Fishing on Lake Superior: A Complete Angler’s Guide
Feb 11, 2021 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world freshwater adventure, a Lake Superior fishing trip should be at the top of your list. This is the biggest freshwater lake in the world, after all! Biggest by surface area, that is, and third biggest by volume – either way, there’s an incredible amount of life under the water here.

An aerial view of Lake Superior

As it’s the biggest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior offers unparalleled fishing opportunities. It’s fed by more than 200 rivers, and there are over 80 species of fish found in the lake’s waters. These numbers speak for themselves! Lake Superior also has a vast network of islands, the biggest one being Isle Royale in Michigan. Along with Madeline, Michipicoten, and Grand Islands, these make for some of the most interesting fishing in the area.

So, you’ve decided to pay a visit to “Gitche Gumee,” as the Ojibwe people used to call this stunning body of water. We’ll help you plan your trip so that you can have a great time! Read on to find out everything you need to know about Lake Superior fishing.

What to Catch on Lake Superior

An infographic showing the top fish species on Lake Superior, including Walleye, Pike, Salmon, Trout, and Bass

As we already mentioned, Lake Superior is home to over 80 fish species. This makes it a fishing haven, providing you with limitless fishing opportunities. Due to the sheer abundance of fish living in these waters, it’s hard to decide what to go after. We’ve taken the liberty of making a list of the most revered fish you can target, so continue reading to find out more.

Trout

Fishing for Trout is practically synonymous with Lake Superior. Lake Trout is what this fishery is based upon! Add to that Steelhead, Brown Trout, Brook, and Splake (a mix between Brook and Lake Trout), and you’re guaranteed a great time.

For the best results, head out in May/June, as these fish tend to congregate closer to shore at this time. Later in the summer months, you’ll find them in the deeper waters looking for just the right temperature.

Two anglers holding a Lake Trout on a boat

What makes Trout so sought after? Well, these fish are not only stunning and hard-fighting, but they also make for excellent table fare. That’s why going after them is such an adventure – you’ll need to work for your dinner, but it’ll be more than worth the fight!

Salmon

Another important species in Lake Superior’s ecosystem, Salmon are often at the top of most anglers’ lists. In these deep waters, you’ll have the chance to go after several varieties of Salmon – Coho, King, Pink, and Atlantic. They’re all coveted species, and the locals love going after them since it can be a very challenging undertaking.

A happy angler holding a Chinook Salmon on a boat

Salmon tend to spawn in the many streams around Lake Superior, with the summer months usually being the most productive. This is when both Coho and King Salmon scatter across the lake in search of the best conditions. The most common way to catch these popular creatures is using trolling spoons and Salmon plugs.

Walleye

When it comes to Walleye fishing one thing’s for sure – it will be productive! Lake Superior hosts these fish in abundance, and there’s enough to go around, so you won’t be disappointed. One of the best places to fish for Walleye is at the mouth of the St. Louis River that feeds into Lake Superior at Duluth.

A happy angler holding a Walleye

The best time to visit if Walleye fishing is what you have planned is during the summer. This is when they make their way into the lake in search of food. What makes going after them so special is that they don’t shy away from a fight, so brace yourself! They also make for a delicious meal at the end of the day.

Northern Pike

Another fish that anglers from all over like to chase after on Lake Superior is the mighty Northern Pike. If there’s a true year-round target in these waters, it has to be Pike. These beautiful fish tend to congregate around shoals, bays, and creek mouths. However, during the summer months, they head to the deeper waters looking to cool down.

An angler holding a big Norther Pike

Note that these fish are aggressive feeders, so they’ll take your bait in a second. They’re known to put up a great fight, so if you’re looking for a challenge, look no further! They’re well worth the effort, as they can get pretty big – so make sure to snap a photo or two. And if you’re patient enough, you’ll get to taste one of the most delicious Great Lakes species.

Smallmouth Bass

As one of the most iconic freshwater game fish, Smallmouth Bass holds a special place in every angler’s heart. And you’re in luck, because they’re very abundant in the waters of Lake Superior! You’ll find them scattered around the lake, and there’s no doubt you’ll run into some trophy specimens. One of the best places to go after these feisty fish is Chequamegon Bay, as they tend to enjoy its shallower waters.

An angler holding a Smallmouth Bass on a boat

They start spawning around May, so this is a great time to find them in the shallows. Once the temperature starts rising, they start looking for colder waters which takes them further into the lake. If you’re looking to catch some good numbers of Smallmouth Bass, we recommend heading out in fall, when fishing is both prolific and exciting!

And More!

While these might be some of the most sought after fish that inhabit the deep waters of the Big Lake, there’s a lot more lurking underwater. You might find Musky, Lake Sturgeon, Whitefish, Perch, and a whole lot more at the end of your line, so keep your mind open!

How to Fish on Lake Superior

Most people don’t even consider Lake Superior a lake, due to its sheer size and volume. This is why most anglers approach fishing here as if they were fishing in the ocean! This means that there’s a wide variety of ways to have a fishing adventure here. In this section, we’ll go through some of the most widely popular ways of fishing this “inland sea.”

Charter Fishing

Charter fishing is definitely one of the best ways to experience everything that Lake Superior has to offer. It’s probably the most productive way of enjoying a day on these waters because they’re so vast and deep. On a boat, you’ll be able to cover much more ground than by any other way of fishing, so you’ll have the luxury to actually go after the monsters!

An aerial photo of Lake Superior with a boat on the water during sunset

That’s not the only reason why so many people prefer charter fishing on Lake Superior, though. The locals in the area are so familiar with the lake’s waters that hiring a professional guide has its own advantages. You’ll be in the know on all the best spots and techniques, and your guide will be able to show you how to reel in those trophies.

Shore Fishing

The most traditional way of going after fish is always in style. Especially with the amount of shoreline you get on Lake Superior! Whether you’re on the American or the Canadian coast, you’ll find that fishing from shore is amazing. You have many options and the freedom to choose from a variety of spots. Fishing from a pier or a dock, as well as surf fishing and wading are all in the cards here!

The shores of Lake Superior

If you’re looking for a relaxing day out in the sun, enjoying some stunning natural views, there’s no better way than heading down to a public section of the shoreline and start your adventure. Some of the most popular targets for anglers into shore fishing are Steelhead and Coho Salmon. Cast a line for these at dawn or dusk, and you’re guaranteed to have fun!

Ice Fishing

Here’s something a little more adventurous for you. Have you ever visited a frozen lake? If not, you definitely should! It’s an incredible sight, especially when it comes to a lake as big as Lake Superior. So many people get out of the house and enjoy some fun in the snow during the holiday season. Why not grab a rod and join them?

Ice fishing tents on Lake Superior

While Lake Superior doesn’t freeze over every year due to temperatures rising year over year, when it does, it’s magnificent! If you’re in a position to test it out, it will prove to be one of the most interesting fishing trips you’ve had. You’ll get the chance to catch Pike, Trout, Salmon, Perch, Whitefish, and especially Lake Trout as a local favorite.

Kayak Fishing

Looking to soak in all of that beautiful nature up close? Then kayak fishing is what you’re after! This interesting way of hitting the water has been gaining popularity in recent years, and we can see why. It’s incredibly peaceful and intimate, while retaining all of the excitement of big game fishing. You get so close to the fish, it feels as though you’re one with nature.

An angler kayak fishing on a lake

If you’re feeling up for the challenge, know that kayak fishing is reserved for those with a little more experience under their belt. You’ll need to paddle, keep your balance, and cast your line all at the same time. It’s a real exercise, but it’s well worth the effort. The wildlife of Lake Superior will leave you breathless, and you’ll surely make some lifelong memories.

Where to Fish on Lake Superior

All that’s left to do now is figure out what part of this monster lake to visit. While you can pretty much cast a line anywhere, you should make this decision with your ambitions in mind. There’s a variety of fish-rich parts of Lake Superior, and we’ve tried to pick out some of our favorites. Keep reading for the list of top Lake Superior fishing spots!

An infographic showing top fishing spots on Lake Superior, including Duluth, Superior, Thunder Bay, Grand Marais, Copper Harbor, and Isle Royale
  • Duluth/Superior: These two towns overlooking Lake Superior are great starting points for any newcomers. Depending on whether you’re in Minnesota or Wisconsin, in between these two towns is where the St. Louis River meets the lake. There’s hardly a better spot for Walleye, but Trout and Salmon are just as abundant.
  • Isle Royale: This is the largest island on Lake Superior, and along with numerous smaller islands it makes up Isle Royale National Park. It’s a place with stunning nature and high numbers of Trout and Whitefish. There are also lakes on the island itself, in which you can catch Pike, Perch, and Walleye.
  • Grand Marais: This quaint Minnesota town on the shores of Lake Superior is a wonderful getaway destination. You’ll find the nature stunning, and the people welcoming. There’s a variety of ways to explore the surroundings, but they’ll all yield great fish. Trout, Walleye, Pike, Salmon, and Bass are all in the cards.
  • Copper Harbor: Sitting at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, this small Michigan town is perfectly situated for a Lake Superior exploration. Whether you’re sportfishing or looking for a nice family getaway, you’ll find it here. It’s a designated Splake fishery, but you’ll find these waters abundant with Salmon, Trout, Walleye, and Pike as well.
  • Thunder Bay: This city is basically fishing heaven! If you’re looking for a spot on the Canadian side of the lake, don’t overlook Thunder Bay. There’s great fishing to be had year-round, with amazing access to Lake Superior. Make up your own adventure and cast a line here for Whitefish, Trout, Pike, Musky, and Bass.

Lake Superior Seasons and Regulations

You’ll be happy to hear that you can catch fish on Lake Superior all year round. However, all species have specific times of the year when going after them yields the best results. That being said, you can catch the biggest variety from April through June. During the winter months, ice fishing is something you shouldn’t miss.

Signage signaling the sale of bait, tackle, and fishing licenses.

When it comes to rules and regulations, they can differ depending on where you’re fishing. Lake Superior covers the territories of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, as well as Canada. So, depending on where you plan to have your fishing adventure, you should consult the local authorities. One thing’s for certain – you’ll need a freshwater fishing license to fish anywhere on Lake Superior.

Why Lake Superior? The Biggest Lake – the Biggest Adventure!

Do we really need to add anything? The largest freshwater lake in the world is also home to some of the most exciting sportfishing. It’s no surprise that Lake Superior is called just that – it’s a place of superior natural beauty and fishing opportunities. Look at it from any direction, and there’s water as far as the eye can see. Why not explore it the way it’s meant to be? With a rod in hand, and a smile on your face.

Lake Superior rock formations

Have you ever tried fishing on Lake Superior? How was your experience? Tell us everything about it in the comments below, or ask anything you’d like to know. We love to hear from you!

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