Man Fishing from boat on Lake

Michigan Fishing Guide: Fishing Michigan's Many Lakes, Rivers, & Streams

4 Minutes

2019’s fishing season has begun once again and Michigan residents are taking the rivers and Great Lakes to get an early piece of the action. While every fisherman may have their favorite spots, there are so many beautiful waterways that are littered throughout the Lower and Upper Peninsula that make for a great weekend trip.

From Burt Lake to Saginaw Bay, Michigan is considered one of the best places to fish for salmon and trout in the midwest. With such a rich history of fishing and hunting throughout the great state of Michigan, it’s no wonder that thousands of visitors flock to this region for a little outdoor fun.

For more information about obtaining a fishing license and what it covers, check out our guide down below.

Michigan Fishing Licenses

Obtaining a Michigan Fishing License

Fishing licenses are distributed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and available at their website or participating retailers. Licenses are required for all people over the age of 17 and older. If purchased online, please allow 7-10 business days for the license to arrive.

Michigan Fishing License Cost

Licenses are available to both residents and nonresidents for the small price of $26 and $76 respectively. 24-hour passes are available at $10 for both residents and nonresidents. Annual licenses are valid through April 31, 2020.

Michigan Fish Species


Catch and Release: All WatersAll Year

Catch-and-keep: All Waters + Great LakeMay 25 – December 31

Catch-and-keep: Lake St. Clair & St. Clair & Detroit Rivers –  June 15 – December 31


Catch and Release: All WatersAll Year

Catch-and-keep: Inland + St. Mary’s RiverJune 1 – March 15

Catch-and-keep: Lake St. Clair & St. Clair & Detroit Rivers –  June 1 – December 31

Northern Pike

Catch-and-keep: Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair & St. Clair & Detroit Rivers All Year

Catch-and-keep: Lower Peninsula & Inland Waters April 27 – March 15

Catch-and-keep: Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, Inland waters & St. Marys River May 15 – March 15

Salmon & Trout

Catch-and-keep: Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, St. Marys River, St. Clair & Detroit RiversAll Year

Catch-and-keep: (Inland) Type 3 & 4 Streams and Type B, C, E & F lakesAll Year

Catch-and-keep: (Inland) Type 1 & 2 Streams and Type A & D LakesApril 27 – Sept. 30

Gear Restricted Streams – Page 40-42 of the 2019 DNR Fishing Guide

Lake Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon are highly regulated fish and are not legal to be harvested in certain waters. Harvesting a Lake Sturgeon does not require an additional tag, but is only limited to one sturgeon the entirety of the calendar year. All sturgeon are required to be reported within 24 hours to:

  • 844-345-FISH (3474)
  • Any DNR Customer Service Center

Lake Sturgeon are limited to the following waters with the following sizing requirements:

The Detroit River: Fishing & Possession: July 16 – March 15

All Sturgeon require immediate release

Otsego Lake: Fishing & Possession: July 16 – March 15

50” Minimum to Keep

Lake St. Clair: Fishing July 16 – March 15/ Possession July 16- Sep. 30

Between 42-50” to Keep/All others require immediate release

The St. Clair River: Fishing July 16 – March 15/ Possession July 16- Sep. 30

Between 42-50” to Keep/All others require immediate release

Black Lake: Fishing & Possession “1st Saturday in February to the following Wed. or until the quota is reached”

No Size Limit

All Michigan and Wisconsin Water Boundaries: 1st Saturday in Sept. – Sept. 30

60” Minimum to Keep

Additional Fish

The following fish are available to catch and keep all year round in all waters:

  • Channel Catfish
  • Cisco
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Lake Whitefish
  • Smelt
  • Sunfishes
  • White Bass
  • Yellow Perch

Fishing in the Great Lakes and Other Popular Destinations

The Great Lakes are a great place to go for some deep sea fishing and catch plenty of Lake Trout. In general, lake Michigan is known for its yellow perch and salmon, while Lake Huron to the east is famous for its whitefish.

There are dozens of species in the great lakes to find and harvest, which is why it’s important to understand the regulations surrounding them. St. Joseph and Manistee offer great harbors to fish from Lake Michigan, and it’s always worth a trip to Chicago to get out on the lake. On the other hand, Rogers City and Detour are great cities on Lake Huron with excellent harbors to fish the lake and services to get you deep at sea.

Of course, the best way to enjoy the fishing season is to buy up a piece of land near the waterways of your own. For properties near the Great Lakes or any of Michigan’s historic rivers, check out our properties page to see what’s available.