Trout Fishing in Michigan (MI) – Top Spots with Map

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Many would be surprised to find out that the state of Michigan boasts some 12,000 miles of trout rivers and streams. Some are tiny, step across creeks while others are massive, flowing rivers. No matter its size, the state of Michigan is home to more trout fisheries than an angler could ever hope to fish in one lifetime.

Trout Fishing in Michigan (MI) - Top Spots with Map

Trout fishing in Michigan is a favorite pastime for many of the residents, and it is only getting more and more popular every year. Many nonresidents of the state are traveling here to enjoy the amazing trout fishing as well, as there is no shortage of places to go.

With so many different options when it comes to finding a place to catch some trout, it can at times be difficult to decide on where to go. Here are 5 great places to consider if you want to go to Michigan and enjoy some great trout fishing!

Top Locations for Trout Fishing in Michigan (MI)

1. Manistee River

The Manistee River is a well-known river that flows into Lake Michigan. It has big stretches of water that are restricted to fly fishing only, as well as areas that are open to anything and everything. This river is also a hot spot for great fishing in the spring due to its aquatic insect hatches.

The majority of the trout that you will find in the Manistee River are brown and brook trout, but there are the occasional rainbows caught. The river is also a popular spot for its salmon and steelhead fishing. For anglers looking for a challenge, there are also naturally occurring tiger trout which are a hybrid of a brown and brook trout. 

Even though it is a big river, the waters of the Manistee River run very clear due to its sandy bottoms. This makes for some beautiful scenery on top of the excellent fishing and is one great spot to visit if you are ever in Michigan.

2. Au Sable River

The Au Sable River is easily the most popular and renowned trout fishery in the state of Michigan. It is where the organization Trout Unlimited was born and is famous for its wide variety of fishing opportunities. From catch and release and fly fishing only sections, to stocked areas where anything goes, this river has something for everyone. 

Much of the upper stretches of the river are well known for its insect hatches and easily waded water. The lower reaches are bigger waters and are easily fished from a drift boat. No matter what kind of fishing you prefer, you will probably be able to find it here. 

If you are after trophy-sized fish, and in particular big brown trout, this is one of the best places in the state to look for them. The Au Sable River is famous for its giant browns that are pulled out year after year, and the river shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

3. Pere Marquette River

Another river that flows into Lake Michigan, the Pere Marquette River is the longest undammed trout stream in the state of Michigan. It is also one of the first stocked trout streams in the country, and the brown trout here are still doing exceedingly well. 

One of the few rivers that is probably more popular for its picturesque beauty and camping, the Pere Marquette is still one of the greatest trout streams in the state. Stocked full of brown and brook trout, there are also rainbow and steelhead to be found throughout its waters. 

The Pere Marquette River is also one of the best places to fish at night, especially during an insect hatch. If you are looking for a gorgeous river to fish that gives you a variety of species and places to fish, this is the place to go. 

4. Black River

No list on Michigan trout fishing waters would be complete without mentioning the Black River somewhere on it. This is the best fishery in the state for brook trout, which is also Michigan’s state fish and the only native stream trout species.

Brook trout are very widespread across Michigan, but the Black River is known as being the best in the state. There is a 5 mile long stretch that is artificial lures only, but the rest of the stream is open to anything and is very popular with both fly fishermen and bait anglers. 

For anglers who want to escape some of the more popular areas and target less pressured trout, the Black River is a goldmine. It is also a great place to target brook trout if you are concerned about catching one species over another.

5. Muskegon River

The Muskegon River is a small tailwater north of Grand Rapids and is home to a large variety of fish, including lake run brown trout, steelhead, salmon, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.

This river is a super popular spot in the winter months of October, November, and December because of its accessibility and migrating fish. For avid trout fishermen, there are plenty of big brown, rainbow, and brook trout available to target. 

While the Muskegon River is more famous for its steelhead fishing, it is one of the best trout fishing waters in the state of Michigan. It is one place you should definitely have on your radar if you want to catch a lot of fish.

When Does Trout Season Start in Michigan

Most of the state of Michigan is divided into different zones that each has their own fishing seasons and regulations, as well as certain waters, have their own special rules and regulations. It is very important to do some research before heading out to go fishing.

In many waters, trout fishing is open year round (dependent on location) and in others, the season generally runs from the end of April to the end of September. Depending on your preferences, you can usually find some great fishing at any time of the year.

For more detailed and up to date information on the rules and regulations in Michigan, you can visit the Department of Natural Resources’ website at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/. Check the local rules depending on the body of water that you plan on fishing. 

How Much Is a Fishing License in Michigan

In Michigan, you must purchase a fishing license if you are 17 years old or older. Fishing licenses are good from March 1st of the given year to March 31 of the following year. 

  • Nonresident annual licenses will cost you $76. ($26 for residents)
  • A 24-hour fishing license costs $10 for both residents and non-residents. 
  • A 72-hour license for both residents and nonresidents will cost $30. 

All non-residents must also purchase a sport card which costs $1.00. All of these license fees can be found on Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources website at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/

Where to Buy a Fishing License in Michigan

You can purchase a fishing license in Michigan online, through a licensed agent, or at DNR customer service offices. The Department of Natural Resources provides a great map of all of the counties in the state to find license agents. 

You can find this interactive map at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/, or use the DNR website directly to buy a fishing license. 

How Much Is a Fishing License in Wisconsin

Wisconsin offers many options to nonresident anglers, especially those with families. Here is a simple breakdown for non-resident anglers:

  • An annual non-resident fishing license will cost $50.
  • An annual family fishing license (includes spouse and any children under 17) costs $65.
  • Temporary, short term licenses are available in 1, 4, and 15-day options. These will cost you $10, $24, and $28 respectively. 
  • A 15-day family fishing license costs only $40. 

For Wisconsin residents, annual fishing licenses will only cost $20. Wisconsin offers some great options to anglers for some great prices. To see all of the options available, you can access Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources’ website at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/.

Final Thoughts

Michigan has some great trout fishing available to the avid fisherman, and with so many different lakes, streams, and rivers to go fishing at it can be hard to narrow down the search of where to go.

Hopefully, this list is helpful and can help you make a choice on a great place to go trout fishing in this awesome state, and start catching some big trout!

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