Michigan Ice Fishing Charters

Michigan Ice Fishing Charters

Best Ice Fishing Charters in Michigan

Ice Fishing in Michigan

There may be no better place to experience ice fishing than Michigan. Even in the dead of winter, anglers can make the most of more than 11,000 lakes here. These waters host over 150 different species of fish, and with a little know-how, you can catch all of them through the ice. If you’re determined not to let a little cold stand in your way from a trophy catch, the ice fishing Michigan has in store is just the thing for you.

Michigan gets 4-5 months of weather cold enough to support ice fishing each year. Depending on the lake, safe ice can start as early as the beginning of December and last through April. When local lakes freeze over, anglers have access to areas that they can’t normally reach during open water season. This provides the perfect opportunity to hook into Walleye, Bluegill, Perch, Northern Pike, Trout, and more.

This local pastime can be as simple as drilling a hole in the ice and dropping a line, or it can be a full-blown camping experience with heated shanties, state-of-the-art lighting, and many other amenities. You can set up camp on a little lake and drop a few lines on your own, or hire a local guide to show you the best spots around. For those who don’t know where to start, here’s a quick look at a few of the best ice fishing spots in Michigan.

MI’s Top Ice Fishing Spots

Hamlin Lake

Many consider this to be the premier ice fishing spot in MI. Located next to Lake Michigan, Hamlin Lake is easily accessible through the Ludington State Park. This lake is deeper than others, but normally forms safe ice before Christmas. The upper part of the lake is shallower and freezes over first, so be sure to head there if you’re eager to get started!

First ice provides the hottest action of the season, when anglers catch bigger than average Bluegill and Sunfish in the weed beds. A teardrop lure tipped with a wax worm is the best way to get these fish to bite. You’ll also have great success fishing for Walleye early in the season, along with Northern Pike (these fish go after live golden Shiners).

Ice fishing on Hamlin Lake slows down as the season progresses and the fish are less easily fooled, so be sure to bring extra sensitive rods, light line, spring bobbers, and small baits or lures. To avoid weekend crowds and fishing pressure, plan your trip on a weekday.

Lake Mitchell

Located in Wexford County near the town of Cadillac, Lake Mitchell also provides excellent ice fishing opportunities throughout the season. This lake ices up early in December and is typically safe to fish on long before Christmas. Here you’ll find plenty of Crappie, Bluegill, Perch, Sunfish, and Northern Pike. Walleye also swim below the ice here, but prove harder catch because the local Pike tend to beat them to the bait. A sensitive, delicate rod with a light line and spring bobbers will help you catch all these fish. Crappies are partial to small Minnows, while Bluegills and Sunfish prefer maggots and spikes. A tip-up with jumbo suckers or Smelt will entice trophy-sized Pike.

Lake Cadillac

Right next to Lake Mitchell is Lake Cadillac, which freezers over at the same time and produces all the same species. This lake is known to produce better Perch and much bigger Pike than Lake Mitchell, though there are less of them here. You can expect good fishing through March or April.

Houghton Lake

Houghton Lake is located smack dab in the middle of the upper portion of MI’s Lower Peninsula, between Hwy 127 and I-75. This is the largest inland lake in the state, covering 20,000 acres. It’s also relatively shallow, which means it’s one of the first lakes on the peninsula to freeze over each year and offers safe ice as early as the second week in December. You can enjoy excellent ice fishing here up until early April.

Houghton Lake hosts high numbers of Crappie, Bluegill, Walleye, and Sunfish. You’ll find plenty of Walleye in the shallow parts of the lake early in the season before they move to deeper water (12-14 feet). Panfish swim throughout the lake from top to bottom, so be sure to fish the entire water column if this is your target. These fish bite gold and chartreuse teardrop lures as well as jigs tipped with wax worms and spikes. Walleye go for Swedish Pimple lures with Minnow heads.

Cass Lake

Located near Metro Detroit, Cass Lake is a great way to experience the ice fishing Michigan has to offer without straying far from the city. This lake typically offers safe ice conditions by late December or early January. The fishing stays strong all season, but you can expect the hottest action early on.

Cass Lake has a reputation for jumbo Perch and beautiful Crappie. You won’t be disappointed in the size of the local Pike and Walleye, either. Bluegill and Sunfish also abound in these waters.

If you’re after Walleye, look for areas of the lake that slope down from 10 feet to 40 feet and continue moving until your electronics pick up on action below the ice. Similar to Houghton Lake, a Swedish Pimple with a Minnow works wonders for catching Walleye here. Meanwhile, Panfish are mostly located in an area known as “The Guts” on the lake’s north shore. Wax worms, spikes, and mousies will help you catch Sunfish and Bluegill, while small Minnows work best for Crappie.

Need to Know

Anglers age 17 and older must purchase a MI fishing license (available online). You can buy a single day license for $10 or a 72-hour license for $30 (prices subject to change). Annual licenses are also available for different prices depending on whether you are a state resident.

Anglers are welcome to keep many kinds of fish they catch while ice fishing in Michigan, but be aware of size and bag limits. Depending on the lake, some species may not always be legal to keep. You can find out more about ice fishing regulations and safety advisories on the MI Department of Natural Resources website.

For your safety, never go ice fishing alone and steer clear of dark or discolored ice. Be sure to carve a hole that is big enough to fish through, but not large enough to endanger someone’s life if they fall. For first time ice anglers, hiring a local guide is highly recommended to ensure your safety.

If you find yourself in Michigan this winter, give ice fishing a go and find out why so many have come to love this time-honored pastime!

Michigan
Excellent
4.6 / 5
Based on 28,745 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

What anglers said about Ice Fishing in Michigan

Book with Captain Shae - Erie West Sportfishing - You will not be disappointed!!!
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Book with Captain Shae - Erie West Sportfishing - You will not be disappointed!!!
Erie West Sportfishing
Erie West Sportfishing
Perfect place to start! It is not as big and rough as ocean charters, but it is very much in line with that experience!
Excellent
4.7 / 5
Perfect place to start! It is not as big and rough as ocean charters, but it is very much in line with that experience!
Dietrich's Sportfishing Charters – 28’
Dietrich's Sportfishing Charters – 28’
We experienced trolling at Linwood which is not very interactive for beginner anglers; if you are looking for being more active then you need to look someplace else.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
We experienced trolling at Linwood which is not very interactive for beginner anglers; if you are looking for being more active then you need to look someplace else.
Windrift Sport Fishing
Windrift Sport Fishing
Booked in May because that’s my birthday. Would book again in June or July because I hear the fishing is hotter. Still we had a ton of fun and plenty of fish to take home!
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Booked in May because that’s my birthday. Would book again in June or July because I hear the fishing is hotter. Still we had a ton of fun and plenty of fish to take home!
Dietrich's Sportfishing Charters – 28’
Dietrich's Sportfishing Charters – 28’
Keep an open mind. They don’t call it fishing for nothing. But with the right guide, you will be on fish.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Keep an open mind. They don’t call it fishing for nothing. But with the right guide, you will be on fish.
Show Up & Fish Charters
Show Up & Fish Charters
This was my first time on Lake Michigan, it was a good time but I don't have anything to compare to.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
This was my first time on Lake Michigan, it was a good time but I don't have anything to compare to.
Rod Boss Sportfishing
Rod Boss Sportfishing
We normally fish Michigan City since it's closer, but going to St. Joseph is worth it if you want Salmon and Steelhead. The St Joseph river outlet really makes a difference on the fishing, plus we didn't have to run out for an hour to find the deep water like we do in MC and Portage harbors on the same lake. More time fishing. The town is quaint and the views are amazing
Excellent
5.0 / 5
We normally fish Michigan City since it's closer, but going to St. Joseph is worth it if you want Salmon and Steelhead. The St Joseph river outlet really makes a difference on the fishing, plus we didn't have to run out for an hour to find the deep water like we do in MC and Portage harbors on the same lake. More time fishing. The town is quaint and the views are amazing
MJ's Sportfishing Charters – Lake Michigan
MJ's Sportfishing Charters – Lake Michigan
I wish there was a better way to screen guide services. We read reviews but not sure what to believe. In our case we selected Deitrich’s, which was fantastic, but it was a stab in the dark. A guide service is made by the quality of the guide…it’s always about people not the boat. Shane made the day for us.
Excellent
4.7 / 5
I wish there was a better way to screen guide services. We read reviews but not sure what to believe. In our case we selected Deitrich’s, which was fantastic, but it was a stab in the dark. A guide service is made by the quality of the guide…it’s always about people not the boat. Shane made the day for us.
Dietrich's Sportfishing Charters – 28’
Dietrich's Sportfishing Charters – 28’
I highly recommend captain Sam. He will put you on the fish and he is a pleasure to fish with.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
I highly recommend captain Sam. He will put you on the fish and he is a pleasure to fish with.
Fish N Fowl Guide Service
Fish N Fowl Guide Service
Go with Chromeseeker charters if it’s jigging or pulling crawler harness he now’s what he’s doing
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Go with Chromeseeker charters if it’s jigging or pulling crawler harness he now’s what he’s doing
Lake St Clar Walleye-Chromeseekers
Lake St Clar Walleye-Chromeseekers
Listen to the Captain. Their guidance is point on, and courteous. They really can turn you into a fisherman.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Listen to the Captain. Their guidance is point on, and courteous. They really can turn you into a fisherman.
Class Act Charters
Class Act Charters
If I was making recommendation to any angler fishing in Detroit for the first time, I would advise them to find Captain Rick. He will do the rest.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
If I was making recommendation to any angler fishing in Detroit for the first time, I would advise them to find Captain Rick. He will do the rest.
Eastside Fishing Charters Llc
Eastside Fishing Charters Llc
Bring warm clothes for the morning and sunscreen for the early afternoon. Also, don’t forget to pack a snack.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Bring warm clothes for the morning and sunscreen for the early afternoon. Also, don’t forget to pack a snack.
Legends Sport Fishing
Legends Sport Fishing
Pack for all weather and find a good place to stay a airbnb to keep fish fresh or cook that night
Excellent
4.7 / 5
Pack for all weather and find a good place to stay a airbnb to keep fish fresh or cook that night
Catchin Hell Charters – Detroit River
Catchin Hell Charters – Detroit River
Wish the weather was better. Is was colder than I would have liked. The fishing was better a week before.
Very good
4.0 / 5
Wish the weather was better. Is was colder than I would have liked. The fishing was better a week before.
Class Act Charters
Class Act Charters
This was our first time fishing the Detroit River through Fishing Booker and it turned out better than we could have imagined. It was great learning the technique of jigging for walleye using the quality rods and reels along with the jigs that were all provided to us during the charter. Just be prepared to enjoy the experience and the fish you hope to catch.
Excellent
4.7 / 5
This was our first time fishing the Detroit River through Fishing Booker and it turned out better than we could have imagined. It was great learning the technique of jigging for walleye using the quality rods and reels along with the jigs that were all provided to us during the charter. Just be prepared to enjoy the experience and the fish you hope to catch.
Fishing The Detroit River And Lake
Fishing The Detroit River And Lake
Dress warm. Listen to the captain, even if you fished your whole life,this is his playground. Bring snacks. Hold your lip right. Act like a nut.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Dress warm. Listen to the captain, even if you fished your whole life,this is his playground. Bring snacks. Hold your lip right. Act like a nut.
Get Hooked Fishing Charters
Get Hooked Fishing Charters
Have patience and trust you're captain. You may know what you're talking about but these guys live on the rivers
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Have patience and trust you're captain. You may know what you're talking about but these guys live on the rivers
Manistee River Fishing Company
Manistee River Fishing Company
Captain knew where to go ! We came back loaded and other (on their own) were empty handed !
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Captain knew where to go ! We came back loaded and other (on their own) were empty handed !
Get Hooked Fishing Charters
Get Hooked Fishing Charters
Dress appropriately for the weather conditions and expect to have a great time. Anyday on the water is a good day.
Excellent
5.0 / 5
Dress appropriately for the weather conditions and expect to have a great time. Anyday on the water is a good day.
Limitless Fishing Charters
Limitless Fishing Charters

Top Targeted Ice Fishing Species in Michigan