Michigan's 17 Best Lakes and Rivers for Walleye Fishing (2023)

Michigan has more fantastic walleye fishing opportunities than anywhere else in the world. So narrowing down the best fishing judge here is quite a task! There are simply so many great options to choose from.

With so much water, it's no wonder Michigan has epic walleye action. There's more coastline here than there is in Florida!

Surrounded by parts of Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, along with thousands of smaller lakes and over 3,000 rivers, Michigan has the perfect fishing spot you want.

You just need to find it.

And that's why we're here.

Walleye regulations in Michigan vary by water, with some areas open year-round while others have restrictions during certain times of the year. Always check the regulations before departure.


Michigan's Best Saltwater Fishing

When comparing these lakes and rivers, it's important to remember that even the less popular lakes around here are probably better than the best lakes in many other states.

Simply put, Michigan is home to top-notch walleye fishing.

lago Erie

Lake Erie is widely considered the best skull lake in the world. Luckily for those in Michigan, the state claims over 80 miles of coastline along Lake Erie.

Erie offers epic walleye fishing and is also a top fishing spot for several other species including walleye and yellow perch.

The best boat fishing is around Monroe, Luna Pier and Toledo Beach, April through July.

Conditions in these waters provide perfect spawning grounds for most walleyes in Lake Erie, as they congregate on the west coast to spawn.

The walleye then moves deeper in the summer, shoaling and chasing bait fish. Trolling with crankbaits, walleye rigs and worms will bring them to the net.

Anglers who encounter shoals can catch keeper bounds in relatively short order, so be prepared to act quickly.

It is also popular for Michiganders to obtain an Ohio license and cycle through schools between the two states.

Winter ice fishing can be epic. Walleye through ice is something to be experienced.

Luna Pier and Monroe offer everything you need for your trip. Many guides are also in the area and can make a slow day that much more productive.

Saginaw Bay and Saginaw River

Saginaw Bay is a huge body of water that curves inland from Lake Huron in east-central Michigan.

It is not possible to dismantle the entire bay for fishing. Instead, you'll want to find the area that works best for you and get to know it.

Centrally located Bay City is a prime base camp area for fishing in Saginaw Bay or the Saginaw River that runs through town.

One of the best fishing areas is the mouth of the Saginaw River in the bay. The river is closed from March 15th to the last Saturday in April due to walleye spawning.

Before it closes, early March on the river can be amazing. Depending on the severity of the winter, you could have the best hunting experience of your life.
If it was a severe winter, the snack is closed. A more moderate winter bites in early March.

After the closure is lifted in late April, move to the lower reaches of the river and try vertical jigging with live fish or plastic grubs around the mouth to catch transitioning fish.

Walleye likes to wade in and out of the river during the post-spawning period and during the summer.

By the end of April, spring runoff usually subsides and water levels are more stable. A slower current makes it more likely that a judge will bite.

Run to the river and jig jiggers in paddle-tails, split-tails and curly-tails. Use a ¼ oz jig and 3 or 4 inch plastic.

The bay has some fantastic weed and dock structures around the many marinas and harbors throughout the area.

Plan your trip to camp at one of the many campgrounds or stay at a hotel in any of the communities surrounding the lake.

Jezero Gogebic

Lake Gogebic might be the best walleye fishing in Michigan.

This Upper Peninsula destination is full of self-sustaining mud. The lake offers them many perfect habitats on the edges and offers deeper holes to escape the summer heat.

Fish here after spawning like to linger around weed deposits, slopes and shallow areas. If you can find a spot with a solid line of weeds and it falls off, you're in for an epic day, especially in areas with both features.

During post-spawning, use ¼ oz jigs with live minnows. Worms also work well, but are more likely to bring in other fish as you try to get to the proper depth.

During the summer and fall, the fish move into deeper holes and become leech suckers. Throw in a stencil with leeches and you're in business.

Experience depths of 22 to 26 feet in the main lake while holding onto a sandy or muddy bottom. The judge will be there, waiting for dinner.

AJ's Walleye Lodge is a great place to stay while fishing Lake Gogebic. They have everything you need for walleye fishing and can point you to great spots if you're a beginner.

Bergland, Merriweather and White City have everything you need for your trip. In addition, many lodges and campsites surround the lake.

Holloway rezervoar

Holloway Reservoir may not have as many trophy plates as some of the places on our list, but it more than makes up for it in quantity. The number of walleyes per acre here is among the highest in the state, and a good number of them are good-sized fish.

Holloway fish early. Troll crankbaits for big eyes, or find the flats and play a ¼ oz jig with a live minnow. Vertical jigging can be especially good in spring. The fish will move deeper when the water warms up.

Summer is best when the leech is fished along the submerged river channel through the center of the reservoir. Channel edges are particularly good.

Fish near the Mt. Morris Road Bridge to increase your chances of picking up a trophy. The swirling water attracts fish baits and big 'eyes'.

Holloway Reservoir has two dedicated fishing spots with places to launch your boat.

There are plenty of accommodation options around Flint, as well as all the equipment and food you'll need. Camping around the lake is limited to the Wolverine and Oxbow campsites and they fill up quickly.

Lago Portage

Portage Lake is a shallow lake connected to Lake Michigan. Great judges call this place home, and the lake consistently produces trophy fish.

Located north of Manistee, this is a must-see fishing lake. Include it in the Lake Manistee and Manistee River trip you have planned.

Springtime on Portage Lake can be epic. The weeds are not overgrown and the fish are holding on in the shallows. When it warms up, the lake is quite clogged with vegetation, which makes fishing a little difficult.

Crankbaits and minnows work great early in the year, although once the weeds come out it's time for jigging. You'll want to bring a pole with enough weight to pull the walleye out of the thick cover.

Throw the leech jig into the many pockets of weeds around the pond and let it sink to the bottom. Shake it up to keep him interested and you should immediately grab attention. However, if you haven't had a bite in a few minutes, try somewhere else.

There are enough walleyes in the lake to keep catch rates high.

Portage Lake has all the amenities you could need including camping, lodging and shops located around the lake.

Manistee is just down the street and is home to the next lake on the list. They have all the accommodations and restaurants you could want.

Jezero Manistee

Manistee isn't exactly eye candy. It is, however, an epic treasure hunt. Used as a port for the city of Manistee, the lake is more like a concrete pool. It is more than 15 meters deep in the center and has a very active inflow and outflow.

That said, there's some epic fishing just waiting for those of us willing to give up Lake Portage's more attractive north.

Lake Manistee is one of the top 5 in the state for smallmouth bass and crappies, along with crappie and about 20 other species. It is worth wetting the line.

The lake record was caught on ice and weighed 15.94 pounds. And maybe there's a bigger chicken somewhere.

While inconspicuous in appearance, the amount of forage lurking beneath the surface leads to a fat judge who will eagerly snatch the leech through the summer and fall.

Minnows and crankbaits work wonders in the spring.

The lake is in the city, so it has a lot of content. Spend some time in Manistee and you won't be disappointed. It takes a lot less pressure than its northern neighbor, Portage, and offers eyes the size of monsters.

The lake is fed by the Manistee River, one of thetop steelhead fishing rivers throughout Michigan.

Jezero St. Clair

Lake St. Clair is a fantastic fishing village just a few miles from downtown Detroit. St. Clair is connected to Lake Erie by the Detroit River and Lake Huron via St. Clear. The lake itself is a shallow bowl of huge fish.

In addition to the walleye, it's also an epic hunt for musky bass and smallmouth bass. On the lake there is excellent fishing for mange, and the Detroit River is full of them from March to early May.

Be careful when fishing the Detroit River too early. Unexpected ice flows and weather conditions can make it unsafe. April is the right time to get it right. In cold weather, you'll likely catch smaller fish, but the ones you catch will be huge.

In early spring, from March to April, vertical jigging with live bait will encourage biting. The bite heats up from the temperature of the water. From April to June, it can provide the angler with a full line in the blink of an eye.

In mid-June, the fish return to the deeper parts of the lake. Hit them with crankbaits while driving the panula. Keep your speed around 1.0 to 1.5 mph for the best presentation.

As the lake is located close to Detroit, there is no shortage of accommodations, restaurants and supplies. It's a popular summer spot, so be prepared to face a mighty crew.

Jezero Houghton

Houghton Lake is Michigan's largest inland lake. Located in central Michigan, this place is a fisherman's paradise.

Walleye, pike, bluegill and bass offer fast action. It's a great place to take a new angler to introduce them to quality fishing.

You're likely to catch a judge here at any time of the year.Ice fishing can be epic, while spring and summer bring large chickens to the apartments.

Move to shallow water in the spring, before the weeds get too thick. To start, crank around the mouth of the Cut River. In the shallow areas here are several places where rockfish congregate.

Summer is perfect here. Ride the shad 30 to 40 feet behind you at 1.3 to 1.8 mph across the plains along the west side. The fish in this area remain active through most of the summer, and the weeds don't get very thick until mid-July.

Once the weeds come in, a jig or bobber setup tipped with a minnow or leech can be epic, depending on whether or not you find pockets in the weeds.

The weeds at Houghton Lake are getting thick enough that the adorable bunch is in those pockets and competing with each other for food. However, there is no fear that they will become stunted because the lake provides them with abundant fodder.

While you're working those grass pockets anyway, switch to a rod equipped with Senko Watermelon Flakes for big bass.

Houghton has many amenities and recreational opportunities. Surrounding the lake are numerous restaurants and places to shop, as well as great family beaches.

Jezero Mullett

Mullet Lake has many large mullets. It is common to bring in fish between 5 and 10 pounds. There are bigger fish here; You just have to find them. The lake is ideal for mining, with a perfect bottom structure for catching large fish.

Set up your trolling equipment with planers and cranks. Go to the west side and scour along the reef in about 15 feet of water.

Early in the season, target gravel bottoms near any slopes you can find.

As the water warms up, the perch goes deeper. Hit the west end in approximately 10 feet of water along the reef across the area. The exterior drops from 10 to 60 feet quickly.

Cast a crank or troll bait over the reef to find active fish. Work the bottom water column up to 6 feet.

If you get no action, switch to a leech template. Setting up a split shot or a slip bobber also works great.

Summer fishing can be difficult as the fish stay in deeper water.
Ice fishing can be epic on Mullett Lake. Depending on the weather, a bite can be super quick.

There are several dining and accommodation options around the lake, and bait shops will also give you tips on what they are biting.

Lago Kent

Kent Lake is one of Michigan's most heavily fished lakes. the lake is inKensington Metroparkin Milford. It remains productive due to speed limits imposed across the water and the fact that the Michigan DNR has a large inventory here.

Walleyes are easy to startle, so fishing near speedboats can prevent them from biting.

Hit the river channel that runs through the entire reservoir. The structure and falls along the course of the submerged river attract big eyes. Use a jig with a leech tip and fish curves in the channel to get the best opportunity.

Worms and spinners work great all summer long. Use light colors as the water temperature rises.

Other fish include bass, bluegill, black perch, yellow perch and pike.

The West Boat Launch and Turtlehead Picnic Area are excellent access points. There are several restaurants and accommodation in the area, so you can find everything you need.

Lago Gun

Gun Lake is south of Grand Rapids, about halfway to Kalamazoo. It has several boat docks, a marina and many accommodation options, restaurants and bait shops. Camping is also an option.

Recreational boaters love this place. This makes weekends quite inconvenient for fishermen. On weekdays or in the early morning, you can fish for sudaka fantastically.

Head to Robbins Bay in the southwest. There are several deeper holes where the judge is kept during the day.

Murphy's Point and Hasting's Point have big drop-offs that can make for epic days on the water.

Visit the lake at night in the shallows for some hearty bites. Troll the crankbait relatively shallow and you should be on the fish in no time.

Jezero Leelanau

Lake Leelanau is a 21 mile long lake that is divided into two parts. The northern section is best for walleye fishing and has the deepest depth of about 120 feet. South Lake is shallower, with stretches reaching 60 feet.

There are many fish here: in addition to whiting, pike, walleye, walleye, sunfish, sea bass, brown trout, lake trout and yellow perch complete the game species in Leelanau.

The lake is also full of foraging fish. Resident Judge is making the most of it and growing rapidly.

Hit the plains at the south end of the north lake with spinners or a pan rig with worms. If you find a pocket of stacked fish, use a leech jig.

Another major attraction here is the large population of carp. These girls will put you to the test. In fact, the lower lake is often called the koi pond.

Several boat ramps, public access points and bait shops line the lake, located west of Grand Traverse Bay. Resorts, lodging, camping and restaurants are easily available nearby.

Big Manistic and North Manistic jezera

Lake Manistique, also known as Lake Manistique is a large inland lake in the Upper Peninsula. Located near Manistique, there are many access points, boat ramps and huts around the water.

The lake is teeming with walleye, smallmouth bass, perch, pike, musky and bluefish. So there are many options that an angler can choose from.

Speed ​​is key here. A quick draw will lead to ferocious bites. Cast the crank bait and bring it back faster than you normally would for a judge. Trolling should be done at a speed of 1.5 to 2.0 mph.

The lake opens for fishing on May 15th each year, and the action moves quickly. Ice fishing is open from December to early March.

Crabs dominate the diet here, followed immediately by shad. All imitation cows and shad-type lures should pay off.

Most of the bottom is gravel with some deeper holes and artificial structure. The shallows are full of weeds, so bleach the pockets with jigs with leeches on the ends.

North Manistique Lake has much less pressure than the big lake. Like a large lake, the man-made structure has been added to over the years to provide a fantastic habitat for bighorn sheep. Piles of bushes and logs are scattered along most of the bottom.

Drill deeper holes along the bottom with jigs or slides with worms or leeches.

crystal lake

Crystal Lake is home to excellent fishing. Located just west of Traverse City, the lake has all the amenities you could want in addition to camping. There are several car parks for caravans.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, there is no Crystal Lake Campground on this water like there was in "Friday the 13th". So Jason fans will have to keep looking.

There are a lot of puppets, which makes up for the missing part of the horror movie. Crystal Lake is getting a lot of press attention for its excellent pike and bass fishing. There are too many of them out there to steal your boat's bait.

There are several great structural spots throughout the lake, and just off the swell in 20 feet of water tends to be very productive when directed vertically.

Try it on the rocks with some Rosy Reds. Smuk loves them.

The northeast side has public access, so start there and find an area nearby where the ice rink is set up in winter. The water there is 6 to 7 meters deep, and the bottom is flat. Lots of perches and some great judges will keep you busy all day.

The public fishing area has a bait shop and many inns and restaurants around the lake.

Jezero Michigan

Lake Michigan is known as a water for salmon, lake trout and steelhead. The hunt for the judge here goes unnoticed. It's good for those who aim for funny things because anyone who passes by here is a fucking monster.

Most walleyes in Lake Michigan are transient species. They found the lake after being planted in the rivers and now feed on the invasive roundhead at the bottom.

They are fat and happy, mostly because most fishermen leave them alone.

Head to Grand Haven, Ludington or St. Joe to start the day fishing for crankbaits under the planer. If this approach doesn't work, locate rocky bottoms and outcroppings to drop spark plug jigs.

Lake Michigan is huge and has such a wide shoreline that you'll have no problem finding everything you need for your trip within walking distance of the water.

get more judges

We havea simple guide to hunting a cutie, including the best techniques, lures, attractants and other tips.


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