For the uninitiated, the idea of voluntarily spending a day on the ice in the depths of a Michigan winter might seem borderline bonkers. But listen to those who are hooked on the sport of ice fishing, and you just might find yourself dropping a line. Learn the basics of the sport here and check out some of Michigan’s ice fishing hot spots below.
Lake St. Clair
At 430 square miles and teeming with a wide variety of fish, Lake St. Clair is easily metro Detroit’s most popular ice fishing location. Perch and walleye are the main draws, but you can also catch panfish, pike, steelhead, bass, muskie, and bluegill.
“Lake St. Clair is such a great ecosystem that supports aquatic life. From the seaweed to fish flies hatching, fish have plenty to eat and grow on,” Murray says. “There are just so many fish out there and you never know what you are going to reel in. I’ve seen 4-inch perch and even 150-pound sturgeon.”
Some of the best access points are Lake St. Clair Metropark, Harley Ensign Memorial Access (South River Road), and Brandenburg Park (Chesterfield Township). There are also DNR launch sites in Harrison Township (Crocker), near Selfridge Air National Guard Base, and in the village of Fair Haven. See lakestclairguide.com for details.
The 1,280-acre gem in Waterford Township is Oakland County’s largest and deepest lake and best known for jumbo perch and sizable crappies. Bluegill, sunfish, panfish, walleye, and northern pike are also reeled in here. The best access point is Dodge Brothers
No. 4 State Park.
Situated within Kensington Metropark in Milford, this 1,000-acre lake boasts a thriving walleye population. Other fish commonly caught in winter include bluegill, black crappies, yellow perch, and sometimes northern pike. Access points include the West Boat Launch and Turtlehead picnic area.
The best access point is Sterling State Park near Monroe. Lagoon areas near the parking area are known for bluegill as long as 8 inches. Anglers can find walleye off Brest Bay, which borders the north end of the park. Bolles Harbor Boat Launch is another access point.
The Detroit River is known for walleye hot spots. Detroit Princess Riverboat launch, Renaissance Center, and Belanger Park are all places to check out. Perch and panfish are also usually plentiful. Stony Creek Lake Impoundment, located within Shelby Township’s Stony Creek Metropark, is 498 acres. The lake is shallow, but fishing from most of the shoreline is permitted. There are good populations of crappie, sunfish, northern pike, sucker, carp, and walleye.