2018 Michigan Fishing Forecast
Looking for some inside scoop on where and when to fish different Michigan regions in 2018? Several of our Fisheries Division staff have provided fishing forecasts for the coming months - check them out below!
Northwestern Upper Peninsula
- Rainbow smelt numbers are up in Lake Superior and the late April smelt runs should be good.
- Steelhead action looks to be good this spring.
- Quiet-sport fishing with canoes, kayaks and belly-boats have plenty of good opportunities in the small overlooked inland lakes.
- Bass and crappie numbers are up in the West U.P. inland lakes.
- Opportunities for higher daily possession limits of brook trout are available on numerous streams across the Upper Peninsula.
Northeastern Upper Peninsula
- Anglers can expect good coho salmon fishing near the major river mouths this spring. In 2017, coho salmon numbers were incredible and lasted through the spring and well into the summer. This fishery is one that can be accessed with smaller boats since it occurs nearshore and typically not too far from major access points like Munising, Grand Marais or Au Train/Shelter Bay (all have boat launches).
- Many anglers reported smelt catches through this ice this winter, which bodes well for smelt dippers come spring runoff. The trend has been increasing for smelt numbers and runs across the Lake Superior shoreline for the past few years and expectations for another good smelt run in 2018 are real.
- Steelhead runs should be favorable in spring 2018. The past few years has yielded some bigger fish out of Lake Superior, which is promising for many anglers. High water is expected and may challenge those anglers not familiar with many of the holes on the bigger rivers.
- Walleye lakes in the area that have experienced multiple stockings in the past 7 years should now be coming through with multiple year classes at legal sizes. Growth rates in the Eastern U.P. for walleye state that in about 4-5 years fish are achieving legal size (15 inches). With that said, anglers targeting Pike Lake, Bodi Lake, Culhane Lake, Little Lake Harbor, Au Train Lake and Au Train Basin should have success catching walleye in 2018.
Southcentral Upper Peninsula
- Looks like we'll again have cooler than average spring temperatures with increased precipitation this summer.
- 2018 trout opener likely will have high flows from winter runoff and cold water temps should make the bite pretty light.
- If conditions are similar to last year, optimal trout fishing could last well into the summer.
- For the Menominee River, the walleye and brown trout bite should be good this year, although prime time may be pushed back due to cold weather. High water levels and river flows could prevent optimal fishing conditions though.
- Smallmouth bass continue to provide anglers with great success in the Bays de Noc region. This has been shown during the early spring in Little Bay de Noc for anglers that take advantage of catch-and-release opportunities near river mouths, as well as for the fall anglers in Big Bay de Noc targeting large, suspended adults.
- Several 40+ inch northern pike were reported captured in Big Manistique Lake last year during August and in Little Bay de Noc throughout the summer season.
Northeastern Lower Peninsula/Southeastern Upper Peninsula
- Mullett Lake should have a good number of catchable size walleye caught this summer. Strong year classes of stocked fish (2011-2013) and even stronger year classes of wild fish (2014-2016) are in the range vulnerable to anglers, with decent numbers of 15-17 inch fish, and fair numbers over 20 inches.
- Atlantic salmon can still be caught in the early spring at some of the pier sites up and down the northern Lake Huron coast.
- The early, warmer waters of Fletcher Floodwaters and Tomahawk Creek Flooding will be attractive locations for anglers seeking pre-spawn bluegill and post-spawn northern pike.
Southwestern Lower Peninsula
- Years of fry stocking on the Grand River have produced a strong walleye fishery in the river from Jackson down to the mouth. Walleye fishing in inland lakes also is improving because we've switched from spring fingerling stocking to fall fingerling stocking in most of our managed walleye lakes.
- We have seen good numbers of steelhead in southwest Michigan rivers in March, and fish over 10 pounds are common this year. Although the spring spawning run will wind down in April, the St. Joseph River in Berrien County supports a popular steelhead fishery through the summer. There usually is a lull in May, with fish movement into the river picking up in June and July. Spots where coldwater tributaries enter the main river usually are productive fishing locations.
- Rainbow trout are stocked in several lakes in this part of the state. As lakes begin to stratify, most fish will be concentrated near the thermocline. Still-fishing with live bait and trolling with spinners or spoons are good options.
- Don't forget that May and June are great times to target bass and panfish in southwest Michigan!
Southeastern Lower Peninsula
- On the Detroit River and Lake Erie expect lots of walleye that have moved into the keeper size range from the 2014 and 2015 good year classes. Yellow perch catch rates should be good both this summer and fall.
- For trout and salmon, we expect to have another good return of steelhead in the Clinton River this spring and upstream of Yates Dam. Paint Creek should provide a prime opportunity for the trout opener this year as we saw good numbers of trout in an evaluation of the stream in 2017. Adult trout from 11 to 22 inches were stocked this year on the Huron River at Proud Lake Recreation Area, Spring Mill Pond at Island Lake Recreation Area, and Clinton River parks in Auburn Hills (1450 fish).
- Lake St. Clair continues to provide excellent fishing opportunities with angler catch rates in 2017 being more than twice the catch rate of lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior combined. We expect high quality and quantity angling opportunities to continue. There is now year-round catch-and-immediate-release muskie fishing so you don't have to wait until the last Saturday in April. If you are looking for a good place to fish from shore, head up to Port Huron where we expect another good year of walleye fishing along with a good opportunity to catch trout and salmon without a boat.