Michigan is home to 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of streams not including the countless ponds scattered through out. Thats a lot of freshwater. It is said that you are never more than 6 miles away from an inland lake no matter where your standing in Michigan. Michigan can also boast having the longest freshwater shoreline in the world thanks to the Great Lakes.
All these lakes allow for some of the best freshwater fishing around.
What Do You Need
The most basic equipment you’ll need is a fishing rod, line, hook, and some bait.
A fishing license. In the state of Michigan anyone 17 and older requires a fishing license.
Comfortable clothing, we like to fish in our Freshwater t-shirts.
A place to fish.
Now there are optional things if you want to get all fancy like: A boat, fishing sonar, sunglasses, a net, and perhaps your lucky lure. But we’ll stick to the simpler things.
Michigan offers many different types of freshwater fish. During certain times of the year anglers pursue different types of fish. Some of the most common fish species sought after are bass, bluegill (panfish), and pike. Although all these species can be found in the same habitat they all have different preferred baits and eating behaviors.
Heres a deeper look into the species listed and how to catch them.
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass
Large mouth are identified by a dark line that runs from the gill plate to its tail, and like its name typically has a larger mouth which extends past its eyes. They also prefer muddy bottoms and heavy cover like lily pads, weed beds, and fallen timber.
Smallmouth are identified by a bronze coloring and may have multiple lines run down its back from its dorsal fin to its white belly. Their mouths do not extend past their eyes. They prefer moving, cooler water with rocky or sandy bottoms and submerged cover.
Bass are voracious and will eat anything they can fit in their mouths. This being said you can catch them on almost any live bait from worms, minnows, frogs, and crayfish. If live bait isn’t your thing, bass will go after spinner baits, topwater plugs, worms, lizards, crank baits, jerk baits, and the list goes on.
The best time to fish for bass is in the early spring when they come up to the shallows to spawn. Once they spawn the bite begins to be tougher and the bass head to the deeper parts of the water.
While fishing keep an eye out for irregular structure in the water or shorelines like points, docks, weeds, and rocks. Bass are ambush predators and will use this cover to wait for their prey.
Bluegill/ Perch/ Crappie/ and Panfish
Sunfish or Panfish can be some of best type of fishing. The different species can range in many different colors and patterns. Bluegill and Sunfish are related to bass and share a similar habitat preferring warm water and heavy submerged cover. Live bait is the preferred method for panfish, a simple worm on a hook will catch you a mess of fish in a short amount of time.
Crappie are usually fished by live minnows, small jigs, and spinnerbaits. The best bite is during dusk and dawn where the crappie move into the open or shallow water. Their habitat is typically submerged weed beds, boulders, or logs.
Perch are fished with live minnows, jigs, and worms. They usually can be found near the bottom close to weed beds and cover. Perch will bite bait that has been slowly jigged, bouncing on the bottom, and paused. This entices the fish to investigate by stirring up the bottom.
A unique thing about panfish is their bite can be year round, so your fishing is not limited to the warm months.
Pike are identified by their olive green elongated bodies and light colored spots. Toothy critters, they are one of the largest predators in the freshwater having a significant impact on other species. Their diet consist of mainly small fish, frogs, crayfish, waterfowl, and even rodents.
Pike can be found in slow streams, and shallow weedy lakes. They are ambush predators and stay still waiting for their prey. Pike have a tendency to be cannibalistic so depend on heavy cover when they are young. When fishing look for edges of lily pads, weed mats, and submerged cover that extrudes out of the water.
Live minnows, large spinnerbaits, jerk baits, spoons and frogs all will attract pike. A moderate to fast speed will trigger a strike.
The best time to fish for pike is dawn to dusk. Pike do not feed during the night.
Go Out And Explore
Lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. The most important thing to remember is making sure you have permission to fish. Some great looking fishing holes are privately owned. If you see a great looking spot it doesn’t hurt to ask permission, you might be surprised.
Fishing from shore can be fun but tricky in finding ample amount of space to cast and land you a fish. Public parks on lakes, river bend, or with ponds are the one of the best opportunities to get out and fish. State parks also offer great fishing and usually have well maintained docks and piers.
So dust off your rods and reels and lets go fishing!