Detroit River

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Fishing in Detroit River

Seeing it on a map, you may think that the Detroit River only serves to connect Lake St Clair to Lake Erie. Be that as it may, it’s also home to some of the most productive freshwater fishing not just in Michigan, but in the United States. Stretching for almost 30 miles, this diverse fishery has an outstanding number of opportunities for both novice and veteran anglers alike.

Top Catches

Its fortunate location has resulted in the Detroit River becoming a great place to find a variety of fish. This includes species like Walleye, several Bass species, Crappie, Catfish, Pike, and more besides. No matter the time of year, there’s bound to be good fishing somewhere on the river. Below you’ll find out more about the most popular species found in the river.

Walleye

There can be no doubt that the Detroit River Walleye fishing is what reels in the biggest number of anglers year after year. The number of boats will measure in the hundreds when things get really going. If you’re looking to increase your chances of catching Walleye, you should be looking at current and contour breaks, channel edges, and clearer water in general. Clear waters may not hold as many fish, but the ones there will be easier to catch.

Muskellunge

Fall fishing for Muskie is a big thing in these parts and has been so for quite a while. There are quite a few current breaks here that make for great Muskie hotspots. One spot in particular is known for its great Muskie bite, and it’s known as the “Sturgeon Hole.” You can find it just to the south of Peche Island, at the far east end of the river. You’ll definitely be in the market for a trophy catch, with fish sometimes going over 45 inches in size.

Bass

The Bass run in the Detroit River is a short-lived affair, but one definitely worth your time during the spring months. Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Silver bass all draw the attention of local anglers, especially those from the south side of the river. Windsor anglers mostly fish from docks and piers when the Bass bite kicks in, usually using heavier jigs to avoid tangling each other up. If you’re fishing from a boat, be sure to check out the cuts near Grosse Ile as well as the eastern part of Sugar Island.

Detroit River Fishing Tips

  • Anglers hoping to catch trophy-sized Walleye should seriously consider night fishing for that purpose. Of course, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the terrain during the day so you have an easier time of it at night when navigation is more difficult.
     
  • A lot of local anglers will list pulling wire among their favorite techniques. Pulling wire is local slang for handlining, and people from these parts are very good at it.

Need to Know

During the summertime, a lot of fish will make their way to the two lakes but don’t let that stop you. Fishing the deeper parts of the river is still a good plan, and a lot of charter captain can take you close to the lakes themselves where the fishing is at its best.

Regulations

No matter if you’re fishing from the US or Canadian side, solo or with a guide, you will still need a freshwater fishing license. Most popular fish species have both a size and possession limit, so be sure to read up on the latest regulations online or hire a guide who’ll take care of that for you.

Budget

One of many good things about fishing in the Detroit River is the competitive charter prices. Usually cheaper than in the adjoining lakes, you can get a half a day’s worth of fishing starting from US$300. If you decide to stay for a full-day adventure, that will set you back for US$400–$450.

Getting There

Both Detroit and Windsor are very easily accessible via car, plane, and train so you won’t be wasting any time on actually getting there. After all, the real prize is in the water and the sooner you get out there the sooner you can have a shot at making your angling dreams come true!

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Detroit River Fishing Seasons

Ice floes can make boat fishing very difficult at the start of the year. You’ll need to keep track of the wind at all times to ensure a safe and productive trip. 

The canals to the immediate southwest of Grosse Ile are good places to start your fishing adventure in February. Usually involves a good number of Yellow Perch.

While it’s still early in the season, this is when you can usually expect Walleye numbers to seriously start picking up, especially over at Peche Island.

You’re likely to be dealing with strong currents in April, so it’s a good idea to have a single-ounce jig with you to ensure you can reach a good depth for fishing.

White Bass fishing is absolutely on fire come May. Most anglers will be in the habit of practicing catch and release, but they also make for a lovely meal.

Summer is upon us, which means that the fish will be heading down to Lake Erie. There’s still plenty of good fishing at the river mouth.

Lots of ships go through the Detroit River during summertime, which can put a dent in your fishing plans. Feel free to explore small creeks for Largemouth Bass.

Everyone is still waiting for the Muskie fishing to kick into high gear, and a good way to spend that time is by going after numerous local Yellow Perch.

Muskie fishing season is in full swing, so get out there and join the fight! Cast and retrieve fishing works wonders in the Detroit River.

October is a great time for fishing the Detroit River. Trolling, handlining and jigging are all good ways of going after Walleye, so feel free to experiment.

Shallow waters are home to a decent number of Walleye, while you’re best looking for Perch near the numerous island cuts spread throughout the river.

The Walleye fishery, while not as numerous, is still a good bet even at year’s end. Head out just before dark and you can catch some really big ones.

Detroit River Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Detroit River

Walleye

Walleye

Perch (Yellow)

Perch (Yellow)

Bass (Smallmouth)

Bass (Smallmouth)

Muskellunge (Musky)

Muskellunge (Musky)

Sturgeon

Sturgeon

Pike (Northern)

Pike (Northern)

Catfish

Catfish

Bass (White)

Bass (White)