@Matt Schroderus

Ice fishing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Some folks may shake their heads when you say you are going to spend hours sitting on a frozen lake in the Upper Peninsula. But they haven’t felt the tug of the line, the heart-pounding focus it demands to reel in a scrappy, 10-lb. walleye, guiding it through a hole in the ice. Nor have they experienced the soothing quiet. Something so hard to find back home. That’s why we recommend ice fishing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a naturally peaceful time! 

Fish for FREE in mid-February

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers a free fishing weekend in mid-February (Feb. 18-19 2023). On these dates, all fishing license fees will be waived and visitors can enjoy fishing on both inland and Great lakes waters for all specifies of fish. All fishing regulations still apply. An extra perk is that a Michigan Recreation Passport will not be required for entry into state parks and boating access during this time. LEARN MORE

The best place to ice fish in Michigan

Enjoy this winter sport anywhere in the U.P., typically from December to March, and sometimes as late as April and May. You can fish on any of the 4,300 frozen inland lakes plus the ice-covered bays of Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior. 

Taking up the sport requires little more than drilling a hole through the ice, sitting on a turned over bucket and gripping a fishing pole in your gloved hands. Or it can be as lavish as joining a friend or two in a shanty decked out with all of the comforts of home. The choice is all yours!

The top U.P. ice fishing locations

There are many bodies of frozen water to choose from, but here are some of the most popular places to drop a line. 

Eastern Upper Peninsula

Drummond Island, Big Manistique and South Manistique Lakes, and bays near Sault Ste. Marie

Central Upper Peninsula

Au Train Lake, Squaw Lake, Munising Bay and Big and Little Bays de Noc

Western Upper Peninsula

Keweenaw Bay, Lake Gogebic (largest inland lake in the U.P.), Bob Lake, Portage Lake and Lac Vieux Desert

What you’ll catch

Many anglers claim the flavor of their cold-water catch is exceptional, especially walleye, whitefish, northern pike, rainbow and lake trout, perch, yellowbellies, splake, bluegill, sunfish and crappie.

Ice fishing regulations and reports

Before getting out on the frozen water, read the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Fishing Report and check their ice fishing page for information. Make sure that your Michigan fishing licenses are up to date, too. Anyone 17 years of age or older must have a license. All regulations for this year’s season can be found in the fishing guide. It’s updated annually! 

Practice ice safety

It is important to know the tips to keep yourself and your group safe before you go out on the ice. There isn’t a specific thickness in inches to be looking for, but you can determine if the ice is safe based on the color. The DNR encourages testing thickness and ice quality using a spud, needle bar or auger. Avoid milky ice made of melted and refrozen snow. Instead, look for clear ice with a bluish tint. You also want to stay off ice with slush on top as it is not frozen from the bottom and only half strong. Read more about how to determine safe ice, what to do if you break through and helpful tools on this Michigan DNR page

Plan your fishing trip now!

Don’t have your own tackle box and equipment? No problem! Check our fishing charter page for winter service on the frozen lake. Then, book your stay and pack your layers. We hope you enjoy your time on the water and catch something big.