Fishing information in Mackinaw City can be found at Coffman’s Hardware on Central Avenue at 231-436-5650. If you fail to catch fish you have the option of buying fresh or smoked fish at one of the fish houses. If you would like to visit one of the state’s fish hatcheries the nearest is at Oden, just 28 miles south, and it is quite interesting with tours and a nature hike.
Ice fishing is a sport for the dedicated fisherman. This is usually done in the protected bays around the marinas.
Check with the Coast Guard for ice thicknesses.
Fish by Location
Carp Lake (Paradise Lake):
Paradise Lake is a large inland lake consisting of 1,900 acres located just 5 miles south of Mackinaw City on US 31. There is public parking and trailer parking available at the public access site. It also has a marina where you can rent a small boat. You can expect to catch large mouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, small mouth bass, walleye, and perch. Be sure to bring plenty of different bait and tackle. There is also a bass fishing tournament in early June that is lots of fun.
This creek drains a vast wetland and then runs through Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, emptying into Lake Huron along US-23.
French Farm Lake:
French Farm Lake is an undeveloped inland lake just 2 miles south of Mackinaw City. The lake consists of 585 acres. It is shallow with a mucky bottom making wading treacherous. This lake is contains bass, perch, pike, and blue gill. Please respect the environment and watch for wildlife. Loons and eagles are seen regularly.
Carp Lake River:
If a fast moving stream six miles west along Lake Michigan. At the right times you might catch brook trout and salmon. Some years it has smelt runs in April.
Waters around the offshore islands:
If you have the deep water fishing equipment and a boat capable of handling the waves of the big lake, make your way to the northeast side of Bois Blanc Island. The island is due east of Mackinaw City and the best launching point is one of Mackinaw City’s Marinas. At times, this can be the best salmon, lake trout, brown trout, and steel head fishing in the state. Be aware of the commercial fishing nets often set in this area. Fishing charters for this area are available, check with the Chamber of Commerce.
Mackinaw City Fishing Pier:
The Fishing Pier, off the outer tip of the Mackinaw City Dock, is 1,100 feet from the shore yet the water remains shallow with a sandy bottom. Fish structure has been purposely placed on the bottom. This is a great place to wet a line but don’t expect to catch too many fish. The benches and safety railing make this a safe location with easy walking access from the large paved parking lot. It is handicapped accessible.
Fish by Season
Here is what you can expect to catch in the Straits area by season:
- Smelt runs can be found in the Carp River and at Mill Creek - check locally before planning a trip
- Steel head can be found in the Carp River and the Cheboygan River
- Trout can be found in the Carp River and Mill Creek
May - June
- Small mouth bass can be found in the shallows off Waugoshance Point in Wilderness State Park, in Carp Lake, and French Farm Lake
- Pan fish, pike and walleye can be caught at Carp Lake, French Farm Lake, and in the Cheboygan River.
June - September
- This is the season for lake trout and salmon that can be caught in the offshore waters of the Straits of Mackinac.
December - March
- In the winter you can use tip-ups and spearing to catch pike, walleye and pan fish at French Farm and Carp Lake.