Saginaw Bay

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Fishing in Saginaw Bay

Saginaw Bay fishing is the stuff of legend, especially to avid Walleye chasers. This bay in Lake Huron offers some of the best spots in the state of Michigan to target prized game fish. With over 1,000 square miles of water to explore, Saginaw Bay is a fishery as big as it is productive.
Anglers come to the bay year round to go after an array of species, including Walleye, Yellow Perch, Panfish, Carp, Bass, Chinook Salmon, and Steelhead. Ice fishing in the area is superb, and often you can catch as many Walleye as you would during your day on a boat. 

Top Catches

A lot of anglers come to Saginaw Bay to catch their trophy Walleye, whether in number or the size of the fish. Fishermen are pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of Yellow Perch and Carp. Chinook Salmon is also in the cards, if you know where to look. Because Saginaw Bay is so vast, finding your trophy fish is sometimes easier said than done. If you’ve never cast a line in the bay before, it’s best to take your pick of Saginaw Bay fishing charters. A local captain will know exactly where to go and what technique to use to get you on the bite.


Walleye are abundant throughout the year, but the best time to go after them is during the spring spawning run, which usually takes place in April and May. On a good day, you can catch well over 40 pounds of fish in a matter of hours. Trolling is the most productive technique, as well as jigging and casting.

Yellow Perch

Local anglers love going after Perch as much as they enjoy a good Walleye hunt, and chances of hooking a Perch or two on your trip are significant. The middle of the bay is your best bet to catch good amounts of Perch. Testing your luck around buoys could also bring success. The “Blackhole” is another popular fishing spot in the bay, and you can easily find 7–8’’ Perch in its vicinity.

Chinook Salmon

If you’ve had your fill of Walleye hookups and you’d like to try your luck in Salmon fishing, Chinook awaits. The best time to go after these tasty lunkers is during the colder months. You will find them at the meeting point of the green waters of the bay and Lake Huron’s clear waters. Local captains recommend targeting the early morning bite for best results. Start fishing before sunrise and you’ll have at least two hours of solid Chinook action. After that, you can focus on catching Lake Trout and Steelhead.

Fishing Tips

  • Board trolling is a very popular technique on Saginaw Bay – anglers use special planer boards tied to the mast that take the lines to the side of the boat, away from the noise so fish are more likely to gulp them down.

  • Saginaw Bay fishing usually means one thing – whatever you do, take your time. Slow trolling is the way to success when you’re going after Walleye in these murky waters.

  • The nightcrawler harness might be the favorite rig of local fishermen, who swear by it and assure that it will not fail you when it comes to Walleye fishing.


Need to Know

Seeing that the Saginaw Bay fishery is open year round, your chances of success are high no matter when you decide to test its potential. Ice fishing is very popular in the area, so if you’re a hard water enthusiast, this is the place to be on a sunny weekend morning. 


The rules on Saginaw Bay are simple – if you have your line in the water and are 17 and older, you need a valid Michigan fishing license. Anglers under 17 don’t need a license, but must follow all local fishing regulations. 


If you decide to fish with an experienced local captain, charter prices will vary depending on the length of your trip. You can find half day trips at $150 per person and up to $500 for a group. Full day on the water could cost up to $700.

Getting There

You’ll find the town of Saginaw some 20 miles from Saginaw Bay, so you’ll only need half an hour by car to get to the water. Both Lansing and Detroit are well over 100 miles from the bay, about two-and-a-half hours by car.
Saginaw Bay fishing is the pride of Michigan and once you give it a try, you’ll understand why. With great chances to hook the Walleye of your life both from the boat and on the ice, the waters of the bay promise great times on the rod and fishing action you won’t soon forget.
Saginaw Bay
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Saginaw Bay Fishing Seasons

Temperatures in January can be quite unforgiving, but on a sunny day, you can have a great day on the ice. Solid-sized Walleye and Panfish are in the cards.

The ice is still stable on the bay, but be wary of the pressure cracks. The Walleye bite is good, and you could also find Lake Whitefish on your line.

In March, the ice can be unstable and soft, so fish with caution. Walleye, Perch, and an occasional Whitefish are swimming around, you just need to attract them to your line.

Though the weather is warmer, the water is still quite cold and there’s a lot ice floating around. You can hook smaller Perch, and a Lake Trout and Steelhead here and there.

As the temperatures are rising, so are the opportunities to boat more fish. You can find Walleye in the 10’ waters, and Northern Pike and Perch are biting as well.

The Walleye are moving to deeper waters, and catching your limit on a day trip is the norm. A crawler harness works best for these fighters. Perch is also active and biting.

Fishing in Saginaw Bay in July is nothing short of extraordinary. Walleye are biting right and left, and often the winds push the fish in certain areas of the bay, where they’re yours for the taking.
Both Perch and Walleye fishing is excellent in August. There’s a possibility of storms that could muddle the waters, and if that is the case, you’ll find big Walleye in the outer bay.
Walleye fishing is still going strong in Saginaw Bay. Chinook and Coho Salmon, as well as Steelhead, are biting as well, so you’ve got a variety of catch to choose from.

As the fall weather is getting more unpredictable, so are the fish movements, highly dependable on the rain and wind. Walleye, Salmon, Trout, and Perch could all find their way to your line.

It’s getting quite cold outside, so don’t forget to dress in layers before you hit the water. Perch and Walleye are the main catches, and you can get more than enough to bring home for a feast.

This is the last chance to go fishing before the ice sets in, so dress warmly and head out. Along with the strong Walleye bite, Trout and Perch are likely to take the bait.

Saginaw Bay Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Saginaw Bay



Perch (Yellow)

Perch (Yellow)

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Chinook)