St. Ignace Fishing History
The history of the Straits has always been interwoven with the fishing resources of the Great Lakes. The abundant stocks of fish were a food staple for the native people and early European traders and settlers. Commercial fishing during the last half of the 1800’s and early part of the 1900’s dominated life in St. Ignace. The fishing industry still provides many jobs for residents of St. Ignace and the Straits. Several varieties of fresh fish: including whitefish, perch, trout and walleye are featured on menus at many area restaurants.
After the fur trade moved farther west, fishing came into popularity. Whitefish and Lake Trout thrived in the cool waters of the Great Lakes. Just as before, Mackinac Island served as a depot to bring in the catch and package the fish for further shipment. This industry employed many people who were first involved with the fur trade. People could fish, make barrels and shipping crates, or transport the fish.
Lake whitefish are a cool, fresh water fish that generally live in large lakes and rivers. They are a slender fish with elongated body averaging about 15 inches in length and weighing up to 20 pounds in the Great Lakes. The largest whitefish on record was caught off Isle Royale in 1918 weighing 42 pounds. Whitefish are known for their exceptionally fine flavor and are considered one of the valuable commercial freshwater fish. Whitefish are caught commercially in gillnets or trapnets (rarely by hook).
The spring fishing season begins in April. The smelt begin to run and dippers arrive with nets and lights. Trout season begins in late April and walleye season begins May 15.
Summer is the season for charter fishing, as brown trout, lake trout, salmon and steelhead are prevalent. July and August are king salmon months where the action is fast and furious.
Fly-fishing is also excellent in the summer and all the way through fall. Anglers seeking a quiet getaway can find solitude on one of the many brook trout streams flowing through our area. Once the ice freezes over in December, venture out onto the lakes for some bluegill or walleye fishing. Ice fishing in and around the Straits of Mackinac is great fun and every angler should experience it!
Fishing in the St. Ignace area is nothing short of spectacular! The Straits of Mackinac offers extraordinary opportunities for migratory salmon and steelhead as well as small mouth bass, pike, muskie and many other species. Our location is an obvious advantage for fishing Lake Michigan and Lake Huron but don’t miss out on the inland lakes and rivers, which are abundant in our area. Any time of year is the right time for fishing in St. Ignace!