Southwest Michigan offers some of the most diverse fishing opportunities in the country. No matter the time of year- spring, summer, fall or winter- this area offers the chance to catch multiple species of fish all year long.
I am fortunate to be one of the few who have turned their passion into their living. After spending over a decade working as a guide for big game all over the west, I now work as a charter boat captain and river guide here in my home state of Michigan. I have had the opportunity to fish all over the country and still feel that southwest Michigan has one of the greatest fisheries around!
Lake Michigan is one of the biggest draws of anglers to the area. The Great Lakes fishing this area has to offer is second to none. Starting in early spring Coho salmon and brown trout can be found very close to shore offering both small boat anglers and pier fisherman the chance to catch these tasty fish. As summer approaches, the king salmon, lake trout, and steelhead fishing will start to take off in the offshore waters, as well as perch fishing opportunities near shore. From April through September good fishing can be found out of the ports of southwest Michigan. I have clients that return every year, sometimes multiple times in a season, to fish out of my home port of St. Joseph, Michigan.
Though Lake Michigan draws a lot of big lake fisherman to the area this is just one of many fishing opportunities here in southwest Michigan. The area is littered with inland lakes, rivers and streams. Whether you want to chase trout in the spring time on the small creeks and streams or target bluegill, bass and pike on the numerous inland lakes in the area, southwest Michigan has something for you. Many of my clients love fishing for the walleye and smallmouth bass that the St. Joseph River produces. We run guided fishing trips for walleye, smallmouth bass and Catfish from May through September.
Southwest Michigan is definitely a great place to fish in the spring and summer, but the fall and winter has some of the most unique fishing opportunities. During the fall, salmon and steelhead pour into our rivers giving both boat anglers and shore fishermen a chance to tangle with these mighty fish. The steelhead fishing will continue on the rivers all through the winter into spring. I stay busy taking out clients chasing steelhead all winter on my covered and heated river boat. When cabin fever sets in, many of my clients enjoy fishing and seeing the river in the winter from the comfort of a heated boat.
When coming to a new area or a new body of water to fish I suggest talking to the local tackle shops for info. If you can find and hire a local/full-time charter captain or river guide this can help you tremendously! Finding a Local captain who grew up in the area and who does it full-time for a living, not just the weekends, is key! They make their living doing this and live on these waters. Though it can be done on your own, a local, full-time guide is out every day and knows where the fish are and what the hot bait is at that time.
Blog post written by Capt. Todd Brill of the Gold Coast Fishing Company