The great state of Michigan might not be the first spot you think of when you contemplate catfish, but there is plenty of opportunity for this bottom-dwelling monster here. In fact, with so many channels, rivers, and lakes, Michigan is a bit of a haven for this barbel-faced fish.

So much so, that 10 different species can be easily found. With everything from bullheads to flatheads and even elusive madtoms, Michigan has it all when it comes to catfish.

And if you find yourself up north and possessing a bucket full of catfish bait, Michigan presents some desirable options to fill your cooler. But to take the guessing out of where to go among the many watery playgrounds, here’s a compiled list of the best places to catfish in Michigan.

1. Grand River

When the words fishing and Michigan are uttered, chances are the Grand River comes to mind.  At 252 miles long and 15 feet deep in some places, it boasts flathead and channel catfish throughout its watershed. From Grandville to Grand Rapids, the fishing holes are abundant, and the catfish bulky. So heavy that a 20-pound flathead has become a somewhat common occurrence in this waterway.

2. Lake Michigan

This is the spot for real lunkers. You know, gigantic catfish that seem like a legend. With a giant flathead being pulled out of Lake Michigan, shattering the state record. It weighed a whopping 54 pounds, so just remember to bring out the heavy gear for this location. But this wasn’t the only occurrence, with a 40-pound channel catfish pulled from this lake.

So while most anglers are caught up with trout, salmon, and walleye fishing, you have a literal freshwater sea at your disposal. This begs the question, does that mean the catfish are a kind of freshwater whale?

3. Lichfield Catfish Acres

This is your best bet for blue catfish in Michigan. Litchfield Catfish Acres is an artificial, man-made pond connected to the St. Joseph River. The pond is stocked, and you have to pay to get in, but the catfish are basically a guarantee after that.

Have little ones? Consider introducing them to catfishing here. Just be careful; someone pulled an 80-pounder from these murky depths.

4. Lake Superior

Lake Superior fishing

Image credits: badger80 via Pixabay

Yup, the other side of the peninsulas has catfish, too. You’ll mostly find channel catfish in Lake Superior, but they’re big and not that hard to trick. Here’s a tip: stick to the lower peninsula’s riffles, rivers, and streams; it’ll only be a matter of time before you’re hooked.

Oh yeah, and Lake Superior is a darn big lake, so you’ll be able to find a private spot with little difficulty. Just you and your line and all the tranquility in the world.

5. Lake St. Clair

Sometimes fishing spots pop up that seem nothing more than folklore. This is the reputation of Lake St. Clair and its flathead population.

Thus, information may be scarce, but anglers swear by the fabled cats here. Yet, flatheads populate the lake, and although it can be a tricky bite, wrestling one out of Lake St. Clair is an award in itself. Moderate numbers, like consistent 14-pounders or cats 36 inches long, are thrown around. You could say Lake St. Clair is a must-try destination out of curiosity.

6. Lake Charlevoix

a catfish

Image credits: 12019 via Pixabay

Lake Charlevoix may be a popular vacationing spot, teeming with campgrounds and parks, but it also teases channel catfish galore.

Don’t have gear? No Worries! This lake comes well-equipped with businesses offering charter services or boat rentals. And the locals are more than happy to point toward the nearest catfish hole.

But if you’re looking to change up your catch, Lake Charlevoix is also an excellent place for brown trout and sunfish. You’ll want to bring various types of gear to cover all your bases on this big ol’ pond.

7. Hamlin Lake

With almost 5,000 acres to boot and stunning scenery, Hamlin Lake makes for an epic channel catfish playpen. But catfishing doesn’t stop there, with yellow, brown, and black bullheads found in abundance.

Nevertheless, Hamlin Lake has also been in the news for its catfish when a local lady reeled in a channel cat just under 41 pounds.

Moreover, it would seem like little cats or big cats; you can expect the unexpected on Hamlin Lake and need the gear to go along with it.

A Few Final Thoughts

If you pull a wels catfish out of any body of water in Michigan, the Midwest Invasive Species Network wants to know about it. However, it should be noted that these alien-looking catfish have not been detected in Michigan.

The wels catfish is a non-native species that belongs in Europe, and the biologists in Michigan live in more or less constant fear of them showing up. The wels catfish grow to an incredible size and have a nasty habit of eating anything in sight when they move into an area. Meaning, their presence could be detrimental to Michigan’s fisheries and fishing for future generations if uncontrolled.

Have you caught a catfish in Michigan? If so, what did you catch? Please let us know in the comment!