Fishing in the “D”

Detroit River Walleyes

Mike Martin with a two man limit of walleye on the Detroit River.

Detroit, Michigan is known across the country for high crime rate, low real estate values and bankruptcy. For the sporting world, Detroit hosts the Red Wings who could trademark the word “WIN”, the Tigers who are a historically great team, the Pistons who have a good team for a couple seasons and then about 5 without, and finally the Lions who have been rebuilding as long as I’ve been alive. But, what most of the country overlooks is that Motown has some of the best freshwater fishing opportunities. Just about any fish can be found and in great size and abundance.

First let’s look at the Detroit River. From March 15th-April 26th, when most of Michigan is closed to walleye, pike and bass fishing, The Detroit is open for walleye and overflowing with monsters. This is the time of year when 10 pounders are easiest to find and 3 or 4 man limits are met within a couple hours some days. The river stays active until about mid-May, depending on the weather. The rest of the year perch, white bass, bluegill, rock bass, small and largemouth bass, pike, musky, crappie and channel cats can be found. Trophy sized fish of all of these are caught regularly. Being that it is easily accessed and the many fishing tournaments, the D can have heavy pressure, but this fishery can support it and still produce.

Next on our list is the crystal clear Lake St. Clair, which lies to the northeast of the Motor City. LSC is connected to Lake Huron to the north by the Saint Clair River and to Lake Erie on the south by the Detroit River. It is roughly 425 square miles and has an average depth of 11 feet. With the high water flow into and out of the lake it continually receives an abundance of fresh nutrients. This lake hosts all the main species of fish that were included in the Detroit River and not to mention one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the U.S. It is a place where small and largemouth average 2 lbs. and on some days 40-50 can be boated in a few hours. Beyond the bass fishing, it is said that Lake Saint Clair is one of the world’s best Musky fishing lakes. That’s right, in the world. Muskies over 30″ are everywhere and many in the 40″-50″ range are caught every year.

Jump to the south of Hockey Town and you’ll find Lake Erie. This Great Lake really needs no explanation. It’s well known as a world class walleye fishery. Erie produces large ‘eyes and perch all year long. It is lesser known for it’s salmon and steelhead, but produces many and has solid runs up the many tributaries around Detroit.

Combine these three fisheries with the many streams and rivers and over 400 inland lakes in the surrounding counties and you have an unbelievable fishing city. The economy of Detroit may have it’s ups and downs, but for the fisherman it will always be paradise.

For more information on fishing in Detroit or anywhere in Michigan visit