Attention anglers: Effective July 23, 2021, the daily bag limit for lake trout will increase to 5 (in aggregate with other trout and salmon) for Lake Michigan, Green Bay and their tributaries, excluding the Mid Lake Reef Complex. Lake trout fishing will be open year-round on most waters. Check the trout fishing regulations for more details.
Lake Michigan, or the big pond as many Wisconsinites know it, is the No. 1 most frequently visited water in Wisconsin and it's easy to see why. Whether by boat or onshore, a fishing pole will bring you some of the state's best and most diverse fishing, not to mention picturesque views.
And with millions of fish stocked annually to keep populations healthy - there's a good chance there will be a bite on your line.
Plan your trip, get information about charter fishing and learn more about how the department is working to protect and enhance the Lake Michigan fishery through the links below.
Fishing Lake Michigan
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Fishing in Lake Michigan and tributaries
Indiana’s share of Lake Michigan is the smallest of the four states bordering the lake. Indiana has 43 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 224 square miles of Lake Michigan water.
Use the interactive 'Where to Fish' map
Fishing reports are updated weekly.
Fishing 101: Guides to Fishing Lake Michigan
Fishing by season, Lake Michigan and its tributaries
Click on the links below to find out more detailed information on when to fish for certain species in Lake Michigan.
Winter fishing Lake Michigan
During January, February and March, fishing activity is limited to the streams and warmwater discharges along the shoreline. All the discharges originate from shoreline property owned by private industry.
Three warmwater discharges are available to shore anglers for access. The areas may be closed when the lake is too treacherous or the National Threat Advisory has been elevated. They are:
- BP Whiting Refinery allows day and night fishing at their discharge, located off of Indianapolis Boulevard/119th Street in Whiting (near the eastern edge of Whiting Park).
- Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) Michigan City generating station, just west of the Lake Michigan Fisheries Research Office (100 W. Water St., Michigan City), is open to angling from sunrise to sunset.
Species from warmwater discharge fishing:
- Brown trout
- Coho salmon
- Chinook salmon
- Drum, smallmouth bass, catfish and walleye
- Insulated clothing.
- Two to three rods for casting and bait-fishing; 6-10 pound test line rated for fishing in sub-zero to 45 degree temperatures.
- Long-handled net of 8-12 feet (most fishing areas by the discharges are much higher than the water).
- Best lures/baits include small alewives, nightcrawlers, spawn bags, shrimp and small spoons; body baits and spinners work on occasion. Suggested colors are silver/green, chrome/green, chrome/orange, chartreuse with red or black dots, fluorescent orange lures.
Spring Fishing in Lake Michigan
Boat fishing for troutand salmon
- The boat-fishing season along the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan usually begins with the departure of ice around mid-February to April.
- Between March and mid-May, most of the fishing activity occurs within a two-mile band along the shoreline with coho salmon contributing close to 90 percent of the catch.
- Most coho salmon stocked in the lake by Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana will stage in southern Lake Michigan in the spring, due to annual migration patterns.
- The 2- and 3-year-old coho gain weight rapidly, weighing approximately 2 pounds in March and up to 4 pounds in May when they begin moving offshore. Steelhead, brown trout, Chinook salmon, and some larger coho are also taken during this period.
- Fishing equipment:
- Trolling with ThinFins, Rapalas, Thunder-Sticks (and various other body-baits and spoons), spinners, or dodgers and flies are the fishing methods most frequently used by boat anglers.
- Casting into warmwater plumes in early spring when the lake temperature is still in the high 30s or low 40s has had some success.
- Fishing equipment:
Shore fishing for trout and salmon
- Shore anglers have found the months of March (and as early as mid-February) through April to be the best for catching coho in the spring.
- Fishing equipment:
- They cast using the same types of artificials as the boat anglers or fish with bait (nightcrawlers, spawn, waxworms, squid and shrimp, suspending bait off bottom or from 4-6 feet below the surface.
- Fishing equipment:
Sunfish family, including smallmouth bass
- The sunfish family can be divided into three groups:
- Smallmouth and largemouth bass (black bass)
- The true sunfish and rock bass.
- In Lake Michigan, these fish inhabit mostly breakwaters and other areas that are protected from wave action (marina basins). All are spring spawners, with spawning for some extending into the summer months.
- Smallmouth bass
- Smallmouth bass are confined to reefs and shoal water areas.
- Shoreline development (i.e., rip-rap shoreline and breakwaters) has resulted in the creation of suitable smallmouth bass habitat. Smallmouth bass numbers have responded positively to this increase in habitat.
- Wave energy has a direct influence on smallmouth distribution. Protected areas, such as the land side of breakwaters are areas that produce the best action.
Summer fishing in Lake Michigan
Trout and salmon
- The water temperature close to shore increases rapidly in late spring, driving coho and most other salmonids into the deep, cooler offshore waters.
- Between May and the end of July, boat anglers in pursuit of trout and salmon normally fish at depths ranging between 70 and 200 feet of water.
- Travel a distance of 6 to 20 miles from shore, depending upon the point of departure (these water depths require traveling offshore to Illinois or Michigan waters. If fishing IL or MI waters, a fishing license from the appropriate state is also necessary).
- Downriggers are used to get the lure down to the temperature zone sought by trout and salmon. Lake trout, coho, Chinook, steelhead, and to a lesser extent, brown trout, all contribute to the catch.
- Yellow perch move closer to the shoreline during these months and are available on a limited basis to shore and boat anglers.
- Minnows, crayfish tails, frozen shrimp and crab fished at depths less than forty feet in May through September have produced the best catches. Shore fishing opportunities also exist throughout the summer months at most of the shoreline fishing sites.
- By mid- to late-June, depending on water temperatures and water levels in the tributaries, the summer-run Skamania will return to Indiana’s tributaries where they were planted as fingerlings or yearlings.
- The tributaries the Division of Fish & Wildlife stocks are the St. Joseph River, the East Branch of the Little Calumet River and Trail Creek. Most Skamania will “stage” near shore in Lake Michigan, with fish rushing upstream, especially after a heavy rainfall to begin the “run.”
- By mid-August (dependent upon tributary temperatures and water levels), good numbers of Skamania have entered their home tributary streams; however, Skamania will continue to enter the area tributaries throughout the fall and winter months (through March).
- Skamania spawning activities begin around early February through mid-March, with the peak occurring in February.
- The majority of spawning fish are four and five years of age. The spent steelhead will return to Lake Michigan throughout March and into April. A steelhead may spawn several times during its life, although most likely only spawn once or twice.
Fall fishing in Lake Michigan
Skamania and winter-run steelhead
- Adult steelhead (Skamania summer-run strain and Michigan or winter-run strain) returntothe streams where they were stocked as fingerlings or yearlings.
- Lake trout display a spawning pattern close to the Port of Indiana, with a run of lake trout that develops along the shoreline between mid-October and mid-November.
Chinook and coho salmon
- Chinook and coho salmon return to streams and spawn from late August to early November. Chinook and Coho salmon die after spawning.
Stream fishing in Lake Michigan
- Chinook and coho salmon: September through mid-November
- Skamania strain steelhead (summer-run): Mid-July to mid-October; winter months (i.e. January through March; success, however, is strongly dependent upon environmental/stream conditions, particularly stream water levels).
- Michigan strain steelhead (winter-run): Mid-November to mid-March.
- Summer-run Skamania steelhead return to area streams from July (as early as mid-June) through the winter months and spawn from mid-February to March; winter-run steelhead return beginning in mid-late October, with the bulk of the return in February and March
- Winter-run steelhead spawn from mid-March to mid-April. All species of salmonids (coho, Chinook, steelhead trout and brown trout) are available to sport anglers during the fall spawning runs (boat and pier anglers as trout and salmon return to their stocking site; stream anglers when trout and salmon move into/upstream the tributaries). Brown trout return to stocking sites in the autumn to spawn.
Where to Fish on Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan Fishing
- The Michigan City pier, basin, and adjoining ramp (owned by City of Michigan City), provide access for both shore and boat anglers.
- Another municipal ramp is located upstream on Trail Creek (Trail Creek Marina).
- A public fishing site for shoreline anglers exists next to the Michigan City DNR building (handicap accessible).
- A public fishing site for shoreline anglers (handicap accessible) is available at the Port of Indiana. Various private marinas along Burns Waterway (State Road 249; Burns Ditch) provide boat launching facilities
Stream Fishing of Lake Michigan tributaries
Trail Creek has 10 public fishing sites; two are handicap accessible.
Public fishing sites include:
- Site next to the DNR building; Hansen Park (E Street)
- Winding Creek Cove (8th/Dickson Streets)
- Fire Station #2 (2005 E. U.S. 12)
- Robert Peo Public Access (Liberty Trail)
- Karwick Nature Park (Karwick Road)
- U.S. 35 (Chapala Parkway)
- Trail Creek Forks (U.S. 20)
- Johnson Road (Johnson/Wozniak Roads)
- Creek Ridge Park (7943 W. County Road 400 North).
The DNR public access site and Creek Ridge Park are both handicap accessible.
The East Branch of the Little Calumet River and Salt Creek also provide public access for fishing opportunities.
- Salt Creek runs through Imagination Glenn County Park and Haven Hollow Park, both offering angler-access.
- Two state-managed public fishing sites are located on Salt Creek, the Chustak Public Fishing Area and Salt Creek Public Fishing Area, near Valparaiso.
- Deer Creek Path, a public access site at Ameriplex Woods (State Road 249/Ameriplex Drive) and Burns Harbor Public Access (State Road 149/Navaho Drive) offer fishing opportunities on the East arm of the Little Calumet River.
- Portions of the East Branch of the Little Calumet River flow through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore property, which the public can utilize. For more information about fishing on the Dunes National Lakeshore property, call (219) 926-7561 or visit www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm.
REMEMBER: The majority of Lake Michigan tributaries run through private property; permission from landowners is required to fish on these private lands.
Limited access to warmwater discharges is provided by industrial plants located on the shoreline. Due to recent economic downturns and increased security, many areas have either been closed or public access is not being granted. You can see a list of locations under winter fishing
Lake Michigan Fisheries Status and Management Reports
Lake Michigan Outdoor Fishing Report - October 12, 2021
In general, fishing reports will be updated once per week, usually on Tuesdays. This may change based on the availability of reports and the work schedules of field staff.
Fishing report information comes from our creel survey clerks, who work in the lakeshore areas from March through October, and in the tributary rivers seasonally in spring and fall. Creel clerk schedules are random and vary in the days and times they are scheduled to be in a specific location, which allows us to generate statistically valid fishing efforts and harvest information.
Information for these reports is only based on days and times of the week that creel clerks are present. Additional fishing information can be found by contacting local bait shops, charter captains, marinas, etc.
REMINDER - Anglers must carry a paper copy of their license/stamps while fishing on the waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and the Wisconsin/Michigan, Wisconsin/Minnesota and Wisconsin/Iowa boundary waters.
Oct. 12, 2021: Green Bay Fishing Report
Fox River And Metro Boat Launch
- Success on walleye was reported by boaters at the Metro Boat Launch. Anglers reported having success using artificial baits, flicker minnows, and crawler harnesses in waters that were 9-14 feet deep.
East Shoreline Of Green Bay:
- The average water temperature reported this week was 62 degrees.
- A lot of boaters reported success on yellow perch out of Sawyer Harbor at Potawatomi State
- Park over this past week. Many said they had the most success using minnows. Some boaters here also reported success on sunfish, bluegill, and northern pike using mostly minnows and some night crawlers.
- Many boaters also reported success on yellow perch and northern pike out of Little Sturgeon Bay at Robert M. Carmody Boat Launch. Anglers reported having success with minnows and worms.
- Success on yellow perch was also reported out of Bayshore Park Boat Launch this week. The majority of anglers reported success using minnows.
Anglers also reported catching Chinook with spoons on the east end of the Shipping Canal
West Shoreline Of Green Bay:
- Geano Beach: There were not many creel surveys conducted at this location this week, but the interviews conducted were of people scouting locations for duck hunting.
- Suamico River: Boat anglers have reported catching yellow perch and round gobies using minnows. They also reported catching northern pikes on crankbaits. Fire tiger was reported to be an effective color for the crankbaits that were used. The water temperatures were reported to be between 65 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Longtail Point: These boat launches were not very busy this week. Boat anglers reported catching yellow perch on minnows. The water temperatures were reported to be around 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Duck Creek: Boat anglers have reported catching yellow perch, black crappies, northern pike, rock bass, and round gobies on minnows. Some yellow perch were also caught using nightcrawlers. The water temperature was reported to be between 65- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fox River and the metro boat launch: Shore anglers have reported catching yellow perch, bluegills, walleyes, sunfish, smallmouth bass, rock bass, catfish, suckers, and round gobies. These fish were all caught on a variety of nightcrawlers, soft plastics, and crankbaits. Purple was reported to be a successful color for soft plastics and crankbaits. Boat anglers have reported catching walleyes, muskies, smallmouth bass, northern pikes, catfish, and sheepsheads on a combination of crankbaits and soft plastics. Purple and fire tiger were reported to be effective colors. The water temperatures were reported to be between 66- and 69-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Anglers on the Peshtigo River were getting perch, bass, and northern pike throughout the lower river. Perch have been biting best on minnows. Little River boat launch was busy over the weekend with anglers fishing from shore and in the bay. Most were after chinook salmon with very little action seen. Anglers were putting in long hours enjoying the weather while seeing only a few salmon surface. Those trolling the bay in front of Little River were finding the northern pike to be active with fish of various sizes reported caught including a 40 inch-pike. Large stick baits were working well for the pike. Fish surveys found a few brown trout, steelhead and Chinook in the lower Menominee. Water temps were still around 66 degrees as of the end of the weekend.
- Shore fishing spots were starting to see some activity this week. Popular perch fishing spots at County Park II and the ditches along County Hwy. Y had successful anglers most days. Perch were being caught but a lot of sorting was taking place to find keeper-size fish. Water temps were still holding in the mid-60s. Cooler water temps should increase the success. Area launches were pretty quiet throughout the week.
Oct. 12, 2021: Southern Lake Michigan Fishing Report
- Kenosha Piers and Shoreline: The piers and shorelines in Kenosha have begun to see a slight decrease in angling activity compared to the last several weeks. Plenty of anglers are still being seen fishing at various spots along the walls of the harbor. While most anglers are still trying for salmon, some are now hoping to catch browns or steelhead now that water temperatures have started dropping for the season. Some anglers have still been seen throwing spoons or crankbaits, but now the majority of anglers are fishing with eggs on slip bobbers. Despite the continued effort trying to catch salmon, success was low during our survey. Only one chinook was caught using spawn.
- Kenosha Ramps: The ramp in Kenosha continues to see incredibly low activity as conditions on the lake have not been good for fishing. It seems as though the fishing season is close to over on the lake until spring. Only one or two boat trailers were seen throughout the week. No catches were recorded during our survey. The water temperature at the ramp by the end of the week was 66 degrees.
- Pike River: The Pike River continues to see low angling effort as the mouth of the river continues to collapse due to rough waves. The angling activity that has been seen on the river this season has been near the mouth. Not many salmon have been able to make it any significant distance up the river yet due to low water levels. The anglers who have been seen on the river targeting salmon have been seen using mostly slip bobbers. Even though some angling activity has been seen, no catches were recorded during this week's survey. The water temperature near the mouth was 68 degrees.
- Racine Piers and Shoreline: The piers and shorelines had a very slow week due to extreme winds and waves. The piers were nearly unfishable. A few anglers were still seen fishing within the confines of the harbor or the floating docks by the boat ramp. Throwing spoons and crankbaits is still common. Bobber fishing with eggs is still being seen as well. The anglers were still hoping to catch salmon, but success was tough to come by. Due to the decreased effort on the shorelines, only one pike was caught throughout the week during our survey.
- Racine Ramp: The ramp in Racine didn’t see very much activity this week. Conditions on the lake were too wavy and windy for fishing. A few boats may have gotten out onto the lake, but the fishing season on the lake is winding down for most anglers. No catches were recorded. The water temperature at the ramp by the end of the week was 66 degrees.
- Root River: The Root River saw a substantial increase in angling activity over the last week. Water levels went up and the temp dropped enough to bring lots of salmon into the river. Anglers have been seen from the mouth all the way up to the dam. The majority of the angling activity has been seen in Lincoln Park below the steelhead facility. Most anglers are being seen fishing with flies, while some have also been seen fishing with spawn. Not surprisingly, due to the increase in angling activity, success has gone up as well. Large amounts of chinook salmon are being caught. A few coho and steelhead have been caught as well. Most of these fish are being caught on flies of various colors and sizes. Angling activity and success should continue to increase as the season progresses.
- Southern Milwaukee County: Grant Park had light fishing activity, but nothing caught during survey times. South shore ramp had a light fishing activity with nothing reported caught. Oak Creek had a lot of fishing activity this week, with chinook being caught on the skein, egg sacks, or flies.
- Northern Milwaukee County: McKinley ramp had a moderate fishing activity with chinook being caught on eggs within a harbor. McKinley pier had light fishing activity this week with the bait of choice being skein or egg sacks. Summerfest had light fishing activity.
- Milwaukee River: There was a lot of activity near North Avenue and Caesar’s Park this past week, where anglers reported catching chinooks using egg flies or leech flies, and smallmouth bass on stink bait and spinners. Another popular fishing spot was around Capitol drive bridge. There was a lot of fishing activity at Estabrook Park, where chinook was caught on eggs. Kletzsch Park was very busy, with chinooks being caught on flies, skein, and egg sacks.
- Menomonee River: There was minimal fishing activity on the Menomonee this week and nothing was caught during survey times.
- Port Washington: Sunday morning was cool, cloudy with some rain, and very windy (E/S). Lake Michigan Waters were choppy nearshore and within the harbor, crashing at the piers and occasionally on the rock wall. Sauk Creek (66°F) was slightly up and turbid on both days. Anglers fished primarily on the marina piers, with some anglers along shore and at the outflow, and fewer fishing the creek. A couple of boaters fished within the harbor. A few chinooks were caught at the outflow and on at the marina piers.
- Sheboygan: Tuesday evening was cool, very windy (E/N), with rough waters crashing on the piers. The Pigeon River was low, slow, clear, and warm (67°F). Thursday morning was much the same, but cloudier and with a light fog over the lake. The river (65°F) had risen slightly. By Saturday evening it was milder with a S/E wind, but the river stayed at the same temp. Anglers caught plenty of northerns at Pigeon River Park and a few gobies.
- Sheboygan River: Thursday morning was rainy, cool, and cloudy with little wind. The river (67°F) was slightly up, slightly faster, and turbid. Anglers primarily at the dam. By the weekend it was milder and very windy with an E/S wind. Anglers fished along all access points, with the most success at Kohler Dam and Esslingen. Anglers caught mostly chinooks, with a couple of northerns and a brown trout.
Oct. 12, 2021: Northern Lake Michigan Fishing Report
- Two Rivers: Both the West and East Twin River had several successful groups catching several chinook salmon this week. In the East Twin River salmon were caught using gulp bait, white and orange mister twisters and spawn sacks. Successful spawn sack colors included orange as well as pink/red. There were a handful of fish seen jumping near the Mishicot dam, with salmon being caught from near the dam to further downstream. In the West Twin River several chinook salmon were caught using yellow, pink, and orange yarn balls. Additionally, other successful angling groups were using red/orange imitation spawn sacks. Both the small dam and large dam near Shoto had success this week. Many of the salmon being caught had dark pigmentation as well. A few salmon were seen jumping near the Shoto conservation club; however, no successful angler was interviewed there.
- Manitowoc: Manitowoc river had the most fishing pressure this week with several groups catching a few smallmouth bass. At Manitou Park a few smallmouth bass were caught on orange/gold and gold/purple spoons. Additionally, one smallmouth bass was caught on a green pumpkin tube near the 10th street bridge. At the end of Mill Road one angler had success catching a smallmouth bass using a plastic worm. When speaking to a group of salmon anglers they reported having luck earlier in the week at the end of Mill Road. Additionally, the same group reported seeing salmon jump near Cato Falls and even had success catching two smallmouth bass this past weekend. Due to rain late in the week, some areas in the Manitowoc River saw increases in current. In the Branch River no successful interviews were reported, however increased current and water level made spotting salmon difficult this week in some locations. In the Manitowoc Harbor one angling group had success catching two northern pike using silver spoons near the bottom of the water column. The angling group reported seeing several dark-colored chinook salmon jumping. Lastly, at the Manitowoc Ramp one angling group had success catching a chinook salmon and a rainbow trout. They were caught using fire tiger and chartreuse colored crankbaits. The chinook salmon was caught in the river while the rainbow trout was caught in the harbor 25 ft down in 30 ft of water. The chinook salmon was caught jigging, while the rainbow trout was caught trolling at 2.7 mph. The chinook salmon was reported to be dark in color. Water temperature ranged from 64 to 65 degrees this week. Although windy conditions were present this week, boat anglers in the harbor and river reported less than 1 ft waves.
- Algoma: The number of pier anglers that have been fishing has decreased. The few pier angler parties that were interviewed were not catching salmon but have spotted them jumping near the pier. Fishing activity along Stoney creek has decreased. The anglers that were interviewed fishing for salmon reported not catching any salmon. Fishing activity this week along the river has increased. The anglers that were catching chinook salmon near the Forestville Dam were using orange ear plugs, and orange spawn sacs.
- Kewaunee: Anglers targeting the Kewaunee River that were interviewed were catching chinook salmon by Bruemmer County Park with orange spawn sacs, flasher flies with orange spawn sacs, and pink colored spinners with pink spawn sacs. The number of pier anglers fishing for chinook salmon along the pier is still increasing but the fishing on the pier this week has been very slow no salmon were reported being caught.
- The weather this week was warm and partly sunny. Most days were calm with low wave action. However, a couple of times the wind kicked up and made it difficult to fish. Fishing pressure around Door County is concentrated around Sturgeon Bay and in the canal. Stone Quarry was also a popular place to fish from shore. Water temperature readings ranged between 63 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Boaters trolled for chinook salmon in the canal. A variety of spoons and swimbaits were used. Silver was the most used color, but green or yellow was also used. Shore anglers caught salmon on crankbaits in a variety of colors and by drifting egg sacs. Most fish are caught early in the morning or late evening. A few smallmouth bass were caught from shore in Sturgeon Bay, around Gills Rock and Washington Island. Bass were caught in waters between 10 to 20 feet deep on soft plastics of natural or dark blue colors. Creeks around Door County are slowly raising in flow after some rain late in the week. Bait fish such as chubs and shiners are sparse and low in numbers.
Lake Michigan Fishing:
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Michigan angler lake
This was not the first time I was at the dacha of my old friend Vasya S. This time I came not only without reason, but even practically without an invitation. That is, I knew, of course, that many of his acquaintances would be glad to see me there, who for some time. Now became my good acquaintances. There were many funny and kind girls with whom I, of course, wanted to see again.Small Creek Trout fishing. INCREDIBLE DAY! (Multiple BIG fish)
Her face was red, tears welled up in her eyes from the strain, her lips were slightly swollen. But nevertheless she. Smiled happily. Thank you, master.
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The kettle began to let in steam when the shower door opened and. Lenka came out. If someone told me when that one day I would see her at home, I would just laugh in her face And now. She was in.