From Lake to Table: The Fisherman’s Guide to Michigan

| 4 min read

hands casting a fishing line over a lake
Fishing can be both a calming summer escape and a great way to bond with friends and family. While you can always just grab a fishing pole and wish for the best, having a little know-how ahead of time can make your time out on the water a lot more enjoyable. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about fishing in Michigan, from where to cast your line to how to cook your catch.
Best Michigan Fish to Catch
  • Yellow Perch – These are one of the most commonly caught fish in Michigan. In the summer, yellow perch move into deeper water so it’s best to put a sinker on your line to find them. Fishing spots around Lake Huron, Saginaw Bay, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie are good places to start if you’re looking for a perch.
  • Walleye – Another type of perch, walleye is plentiful in Michigan. You can find them all year round in Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay/River, Flint River and Stony Creek. Look for this species in shallow waters (no deeper than 50 feet).
  • Whitefish – Although they may put up a good fight, Whitefish are abundant and easy to cook. Whitefish like to stay in the deep parts of clear-water lakes and can be found in Grand Traverse Bay, Munising Harbor, Grand Marais and Higgins Lake.
Before you head out, check Michigan regulations for which fish you can catch and keep and what ones you need to immediately release back into the water. And make sure to also check this guide for how to know what Michigan fish are safe to eat.
Top Fishing Spots
  • Haithco Park (Saginaw County) – Walk along the shore or the pier to find Yellow Perch and many other species of fish. If you’re planning a day trip, know that the park has some extra amenities, such as a concession stand, boat rental and bathrooms.
  • Skegemog Lake (Grand Traverse) – Fish from the shore or take a boat out to catch Walleye and Yellow Perch.
  • Saginaw Bay and Pinconning River (Bay County) – You’ll find Walleye, Yellow Perch and many other varieties off the fishing pier. The area also has quite a few amenities like a playground and a picnic area, perfect for traveling with a family.
  • Les Cheneaux Islands (Mackinac County) – The islands provide a variety of areas where fish like to settle; there are bays and channels with both deep and shallow areas. You can go by pier or boat to find Whitefish, Walleye, Yellow Perch, and more.
For more family-friendly fishing spots, check out Michigan Department of Natural Resources page for a breakdown by county.
How to Store Your Catch: Fish can go bad quickly, so it’s important to keep any fish you’ve caught (and plan to eat) on ice until you get home. If you’re using a cooler, just be sure to leave the drain plug open—fish that’s been sitting in melted water doesn’t taste as good. If you don’t plan to eat your prize that day, you’ll need to rinse your fish under cold water, dry with a paper towel and put in the fridge. Just know that fish still needs to be on ice, even in the refrigerator. Fresh fish won’t last more than a couple of days in the refrigerator, so if you aren’t eating it soon, freeze it.
Lake-to-Table Recipe
Fish are a great source of protein, omega-3 fat, and vitamin D. Research suggests that fish is good for the heart and can help fight against heart disease—plus it can boost your mood! The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume fish 2 to 3 times per week. Here’s a delicious recipe to try with that fish you just caught:
Crunchy Baked Walleye
  • 3 pounds walleye fillets
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat milk, milk substitute or buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Crush corn flakes and mix with Parmesan cheese. Dip the fish fillets in milk, then into the corn flake mixture. Place the fish on the prepared baking sheet and pour butter over fish. Bake for about 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
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