What Kinds Of Fish Are There In Lake Michigan

What Kinds Of Fish Are There In Lake Michigan
5 Min Read
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Lake Michigan is one of the most impressive lakes in the world. The sheer size and diverse nature of this great lake have caused it to be one of the leading tourist destinations in the United States of America.

Lake Michigan has been a marvel ever since its discovery and by Europeans, who named it after their king, Louis XVI. By native Americans, it was called Michigamme or Mechegan which means “Great Water”.

The first European settlers were French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet who came here in 1673.

They had come from Canada on an expedition to find the source of the Mississippi River.

After exploring the area they returned to France where they reported that the waterway was very large and full of fish.

This report was published in Paris in 1674 and gave rise to the name of the lake as well as the city of Chicago.

So that leads us to our question today! Just what kind of fish are there in Lake Michigan today? If you find yourself wondering this question, then you’ve come to the right place!

We’re going to take you through everything you would need to know about the variety of fish species in Lake Michigan – including the most common, the rarest, and some additional information around them! 

We have also included a short FAQ section at the end of the article to answer any additional questions you might have!

Geographical Location Of Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is located in the U.S state of Wisconsin and covers an area of about 1,300 square miles (3,400 km2).

It is bordered on the north by the states of Indiana, Illinois, and Ontario, Canada; on the east by the state of Michigan; on the south by the state of Indiana; and on the west by the state of Wisconsin.

The average depth of Lake Michigan is about 160 feet (50 m) with a maximum depth of about 690 feet (210 m).

Its surface area is approximately 2,900 square miles (7,500 km2), making it the largest freshwater lake in the Great Lakes region.

Size Of Lake Michigan

Lake Superior is the next biggest lake in the Great Lakes system but it’s only half the size of Lake Michigan. Lake Huron is much smaller than either of these two lakes but it is still larger than Lake Erie.

The total volume of all three of these major lakes combined is about 70 billion gallons (260 million m3).

If we add up the volumes of all the other smaller lakes in the Great Lakes region, we get a figure of just over 100 billion gallons (380 million m3)! That’s enough water to fill more than 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Fish Species In Lake Michigan

There is a huge wealth of different fish species that live in Lake Michigan. We’re going to take you through some of the most common here.


Walleye live in lake Michigan and are usually found near the bottom of the lake. They can grow up to about 15 inches long and weigh anywhere between 3-6 pounds. Walleyes are often caught using small fishing lures like minnows or jigs.

Northern Pike

Pike is another popular type of fish to catch in Lake Michigan. These fish can reach sizes of up to 30 inches long and weigh up to 50 pounds.

They prefer to inhabit areas of deep waters so when fishing for pikes, try casting your line towards the middle of the lake.

Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is one of the most commonly caught types of fish in Lake Michigan.

They can be found living in shallow waters and along shorelines throughout the entire length of the lake.

When catching largemouth bass, use a light spinning rod and reel. Try using bait such as worms or crickets.


Muskellunge are a type of mussel fish that can grow up to 20 inches long and weigh up to 40 pounds.

They are native to the Great Lakes region and are known for being aggressive fighters. To catch muskellunge, cast a lure into deeper waters and wait until they strike.


Whitefish is a type of perch fish that can grow up to 25 inches long and weigh up to 80 pounds.

Whitefish are very fast swimmers and will often move away from the boat when hooked.

They are not considered a good eating fish, however, so don’t expect to see them on many restaurant menus.


Bluegills are a type of sunfish that can grow up to 12 inches long and weigh up to 5 pounds.

Like whitefish, bluegills are not eaten by humans and are rarely seen on restaurant menus.


Catfish are also called bullheads and are native to the Great lakes region. They have large heads and bodies and can grow up to 35 inches long and weigh up to 200 pounds.

They are an excellent source of protein and are often used in Tilapia catfish farms.


Tilapia are a type of cichlid fish that are native to Africa and Asia. They were introduced to North America in the late 1800s and now live in many parts of the country including Lake Michigan.

Tilapia are widely available in grocery stores and restaurants and can grow up to 24 inches long and weigh up to 4 pounds.

Rarest Fish In Lake Michigan

The following fish species are extremely rare and only occur in Lake Michigan.

Lake Trout

Lake trout are a type of salmon that spend their lives in rivers and streams before migrating out to sea.

This means that they have spent most of their life in freshwater and are therefore very sensitive to changes in water quality. As a result, there are fewer than 300 wild lake trout left in the world today.


Cisco is a type of eel that lives in tropical seas around the world. They are very difficult to catch because they are highly camouflaged and live at depths of over 1000 feet.

Gizzard Shad

Gizzard shad are a type of herring that is native to the Atlantic coast. They are known for having a hard outer shell that protects them against predators.

However, this shell is also responsible for making it impossible to harvest gizzard shad commercially.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! We hope that this article has given you some examples of the kinds of fish that you might find in Lake Michigan.

It’s a gigantic lake, so naming all of them would be impossible, but just know that there are tons of different varieties of fish that you could potentially encounter while fishing or exploring!

Below is a short FAQ to answer some additional questions about Fish and Lake Michigan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute questions answered here! 

Is There Brown Trout In Lake Michigan?

Yes, there are several types of brown trout in Lake Michigan. The largest of these is the Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

These fish can reach lengths of up to 10 feet and weights of up to 100 pounds.

Are There Healthy Fish Populations In Lake Michigan?

Yes, there are plenty of healthy fish populations in Lake Michigan’s waters. 

How Do I Get Started Fishing In Lake Michigan?

You should start by contacting your local fish store or tackle shop to learn more about what kind of equipment you need to begin catching fish.

You may even want to consider joining a fishing club to help you improve your skills.

Do I Need Special Licenses To Fish In Lake Michigan?

No, you do not need special licenses to fish anywhere in Michigan. All you need is a valid driver’s license and proof of residency.

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