West Michigan Fishing

Grab your rod & reel, and head out for some of the best fishing in the state. Whether throwing a line off the pier, venturing out on the big lake with a fishing charter, or fly fishing in the river, West Michigan is an angler’s favorite destination! 

Find more resources to help your plan and prepare for your next fishing outing in West Michigan in the Carefree Travel Guide.

Before you head to the waters, remember anyone over age 17 is required to purchase a Michigan State Fishing License. Enjoy a Free Fishing Weekend, June 13th & 14th, when the Michigan DNR will waive fishing fees and state park entry will not require a Recreation Passport. 

With more than 100 lakes, including two chains of lakes, South Central Michigan’s Coldwater Country offers countless opportunities for novice to expert anglers and everyone in between to reel in the catch of the day. One of the unique experiences in the area is the ability to get out on the water and travel from one lake to another through the chain of lakes. Coldwater Country is home to not only one chain of lakes but two – North Chain of Lakes and South Chain of Lakes.

  •  The North Chain of Lakes, also known as the Randall Chain of Lakes, is a series of seven lakes including Messenger, South, Cemetery, North, Randall, Morrison and Craig lakes. Located near the city of Coldwater, in central Branch County, the North Chain of Lakes collectively covers approximately 1,100 acres. This chain of lakes is largely known for bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass with some pan fish as well.
  • The South Chain of Lakes, also known as the Marble or Coldwater Chain of Lakes, runs parallel to I-69 south of the US-12 Heritage Route and includes eight lakes – First Lake, Marble Lake, Middle Lake, Archer Laker, Bartholomew Lake, Mud Lake, Long Lake, and Coldwater Lake. With 16 boatable miles of lakes it covers more than 3,500 acres of widely varying habitat and environments. Largemouth bass are abundant in this chain as well.

Saylor’s Landing in Marshall in Calhoun County is the hub for all of your aquatic activities on the Kalamazoo River. The boat launch is easily accessible and there’s a fishing platform with sitting benches. In a 2017 fishery report from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, this part of the river had a higher total catch per effort than other sites in the Kalamazoo River. If you want to make a day of it, there’s a picnic area, grills and public restrooms.

Big Lake Outfitters of Saugatuck is your headquarters for outdoors adventure while visiting the Saugatuck/Douglas area. With a retail bait & tackle shop, they are also the home of Best Chance Charters, providing the ultimate in Lake Michigan charter fishing. 

In South Haven, whether you’re looking for a quiet fishing experience off the piers along the Black River, or a fun and exciting fishing charter adventure out on Lake Michigan with an experienced fishing guide, you’ll find it here! Cast a line off either of the piers or off the handicap accessible fishing dock in SHOUT Park. Black River Park is a quieter place to fish off the Black River, with a fish cleaning station off the parking lot. For a list of fishing charters, click here.

The beautiful blue water of Lake Michigan is known as one of the best freshwater fisheries in the world! You can fish directly from the break wall and pier at Holland State Park (2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424), along the boardwalk at Howard B. Dunton Park (290 Howard Ave, Holland, MI 49424) or at the Heinz Waterfront Walkway at Kollen Park (240 Kollen Park Dr, Holland, MI 49423). 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. Find more boat launches and fishing information on the Ottawa County Parks amenities guide.

Nelson Charters offers fishing charters out of the Port of Grand Haven for king salmon, coho, lake trout, steelhead brown trout, perch, and an afternoon boat excursion for anyone that would like to take a relaxing ride down the Grand River out into Lake Michigan.

Muskegon County offers a premier destination for freshwater fishing surrounded by waterways including Lake Michigan, inland lakes, streams, and the world-renowned Muskegon River for year-round fishing action. Call for your Fishing Packet with great information on charter services, bait & tackle shops, boat rentals, marinas and launch ramps. 1-800-250-9283

Ludington is touted for being one of the best salmon ports on the Great Lakes, and Mason County sports nearly 2,000 miles of trout streams and over 40 inland lakes that are available for fishing. So whether you are fishing from the pier, on Lake Michigan on a charter boat, or fly-fishing in the stream, you are bound to reel one in while in Pure Ludington! Find Pure Ludington outfitters, river guides and services on the Ludington recreation page.

Outdoors sportsmen and women can explore over 100 lakes, numerous streams, the Muskegon River, and thousands of acres of state land in Mecosta County. From lake finder and state maps to where you can purchase your licenses, we have all the details you have been hunting for in the great outdoors. So you know what you are fishing for but not sure where to find it? Check out the Michigan Finder for Mecosta County page to see all the details about each lake access point throughout our County. Additional fishing information can also be found in the Mecosta County Parks where you can stay at several campgrounds in the County for lake access. Save time and get out on the water a little more quickly by purchasing your fishing license online at the Michigan DNR website. If you have your own boat and are looking for just the right spot to drop in, feel free to check out the Boat Launch directory which notes launch location, courtesy pier, parking options, and bathroom availability along the water acreage.

With Michigan’s laziest stream, the Chippewa River, running through the community, the Mt. Pleasant area’s parks are perfect for fishing! Top fishing spots include: Isabella County parks Meridian Park and Deerfield Nature Park, and city park Nelson Park, located in Downtown Mt. Pleasant.

Make Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire your Northern Michigan homebase while fishing Antrim County’s Chain of Lakes. Comprised of 12 lakes – including Lake Bellaire, Intermediate Lake, and Torch Lake to name a few – joined by riverways, the Chain of Lakes is plentiful with bass, walleye, muskie, salmon and trout, whitefish, pike, and panfish.

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.

Fishing really is a four-season activity here in the Great Lakes State, but as the ice melts and the temperatures rise, the rivers, streams, and lakes become a hotbed for a variety of species. The Straits of Mackinac area offers opportunities for migratory steelhead and salmon, as well as other freshwater fish. Spring fishing begins in April when the smelt begin to run, followed by trout season in late April and walleye season which opens mid-May. As we move into summer, look for lake perch and bass off the coast of Wilderness State Park or head to Paradise Lake, just five miles south of Mackinaw City, where bass, pike, walleye and panfish are plentiful. Be sure to check the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for specific season dates and licensing information.

The Keweenaw Area includes more than 50 inland lakes perfect for fishing and boating. Portage Lake features nearly 10,000 acres of freshwater fishing, gorgeous views, and calm waters perfect for boating and paddling recreation. Contact one of their experienced local guides to book your next charter fishing experience.