7 Best Largemouth Bass Fishing Lakes in Michigan

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Northern states like Michigan may not have the same reputation for largemouth bass fishing you’ll find down South, but don’t let that stop you.

Michigan’s diverse topography, abundant lakes and rivers, and massive fish populations make it the perfect destination for bass fishing enthusiasts.

You probably already know about Michigan’s legendary smallmouth bass fishing (see the link at the bottom of this article to find the best spots for smallies).

But from idyllic lakes to giant river systems, Michigan also is an excellent place for anglers to test their skills and bring trophy bucketmouths to their nets. 

The state shares a long border with Canada, so be aware of any special fishing regulations and keep track of where you might drift on those international lakes. 

Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair sits between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. It’s considered one of the best, if not the best, largemouth lakes in Michigan.

St. Clair’s extensive weed beds, submerged vegetation, and drop-offs provide prime habitats for largemouth bass to grow to massive sizes.

Some of the best spots to start your search are Anchor Bay, St. Clair Flats, and the mouth of the Detroit River. Be sure to check current regulations and be aware of the border with Canada that runs through the lake’s center.

Late spring, summer, and fall are the best times to find active largemouth bass cruising around the weeds, submerged trees, and rocks throughout the lake. 

Jigs, topwater, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics all do well here. Topwater baits are best in the early morning and evening throughout the summer. You’re likely to get a huge explosion cranking in a buzzbait in the early hours.

Late spring and the spawn brings the largies to the shallower weed beds to feed and nest. Giant fish can be caught at this time, though keep in mind the next generation of fish for the lake and consider catching and releasing the spawners.

Jigs and crankbaits are perfect during this time. 

Anglers can use various techniques, such as flipping and pitching jigs, topwater lures, and spinnerbaits, to entice the bass.

Spring and fall are particularly productive seasons, as the bass migrate to the shallower areas to feed.

Fall repeats the same pattern you saw in the spring as bass try to fatten up for the sluggish winter coming. They can be ultra-aggressive during the fall—epic fishing at its best.

If you downsize your minnow-imitating lures around all that cover, you’re also likely to find out why Lake St. Clair is among Michigan’s better crappie fishing lakes.

There’s no lack of amenities around the lake. Detroit sits on the southwest end and has everything you need for your trip. The farther northeast you head, the more RV parks and campgrounds you’ll find.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac are connected via a short canal. Each lake offers great-to-fantastic fishing opportunities for largemouth bass around the city of Cadillac, about an hour and a half north of Grand Rapids.

Both lakes offer a variety of structure. Drop-offs, submerged timber, and weed beds provide all the cover a thriving bass population needs.

Lake Mitchell spots to hit are the Clam River outflow, the backwaters, and the areas around Big Cove on the west side by Camp Torenta. Try flipping jigs, using swimbaits, and working jerkbaits around the east and west shores.

Lake Cadillac has some nice drop-offs along the edges of the weed beds near Kenwood Park and Mitchell State Park.

Successful techniques on Lake Cadillac include soft plastic worms, spinnerbaits, and working topwater lures during low light conditions like early morning and evening.

Launch your boat at any ramps around Lake Mitchell or from the state park and Cheryl’s Landing and Marina to fish Cadillac.

Lake Mitchell has some access for bank anglers along the east and west sides. These areas are full of bass.

Try frogging, jerkbaits, and shallow-diving crankbaits in these lakes, particularly during the early mornings and evenings.

Mitchell State Park sits between the two lakes and Clam Lake Canal and offers camping and other amenities. Or head to Hemlock Campground for RV and tent camping on the southwest side of Lake Mitchell.

The city of Cadillac has all the amenities you need. Be sure to stop in at Burke’s Waterfront for some great food and, as rumor has it, the best breakfast in town.

These lakes have excellent all-around fishing opportunities that go nearly all year, including offering some of the best ice fishing in Michigan.

Lake Charlevoix

Nestled in northwest Michigan, Lake Charlevoix is a beautiful setting for largemouth bass fishing.

This pristine lake is over 17,200 acres, providing plenty of room for anglers to explore its bays, coves, and rocky shorelines. The shallow weedy areas and submerged structure make it the perfect habitat for largemouth bass.

The upper and lower portions of the lake are well-known bass fishing hotspots. The Upper Arm and Ironton Narrows are particularly productive areas, offering a combination of weed beds, submerged timber, and drop-offs. 

Try Texas-rigged soft plastics and crankbaits. Both are known to do very well here. An epic day of fishing is there, and you just need to be willing to switch tactics if one isn’t working. 

Try some creature baits along the weed edges in Round Lake and Oyster Bay, both near the city of Charlevoix. They’re full of big bass and will provide you with hours of great fishing. These areas are particularly good with a drop shot or Carolina rig with a soft creature bait. 

Lake Charlevoix was voted the second-best fishing lake in the country in a 2012 USA Today poll, falling behind only Lake Tahoe. That means there are tons of recreational opportunities here.

It’s connected to Lake Michigan via the Pine River and gets a good number of salmon and steelhead venturing into its waters.

Young State Park is on the eastern side of Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City and has plenty of camping spots, beaches, and a boat launch.

Another base camp option is Fisherman’s Island State Park on the shoreline of Lake Michigan between Charlevoix and the mouth of Grand Traverse Bay, so it lives up to its name in the heart of some amazing fishing spots.

Be aware that you might find a longer, toothier and all-around meaner fish attacking your bass lures on occasion, as Lake Charlevoix also is among our top picks for muskie fishing in Michigan.

Yes, fishing at Charlevoix is next-level good.

Plenty of amenities surround the lake, and recreational opportunities are everywhere.

Lake Gogebic

Located in the Upper Peninsula, Lake Gogebic is a beautiful place with rolling hills and abundant forests. It also has massive largemouth bass. 

Lake Gogebic has some prime fishing spots that hold a lot of oversized largemouth bass.

The lake’s southern end, near the Bergland Bay, is known for its high bass population. Try your luck in the extensive weed beds, submerged structure, and rocky points in this area for a chance of landing a trophy bucketmouth.

Spinnerbaits, plastic worms, and creature baits are great options for targeting largemouth bass in Lake Gogebic. Work these along the weed edges, near submerged timber, and in the pockets within the weed beds.

Pay attention to the changing conditions and adjust your techniques to keep the bite going.

Spring and fall find the bass moving shallower, so target the shallow weed beds around the southern end. Plenty of fish will rise to a well-placed soft plastic or topwater.

By the way, those weed beds are also likely to be full of tasty yellow perch.

Camping at Gogebic is just about the best you can imagine. Beautiful and serene, there’s not much better out there.

Lake Gogebic State Park and plenty of lodging, amenities, and restaurants dot the area.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is renowned for its incredible smallmouth bass fishing but also is an excellent place to focus on largemouth opportunities.

The Michigan waters of Lake Erie, specifically around the western basin, provide excellent habitat for bass. The lake’s abundant forage base contributes to the growth and size of largemouth bass in this region.

When it comes to targeting largemouth bass in the Michigan waters of Lake Erie, anglers have several prime fishing spots to explore.

The weed beds along the shorelines, particularly near the mouths of rivers and creeks, provide excellent cover for largemouth bass. 

The best spots to target are around the Erie Metro Park, the Huron River mouth, and the Boles Harbor area.

When specifically targeting largies, focus your efforts on areas with submerged vegetation, such as the western shoreline, nearshore reefs, and rocky structures. Try drop-shotting, crankbaits, and Texas rigging soft plastics.

The size of the water is immense, so starting small and focusing on a specific area will help.

Camping, lodging, and amenities abound throughout the area. You shouldn’t have a problem finding anything you need.

Manistee Lake

Manistee Lake, located in northwest Michigan, is a lesser-known largemouth bass hot spot. With its scenic beauty, epic fishing opportunities, and abundant fish population, this lake offers the perfect playground for anglers.

As with other locations, bass will move into shallower areas as temperatures begin to rise in the spring and these fish move into spawning mode.

During the summer months, as water temperatures increase, bass tend to seek deeper, cooler areas. Explore drop-offs, points, and submerged structure in deeper water. 

Fall brings a resurgence of bass activity as they gorge on food to prepare for the winter. Transition areas, such as channels, drop-offs, and creek mouths, can provide epic fishing during the fall.

The lake has cattails, weeds, and pilings that offer perfect largemouth bass habitat. The top bait here is a white or chartreuse spinnerbait. Cover a lot of water until you locate active fish.

Penny Park on the north side of Eastlake is a hotspot with a boat launch. Cattail marshes, points, and pilings are plentiful along the shoreline, and anglers working the structure will find plenty of big bass throughout.

Another launch is across the lake at Arthur Street in Manistee. A third ramp is available near the Village of Stronach on the lake’s south end.

The town of Manistee has everything you need for the trip. Camping is available by the lake, with RV and tent spots available.

Manistee Lake is better known for its smallmouth bass and walleye fishing.