Fishing Isle Royale National Park

We saw quite a few people carrying fishing rods while we were hiking around the west end of Isle Royale and we were carrying two poles ourselves. If you are fishing on inland lakes, you do not need a fishing license. However, there are special regulations issued by the National Park Service. One of them is that you can only use artificial lures (they do not want the introduction of foreign species via bait). If you are fishing in Lake Superior, then you need to hold a Michigan fishing license.

Northern Pike: Although there are perch in most of the inland lakes and walleye in a few of them, the major draw for inland fishing is the northern pike. When we were there, we fished for pike at Chickenbone, Richie and the lakes on the trail in between. In the evening, there was pretty heavy fishing pressure on Lake Richie near the campground in the shore fishing accessible areas. We ended up catching one on Lake Richie, one on LeSage Lake and missing one on Lake Livermore. None of them were big enough to keep, but we did hear from another fisherman that his group caught a keeper on Lake Ritchie and ate it that night. We also saw evidence of a few other fish that had been cleaned. We didn’t have any luck on Chickenbone Lake, which also has a healthy population of pike. Most people that we saw fishing for pike were using either spoons, spinnerbaits or buzzbaits. We caught one on a jig and the other on a buzzbait.

If you are going to the island for trophy northern pike, I would definitely fish in the bays and plan to portage a canoe to the inland lakes. There are only a handful of areas accessible by shore fishing via the trails near the campgrounds. If you go without a boat, you will stare at the pristine shoreline on the opposite side of the lake and be so jealous that you can’t get there.

Lake Superior Shore Fishing for Trout: We didn’t get a Michigan license to fish in Lake Superior but we have seen reports of people catching both brook trout and lake trout from the shore of Lake Superior.

Lake Trout and Salmon Charters: Rock Harbor Lodge offers fishing charters for trout and salmon in Lake Superior. The price is $394 for four hours and $729 for eight hours. Michigan fishing licenses are required.

Fly Fishing: There are a couple options if you are interested in fly fishing but Isle Royale isn’t known for accessible rivers. I’ve seen reports of steelhead runs in the spring in the Big and Little Siskiwit Rivers on the west end of the island. There are also reports of small brook trout in some of the rivers, but there are definitely accessibility issues. The other option is to use a heavy fly rod to fish for pike.