Fishing on Lake Michigan: Salmon, Trout, and Lampreys

Living close to the Great Lakes is a dream for many lovers of fishing. With the Great Lakes taking up a little under 95,000 square miles, they hold over 3,500 species of animal and plant life, including 170 plus species of fish!

In order to fish on the Great Lakes, you must purchase a fishing license. That is the same for fishing on Lake Michigan, the main lake we will be discussing today. If you don’t live in Michigan, a fishing license can cost you a pretty penny. For an annual fishing license in Michigan, if you are not a resident, it will cost $76.00. If you would like to hunt and fish in Michigan, and you aren’t a resident, it will cost you a whopping $266.00! For residents, you can get your annual license for only $26.00, and your combo license for $76.00.

Now that you’ve gotten your license, what is there to expect on Lake Michigan? Maintaining that Michigan has a Daily Possession limit of five Salmon, or five Salmon AND Trout, here are the four types of Salmon you can expect to encounter on Lake Michigan.

The Chinook Salmon- this breed of salmon has existed in the Great Lakes for over one hundred years. They prefer colder water temperatures, and they are rampant in August, which is their “catchability” season. You can have five of these Salmon in your possession, under the Daily Possession Limit in Michigan.

The Coho Salmon- this is the other Salmon you can have five of, per day. The Coho Salmon preys on smaller fish, and their eggs hatch around April.

The Pink Salmon- this is the smallest species of Salmon, out of the four. The largest catch of pink salmon was measured at only 30 inches long, and a mere 15 pounds. They are a cold water species, and eat bugs, and invertebrates (creatures without spines).

The Atlantic Salmon- the Atlantic Salmon is known to be aggressive. They can live in both salt water, and fresh water locations, and was originally from the Atlantic Ocean.

There are just as many, if not more, breeds of Trout than there are Salmon, including:

The Rainbow Trout- Rainbow Trout eat mollusks (clams, oysters, etc), crustaceans (crabs and such), and worms, as well as other small fish. They’re known for the striking colors of their scales, and typically weigh in from 3-8 pounds. They are a very popular fishing game, and have since been introduced to most parts of America because of it.

The Brown Trout- Brown Trout can be found in many countries, though they originated in Europe. These fish like to eat other, smaller fish, and invertebrates. They were named for the shades of tan and brown the fish is often found as, but they can also be spotted with silver color, and often have white or cream bellies.

The Lake Trout- Standing at one of the largest breed of Trout, they love cold water, and grow at a slow rate. They mainly inhabit the North West of America, the Great Lakes specifically, Alaska, and Canada. The Lake Trout matures at around age 6, and thus has a tendency to be over fished, and was nearly wiped out (on several occasions).

All in all, you can have up to five of the two species listed, as stated in Michigan’s Daily Possession Limit on their Fishing Guidelines. Every state has their own rules and regulations, that must be followed. Always be sure to check things like Daily Possession Limits, before going on your fishing trips. But what else should you expect while fishing on Lake Michigan?

Lake Michigan waters can rise to almost 60 or more degrees, depending on the temperature of the air. There are dozens of other creatures you can also meet on Lake Michigan, including, but not limited to, fresh water sponges, eels, cray fish, Lampreys. But wait a second…

What is a Lamprey?

Lampreys are a species of jaw-less fish, often mistaken for eels, with a circular mouth that hold rows of sharp teeth. The Lamprey has been labeled as a cousin of the Eel, but in reality, they aren’t even related. These creatures have more shared DNA with Sharks than they do with Eels. They leech onto prey and drink their blood, and drop off when they’re done feeding. Humans don’t have a ton to fear from these creatures, but it is always better to be aware of what could be in the waters.

On many species diet list is a small fish called the Minnow. You can preserve these fish and use them as bait, using a bit of salty, brine fluid. You can let them sit in the brine, dry them, and then add them back to just a container of salt, to keep them preserved to use immediately, or, you can leave them in the salt to further preserve them. When they’ve sat in the salt, for at least 5 hours, you can remove them, rinse them, and then allow them to air dry. Viola: You can use them on your next trip, or just freeze them for possible future use.

With the vast expanse of mileage that the Great Lakes cover, you are bound to find hundreds of fish to catch, and dozens of great areas to do so. Every year, thousands of fishermen flock to Lake Michigan, the second largest lake of the Great Lakes, for the diverse “collection” of species. Daily, you can have up to five Salmon and Trout in your possession. The species include the Atlantic Salmon, the Chinook Salmon, the Coho Salmon, the Pink Salmon, the Rainbow Trout, the Lake Trout, and the Brown Trout. You are allowed to have a maximum of five of either Chinook, or Coho Salmon, which would count as your daily limit. Most people catch two trout, and three Salmon, or vice versa, to meet the limit.

Please note that it is illegal to have fish maimed so badly that they cannot be identified, or measured, and it is illegal to throw chum for luring fish as well. Please take time to look over Michigan’s Fishing Rules and Regulations, before heading out to the Great Lakes to fish.