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Lake Michigan Facts– History, Ecology, Ports and Marinas!

The Lake Michigan ports play a significant role in moving cargo domestically and internationally, serving as an outlet for agricultural products, iron ore, coal, stone and cement. They also support tourism for communities in the region by bringing cruise ships, ferries and recreational boats to their docks.

Lake Michigan Statistics:
  • Length: 307 mi (494 km)
  • Breadth: 118 mi (190 km)
  • Elevation: 577.5 ft (176 m)
  • Depth: 279 ft (85 m) average; 923 ft (281 m) maximum
  • Water Volume: 1,180 cubic mi (4,918 cubic km)
  • Avg. Water Temperature: Winter: 3.6°C, Spring: 3.7°C, Summer: 16.8°C, Autumn: 12.3°C
  • Water surface area: 22,300 square mi (57,753 square km)
  • Shoreline Length: 1,640 mi (2,639 km)
  • Fish Species: Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, brown trout, lake trout, yellow perch, catfish, freshwater drum, lake whitefish, smallmouth bass, walleye, and various sunfish
  • States/Provinces Covered: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana
  • Major Ports Cities: Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Gary, Indiana.
  • Outlet: Straits of Mackinac to Lake Huron
  • Population: 12+ million*
Lake History:
Lake Michigan spans 22,300 square miles and borders Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. It is the only Great Lake wholly contained in the United States. Jean Nicolet was the first European to arrive at Lake Michigan in 1634. In the 17th century, Lake Michigan became one of the leading waterways for commercial cargo and fresh water fishing.

Lake Ecology:
The main basin of Lake Michigan contains cold, clear, nutrient-poor water. The large rivers and associated inland lakes formed by drowned river mouths provide important habitat connections and nutrient inputs. Green Bay, considered the world’s largest freshwater estuary, provides excellent habitats for all types of fish species on Lake Michigan.

Lake Fishing:
Salmon and trout fishing in Lake Michigan ports has been a proud tradition for generations, and today's anglers continue the legendary fishery. From large cities like Milwaukee to small-town harbors, Lake Michigan is home to dozens of excellent fishing ports that offer everything from a simple pier to natural reefs to complex public piers complete with break walls and fish cleaning stations.