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The Ottawa National Forest offers outstanding opportunities for hunting and fishing. These activities are regulated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Enviroment (MDNRE).  The Michigan Fishing Guide is available wherever fishing licenses are sold.

When to Fish

In the Upper Peninsula, the Michigan trout season runs from the last Saturday in April to September 30. Later seasons are set for bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge. See the MDNR Fishing Guide for exact dates.

Generally, spring (May-June) is the best time for lake fishing on the Ottawa; summer (July-August) is somewhat slower, with fall (September-October) somewhere in between.

Stream fishing for lake-run salmon and steelhead usually picks up around April 1 in streams with an extended trout-salmon season, such as the East Branch of the Ontonagon River North of M-28, or those with no closed season, such as the Black River. The best fishing on these streams starts around mid-September and lasts until the snow flies.

Stream fishing for resident trout is generally best near the end of the legal season, especially for brook trout, which start upstream migration at this time.

How to Fish

Walleye and crappie tend to bite under low light conditions (early morning, late evening or on overcast days). Fish for bass, crappie, pike, and panfish near logs, brush, or in weedy areas.

In bright sunlight, and after storms or cold snaps, most fish tend to go deeper and are harder to get to bite. Use live bait, and fish deeper and slower under these conditions.

Additional information on fishing on the Ottawa National Forest can be obtained in our Recreational Opportunity Guide.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities