October 11, 2019
As one of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan earns the reputation as one of the best fisheries in the country. Recreational and Professional Captains get their lines in the water as often as possible, trolling for Salmon, Trout, Steelhead, and Walleye. But what about everyone else who may not have access to the deeper waters of Lake Michigan? Never fear… the vast shoreline offers plenty of opportunities for those non-boating anglers. Whether it’s from the shore, seawalls or piers, anglers without a boat have just as much opportunity to cast their lines in the abundant waters of Lake Michigan.
Whether you’re in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois or Indiana, access to Lake Michigan is available for your fishing adventure. With over 1,660 miles of shoreline and more than a hundred cities dotting the coastline, there are tons of options for Lake Michigan shore fishing. Here’s a quick list of our favorite Lake Michigan fishing piers and seawalls:
You may not think of fishing when you think of Chicago, or even when you think of Navy Pier, but it’s true… the famous Navy Pier is a great location to cast your lines when fishing Lake Michigan. Navy Pier is 3,300 feet long and houses a variety of attractions for tourists and locals alike. Anglers typically fish along the pier’s Southwest wall and the always popular North Dock area. Here you can fish for Salmon, Bass, and Trout from Spring until the end of the year before the water freezes over. Perch in the winter is a local favorite when fishing Navy Pier. It’s free to fish at the pier and when you show your valid Illinois fishing license your parking is validated. After your day of fishing you can visit the many shops and restaurants of Navy Pier, making a great day even better!
The Grand Haven port is like most Lake Michigan harbors, with two sea walls running parallel to each other at the mouth of the port. And like other Lake Michigan ports, there is a South Pier and North Pier, each located on either side of the mouth of a river as it channels into Lake Michigan. In Grand Haven, the South Pier is accessible from Grand Haven State Park, while North Pier is accessible at the end of North Shore Drive. Each sea wall runs just over 100 feet into Lake Michigan, offering access to Salmon, Steelhead, Brown Trout, Whitefish, Sheepshead, Smallmouth Bass, and Catfish depending on the weather. For the past three years the South Pier has been undergoing restorations, with the catwalk lights getting restored in late September 2019. The South Pier also boasts housing of the iconic Grand Haven lighthouse and pier-house at the end. Both offer fantastic fishing and are favorites among residents and visitors to Grand Haven.
Holland, Michigan is known for its iconic and photogenic Big Red Lighthouse, located at Holland State Park. This fishing spot is located south of Grand Haven and has a very similar layout, with twin sea walls jutting out into Lake Michigan. Holland State Park gives access to the north sea wall and offers an excellent place for shore fishing. Lake Macatawa flows into the channel to Lake Michigan, and there is some great fishing in Lake Macatawa as well, making Holland a great place for anglers to visit. Walleye, Perch, Bluegills, Bass, and Sheepshead are favorites among those casting their lines in Holland, Michigan.
On the west coast of Lake Michigan are more great harbors for anglers looking to fish from the shore. Port Washington is one of the smaller ports on Lake Michigan, located between Milwaukee and Sheboygan. But there’s a couple of great places to cast from the shore to catch your fair share of Salmon. Some anglers like the easy access of Rotary Park, but most choose to fish Port Washington Pier, located at Coal Dock Park. It’s not a traditional pier, but more of a seawall that runs over 900ft along the harbor. But it’s a favorite among local anglers, and many visitors have been known to cast right along with them.
The harbor of Sheboygan, Wisconsin also has two piers: the south pier at King Park and the north pier at Deland Park. This is the northernmost pier on our list, and you’ll see the ice come sooner here than other Lake Michigan ports. Both piers offer good fishing, especially around the golden hours of sunrise or sunset when the fish are most active. Anglers fishing the shore of Sheboygan can find Trout, Salmon, and a good amount of Whitefish at the end of their lines. And make sure you have a good, long-handled net as the pier is 4-5ft. off the water. After your day of fishing, be sure to check out the local restaurants and stores along the harbor for some good food and great shopping!
No matter which Lake Michigan Pier you find yourself at, know that as the water temperatures drop, the game fish move closer to the shore. This offers anglers a higher concentration of fish to target and creates a higher probability of success. Of course shore fishing doesn’t need to be done from a pier, you can grab your gear and just head to the shoreline (just be on the lookout for beachgoers or other anglers). But the benefit of the Lake Michigan piers or seawalls is the access to the fish, sometimes as much as 1,000ft closer to the fish. And once you catch your Salmon or Trout, you can plan for a tasty lunch or dinner. Looking to take your Lake Michigan fishing adventure to the next level? Search for local captains today!
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