When Is Bass Fishing in Michigan Best?

when is bass fishing in michigan

Michigan has many world-class lakes that grow trophy-sized largemouth bass. They are known to put up a good fight when hooked and are an exciting fish to target with light line and finesse tactics.

The state’s bass season opens the Saturday before Memorial Day in Lower Peninsula waters and May 15 in the Upper. This early catch-and-immediately-release season is an opportunity for bass anglers to hone their skills before the official opener.


Michigan borders four of the Great Lakes, so it’s no surprise that some of the best fishing in the state is found in its lakes and rivers. Around this time of year, anglers can find brook trout in rivers like the Pere Marquette near Ludington or Manistee, as well as early-season Coho Salmon and Bass in Lake Michigan’s western basin.

Anglers can also take advantage of a spring Walleye and Northern Pike opening in the Lower Peninsula, as well as a new all-year bass season in southern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. This is the first time that this fish has ever been open all year in the two lakes, which are both important spawning areas for bass and other species.

Anglers can also try to catch round whitefish, a commercially important species, by spearing them underwater starting April 1 in certain areas of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. This is a new option for people looking to catch these fish, but it requires a no-cost underwater license and reporting of effort and harvest to the DNR.


Michigan’s waters are a bass angler’s paradise. The state’s thousands of lakes offer great opportunities for catching quality largemouth and trophy smallmouth bass. It also boasts the top 10 best lakes in the nation for trophy-size smallmouth bass, according to Bassmaster magazine.

In summer, bass are post-spawn and hungry after the rigors of reproducing. Their feeding tends to be more focused on scavenging for food, especially in shallow water. Anglers often catch bass in the 3 to 4-pound range when using a variety of top-water lures in weedy areas near structure.

Anglers can also find success during the summer by targeting deep structure, such as bridges, rock piles and humps. The key is to avoid heavy recreational boat traffic in these areas, which can stress fish populations and impact fishing success. As a result, the DNR recommends fishing in the morning and at night to reduce the number of boats on the lake. The DNR also recommends practicing catch-and-release when pursuing these fish to help the population stay healthy.


Bass still inhabit shallow waters in the Fall, though they’re less likely to be associated with weed beds and more often associated with ledges or drop-offs. The same general areas that produce in the spring can produce all Fall long, though, as bass chase baitfish to their hiding spots and become enticed by crankbaits, spinnerbaits and even surface plugs.

With air temperatures dropping and the days getting shorter, bass know that it’s time to start preparing for Winter. As weed growth thins and protective cover dries, bass shift to deeper water but usually remain near to where healthy weed remains, particularly inside turns in the weed line that collect bass like magnets.

Bass fishing during the Fall is a great way to avoid the cold and enjoy some excitement before the season closes in December for Lower Peninsula anglers and May 15 for Upper Peninsula anglers on Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. Remember that it is catch and release only for largemouth and smallmouth bass statewide until these dates, after which they can be kept in Michigan waters.


Bass are found in most lakes and many rivers statewide, with Largemouths typically associated with weedier waters and reservoirs with standing timber while Smallmouths tend to be more closely tied to rocky habitats. In spring, both species move shallow for spawning and are easily located and enticed into biting by anglers with the right bait.

Once spawning is completed, the bass move out to deeper water but remain fairly active in shallow areas close to shore. They are especially fond of structure such as boat docks and riprap banks.

While Michigan isn’t known as a big bass state, it’s not uncommon for experienced anglers to pull five-, six- and seven-pound Smallmouths from the state’s waters. These fish are quality table fare and also make for an excellent challenge for tournament fishermen.