May 25, 2023

5 Best Places to Fish in the Midwest

Young woman holds a fish up for a photo with a pond and trees behind her.

Grab your tackle box. Stock up on lures or bait. Let’s go fishing in the Midwest.

The Midwest has many great fishing spots to cast a line and enjoy being on the water. With large lakes and rivers, the region’s landscape offers plenty of prime fishing opportunities. 

We picked some of our favorite spots to fish in the Midwest. Whether you want to fish for bass or trout, don’t overlook these so-called flyover states. They’re teeming with exciting fishing holes! Plan a fishing trip to one of these destinations. 

Jump to:

1. Mississippi River

Channel your inner Mark Twain and freshwater fish on the second-longest river in North America: the Mississippi. At least 260 species of fish call the river home. 

The upper reaches of the Mississippi River (toward Minneapolis, MN) have swift, clearer water, perfect for catching walleye along the rocky river bottom. 

You’ll also find bluegill, sauger, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and crappies in the Upper Mississippi. If you’re interested in Midwest bass fishing, explore the Mississippi’s backwaters or smaller tributaries. 

You can catch many of the same species in the river’s lower reaches. Carp, drum, bass, bowfin and gar are common in the Lower Mississippi. 

Catfish & Sturgeon 

You may have heard the legends of monster Mississippi catfish. While not every catfish will be a giant, plenty of them thrive in this river. 

Flathead and bluehead catfish can be found in dike tips and notches. They move to deeper pools as summer temperatures rise. Channel catfish prefer slower waters. 

The prospect of sturgeon and big paddlefish also excites anglers. Watch out for pallid sturgeon and lake sturgeon. If you catch one of these protected species, you must release it immediately. 

Mississippi Tales

Many myths circulate about the Mississippi, including spotting bull sharks past St. Louis, MO. While rare bull shark sightings have been substantiated, don’t plan on fishing for sharks from the river’s edge. Leave the shark sightings for the sea. 

Go on your own Huck Finn adventure. Maybe you’ll be the next one to catch a legendary 200 lb. catfish and tell the tale!  

2. Lake Erie, Ohio

Once you’ve had fun on the river, take a boat out on the Great Lakes. The Midwest includes four of the five Great Lakes—Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Erie, the few great freshwater fishing spots in the United States. 

Why is Lake Erie one of the best fishing lakes in the Midwest? One word: Walleye. 

Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods (and many other Midwestern walleye-loving sites) has been considered the “Walleye Capital of the World.” Many are now bestowing that nickname on Lake Erie in Ohio, too. 

A record-setting number of walleye have hatched over the past few years. You can also fish for yellow perch, bass and lake trout. Steelhead are stocked in the lake, too. 

Finding Walleye

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources shares that walleye lie at the lake bottom in the spring. Anglers can troll for them near the lake’s firing reef complex. 

When summer hits, walleye move to the open water from West Sister to Kelleys Island. Fall sees walleye returning to their spawning grounds in the western basin.

Fishing for Perch

Yellow perch hang out in shallow water, moving closer to shore in the spring. In the summer, the perch move to deeper water. Fishermen should target the bottom of deeper lake areas

Late summer and fall produce the best perch fishing here! Perch get caught up higher in the central basin’s water column. 

Bass Fishing 

Smallmouth and largemouth bass can be found around harbors and marinas year-round in about 10 to 30 feet of water. When bass fishing, anglers target areas near the shore around Catawba, Marblehead and the islands. 

3. Lake Taneycomo, Missouri

Head south from Ohio to Lake Taneycomo in Missouri. Taneycomo is an artificial lake on the White River. 

When the Powersite Dam was completed in 1913, Lake Taneycomo was formed. The nature of the lake changed again in 1958 with the Table Rock Dam. Since then, the lake’s water has come from the coldest parts of Table Rock Lake.

As a trout fishery, Lake Taneycomo stocks approximately 750,000 rainbow and brown trout. About 90% of fish caught are rainbow trout. The other 6 to 7% of catches are brown trout. 

Anglers can use artificial lures, like jigs and crankbaits, on the upper portion of the lake. The lake’s headwaters are also great for fly fishing. Locals suggest using drifting salmon eggs or angleworms to catch trout. 

You can fish from the dock or a drifting boat. Drift boats are used because parts of the main channel are shallow. 

While you’re in the area, stop by Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake. Table Rock is known for its bass and catfish, while the warmer waters of Bull Shoals are perfect for populations of white largemouth bass and walleye.

4. Lake St. Clair, Michigan 

Take a boat or kayak out on Michigan’s “Heart of the Great Lakes” for more world-class fishing. Lake St. Clair is located between the St. Clair River and the Detroit River systems. 

Lake St. Clair’s shallow depths make it the perfect habitat for smallmouth bass. The lake has an average depth of only 11 feet. You’ll also get the chance to catch walleye, perch, northern pike and muskie. 

St. Clair is known for its elusive muskellunge population. Of Michigan’s lakes, muskies are most common at Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. This predator fish lurks in shallow waters with cover and can be challenging to catch. 

If you do catch one, you may have to release it. The minimum size limit for harvesting muskie in Michigan is generally 42 inches. There are exceptions depending on where you fish. However, there’s always a chance you’ll find a monster muskie. 

Across the Great Lakes, they can get big. In 2009, a man caught a 50-lb. muskie in Michigan, setting a new state record! 

5. Delavan Lake, Wisconsin 

We know Wisconsin touches Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. You’ll find great guided fishing trips across those lakes. If you’re looking for something a little different, try Delavan Lake, about an hour from Milwaukee. 

In Wisconsin’s Walworth County, this 1,906-acre lake is home to muskie, bass, panfish and northern pike. Its sand and gravel bottom, combined with plenty of aquatic vegetation, make this lake a great home for the sunfish family. 

Delavan Lake was chemically treated in 1989 to control the rough fish population and levels of phosphorus. Since then, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has stocked the lake with now-thriving fish populations. 

The Department stocks about 100,000 walleye fry every other year and 2,500 muskie fingerlings each year.

Fish at the docks for bass or search for bluegill in shallow bays and the Jackson Creek inlet. Northeast of the island, you can find bass, walleye, perch and muskie at the sunken rock point.  

A tip: Go to Delavan Lake early in the morning. The lake is popular and other recreational activities can make fishing here difficult. 

Go Fishing in the Midwest 

You don’t have to look hard for excellent Midwest bass fishing, fly fishing or trout fishing. Great populations of walleye and muskie are found across the region, too. 

You can choose one destination or make it a road trip. Many Midwestern lakes and rivers are within driving distance of one another. 

Plan your next solo or guiding fish trip in the Midwest with HUUNT. We connect anglers with outfitters and landowners. Find a fishing guide, book a fishing charter or chart your own way with private property access. 

Sign up today! Members can book fishing trips for free and even post their own listings for interested anglers. 

Your adventure starts at HUUNT! 

Start Your Adventure Today

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