Ice fishing in Detroit, Michigan is something that you have to try out! There is plenty of water and it is not going away. There are so many lakes to choose from. I have provided some for you that I think are worth your time trying to check out.
- Lake St. Clair
- Cass Lake
- Bay County Pinconning Park
- Bay City State Park
- Houghton Lake
- Lake Cadillac
- Lake Mitchell
- Lake Orion
- Hamlin Lake
Not all of these places are close to Detroit, Michigan. Some are within a couple of hours. There were plenty of places for you to fish really close to the city but I felt that you should have some better spots in the surrounding area. Having said that, I hope that you find yourself at one of these spots in the future.
Lake St. Clair
Types of Fish: muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, rainbow trout, bluegill
Lake St. Clair is first on the list because it is the biggest area closest to the city. It funnels right past Detroit. The Lake is well sized with plenty of room for people. It is a popular spot because it is so close to the city. I recommend bringing friends out here. Have a get-together and bring food from the store. If something goes wrong, you are close to civilization to get help.
I recommend this place to people who are new to ice fishing. There are plenty of people here that you can learn from. Maybe your more experienced friend can take you with and teach you the ropes. It has easy access. It is pretty close to the city. There are a lot of perks because of its relative closeness.
Types of Fish: crappie, jumbo perch, bluegills sunfish, walleye, northern pike
Cass Lake is located right out of the city which makes it a prime spot if you are directly in the city. It is a popular place so do not expect to be alone. There is plenty of room though. It is best to visit at the beginning of January. That is when most fish are caught. This is a great spot for a quick getaway.
Wax worms are most effective here for bluegill and sunfish. The smaller fish seem to go after that. The crappies will require a bit more of a meal. Have some minnows on hand and you will catch your quota of crappie.
Bay County Pinconning Park
Types of Fish: walleye, yellow perch
Bay County Pinconning Park is what some refer to as the “Gateway to the North.” It sits in a really awesome forest that gets a lot of visitors. It is hugging the Saginaw Bay. The fisheries here are well known throughout the world. There are places to stay here as well. It is quite an attractive area. I love it. A friend of mine took me here once and I will never forget it.
The Bay is a little over 2 hours from Detroit but well worth it. I find that if the fish are good, I will travel a good bit to get there. I like to plan the trips way in advance so I can get there when the fishing is prime.
Bay City State Park
Types of Fish: walleye, yellow perch
This place is also on the bay but closer to the bottom of it. Bay City State Park is a little under 2 hours away. Once again this is a popular spot. Not always because of ice fishers but because just a lot of people come here to do things out on the ice. You should be fine though with your ice fishing.
If you get tired or you are heading home after being there in the wee morning hours, check out the Saginaw Bay Visitors Center and/or the Tobico Marsh Nature Area. There is also an island nearby and maybe you will be able to get to it while you are out on the ice.
Types of Fish: bluegill, crappie, sunfish, walleye, panfish
Houghton Lake is huge. It is 20,000 acres and it is Michigan’s largest inland lake. Despite its size, it is a fairly shallow lake. It freezes over quickly because of this which means you can access it more quickly. Before Christmas rolls around, you can be out there on the ice. I would say about the second week of December is when you should be safe. It is a really nice perk, especially those who live nearby.
The fish here tend to change how high or low they are in the water during the entire season. This is especially true for the walleye. They will be more shallow during the beginning of the season but near the end, they get wise and move lower. I would fish up and down the entire water column because there are fish throughout the entire thing. Plus, depending on the time of year, things may have changed.
Types of Fish: panfish, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, sunfish
Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell are pretty close by. You could honestly go between them on ice fishing trips. They are almost attached. These lakes also freeze up pretty quickly. I really like this area. You do not have to wait until after December to start fishing! Lake Cadillac is one of the best places to ice fish. Lake Cadillac has a higher population of perch than the other lake.
Why are they not the same lake you might wonder? It is because during the logging era of Michigan they built a canal to connect the two lakes. They used to be separate and still technically are. They used the canal to float the logs from Lake Mitchell to the sawmills on the other side by Lake Cadillac. The lakes are pretty similar. Hopefully, that explains a little more about them.
Types of Fish: sunfish, yellow perch, panfish, bluegill, crappie
Now that you know the history of these two places now, you can see how they are pretty similar. They do have slight differences though. I mentioned that Lake Cadillac has a higher population of perch in the winter. Well, Lake Mitchell has a higher population of bluegills, crappie, and sunfish. You will find all of these fish in the two lakes but you can find certain ones easier in the respective lakes.
I mentioned that both lakes become frozen over early in December. I highly recommend that you get over to these lakes within the first week of the season. The first ice has proven to be the most successful for catching fish according to the locals. There are quite a few people that show up here, so get here as soon as you can.
Types of Fish: largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, walleye, northern pike
Lake Orion is actually one of the closer lakes to the city of Detroit. It is only about 45 minutes out. I personally think that it is doable in a day. Leave early in the morning and spend the morning ice fishing while the world gets a little bit brighter. That is what a buddy of mine does. You have the classic fish that you will find in Michigan. If you are looking for a good simple trip that is close to the big city, I suggest Lake Orion.
Types of Fish: bluegill, panfish, walleye, northern pike
I put Hamlin Lake at the end of the list because it is the furthest away. That does not mean it is not worth your time, however. This place is a big reservoir and it is a healthy place for the fish in the area to live in. The fish are healthy and that means you will be catching some beauties. The northern pikes here get to be about 28 to 36 inches. I love the fish here.
Hamlin Lake is a deep lake. Surprisingly, the lake does freeze over in December. You can safely go before Christmas. Like most of these places in Michigan, the best time to go is when the first ice hits. After that, it slowly becomes less fertile. The lake has different levels. The upper portion is more shallow and I recommend fishing there during the first ice of the season. Other than that, enjoy ice fishing on the lake wherever you please.