3 Reasons to Try Fishing in the Great Lakes

By Andy Whitcomb

Aug 02, 2021

These lakes are “great” not just because of their sizes. Here’s why fishing in the Great Lakes can be an awesome experience for all types of anglers, from beginners to experts.

There are five of these massive, ocean-like lakes along part of the U.S. northern border. I seemed to recall an acronym from an early geography class which was expected to help me remember their names but had to look it up. Oh, yes, “H.O.M.E.S.” Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. Here is why fishing in the Great Lakes is so awesome.


Whatever type of fishing you like, there is a Great Lakes fish species for you. Walleye and smallmouth bass may get most of the attention, but there are tremendous opportunities for yellow perch, white bass, muskie, or even kid-pleasing sunfish near shore with a simple bobber and worm setup. The rarely-targeted, hard-pulling freshwater drum, commonly caught by smallmouth and walleye anglers, also is worth noting. If you would like to try Great Lakes fly fishing, there are tributaries which offer excellent opportunities for steelhead, salmon, or brown trout. There are even anglers who enjoy wading shallow flats for the challenge of Great Lakes fly fishing for the wily “golden ghost,” aka the common carp.


And when you find the fish in one of the Great Lakes, they could be big. While following a Bassmaster Elite tournament on Lake Ontario recently, former tournament angler, Davy Hite, shared that in the early ‘90’s, anglers commonly weighed 2 ½-3 pound smallmouth bass in competition. However, thanks in part to the arrival of uninvited gobies to the Great Lakes, anglers frequently land giant smallmouth in the 4-6 pound range. Salmon, lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, walleye, and freshwater drum frequently exceed double digit weights in the Great Lakes. And then there is a chance at hooking the biggest fish in the Great Lakes, the lake sturgeon, which may be 6-8 feet long and weigh a couple hundred pounds.


These lakes are enormous. There are hundreds of miles of shoreline and lots of access points for fishing in the Great Lakes. Take off boating in open water, and one can find large areas with a variety of fishing structure such as reefs, boulders, flats, and aquatic vegetation. Because the Great Lakes region includes 8 states, (and Canada) fishing regulations vary greatly too, so make sure you have the right fishing license(s) and are following the correct state(s) regulations.

If you get a chance to try fishing in the Great Lakes, you too just might find yourself commenting that these lakes are awesome, eh?

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.