Take a look below to see our featured smallmouth bass fishing destinations in Michigan.
The Alpena, Michigan area is home to some outstanding smallmouth bass fishing and it gets a lot less pressure than many of the other popular places to fish in the state. Inland, anglers can catch good numbers of smallmouth bass with some trophy fish too from a variety of lakes. Hubbard Lake, Long Lake and Grand Lake are all good options for smallies. If you want to go out onto Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay, you can find good numbers of bass with some huge bass too.
Bays de Noc
Smallmouth bass are often overlooked in the bays because of the awesome walleye fishing here, but there is some very good bass fishing here as well. The shallower rocky areas will hold good numbers of smallmouth bass in the spring and early summer. From late summer through fall, the better bite tends to come in deeper water along the drop-offs. Anglers usually target walleye here, but in addition to the walleye and smallmouth bass, you can also catch northern pike, perch and crappie too.
Drummond Island, MI
The smallmouth bass fishing is very good around Drummond Island. With all of the rocky shorelines, you can find smallmouth bass all over the place and this area has some very big smallmouth bass available to go along with good numbers of fish. While you can target smallmouth bass in this area from spring through fall, the better bite is definitely from late spring through early summer as these fish move into the shallows all around the island. Anglers also target walleye, northern pike, salmon, trout and perch.
Grand Haven, MI
Lake Michigan has some smallmouth bass in this area. Find the rocks and you’ll have a chance to find some smallmouth bass. In this area, Lake Michigan is better for salmon and trout, so smallmouth bass are definitely a secondary species of fish here. However, the Grand River is home to some very good smallmouth bass fishing and some of the inland lakes also give anglers the chance to target smallmouth.
Houghton Lake Area
This area has a few lakes that offer good fishing. For smallmouth bass, Houghton Lake & Higgins Lake are the places to go here. You will find good numbers of bass with some very big bass too.
Indian River Area
The Indian River area is home to Burt Lake & Mullet Lake. These lakes are big, deep and they have very clear water. Anglers catch a variety of fish in both lakes, but the smallmouth bass fishery definitely stands out. It isn’t always easy to catch a lot of them due to the clear water and plenty of fishing pressure, but if you can figure out these lakes, you can catch good numbers of them and some very big fish live in both lakes.
Iron Mountain, MI
Iron Mountain, Michigan does offer some very good places to fish for smallmouth bass. The Menominee River gets a lot of attention from smallmouth bass anglers. Good numbers of bass can be caught here and some very big bass call the Menominee River their home. Some other lakes to target smallmouth bass are Michigamme Reservoir, Fortune Lakes, Ice Lake, Ottawa Lake, Paint River, Peavy Pond and Smoky Lake.
Iron River, MI
Iron River, Michigan is located just northeast of Eagle River, Wisconsin. The Iron River area doesn’t attract nearly as many people as in Eagle River, Wisconsin, but there are plenty of places to stay in Iron River and there are plenty of lakes that offer good fishing for walleye, northern pike, muskie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and a variety of panfish. There are some good smallmouth bass lakes just over the border in Wisconsin as well as on the Michigan side too.
Smallmouth Bass are usually not targeted nearly as much up here as walleye, northern pike, salmon and trout, but smallmouth are definitely present in many of the lakes up here. In Portage Lake and Torch Lake, there are large enough populations of them that if you target them, you should be able to catch some fish and there are some good-sized fish available also. Anglers also target walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, perch and sunfish on the inland lakes. Salmon and trout are common on Lake Superior.
Lake Cadillac & Lake Mitchell
These lakes are good for a variety of fish and smallmouth bass are still here in good numbers. The largemouth bass population has exploded in recent years, so you’re going to catch more largemouth bass than smallmouth bass depending where you are fishing on the lakes.
Lake Gogebic is known as a good smallmouth bass fishing lake. There are a lot of 2 to 3 pound bass in the lake with some bigger fish in the 4 to 5 pound range as well. Many anglers will come to this lake to fish for walleye and smallmouth bass and in some of the rocky areas on the lake, you can catch both species of fish in the same location. Late spring and early summer are probably the best times to target smallmouth bass because they are all over the shallows, but if you know how to fish deeper water, you should be able to catch some nice fish here in the summer and fall as well.
Lake St. Clair
This is one of the best smallmouth bass lakes in the country. For numbers and big fish, it’s tough to beat Lake St. Clair. This lake can be tough on first time anglers due to the fact that it’s a fairly flat late that lacks the obvious structure that most good smallmouth bass lakes have. It’s just one of those lakes where you need to cover some water to find the active bass and once you find them, you may catch fish up to and above 6 pounds on this lake. Fish in the 2 to 4 pound range are common on Lake St. Clair. Anglers also catch largemouth bass, walleye, perch and muskie here too.
Les Cheneaux Islands
The Les Cheneaux Islands has some good smallmouth bass fishing available. Smallmouth bass can be found throughout the islands around the rocky bottoms. Good numbers of smallmouth bass are available with some big fish available too. The late spring and early summer are the better times to target smallmouth bass here as they invade the shallows in large numbers getting ready to spawn. You can also catch northern pike, perch, salmon, trout and whitefish in this area.
The Manistee, Michigan area is home to some incredible fishing. The salmon and trout fishery gets a lot more attention than the smallmouth bass and it should. It is a world class fishery here on Lake Michigan. For the smallmouth bass anglers, you do have a lot of options while visiting this area. You can fish the Manistee River if river fishing is your thing. There are several lakes to fish such as Arcadia, Bear, Hamlin, Manistee and Portage. The rocky shorelines along the Lake Michigan lakefront are also home to some huge bass early in the season.
Manistique Lakes, MI
The Manistique Lakes Area is a popular vacation destination in Michigan. With all the lakes here, there is plenty of outdoor recreation for you and your family here. The six major lakes are: North Manistique Lake at 1,722 acres; Big Manistique Lake at 10,130 acres; South Manistique Lake at 4,001 acres; Milakokia Lake at 1,956 acres; Lake Ann Louise at 311 acres; and Millecoquins Lake at 1,890 acres. The area lakes are home to plenty of smallmouth bass and some big bass can be caught here too.
Smallmouth bass can be found in the Manistique River, out in Lake Michigan and in many of the inland lakes in the Manistique area. Nearby, Bay de Noc is known as an awesome walleye fishery, but smallmouth bass can be found here as well. A short drive to the northeast is the Manistique Lakes area (Curtis, MI) and you can find some smallmouth bass in several of the lakes in this area as well.
Some anglers target smallmouth bass on Lake Michigan, but the salmon and trout are here in much great numbers in this part of the lake. You can also find some smallmouth bass in Muskegon Lake. The Muskegon River is the place to go for most anglers though if they want to consistently target smallmouth bass here and catch some quality fish too. It’s a very good river for smallmouth bass and there are some fishing guides available to help put you on some of the better fish.
Saginaw Bay is a large bay covering 1,143 square miles. It is one of the most popular places to fish for walleye in the United States. The bay has some very good fishing for smallmouth bass too, although, many anglers do not target them. Big fish up to and above 5 pounds are possible here from spring through fall.
Saulte Ste. Marie
Smallmouth bass are available in this area. Most anglers prefer to target them in the St. Mary’s River. Spring and fall are the best times to fish for them, but you can catch them through the summer as well. Some big fish are in this river system.
Traverse City, MI
This is one of the better destinations to fish for smallmouth bass. The area is beautiful and the bays are loaded with good numbers of 2 to 3 pound smallmouth bass and fish up to and above 5 pounds are fairly common. Fish up to and above 7 pounds are definitely possible here. It’s just an awesome big fish destination for smallmouth bass.
There are so many lakes up here and many of the lakes have solid bass fishing. Many are better largemouth bass lakes, but there are some good smallmouth lakes too. If you don’t need to be in your nice fishing boat, take a look at the Sylvania Wilderness area for some unbelievable fishing for smallmouth bass. Most of the lakes in this area do not allow motors, so you have to bring the canoes, kayaks or inflatables to fish here. These lakes offer some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state.