Lake St. Clair Fishing: A Complete Angler's Guide
Mar 12, 2021 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Perfectly placed between the United States and Canada, this shallow lake is a freshwater angler’s dream! Treading this natural border is an exciting adventure, and Lake St. Clair fishing is a joy one has to experience to understand. Whether you’re in Michigan or Ontario, you’ll find that there’s hardly another place like this, so heading out for a day of exploration is a must.

An aerial view of the Lake St. Clair Metropark

Lying just six miles from downtown Detroit, Lake St. Clair is the perfect place to visit for a day of fun and relaxation in nature. Covering about 430 square miles, it’s the smallest of the Great Lakes, so you can cover plenty of ground on your visit. Along with the St. Clair River and Detroit River, it connects Lake Huron to Lake Erie. This means one thing – lots of fish traveling through!

Despite being smaller than the rest of the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair boasts some incredible freshwater sportfishing. We’ll cover everything you need to know before heading out and dipping your line in these clear waters, so sit back and enjoy!

What to Catch

An infographic showing the top fish species to target on Lake St. Clair including Bass, Musky, Walleye, Pike, Sturgeon, Perch, and Trout

Thanks to its convenient location and clear waters, Lake St. Clair is abundant with a myriad of fish species. You’ll find that despite its shallow waters, you can enjoy some of the best freshwater angling in the Great Lakes area here. We’ve compiled a list of the most prized species that call these waters home, so read on to find out more!

Musky

One of the most exciting freshwater game fish, Musky are very popular with Lake St. Clair anglers. And this body of water is known for some of the best Musky fishing in the world! They really enjoy the shallow waters of the lake, and due to the sheer numbers of them, fishing for Musky on Lake St. Clair is a very exciting adventure.

An angler holding a big Musky on a boat on Lake St. Clair

Head out on the water in June and you’ll find that they’re biting left and right. Most anglers use summer to go out and reel in some trophy fish. And it only gets better in fall! You’ll be able to sink your line and catch a big Musky all the way into October. However, head out at any other time of the year, and you’re bound to catch a regular-sized one.

Walleye

While they normally prefer deeper and murkier waters, Lake St. Clair still boasts a high number of these toothy critters. The biggest of the Perch family, you’ll find that going after Walleye requires strength and patience. The reward is high though – you’re bound to have the battle of your life! What more can you ask for?

An angler holding a Walleye on Lake St. Clair

These creatures put up a great fight, but that’s only half of the reason why they’re so revered. Anglers target Walleye for the excitement of the battle, but they also have a delicious meal planned in the back of their minds. Known for some of the tastiest white meat of any freshwater fish, Walleye are a top target on all counts!

Bass

If Smallies are on your angling list, you’re in luck! Lake St. Clair is known worldwide for its Smallmouth Bass fishery, and there’s hardly a place with more abundance of these interesting creatures. While many people visit the lake to fish for Largemouth Bass, the sheer number of Smallies in this body of water is reason enough to target them.

An angler holding a big Bass on a boat on Lake St. Clair

Heading out to target these delicious fish is easy, seeing as they’re found all over the lake. And if Largemouth Bass are what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed either. These beloved freshwater game fish live throughout the lake. For an even more exciting adventure, paddle out in a kayak and experience the water up close. It’s a unique experience!

Lake Sturgeon

Easily one of the most iconic freshwater fish in the world, Sturgeon is truly a force to be reckoned with! Fishing for this prehistoric creature is something that every angling enthusiast has on their bucket list. However, due to overfishing, this beautiful species is critically endangered in the Great Lakes.

An angler holding a Sturgeon on a boat on Lake St. Clair

Commercial fishing for Lake Sturgeon is forbidden, and recreational fishing is heavily regulated. If you have no problems following the rules though, this adventure will prove to be one of your most memorable ones. Make sure to check when the open season is on Lake St. Clair and plan your adventure well in advance. Do it right, and you’ll be massively rewarded!

Yellow Perch

Yellow Perch is one of the most popular fish in this part of the world. It’s the most frequently caught game fish in Michigan, and the locals love it! You’ll generally find this fish near the shore, making it the perfect target for some shore fishing. It’s also one of the most active species here, so you’ll find it biting even in winter, if you’re up for an ice fishing adventure!

An angler holding Yellow Perch on Lake St. Clair

While you’ll find this yellow critter in all of the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair has a booming population just ready to take your bait! Sink a line anywhere in these shallow waters, and chances are – you’ll get Perch at the end of it. And boy, does it taste good! The delicious dinner after a long day of fishing will prove to be as rewarding as the fishing itself.

Northern Pike

Another favorite for the Great Lakes’ anglers, Northern Pike might just be the most valiant of the Pike family. Similar to Musky in appearance, these creatures also put up a hell of a fight! Visit in summer and fall for the biggest specimens, and you’re sure to leave with sore muscles. However, a full belly will more than make up for it, as these fish are delicious.

An angler holding a Northern Pike on Lake St. Clair

One of the best places to find some big Pike is Anchor Bay in the north part of the lake. Here you’re bound to run into some trophy specimens. If you’re looking for a real adventure, visit in winter and try ice fishing for Pike. It’s not easy, but it sure is rewarding. Why not try something new and get that experience under your belt?

Not convinced? Well, there are a bunch of other fish you can target, including different species of Trout and Salmon, as well as Catfish. There’s something for everybody!

How to Fish

While Lake St. Clair is small compared to the five Great Lakes, it’s still pretty sizeable. This is why there’s a variety of ways to enjoy a day on its calm waters. Read on to figure out how you want to explore its shallow waters!

Charter Fishing

By far the most productive way of fishing, heading out on a boat has a lot of advantages. For one, you’ll get to cover a lot more ground than you would otherwise. Another advantage is that you’ll have an experienced guide showing you all of the secret spots and honey holes. And if the fish aren’t biting – you can easily move to another spot!

A docked boat on Lake St. Clair

Fishing is a way of life on Lake St. Clair, so there’s no shortage of guides ready to show you a great time on the water. Every major town on the shoreline has a whole host of opportunities, so you’ll get to take your pick and sail out. Water all around, wind in your hair, and a rod in your hand… Is there a better way to spend your day?

Kayak Fishing

One of the best ways to explore nature is getting really intimate with its wilderness. And what better way to to do that than in a kayak? Kayak fishing has been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason! It’s a unique way of dipping your rod, and it’s one that really puts you in the middle of the action.

A man kayak fishing at sunrise in Canada

It’s not for the inexperienced angler, though. Considering the fact that you have to paddle, as well as hold your balance and your rod at the same time, it’s a way of fishing reserved for those with a bit more experience under their belt. Everyone’s welcome to try though! One things for sure – you will have fun.

Ice Fishing

This wouldn’t really be a blog about the Great Lakes if we didn’t mention the one thing the area is most known for – ice fishing. A favorite pastime for locals all around the area, ice fishing is a tradition here. Every winter, large numbers of ice fishing enthusiasts come to target some big fish lurking under the surface.

Men ice fishing on a frozen lake

Lake St. Clair is a great spot for this type of fishing, too. Normally, ice covers the whole surface of the lake, making it fairly easy to head out and find your spot. This experience is made even more magical by ice skaters spending the holiday season having fun on the ice. It’s truly an out-of-this-world experience, and you have to see it to believe it.

Shore Fishing

And if you’re just up for some good ol’ fishing in the most traditional way, don’t worry – Lake St. Clair will deliver! There are numerous fishing spots dotted all along the shoreline, and you won’t have any issues finding the perfect spot for you. If you’re into surf fishing, you’ll be especially spoiled here – there are many beautiful beaches you can visit for a day of fun in the sun.

A boat dock on Lake St Clair

And if pier or dock fishing is more your speed, you won’t have to look far. Most towns on the shores of Lake St. Clair have excellent access to the water, so just head out and find yours. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll find that it won’t be long before you get something tugging at your line. And since there are so many fish in the lake, it’s no surprise, really!

Where to Go

Now that you know what you want to target, and how you want to plan your adventure, it’s time to think about the where. This is easier said than done, as you’ll see in just a moment. There are so many great spots all around Lake St. Clair that it’s hard to pick favorites. However, we’ve tried! Keep reading for a list of the best Lake St. Clair fishing spots.

An infographic showing the top fishing spots on Lake St. Clair, including Sturgeon Hole, The Channels, St. Clair Shores, Lake St. Clair Metropark, Anchor's Bay, and Mitchell's Bay
  • Sturgeon Hole: The clue’s in the name! Hands-down the best spot to visit if you’re looking for that record Lake Sturgeon. Just outside of Detroit, this is the place to be for any Sturgeon enthusiast.
  • The Channels: You’ll find that fishing becomes a lot more fun when you go up to St. Clair River. The river empties into the lake, forming three channels full of Bass, Walleye, Pike, and Perch.
  • St. Clair Shores: This eponymous town lying on the shores of Lake St. Clair is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for productive charter fishing. You’ll find the docks are teeming with guides ready to put you on Bass, Walleye, Perch, Pike, and Musky.
  • Lake St. Clair Metropark: One of the most popular vacation spots on Lake St. Clair, visiting this park is a full experience. Enjoy a whole host of recreational activities, with Perch fishing being the cherry on top.
  • Anchor Bay: Head a little bit more to the north, and you’ll find yourself in the waters of Anchor Bay, a Bass haven. You’ll get Smallmouth and Largemouth biting, as well as some monster Walleye.
  • Mitchell’s Bay: If you’re looking to head onto the Canadian side of the lake, this is one you shouldn’t miss. Famous for its top-notch Bass fishery, visit for a day of fun reeling in both Largemouth and Smallmouth.

Seasons and Regulations

Lake St. Clair is a world-renowned fishery, thanks to its healthy populations of a variety of fish species. As such, there’s no off season here – it’s a year round fishing paradise. That being said, fishing can differ a lot throughout the year, so make sure you know what you’re after before embarking on your adventure.

A sign advertising a bait and tackle shop, a common place to buy a LA fishing license

Some of the fish that inhabit these waters have very specific regulations. You need to be up to date on new rules to make sure that Lake St. Clair is a fantastic fishery for generations to come. No matter what you’re after, you’re going to need a Michigan fishing license to fish here legally. And if you’re going to the Canadian side, an Ontario fishing license is needed as well. And don’t forget your passport!

Why Lake St. Clair? It’s the Sixth Great Lake!

While it might be overshadowed by its big brothers, Lake St. Clair can give them all a run for their money. It’s a calm, serene, shallow body of water, teeming with action under the surface. If you want the most quintessential Great Lakes experience, there’s no better place to visit. You’ll find it at the crossroads of the Big Five, offering a piece of everything in a wonderful natural habitat. There’s no doubt – it is truly Great.

A view of waterfront homes on Lake St. Clair

Have you ever visited Lake St. Clair? How was your fishing adventure? Tell us all about it in the comments below, or ask any questions you might have. We love to hear from you!

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