Fishing in the Keweenaw

Posted on June 15th, 2016

Well you made it here (or are planning to come here), now how do you spend your time? Really, what IS there to do here anyway? A real fisherman wouldn’t have to contemplate this, not even for a moment. He knows he’s in one the best fishing places on the planet – just look at map to see all the water surrounding the Keweenaw. Under the surface of those waters, there are FISH! One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. (I’m not so sure about the red fish and blue fish, but from somewhere in the depths of this fisherman’s mind, that saying came to the surface (pun intended.)

FatherDaughterWhether you prefer inland lake fishing, stream fishing, or Lake Superior charters, the Keweenaw has what you’re looking for. Some of the many inland lakes to fish for northern pike, bass, walleye, perch and panfish are within an hour’s drive of Houghton: Portage and Torch Lake in Houghton County; Gratiot Lake, Lac La Belle and Lake Medora in Keweenaw County. All with good populations of fish. If you specifically want to target walleye, the best lakes are Portage and Gratiot. Portage holds some larger fish, while Gratiot seems to produce more numbers. Troll slowly with a good old crawler harness, or the newer reef runner stick baits. A 1/4 oz. or 1/2 oz. jig with a piece of crawler for vertical jigging also produces walleye.

If it’s brook trout you’re after, the Tobacco, Montreal and Little Silver Rivers offer up some decent “brookie” fishing. Try small Panther Martin or Meps spinners in the bigger holes, and worms on a #6 hook in the tight spots.
Copper Harbor offers the “fishery planted” Splake Trout, which is a hybrid between a brook trout and lake trout. They spook easy, but are fun to catch and excellent to eat when you hook into them. Spring, early summer and fall are the best times to go after them. It gets harder to catch them mid-summer, when the water warms.

If you like to fish for perch, bring your small boat and sense of adventure to the tip of the peninsula and fish in Schlatter Lake. It’s small JonLakerand shallow with an island in the middle, surrounded by fish waiting to become your table fare. There, you might also land a decent size Northern Pike. Casting Daredevils or other spoons works for pike, and the perch will nibble worms fished under a bobber.

The “Portage” and Lac La Belle both provide some really good Small Mouth Bass fishing which can be caught in a variety of ways: tube baits, crank baits, crawlers, minnows and even spoons trolled at 2 mph or less all produce great results. The main thing is to find them when they are hungry and get the bait in front of them.

Need a license? You will if you are 17 or older… Michigan and non residents pay $10 per day, or $30 for 3 days. Buy online, or locally at Northwoods Sporting Goods in Hancock (906) 482-5210, Indian Country Sports in L’Anse (906) 524-6518, and Harter’s Party Store in Calumet (906) 337-0913. All of them have rods, reels, tackle and licenses. Ask questions about where to go and how to catch the species you prefer.

Of course you can enjoy catching fish without your own gear, AND you don’t even have to know how to fish – just go to and click on your preferred fishing location to find a licensed charter captain. He’ll gladly hook YOU up with some of the best fishing the Keweenaw has to offer.

When is the BEST time to fish? Here is my answer to this most perplexing, most pondered and most researched question: “Whenever, and as often as you can!”

P.S. Please do your share of preserving our fishery. Keep only what you will consume and release the rest.
P.P.S. Check out Michigan’s Catch and Cook program at where you can take your catch from a licensed charter captain and bring it to a local restaurant to have them cook it up.

Captain Brian Helminen
USCG Certified Captain,
Sand Point Charters, LLC
906-370-2257 or

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