For most anglers, catching crappie is a rite of passage. And although Michigan is known for its fantastic yellow perch and walleye fishing…crappie is very popular too.
In this article, I’m going to cover 6 of the best lakes for Michigan crappie fishing…a few of the lakes are small…some are very large…and one or two you may have never heard of!
Union Lake is very well known throughout the state of Michigan for producing giant bluegill, bass, and walleye. This means its crappie fishing often goes overlooked. While this lake produces big bass and walleye, it also consistently produces crappie over 14 inches.
Union Lake is 465 acres and is deep in many areas. This does not mean, however, that you can’t find shallow areas where the crappie will go to spawn. These shallow areas that are around 10 feet in depth are the ideal place to begin looking for spawning crappie in the spring.
Local knowledge will tell you to focus on the south and east sides of the lake. These areas also make for good winter fishing grounds, as Union Lake is an excellent winter crappie lake.
Because of the deep water, you can find plenty of great areas to catch hungry crappie.
Try targeting crappie with live minnows, but you can also find success by using worms, grubs, and small spoons (fish them slow!)
The live bait tends to be the best bet for ice fishing, while plastic grubs, spoons, and even crankbaits are great for spring fishing.
If you simply want to catch large numbers of crappie and don’t care about their size, look no further than Kent Lake.
This reservoir has plenty of fish, although none of them will be huge. Anglers here will instead catch plenty of 8 to 10-inch fish that are the perfect size for eating.
Kent Lake features over 1000 acres to fish on and is located within Kensington Metropark. Because of its location and all of the easy access around the lake, it is extremely popular and sees plenty of fishing pressure.
This leads to the smaller sizes, but that doesn’t mean that the crappie here are hard to find!
For springtime crappie, focus on the coves, channels, and bays found throughout the lake (especially along the north and east sides).
There are two main boat launches and public fishing areas, so you may have to get a little creative to avoid some of the usual fishing pressure.
Although Kent Lake sees plenty of recreational anglers, you can still find great success. Stick with natural-colored lures and fish them slowly.
Fish in and around any structures that you can find, as the crappie will be attracted to these areas due to the lack of other vegetation and cover.
Houghton Lake is Michigan’s largest natural inland lake and sits at just over 22,000 acres. Despite its size, this lake is relatively shallow and has plenty of vegetation throughout. The weed beds, brush, and trees create a perfect habitat for both black and white crappie.
This lake has boat access points all around the lake, with plenty of different canals and boat harbors to fish as soon as you get there.
These are great areas to concentrate on during the spring. Focus on pitching jigs or grubs around any of the vegetation in these areas for best results.
Houghton Lake holds excellent numbers of both white and black crappie, with plenty of them being keepers that are 10 to 12 inches in length.
With a little bit of dedication, you can also find plenty of 13 and 14-inch fish with a few rare catches growing close to 17 inches.
You will find plenty of great public access points to fish from the shore as well. With around 30 miles of shoreline, you can easily find places to get away from other anglers.
For even better fishing, kayak or canoe fishing is among the best in the state in the shallow waters and harbors of Houghton Lake
Cass Lake is a smaller reservoir in Michigan, but this 1280-acre lake holds many different species of fish.
While bass are the most popular type of fish in the lake, the crappie are often overlooked. With around 25 miles of shoreline, you will have plenty of places to fish and catch them as well.
For an urban lake, Cass Lake is fairly deep at 122 feet. There are still plenty of shallow flats and weed beds that you can fish in order to find crappie. Back Bay in particular is known for having great vegetation areas that hold large numbers of fish.
Other notable areas that are known for holding crappie include Chinch Bug Island, Coles Bay, and Wards Point.
All of these locations are great options for spring fishing when the crappie are staging themselves in shallow water. Try fishing at depths of 20 feet or less.
Lake St. Clair
Lake St. Clair is world-famous for its incredible fishing. Multiple state records have come out of this lake, and its large size lends to plenty of different options depending on your fishing style.
With 430 square miles of lake to fish, you can fish from the shore, a boat, or a kayak and still find great crappie habitat.
You will only find white crappie in this lake, but they can grow to some great sizes. Many 14 and 15-inch fish are regularly caught, with some growing even larger on occasion.
If you do not want to venture around the lake in your own boat or kayak, there are even many different charter boats that will take you out in search of schools of crappie.
If you ask any locals, however, they will tell you that Lake St. Clair is best fished in the winter out on the ice. Mitchell’s Bay and Sturgeon Hole are both popular ice fishing areas on the lake that can be accessed as soon as the water freezes over.
And don’t pass up ice fishing for crappie at night! It’s a right of passage in this area!
In the western portion of the state, you will find the beautiful Hamlin Lake. This lake is a part of Ludington State Park, so you will find great access to bathrooms, boat launches, fishing areas, and fish cleaning stations.
Hamlin Lake is over 12 miles long and 5,000 acres in size. The northern portion of the lake tends to produce the most crappie, as the water is much more shallow and flat.
You will generally have as much space as you want thanks to the large size of the lake.
This lake is another Michigan ice fishing hotspot, although the spring crappie bite may also be considered the best in the state.
Focusing your efforts with small crankbaits or jigs in 15 to 25 feet of water will no doubt bring plenty of bites when the crappie are active during the winter and the spring.
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