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Catching Walleye in Michigan: Tips, Techniques, and Hotspots

Walleye fishing in Michigan
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As a new fisherman in Michigan, you may be eager to start catching walleye, one of the most popular game fish in the region. Walleyes are known for their excellent taste and the challenge they present, making them a favorite among anglers. This guide will provide essential tips and techniques for catching the excessive walleye population in Michigan and some of the best spots to cast your line.

Skills You Need To Learn To Catch Walleye

Mastering the art of catching walleye requires a combination of skills that, when honed, will significantly improve your success on the water. First, develop your ability to read water and identify likely walleye habitats, such as underwater structures, drop-offs, and weed lines. Understanding how walleye relate to these features will help you target them more effectively.

Next, please familiarize yourself with various fishing techniques, such as jigging, trolling, and casting, and learn when and how to use them in different conditions. Patience and persistence are also crucial; walleye can be elusive, and locating or coaxing them into biting may take time. Moreover, refine your knot-tying skills to ensure your line and lures remain secure, even during the most brutal battles.

Lastly, practice proper fish handling and release techniques to minimize stress on the fish and promote healthy populations for future generations of anglers to enjoy. By developing these skills, you’ll be well-equipped to catch walleye and make the most of your fishing adventures in Michigan.

Understanding Walleye Behavior:

To increase your chances of catching walleye, it’s crucial to understand their behavior. Walleye are elusive and primarily feed during low-light conditions, such as dawn and dusk. They are typically found in deeper waters during the day and move to shallower waters to provide at night.

Fishing Methods and Techniques:

There are several techniques you can employ to catch walleye. Some popular methods include jigging, trolling, and casting. Each method has its own advantages, and the best one for you may depend on your preferences and the specific conditions you’re fishing in.

Jigging For Walleye:

Jigging is a popular method for targeting walleye, particularly in deeper waters. To jig for walleye, use a weighted jig head with soft plastic or live bait and work it vertically along the bottom.

Trolling For Walleye:

Trolling involves pulling lures or bait behind a moving boat, covering more water, and increasing your chances of finding active walleye. It  can be particularly effective during the spring and fall months when walleye are more likely to be found in open water.

Casting:

Casting is a simple and versatile technique targeting walleye in shallower waters or along weed lines and structures. When casting for walleye, use a slow, steady retrieve to entice them to bite.

Live Bait vs. Lures:

Both live bait and lures can be effective for catching walleye. Live bait, such as minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers, can provide a more natural presentation and is often the preferred choice among experienced anglers. Lures, however, can be just as effective and offer the advantage of being more durable and reusable.

Best Lures for Walleye:

Some of the best lures for walleye fishing include:

  1. Crankbaits: These lures imitate baitfish and can be especially effective when trolling or casting in open water.
  2. Jigs: As mentioned earlier, jigs are a versatile and popular choice for targeting walleye in deeper waters.
  3. Spinnerbaits: These lures are effective for quickly covering water and can target walleye in weed lines or around structures.
  4. Soft Plastics: Soft plastic baits, such as swimbaits and grubs, can be used with a jig head or Texas rig to target walleye.

Top Walleye Fishing Spots in Michigan:

Michigan boasts a wealth of prime walleye fishing locations, offering a variety of settings and challenges for anglers of all skill levels. Saginaw Bay, known for its abundant walleye population, is a top destination for casting and trolling enthusiasts. Lake Erie’s Michigan waters also provide fantastic walleye fishing, with the spring and fall months particularly productive.

Don’t miss the Detroit River, an excellent walleye fishery, especially during the spring spawning run. Lake St. Clair’s diverse fishery extends to its thriving walleye population, often found in deeper waters. Little Bay de Noc is a well-known walleye hotspot in the Upper Peninsula, with ice fishing a popular winter pastime.

Grand Traverse Bay, located on Lake Michigan, offers good walleye fishing opportunities around its underwater structures and drop-offs. In addition, Houghton Lake, one of Michigan’s largest inland lakes, has a healthy walleye population. At the same time, Lake Gogebic, another Upper Peninsula gem, features excellent walleye fishing around its weed beds and drop-offs. By exploring these top walleye fishing spots in Michigan, you will find success and create unforgettable memories on the water.

Saginaw Bay:

Known for its abundant walleye population, Saginaw Bay offers excellent opportunities for both casting and trolling.

Saginaw Bay, located on the eastern side of Michigan, offers numerous towns and access points for anglers looking to fish for walleye and other species. Some of the key cities and access points include:

  1. Bay City: Bay City is situated at the southern end of the bay and offers various public access points, including the Bay City State Park, which has a boat launch and fishing opportunities along the shoreline.
  2. Linwood: Linwood is a small town located along the western shore of Saginaw Bay. The Linwood Beach Marina and Campground provide boat launches, fishing piers, and docks.
  3. Pinconning: Further north along the western shore, Pinconning offers access to the bay through Pinconning Park, which has a boat launch and shore fishing opportunities.
  4. Standish: Standish is located near the mouth of the Pine River, offering access to Saginaw Bay via the Eagle Bay Marina, which has a boat launch and fishing opportunities.
  5. Au Gres: Au Gres is situated at the northern end of Saginaw Bay and provides access to the bay through the Au Gres River. The Au Gres City Harbor and Boat Launch is a popular spot for launching boats and fishing.
  6. Caseville: Located on the eastern shore of Saginaw Bay, Caseville offers access to the bay through the Caseville Harbor, which has a boat launch, fishing piers, and docks.
  7. Sebewaing: On the eastern shore, Sebewaing provides access to the bay through the Sebewaing River. The Sebewaing Marina Park and Boat Launch is a popular spot for anglers to launch boats and fish.

Lake Erie:

The Michigan waters of Lake Erie also offer fantastic walleye fishing, with the spring and fall months particularly productive. In addition, the Michigan waters of Lake Erie provide numerous towns and access points for anglers to explore and enjoy. Some key cities and access points include:

  1. Monroe: Monroe is a city located along the western shore of Lake Erie in Michigan. Popular access points in Monroe include the Bolles Harbor, which has a boat launch facility, and Sterling State Park, which provides both boat launch facilities and shore fishing opportunities.
  2. Luna Pier: Luna Pier is a small town located south of Monroe. The Luna Pier Harbor Club & Marina offers a boat launch, fishing piers, and docks for anglers.
  3. La Salle: La Salle, located near Monroe, provides access to Lake Erie through the Toledo Beach Marina, which has a boat launch, fishing piers, and docks.
  4. Gibraltar: Gibraltar is situated along the Detroit River, which flows into Lake Erie. The Gibraltar Boat Launch provides access to the river and the lake, offering anglers ample fishing opportunities.
  5. Trenton: Trenton is another city located along the Detroit River, offering access to Lake Erie via the Elizabeth Park Marina and the Trenton Rotary Park. Both parks have boat launch facilities and provide fishing opportunities.
  6. Detroit: Although primarily located along the Detroit River, the city of Detroit also provides access to Lake Erie. Belle Isle Park, an island in the river, has boat launch facilities and fishing opportunities.

Detroit River:

This river provides an excellent walleye fishery, especially during the spring spawning run.

Lake St. Clair:

Known for its diverse fishery, Lake St. Clair offers excellent walleye fishing opportunities, particularly in its deeper waters.

Little Bay de Noc:

Located in the Upper Peninsula, Little Bay de Noc is a well-known walleye hotspot, with ice fishing prevalent in winter. Little Bay de Noc, located on the north end of Green Bay in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is a popular fishing destination with several access points around the bay. Some key towns and access points include:

  1. Gladstone: The city of Gladstone, situated on the western shore of Little Bay de Noc, offers multiple access points for anglers. The Gladstone Yacht Club and the Van Cleve Park & Gladstone Beach both provide boat launch facilities, fishing piers, and docks.
  2. Escanaba: Located further south on the western shore, Escanaba provides access to the bay through the Escanaba Municipal Marina, which has boat launch facilities, fishing piers, and docks. The North Shore Boat Launch, near the mouth of the Escanaba River, is another popular spot for anglers.
  3. Kipling: The small community of Kipling, on the western shore of Little Bay de Noc, offers a boat launch facility at Kipling Boat Launch. This access point is particularly popular among ice anglers during the winter months.
  4. Rapid River: Located on the eastern shore of the bay, Rapid River offers access to Little Bay de Noc through the Rapid River Boat Launch, which provides a boat ramp and shore fishing opportunities.
  5. Garden Peninsula: The Garden Peninsula, on the eastern shore of Little Bay de Noc, offers several access points for anglers. Fayette Historic State Park, on the southern tip of the peninsula, has a boat launch facility and shore fishing opportunities.

These towns and access points around Little Bay de Noc provide convenient locations for launching your boat, fishing from shore, or making use of fishing piers and docks.

Grand Traverse Bay:

This bay on Lake Michigan provides good walleye fishing opportunities, particularly around its many underwater structures and drop-offs.

Houghton Lake:

As one of Michigan’s largest inland lakes to catch walleye, Houghton Lake offers a healthy walleye population and a variety of fishing opportunities. It is a popular fishing destination located in Roscommon County, Michigan, with various access points around the lake. Some key towns and access points include:

  1. Houghton Lake: The town of Houghton Lake, situated on the lake’s southeastern shore, offers multiple access points for anglers. The South Shore Boat Launch is a popular spot for launching boats, and there are several fishing piers and docks along the shore.
  2. Prudenville: Prudenville, located on the eastern shore of the lake, provides access through the Denton Township Public Boat Launch, which has ample parking and a wide boat ramp.
  3. Lake Township Park: Located on the northern shore of Houghton Lake, Lake Township Park offers a boat launch facility and shore fishing opportunities.
  4. West Houghton Lake Drive: On the lake’s western shore, anglers can find access points near West Houghton Lake Drive, including the West Shore Boat Launch.
  5. Heights Marina: Heights Marina, situated on the northeastern shore of the lake, offers boat launch facilities, fishing piers, and docks for anglers to use.

Lake Gogebic:

Another Upper Peninsula gem, Lake Gogebic, is known for its excellent walleye fishing, with anglers often finding success along the lake’s weed beds and drop-offs.

Other Secret Places Around the Great Lakes Known For Walleye Fishing

While many popular walleye fishing spots in the Great Lakes region are well-known, there are also several hidden gems and lesser-known locations where you can find excellent walleye fishing. Here are a few secret spots around the Great Lakes worth exploring:

  1. Long Point Bay, Lake Erie: Located on the Canadian side of Lake Erie, Long Point Bay is an often-overlooked walleye hotspot. Its vast, shallow waters and extensive weed beds provide the perfect habitat for walleye.
  2. St. Marys River, Sault Ste. Marie: The St. Marys River is a productive yet underappreciated walleye fishery connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The river’s strong currents and various depths offer diverse fishing opportunities.
  3. Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior: This bay, situated along the south shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, provides a productive walleye fishery. It’s sheltered waters and abundant forage makes it an attractive walleye thrive location.
  4. Green Bay, Lake Michigan: The waters of Green Bay, extending from the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin to the Garden Peninsula in Michigan, offer excellent walleye fishing opportunities. The bay’s varied structure, including reefs, drop-offs, and weed beds, provides an ideal habitat for walleye.
  5. Eastern Lake Ontario: While the other Great Lakes often overshadow Lake Ontario regarding walleye fishing, its eastern waters near the Bay of Quinte (Canada) and Henderson Harbor (New York) offer prime fishing opportunities. The lake’s diverse structure and forage base supports a healthy walleye population.

When exploring these secret walleye fishing spots around the Great Lakes, remember to check local fishing regulations, obtain the necessary fishing licenses, and familiarize yourself with any specific rules or restrictions that may apply to the area you’ll be fishing. Additionally, be aware that some of these locations may cross international borders, so be prepared with proper documentation if venturing into Canadian waters. Happy fishing!

Final Thoughts About Catching Walleye in Michigan

Catching walleye in Michigan can be an exciting and rewarding experience. You’ll increase your chances of success by understanding walleye behavior, employing the proper techniques, and using effective live bait or lures. Explore the various walleye hotspots throughout Michigan and enjoy the thrill of reeling in these prized game fish. Get your trolling rigs set up and your fishing boat ready. Remember always to follow local fishing regulations and practice catch-and-release when appropriate to ensure the sustainability of Michigan’s walleye populations for generations to come.

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Paul Austin
Paul makes his summer home on a Lake Huron beach. He spends his early morning hours studying history and writing. He has published over 600 articles in various print and online media. Paul contributes to Thumbwind Publications.