Lake Michigan’s other fish
I’m often asked by newcomers to Great Lakes fishing if fish
other than salmon or trout are ever caught. Though I’m tempted to
say things like “why would you want to,” I bite my tongue and tell
them the truth. There aren’t many occasions when anything else
besides salmon or trout are caught.
But it happens. (Perhaps it happens more on Lake Huron or Superior,
I’m not sure.) And I’m certainly not disrespecting Lake Erie and
the “who knows what’s next” fishing often encountered there. Most
of my experience is up and down Michigan’s west coast.
Number one on the list of other species I’ve caught is yellow
perch. Over the years, I’ve trolled up dozens of them on spoons,
J-Plugs and Rapalas. The only downside is we never seem to catch
enough for a good perch-fry on any one outing.
The number two species on my boat is one shared by fishermen on
Lake Erie – sheephead. Sheeps, a.k.a. freshwater drum, or my
favorite pseudonym for the species, “gaspergoo” have always found
my lures to their liking. Years ago it was only one or two per
year. Some days in the last couple years it’s been two or three per
day. And unlike the Lake Erie ‘goos, which seldom weigh more than a
few pounds, the west coast drummers are almost all double-digit
The rest of the strangers are rare. I’ve caught one smallmouth
bass, one northern pike, one whitefish and one channel catfish on
my Lake Michigan boat. I’ve snagged many alewives and a couple of
common carp, but we are talking sportfishing here.
So it is possible to catch something other than salmon or trout in
Lake Michigan, but it’s not very likely. Personally, I like it that