With nearly 2,000 miles of trout streams/rivers, over 40 inland lakes and the best salmon port on Lake Michigan - there’s no question where you should head for fall fishing.
First, you will want to make sure you have your fishing license. Don’t waste vacation time getting your license; buy it online. If you happen to forget, you can purchase your license at PM Expeditions, The Y Country Store, or any major grocery store or gas station. When you pick up your fishing license, be sure you receive a DNR fishing regulation booklet. Take the time to read thoroughly, as it will have a list of fish limits per species, size limits per species, tackle restrictions, and river and creek regulations. Some areas you can use all tackle available, while other areas, like the Ludington State Park below the dam, are restricted to single hook and other regulations. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the DNR for any specifics.
Secondly, you will want to decide if you are going to fish from the land or by boat. Charter boats are a great way to experience big-lake fishing, and your captain is a great guide to the best spots to drop your lines. However, the piers and rivers are great spots to fish from land as well. Be sure to check out the latest fishing reports to plan the best spots where fish are biting.
What You'll Catch and Hot Spots
Many people think Lake Michigan is a summer fishery, but they are missing some of the best action the lake has to offer. As the lake’s water temps cool, it leads to a higher concentration of game fish near the shore. On the right day, you can limit-out on steelhead, coho and younger kings in a short amount of time. These fish become even more prevalent as we go into October and November, and they are some of the best eating fish of the year, due to the cold water temperatures. Steelhead will start coming up the river in mid- to late October, and you can fish for them off either the north pier or south pier.
If you have a boat, you can fish for them in Pere Marquette Lake. Some of the best baits are flat fish or wiggle warts, with a little bit of weight on it near the surface.
In September, the lower section of the Pere Marquette River is a fantastic spot to hook king salmon. If you’re not sure where to go, contact Rx4 Addiction Guide Service, which offers full- and half-day guided salmon and steelhead fishing trips on the lower section of the PM River. Pere Marquette River Lodge is another local business, ready to help you plan fishing and lodging.
The Pere Marquette is over 60 miles long without any man-made dams on it. This makes it a blue ribbon trout fishery and one of the best salmon/steelhead fisheries in the state. September is a great time to go after salmon. Salmon will run up the entire river and head into small creeks, also known as tributaries. You can start fishing them in Pere Marquette Lake in the beginning of September.
As the salmon move up the Pere Marquette River, you can fish for them in Ludington, Scottville, Custer, at Indian Bridge, and Walhalla along the river. As we move into October, most people will switch from fishing king salmon to steelhead (rainbow trout that come from the Great Lakes). The hot baits for these fish are wiggle warts, spinners, spawn (tied up in a sac) or skein, beads, and flies (streamers or nymphs).
The best trout fishing is located Walhalla and farther up river, east. Trout can be fantastic in the fall, as they like to gorge on salmon eggs. As the salmon are finishing their life cycle, many anglers will target large trout in the deep holes behind the spawning grounds. Steelhead can also be found in these holes. This time of the year can give you a chance at a world-class fish.
There is an opportunity for everyone who enjoys fishing, young and old, whether on the big lake or on one of the many inland lakes and streams. Fall is a great season to experience it all. To find fall accommodations specials in Ludington, click HERE.