The Midwestern portion of the U.S. churns out some of the most avid fishermen in the country. From successful pro anglers to weekend tournament fishermen to pond hoppers, there are anglers wetting a line all around the region. We asked around and polled some of those anglers to find out the best places to fish in the Midwest.
1. Mille Lacs, Minnesota
While Mille Lacs may be known to many as a “walleye factory,” the potential to land trophy smallmouth bass on this 132,000 acre lake (the 2nd largest inland lake in the state) should never be overlooked.
* Fishidy Tip for Mille Lacs:
“Wind-swept reefs and rock piles can be magnets for smallmouth bass. Shallow running crankbaits or jig/plastic combinations in orange and brown that mimic crayfish will produce.”
2. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
Lake St. Clair offers outstanding fishing opportunities for a diversity of species including muskie, walleye and yellow perch, but it is most widely recognized as one of the nation’s great trophy smallmouth bass fisheries. This national recognition landed it on our list of the best places to fish in the Midwest. Check out the lay of the land via Fishidy:
* Fishidy Tip for Lake St. Clair:
“Spinnerbaits, tube jigs, Texas-rigged finesse plastics, and suspending minnow baits are favorite St. Clair presentations. The Husky Jerk and Suspending Rogue are typical of suspending minnow lures that are used with a variety of retrieves, varying from slow “twitching” to an erratic “ripping” across the surface.”
3. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
The Sturgeon Bay area, including Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay proper and Lake Michigan, provides excellent angling for trophy smallmouth bass. Much of the surrounding shoreline offers prefered habitat for smallmouth with miles of boulders, slab rock and gravel cover.
* Fishidy Tip for Sturgeon Bay:
“A variety of presentations will produce smallmouth during spring. Finesse plastics, jerkbaits and crankbaits are the most popular. Anglers should use 3-inch tubes and jigs tipped with Twister Tails, grubs and 4-inch finesse worms.”
4. Monroe Lake, Indiana
At over 10,000 acres, it is Indiana’s largest lake, with an abundant crappie population, quality catfish, but is most popular for it’s largemouth bass fishery, especially amongst tournament anglers.
* Fishidy Tip for Monroe Lake:
“From early April to mid-June, concentrate on the flooded timber and stumps in less than 8 feet of water. Allens Creek, Ramp Creek Moore Creek, North Fork and Middle Fork are favorite early-season spots.”
5. Carlyle Lake, Illinois
Carlyle Lake is the largest man-made reservoir in Illinois and offers angling opportunities for catfish, white bass, crappie, walleye and hybrid stripers, but the main attraction here that gathers attention from many anglers in the Midwest is the excellent largemouth bass population.
* Fishidy Tip for Carlyle Lake:
“North of the railroad, the abundance of flooded trees, while making navigation difficult, provide excellent cover for flipping. The most popular baits are 6 to 8-inch plastic worms rigged Texas-style, Salt Craws fished like a worm, jig n’ pigs or 6-inch plastic worms on a jig.”
6. Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin
Due to harvest restrictions by the Wisconsin DNR and the success of catch-and-release efforts by local anglers, Chequamegon Bay has become recognized as one of the premier smallmouth bass fisheries in the nation.
* Fishidy Tip for Chequamegon Bay:
“Calm water and the low light of morning and early evening provide the best action. Mid-May through September is the best time to seek smallmouth bass. The shorelines from Long Island south to Ashland produce throughout the season.”
7. Spirit Lake, Iowa
Spirit Lake is the largest in a series of seven lakes known as Iowa’s “Great Lakes”. Over the years, it has produced several state record fish and is an excellent fishery for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
* Fishidy Tip for Spirit Lake:
“Largemouth bass tend to utilize the abundant offshore weed growth. If the weeds are thin, try jigging presentations, but if the weeds are thick, use surface baits. Johnson Silver Minnows, Moss Bosses, Mann’s rats and Snagproof Poppers will all catch bass from thick weed cover.”