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Southeast Michigan provides one of the most-diverse fishing opportunities in the world. Whether you’re fishing in Lake St. Clair or on one of the hundreds of rivers or inland lakes, there are boundless opportunities to catch “The Big One.”
Southeast Michigan is renowned for abundant warmwater species such as Smallmouth Bass, Walleye and Bluegill. Other fish that can be caught throughout the Clinton River Watershed include Musky, Perch, Pike, White Suckers, Catfish, Carp and assorted pan fish.
Michigan is one of the best places in North America to seek out coldwater game fish such as Salmon, Trout and Charr, and areas of Southeast Michigan have self-sustaining trout populations. While Paint Creek receives annual stocking of Brown Trout, recent fish surveys show that natural reproduction is increasing.
The only designated trout stream in Southeast Michigan, the avid trout fisherman should not overlook Paint Creek. Paint Creek is one of the greatest resources within our watershed and is managed annually for Brown Trout. The length of the stream from Lake Orion to the city of Rochester is a designated coldwater stream managed by the DNR, and angler access is unrivaled due to the Paint Creek Trail that parallels the river through most of its course.
As of 2011, five miles of Painit Creek became designated for gear restrictions. Gear restricted waters are from the Gunn Road crossing in Oakland Township to the Tienken Rd. Crossing in Rochester Hills. For more information about the types of gear restrictions please visit the DNR website.
A popular destination for local fisherman, the Main Branch of the Clinton River below Yates Dam runs from Rochester to Lake St. Clair and receives an impressive spring run of Steelhead (Rainbow Trout). Yates Park is a scenic roadside park owned by the City of Rochester Hills and provides public parking. Other gamefish of interest that can be caught in this section include Walleye, White Suckers, Bass, Pike and assorted pan fish.
The Main Branch of the Clinton River above the historic Yates Cider Mill provides opportunities for anglers to catch a variety of fish including Brown Trout, White Suckers and a variety of pan fish.
The upper portions of the North Branch of the Clinton River have the potential to provide a rewarding day for anglers. Fish that can be caught in this tributary include Steelhead (Rainbow Trout), Bass, Carp, and assorted pan fish. Public access is limited, but Metroparks and state parks provide access points.
Self-sustaining populations of the Native Brook Trout have been rediscovered in the heavily shaded streams and creeks that form the North Branch in Almont and Bruce Township. These conditions led the State to classify the North Branch and its tributaries above 32 Mile Road as designated coldwater trout streams.
The CRWC and Michigan DNR Fisheries are now monitoring and studying the coldwater quality and fish habitat to gain insight on how to restore other portions of the Clinton River Watershed that once supported wild Brook Trout populations. To learn more about the Brook Trout and the coldwater tributaries where they live, click here
There are over 400 inland lakes in Oakland County alone which provide excellent lake fishing opportunities. Many of these lakes provide managed boat ramps for easy fishing access. There are plenty of places to target panfish, bass, pike and walleye. Notable lakes that provide great catch rates include Maceday Lake, Graham Lakes, Stoney Creek Lake, Upper Bushman Lake and Lake Orion.
Parks with fishing lakes include Addison Oaks, Groveland Oaks, Highland Oaks, Independence Oaks, Orion Oaks and Rose Oaks. Independence Oaks-North’s Upper Bushman Lake is designated catch-and-release-only by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Metroparks with rivers and lakes for fishing include Lake St. Clair Metropark, Stony Creek Metropark, and Wolcott Mill Metropark.
With over 430 square miles of freshwater and 160 miles of shoreline, Lake St. Clair is a world-class fishery and boasts charter fishing for Sturgeon and Musky. In 2013, Bassmasters named it the number one bass fishing lake in world. Lake St. Clair provides excellent fishing opportunities for Walleye, Perch, Smallmouth Bass, Catfish and panfish, as well as coldwater fish including varieties of Salmon and Trout.
Coldwater streams provide critical thermal refuges for coldwater fish, sustaining populations that would otherwise be unable to survive in warm waters during the hot summer months. True to their name, coldwater fish prefer cold, clean water. During the summer, they live in cold water patches in rivers or deep waters of lakes where temperatures are more comfortable. During the spring and fall months, the fish migrate into tributaries and shallower water to feed and spawn. To learn more about our local, coldwater tributaries, visit Clinton River Coldwater Conservation Project.
Because Native Brook Trout populations are sensitive to pollution, acidity and poor oxygen levels, they are often referred to as the “canary in the coal mine” and are good indicators of a healthy ecosystem and river. To learn more about what makes a river healthy, visit Keeping Freshwater Resources Healthy.