Salmon Fishing in Pure Michigan

Did you know that there are about 146 kinds of fish that can be found in Michigan? Bass, walleye, pike, perch and more fill the waters of the state all year and today, the focus is on salmon, which can be found in the tributaries of the Great Lakes virtually all year long.

Take a look below to learn more about four different types of salmon in Michigan. For tips on catching fish, along with more information on fishing regulations, records and reports, check out the fishing section at Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources Web site.


Chinook Salmon:
The Chinook are the largest of the Pacific salmon, and have been stocked in the Great Lakes for more than 130 years. Because they generally prefer cooler temperatures, Chinook are caught in deeper waters. Chinooks begin their upstream migration in late summer and are usually present in catchable numbers by mid August.  Lake Michigan is your best bet for Chinook salmon, with anything in excess of 20 pounds being considered a good-size fish.

Coho Salmon:
According to the Department of Natural Resources, Coho salmon is “the fish that really started the Great Lakes salmon fishery.” You can catch Coho in Lake Michigan throughout the year, though the best fisheries on the lake's east side occur in early spring and again in late summer and early fall. Coho can also be found around the Platte River in northern Michigan much of the year, and migrating fish are caught in the St. Joseph River as late as Christmas.

Pink Salmon:
The smallest of the Pacific salmon (the state record for a pink salmon is a little more than eight pounds), pink salmon established themselves in Lake Huron in the 1950s. The best places for pink salmon are the Lake Huron tributaries, in the Carp River in the southeastern Upper Peninsula and the St. Marys River. Fun fact: the pink salmon ordinarily spawn every two years, but enough one and three-year-old salmon spawn to make spawning runs an annual occurrence,  with the largest runs occurring during odd-numbered years.

Atlantic Salmon:
Originally from the North Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic salmon are known for their leaping and fighting ability. There is a fishery in Torch Lake, where flyfishers find success fishing at the mouths of tributaries as they prepare for spawning. However, the primary place for Atlantic salmon fishing is the St. Marys River. The salmon begin spawning in mid-summer and flyfishers pursue the fish in the fast-flowing rapids of the river.