Michigan might be known for having more than 11,000 inland lakes but it’s not just the quantity of lakes that makes trout fishing in Michigan so good, it’s the quality too.
With four of the five Great Lakes readily available to anglers, you’ve got access to some of the best trout fishing waterways in the USA right here in MI. The biggest trout ever caught in Michigan was landed at Lake Superior and it was a whopper that has to be seen to be believed.
It was big enough to feed a family for a week!
Lake Superior might be a touch too far to drive for some, but Lake Michigan, Eerie and Huron are right there giving you no excuse to get out on the water on any given weekend.
And when it comes to trout, did you know the biggest brown trout ever caught was pulled in right here in Michigan at Manistee River.
The crystal clear rivers that flow through MI are definitely some of the best trout fishing rivers you will find anywhere in the world. And the record books prove it!
With that said, let me give you a rundown on some of my favorite places to go trout fishing in Michigan.
The Best Trout Fishing in Michigan
Of all the Great Lakes there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest in offering the best trout fishing in Michigan and that is Lake Superior in the state’s far northern reaches.
On Sunday August 17th back in 1997 an absolute monster of a Lake Trout was pulled in off Lake Superior. Lucas Lanczy who was all of 16 years old managed to land a record breaking Lake Trout weighing in at 61.5 lbs.
PRO TIP: A 61lb Lake Trout was caught in Lake Superior, Michigan in 1997
Yes you read that right!
Needless to say this 61lber smashed the previous state record which had stood since 1946. It took more than 50 years to break that record and it wouldn’t surprise me if it takes another 50 years to break this one, if it is ever broken!
As often happens the secret fishing spot where this record breaker was caught was kept close to the chest of the fisherman at the time and nothing was initially revealed.
But over the years the word has spread and this monster trout was confirmed to have been caught at Stannard Rock on Lake Superior.
Stannard Rock is a “must fish” destination on Lake Superior and is easy to locate because it is home to the Stannard Rock light, which is actually the furthest lighthouse from any coastline in the USA.
If you are going trout fishing at Stannard Rock on Lake Superior you will probably launch out of Marquette in Michigan, although you can also launch from Lac La Belle in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Lac La Belle lodge has direct access to Lake Superior and is a great little spot for a weekend away. This is no quick trip though, expect it to be 40 to 50 miles out to Stannard Rock from either location.
You need to dedicate some serious time to get to this great trout fishing destination.
The remote location of this lighthouse rock is one of the reasons why the trout caught in this area tend to be so oversized. There’s simply less competition from other anglers and the fish can get fat without getting hooked when they are young.
For this reason, Stannard Rock definitely has the top trout fishing in Michigan and the record books show this to be true.
Not every fishing spot will yield a 61lb trout!
Where to Catch Trout in Michigan?
Are there trout in Michigan? You betcha there are! The state of MI is packed with great little rivers and even greater lakes that are home to enough trout to keep you entertained for years on end.
Besides the monster caught at Lake Superior we talked about earlier, there are a couple of other state records that give us an idea of where to catch trout in Michigan.
The Manistee River holds the record for the largest Brown Trout ever caught in MI. A Brown Trout weighing 41.45 lb was caught in 2009 by Tom Healy of Rockfort, Michigan. But this fish was more than a state record..
Tom’s 41lb catch in the Manistee River also set the world record catch for a Brown Trout as certified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). This whopper of a catch shows that trout in Michigan really are bigger than anywhere else on earth!
PRO TIP: The biggest brown trout in the world was caught at Manistee River in Michigan
To try and replicate his success, you’ll want to head to the Manistee River which runs into Lake Michigan at Manistee in the state’s west. It’s about a 4 hour drive from Detroit and a 2 hour drive from Grand Rapids up the US 31 N.
There are two other trout fishing records in Michigan worth mentioning. The first is a 26 lb Rainbow Trout that was caught in Lake Michigan back in 1975. This long standing record has few details available, given it happened before the internet existed! But it’s no surprise that Lake Michigan is a record setting trout fishing destination.
A more recent state record for the biggest Brook Trout in Michigan was set in 1996 with a 9.5lb catch in Clear Lake, Houghton County. Clear Lake is a small lake in northern Michigan and the catch was made while ice fishing, showing that fishing is truly an all-seasons sport.
Clear Lake is about half an hour’s drive south of Houghton along the M-26 W. Take a left turn at Krupp’s Mini Mart onto Emily Lake Road and look out for the Clear Lake Access Road a few miles up the road on your right.
So we’ve looked at the record setting places to catch trout in Michigan, which are:
- Lake Superior
- Manistee River
- Lake Michigan
- Clear Lake, Houghton County
These are mostly well known fishing spots, but if you are looking for some more secluded places where you can catch trout in Michigan let me give you some locals tips.
Where to go Trout Fishing near Detroit?
For the best trout fishing near Detroit try out these spots:
- Huron River
- Paint Creek
- Lake St Clair
- Lake Erie
- Lake Huron
Where to Catch Trout near Grand Rapids?
For trout fishing near Grand Rapids check out these places:
- Muskegon River
- Pere Marquette River
- St Joseph River
- Grand River
- Flat River
- Dowagiac River
- Lake Michigan
Where to find Trout in Northern Michigan?
When chasing trout in the northern reaches of Michigan give these spots a go:
- Paint River
- Au Sable River
- Jordan River
- Fox River
- Lake Superior
There is decent trout fishing to be found right across the state of Michigan.
What Types of Trout are in Michigan?
You will commonly find five kinds of trout in Michigan lakes and rivers:
- Brook Trout
- Brown Trout
- Cutthroat Trout
- Lake Trout
- Rainbow Trout
We’ve looked at the monstrous 61lb Lake Trout that holds the state record in Michigan, and the absolute unit of a Brown Trout that set a world record when it was pulled in from the Manistee River. We’ve also seen the brook trout caught ice fishing at Clear Lake and the Rainbow trout caught in Lake Michigan all those years ago.
It seems fish in Michigan are made bigger!
But the state doesn’t keep records for the biggest cutthroat trout unfortunately. Maybe you can set the first record?
The easiest type of trout to catch in MI is the Brook Trout, whereas Brown Trout are the hardest trout to coax onto the end of your line and will require some more finesse.
What Bait do you use when Trout Fishing in Michigan?
Tom Healy caught his world record breaking Brown Trout by drifting the Manistee River and fishing crankbaits from his boat. Healy has shared the bait he used when trout fishing here, and it was a Rapala #8 silver Shad Rap lure that he had on the end of his line when he made his record catch.
If it worked for him, it could work for you!
When ice fishing in Michigan, try throwing a minnow on your hook. The state record Brook Trout was caught at Clear Lake using minnows. These are the best bait to use in the winter
Otherwise typical lures used to catch trout in Michigan are spinners and jerkbaits in shallow waters such as rivers. You’ll have the most luck with these in the summer when the trout are more active.
I’ve had good luck with worms, Senkos and salmon eggs in deeper waters such as those of the Great Lakes.
The Last Cast
Trout fishing in Michigan is not just a popular way to fish, but a productive one too. Not too many places in the world can claim to be home to world record sized trouts, but Michigan can do exactly that!
If you live in Detroit then Lake St Clair is right on your doorstep and it’s fully stocked with trout to catch. Those in Grand Rapids can go trout fishing right on the Grand River for which the city is named. And because Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, it’s just a short trip for anybody to drive to their nearest watering hole and throw a line in.
Fly fishing, bank fishing and boat fishing are all catered for here in the “Water Wonderland” where if you get yourself to the water, the trout will bring themselves to you.