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Lake Michigan Shore Fishing Etiquette

Where to Fish: With Lake Michigan having a surface area of 22,300 square miles and 1,660 miles of shoreline, its hard to imagine that fishing the shoreline would be ever become crowded. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are certain harbors, piers, river mouths that receive a large amount of fishing pressure. The reason for the fishing pressure is that there are a great number of fish caught at certain times of the year from selected areas. Once the word spreads from word of mouth, newspaper or internet postings. The crowds will arrive. Usually the prefered fishing spots at a location will go to the first person that arrives. With the next fishermen to arrive setting up next to them and so on. It is not uncommon to arrive at a prime shore fishing area during the fall salmon spawing period two hours before sunrise and find ten or more other fishermen alreeady there. When fishing in a crowded situation its best to match the technique of the fishermen in your general area. If everyone is casting lures do not use a bobber fishing technique. If everyone in your area is flyfishing and you only brought bobbers and spawn it is best to move to another area to avoid untangled fishing lines. Another temptation is if someones catches a fish is that others will crowd to the area where the person was fishing. After catching several fish one day from the same spot another fishermen came so close that he had to duck his head each time I made a cast.
Please give each fishermen space to fish.

Catch and Release or Catch and Keep: Catch and Release is an option available to every angler. Some fishermen always release every fish that they catch. That is their personal choice and right. Other fishermen will keep every fish they catch up to the legal limit provided by the state that they are fishing in. That is also their personal choice and right. It can be very frustrating for someone that wants to catch and keep a fish to see other fishermen in the general area releasing fish after fish. Some frustrated fishermen will then crowd and cast over the lines of the other fishermen. Remember that Catch and Release or Keeping fish is a legal right.

Foul Hooked Fish and Snagging: Foul hooking and snagging Fish is generally illegal in Lake Michigan. Any fish that is snagged or unintentionally foul hooked in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan must be immediately released. In the state of Illinois Snagging for fall salmon is only allowed in very restricted areas. In all other areas of the state of Illinois foul hooked and snagged salmon and trout must be immediately released. We are generally against snagging and intentionally foul hooking fish and believe the practice should be discontinued.

Great Lakes Salmon, Steelhead, Trout and other species Fishing tips, tactics, articles, techniques, and information