Lake Michigan is a large and vast fishery that is accessed by a large number of anglers. It holds many species of fish, some of which are very large in size. Because of the lake's size and many underwater terrains, there are several fishing techniques used in catching the different species.
Trolling is the most popular choice of fishing methods practiced in Lake Michigan. Salmon, steelhead and trout are the main species trolled for their large size and aggressive fighting. Electronic depth finders and fish finders are used to find schools of fish, then a trolling pattern is set up to try to catch the fish. The trolling pattern often resembles a number eight and is spread out at about ¼ to ½ mile length. Once the depth of the fish is determined, downriggers are often used to control the depth of the lure to target the fish. Spoons are the top lure and are used in a multitude of color combinations. This method of fishing can be very productive catching limits of fish in very short periods of time.
Still fishing involves jigging or using a bobber setup to catch fish and is generally done when targeting perch. Lake Michigan is home to a large population of perch, and they are known for their great taste. The perch are caught near shore along the flat bottoms in depths of 5 to 45 feet. Large anchors are used to keep the boat stationary or slowly drifting for best results. Minnows or red worms are the live bait of choice, but artificial grubs or spinners can also be used.
Casting lures for fish in Lake Michigan is generally done from piers or shore. There are many piers that anglers are able to access for fishing along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and these piers are generally at river mouths, which makes them very productive fishing spots. Lures such as spoons and crank baits are cast horizontal from the pier as to not tangle lines with other fishermen, then retrieved as normal. Fish such salmon, steelhead and trout are caught using this method depending on the time of year.