a fish ladder that allows salmon and steelhead to migrate upstream in the fall and return to Lake Michigan in the spring. St. Joseph River is well known for its steelhead, giant coho salmon, walleye, smallmouth bass, panfish, and pike. Bring all your fishing gear and head down the river as you look for “the big one.”

As the fifth-largest lake in the world, Lake Michigan holds a recorded 100 species of fish. Charlevoix is located on the northern portion of Lake Michigan, which is pristine and pure enough for the pickiest of anglers. You can fish Lake Michigan from a boat or from the pier located at Michigan Beach. Lake Charlevoix waters hold numerous fish species as the depth and character of the lake varies greatly from one area to another.

Surrounded by waterways including Lake Michigan, inland lakes, streams, and the world-renowned Muskegon River, Muskegon County offers a premier destination for freshwater fishing year-round. Find the perfect charter, supply shop, boat rental, or marina in the Muskegon area.

A visit to the Mt. Pleasant needs to include a stop along the Chippewa River. With a stream that runs 91.8 miles through the central Lower Peninsula, there’s plenty of spots to spend the day fishing. Pick a spot at one of the many city parks or head out to Deerfield Nature Park for true tranquility.

Outdoors enthusiasts can explore over 100 lakes, numerous streams, the Muskegon River, and thousands of acres of state land in the Mecosta County area. Visit the Haymarsh Game Area, one of the area’s largest fishing areas, or one of the many parks in the county. From lake finders and state maps to where you can purchase your licenses, the Mecosta County CVB has all the fishing information you need.

Visit Holland and the beautiful blue water of Lake Michigan for some of the best freshwater fishing in the world! You can fish directly from the break wall and pier at Holland State Park, along the boardwalk at Howard B. Dunton Park, or at the Heinz Waterfront Walkway at Kollen Park. If you have a boat, there are several public boat launches that allow easy access to the water along Lake Macatawa. Holland also offers several fishing charters for you to climb aboard and cast a line.

Drop a line in the Petoskey area and you won’t be disappointed. Everywhere you turn, there’s a river, lake, or stream with clear water and views that will make the trip worthwhile even if you don’t catch the big one. Whether you want to fly fish, hire a charter, toss a line from a dock or bring your own fishing boat and spend the day on the lake, the Petoskey area is a fisherman’s dream.

Fishing is one of Northern Michigan’s favorite pastimes. So it’s no surprise that fishing and Mackinac Island go hand in hand. Stepping onto Mackinac Island is like stepping back in time, so while you are on a summer trip to your favorite island, be sure to book a fishing charter and sail the open seas searching for your next big catch.

With numerous inland waterways, rivers, lakes, and streams, the Indian River region allows for a variety of fishing opportunities. There is no time like the spring to enjoy fantastic fishing.

The Cheboygan area includes both Mullett Lake and Burt Lake, which are known throughout the Midwest as great fishing lakes. There are several national fishing tourneys that use Cheboygan as a base, and then either hit one of those two lakes or go out for Great Lakes fishing. In addition to Mullett and Burt Lakes, Black Lake and the Black River are two of the few places that people can still fish for Great Lakes sturgeon.

Anywhere along the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie is worth a shot for the experienced angler, but getting on a boat and hitting the north side of the power canal is an experience. Rotary Park is another good spot to throw out a line. The nearby Aune-Osborn Park features a boat launch and an expansive shoreline for casting. Charter fishing tours are also available for those looking to fish using a local expert.

If you have fished Manistee waters before, you know why Manistee County is regarded as a world-class fishing destination. There are 25 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, three deep-water Lake Michigan harbors, and three top-notch rivers to fish or paddle, plus seven fishing charters to help you get there.

The Grayling area is known worldwide for trout fishing. Two famous streams, the AuSable and Manistee, along with various branches provide angling for brook, brown, and rainbow trout. Area lakes offer good fishing for bass, bluegill, walleye, and pike. Higgins Lake along Crawford County’s southern border is widely recognized as one of the finest inland fisheries in the state. There are numerous lakes in Crawford County offering a variety of fishing opportunities, as well as something to offer for all varieties this sport has to offer.

Benzie County is known for year-round fishing of rainbow, brook, brown, and lake trout, as well as smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, bluegills, whitefish, rock bass, and sturgeons in the rivers and lakes. There are registered fishing guides who can help visitors find desirable areas to fish on Benzie County’s many rivers, streams, and lakes. Fish often caught on charter fishing excursions include steelhead, Coho salmon, King salmon, brown trout, and lake trout ranging in size weighing as much as 30 pounds. Ben Wolfe, a well-known fishing guide in Northern Michigan, even calls Benzie County “the birthplace of salmon fishing.”