Michigan offers anglers epic perch fishing year-round. The best yellow perch fishing in Michigan doesn’t have to happen through the ice, though ice fishing can be an ideal way to catch them.
Known as the Great Lake State, Michigan has all the fishing you could hope for. Salmon, steelhead, bass, pike, and, of course, yellow perch are spread throughout the state.
Yellow perch are in all the Great Lakes and many waters in between. You’ll find some of the most significant concentrations in Lake St. Clair, Saginaw Bay, Lake Erie, the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula, and southern Michigan.
Yellow perch live in schools, typically preferring depths up to about 30 feet, depending on the season.
In spring and fall, yellow perch move into shallower areas before heading deeper in the heat of the summer. Even in summer, schools of perch travel toward shore each morning and evening to feed.
During the spring and fall, perch fatten up throughout the day, often near shore. At night they rest on the bottom and take it easy.
Unlike many Michigan fish species, perch remain active all winter under the ice in shallow and deeper water. They provide ice anglers with plenty of opportunities.
Michigan’s Greatest Perch Spots
You can catch yellow perch from southern Michigan to the Upper Peninsula (UP). Finding the best spots to target these tasty fish can be challenging due to the sheer number of lakes in the state, so we’ve narrowed it down to the top places for you.
Lake St. Clair
Lake St. Clair borders northeastern Michigan and Ontario, Canada. It’s a few miles east of Detroit and is known for its incredible walleye and salmon fishing.
Add yellow perch and other panfish to the mix, and this place is not to be missed. Perch can be found throughout this massive shallow lake.
Lake St. Clair has excellent cover and plenty of forage to keep its yellow perch fat and happy.
Weed beds provide an ideal habitat for perch to spawn and thrive. They hold in the weed beds throughout the lake, though near shore can be exceptionally good in the morning and evening.
April is an exceptional time to hit the shallower areas around the lake.
While most anglers are off chasing walleye in the Detroit River, you can have a field day catching 12-inch-plus perch on minnows or jigs tipped with a piece of worm.
Some of the most popular areas are Anchor Bay, the South Channel of the St. Clair River (on the Canadian border), numerous weed beds scattered throughout the lake, and the islands along the northeastern shore.
Remember that half the lake is in Canada, and special regulations apply. Don’t cross over without proper permits.
The lake is next to Detroit, so there’s no lack of lodging, dining, and supplies. It’s a popular place in the summer, so fish during the week or be prepared to tangle with the power squad.
Lake Erie/Detroit River
Lake St. Clair isn’t the only spot to fish near Detroit. Yellow perch are prolific throughout western Lake Erie. They grow to massive sizes and are almost as easy to catch as in Lake St Clair.
The Detroit River, connecting Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, is well known for its yellow perch fishing.
During the spring and fall, large schools of perch move through the river, offering anglers an excellent chance to catch a limit. Focus on areas with moderate current flow and drop-offs for the best results.
The current flowing from the Detroit River into Lake Erie offers anglers a unique spot to target perch. The fish hold just off the main current in the lake, hanging out in the weed beds.
The western basin of Lake Erie offers epic yellow perch fishing opportunities. The combination of fertile waters and ample food supply sustains a healthy perch population.
Anglers often find success near the islands, such as Pelee Island and Kelley’s Island, as well as off the shores of Monroe and Luna Pier.
Detroit is just down the road, so you can pick up whatever you need if you leave anything behind.
Saginaw Bay is such a massive body of water that pinning down the best spots is nearly impossible. That said, the shoreline weed beds are a great place to start. Search out 10 to 15 feet of water, and you should find perch.
You’ll wear yourself out catching 12-inch fish by the end of the day. There are enough perch in the 14- to 15-inch range mixed in to keep things interesting.
Spring and fall offer the best fishing for perch. They move in from Lake Huron and congregate in the bay to spawn and fatten up. Target the outside edge of weed beds and drop-offs.
Au Gres right on the north shore of Saginaw Bay has most of the amenities you need, while other towns around the bay offer plenty of lodging, dining, and camping.
Saginaw Bay has many species of fish that make Michigan so great, including some giant muskies.
Lake Michigan is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Salmon, steelhead, and northern pike thrive in this massive lake, as do yellow perch. You can find access points along the entire coastline on the west side of Michigan.
Anglers have success from the piers and harbors in cities like Grand Haven, Muskegon, and Ludington. These areas offer easy access and can provide fantastic fishing throughout the year.
Lake Michigan offers everything from extensive shallow weed bed-covered flats to deep waterways. Perch tend to hold closer to shore than other popular gamefish here.
Target the shallows and weed beds, submerged timber, and along drop-offs and the riprap that lines a good portion of the shore.
Spring is the prime time to target yellow perch in Lake Michigan. As water temperatures rise and the ice melts, they move into the shallows to fatten up after a slow winter.
You’ll find success if you find areas with weed beds.
Fall is also a great time to target perch near shore. They feed voraciously before winter to build up reserves so the bite can be fast.
Since the lake is so massive, you’ll want to target one small portion. A popular spot to limit the lake’s size is Grand Traverse Bay, an inlet of the lake.
You can find everything you need along the western coast of Michigan. Narrow down your destination, and you’ll be ready for some fast action.
Houghton Lake, Michigan’s largest inland lake, is a haven for yellow perch fishing. Its extensive shallows and weed beds support a thriving perch population.
Casting near weed bed edges or retrieving lures through the vegetation can be productive.
Yellow perch tend to congregate around structures like drop-offs, weed beds, and submerged timber.
Ice fishing is hugely popular here as the fish school up near drop-offs and underwater structures. Several resorts around the lake cater to ice angling.
There are plenty of hotels, lodges, and resorts on the lake, with all the food, tackle, and other amenities you’ll need. Houghton Lake State Forest Campground is on the lake’s North Bay.
Les Cheneaux Islands (Lake Huron)
The Les Cheneaux Islands offer excellent perch fishing. Good numbers of perch with some nice jumbos are around these islands.
Located on the southeastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near Cedarville, the Les Cheneaux Islands is an archipelago consisting of 36 small islands and countless islets dotting the sparkling waters of Lake Huron.
The prime time for perch fishing in the Les Cheneaux Islands is typically between May and October. During these months, perch move into shallower waters to spawn and feed, providing excellent opportunities for anglers to reel in a few slabs.
Early mornings and late afternoons tend to be the most productive times.
Perch fishing in the Les Cheneaux Islands area of northern Lake Huron offers a truly unforgettable experience, but it is pretty remote. You can find the basics in Cedarville, but be sure to bring any specialized items you need for the trip.
Situated in the Upper Peninsula, Lake Gogebic offers fantastic yellow perch fishing in a serene setting.
Lake Gogebic, with a surface area of around 13,380 acres, is the largest natural inland lake in the Upper Peninsula.
Its clear, clean waters are perfect for supporting a wide range of fish species, with yellow perch being one of the most abundant.
Target the weed beds and drop-offs throughout the lake. Spring and fall are the most active times for Lake Gogebic perch, though ice fishing can be very productive.
You will find everything you need at the lodges and stores dotting the lake. Lake Gogebic State Park and other campgrounds, resorts, and R.V. camping are also available.
Lake Gogebic also is known for his incredible muskie, walleye and largemouth bass fishing.
Located in Cheboygan County, in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, Burt Lake was once the record holder for the largest lake sturgeon in the country and is a great northern pike fishing lake to boot.
Spanning over 17,000 acres, the lake is also absolutely massive. It has roughly 35 miles of scenic shoreline.
The ice-off and early spring is an epic time to fish for yellow perch at Burt Lake. Sure, you’ll catch your fair share of 9 to 10 inchers, but the occasional 14-inch fish is in there.
The drop-off at Maple Point is always good for perch from mid-June to August. Anchor just off the weed line in 15 to 18 feet, and fish worms and minnows a foot off the bottom.
Plenty of camping and lodging are available around the lake, including Burt Lake State Park. The Indian River community has all the amenities you can ask for.
Not only is it close to other inland lakes like Mullet Lake, Black Lake, and Douglas Lake, Burt Lake is a reasonably short drive to both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. With Burt Lake as a home base, you’ll have fishing options galore.
Catch More Yellow Perch
Read up here: Yellow Perch Fishing: Easy How-To Techniques and Tips