Fish Michigan's Lake Michigan, Big and Little Bay de Noc

These sister bays in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are revered for their walleye fishing and their camping. The abundant smallmouth bass, often 5 pounds or more, are practically untapped here. And with more than 60 modern campsites and hiking at nearby Fayette Historic State Park — the historic townsite of an industrial community, there’s plenty for the family to do.

To encourage bass fishing here, the Upper Peninsula’s catch-and-release season opens in early May, weeks before Michigan’s general bass opener. Water access is better at 30,000-acre Little Bay de Noc. Early in the season, cast for spawning bass in the rivers that feed the bay, along rocky shorelines and in warmer bays. Gravel shoals off the river mouths are good bets after the spawn. In 90,000-acre Big Bay de Noc, target river mouths, rocky humps and the entire west shoreline. 

Because crawfish and gobies are the primary forage for bass here, you can’t go wrong scraping the bottom with a tube jig. Crankbaits and drop shot rigs will also put a deep bow in your rod.