Summer is definitely the most popular fishing season in Michigan, thanks to its proximity to the Great Lakes. Fishing has been a popular activity for over 40,000 years around the world. While many people still embrace this age-old practice for sustenance and consider it a relaxing activity, other anglers compete for glory. Just recently, a state-record-breaking fish topped 53 lbs! Here are some sea monsters: 10 of the biggest trophy fish ever caught in Michigan.
Biggest Trophy Fish Caught in Michigan
1. American Eel – 7.44 lbs (Still fishing)
American eels can reach a length of 48 inches (4.0 ft) and a weight of 7.5 kg (17 lbs). Females are usually bigger and lighter in color than males, with smaller eyes and higher fins. Chad Markham caught the state record American eel in Lake St. Clair in 1990 using the still fishing method. The eel weighed 7.44 lbs. and measured 43 inches in length.
2. Black Buffalo – 54.3 lbs (Trolling)
Not all buffalo roam the grasslands, and a different kind of buffalo lives in large rivers and bountiful lakes. Black buffalo are uncommon in the Great Lakes region, and their origins are uncertain. The average length is 20-30 in (51-76 cm), with a maximum length of 48.5 in (123 cm). The average weight is believed to be 10–30 lb (4.5–13.6 kg). The latest Michigan state record for black buffalo was in 2020, caught using a trolling method in Grand River at Ottawa County. The fish weighed 54.3 lbs. and was 42.6 inches long.
3. Chinook Salmon – 47.86 lbs (Trolling)
Due to their size, this family of behemoths is more suited to deep-sea fishing than inland-lake fishing. Chinook salmon are the largest Pacific salmon, weighing up to 100 pounds. However, on average, they weigh only around 30 lbs. They are long and hefty, with adult lengths ranging from 40 to 60 inches.
A giant Chinook salmon was captured in Lake Michigan on August 7, 2021, breaking the state record for the largest Chinook salmon fish ever caught. Luis R. Martinez was fishing off Big Sable Point in Mason County when he caught the Chinook salmon that weighed 47.86 pounds and measured 47.5 inches in length.
4. Common Carp – 61.5 lbs (Spear)
In Michigan, common carp can be found in the Great Lakes, large inland lakes and reservoirs, large and small rivers, swamps, canals, and drains. Depending on the water, the average size ranges from 15 to 32 inches long and 4 to 31 pounds. The state record for common carp was caught by Dale France using the spear method in 1974, weighing 61.5 lbs. and was found in Wolf Lake.
5. Flathead Catfish – 53.35 lbs (Baitcasting)
The flathead catfish can reach 155 cm (61 in) in length and weigh up to 56 kg (123 lb), ranking it the second-largest North American catfish. An angler from Hobart, Indiana, recently caught a new state-record flathead catfish while fishing with cut bait in Berrien County, Michigan: a flathead catfish weighing 53.35 pounds and measuring 48 inches long! Lloyd Tanner caught the record-breaker while fishing the St. Joe River, a tributary of Lake Michigan, in the early morning of May 29, 2022.
6. Longnose Gar – 18 lbs (Spin casting)
Gars are a primitive group of bony fish because they retain some primitive characteristics, such as a spiral valve intestine. Still, they are not primitive in the sense that they are not fully formed. Longnose gar typically grows to be 28 to 48 inches (71 to 122 cm) long, with a maximum length of 6 feet (1.8 m) and a weight of 55 lbs (25 kg). Michigan’s state record for this species boasts 18 lbs. Dennis Promo caught this fish in 1995 using spin casting in Williamsville Lake.
7. Muskellunge – 49.75 lbs (Baitcasting)
This enormous predator is a dangerous and valuable catch. Due to difficulties in attracting even a single strike, it was dubbed “the fish of 1,000 casts” and has grown in popularity with the introduction of multi-rod trolling techniques. They can grow to be 50 inches long in the Great Lakes. The Michigan state record muskellunge was caught in Thornapple Lake using baitcasting by John Keith Geml in the year 2000, measuring 49.75 lbs.
8. Redhorse – 12.89 lbs (Baitcasting)
We don’t know much about river Redhorse because they are difficult to identify and are frequently confused with more common species. Only the river redhorse possesses all of the following characteristics:
- A bright red tail.
- A pointed dorsal fin on the back.
- Large bodies (adults are typically over 20 inches long).
- 12-13 scales around the base of the tail.
Redhorse is occasionally shot with arrows, which is illegal in Michigan because they are a threatened species. Despite its dwindling population, the state record for the largest redhorse weighed 12.89 lbs. Mike Polega caught it in 1991 using baitcasting in the Muskegon River.
9. Walleye – 17.19 lbs (Baitcasting)
Walleye is a very popular species that grows to 30 inches or more, tastes fantastic, and is easy to catch using various techniques. Walleye can be caught from boats everywhere on the water all year, but they also make excellent ice fishing when firm, safe ice is available. The largest walleye ever recorded in Michigan weighed 17.19 pounds, and Ray Fadely captured it in Manistee County’s Pine River in 1951 using a live minnow as bait.
10. White Perch – 2 lbs (Baitcasting)
The white perch is a tiny silvery, greenish-gray fish with a black, domed back. They can grow to 19 inches long when mature but are typically encountered at 7 to 10 inches long and weigh 8 ounces to 1 pound. Considering this size, seeing a 2-pound white perch in Bear Lake can be rather interesting. The fish was caught by Kyle Patrick Ryan using the baitcasting method in 2015.
Summary of the 10 Biggest Trophy Fish Ever Caught in Michigan
|1||American Eel||7.44 lbs||Lake St. Clair||Still fishing|
|2||Black Buffalo||54.3 lbs||Grand River, Ottawa County||Trolling method|
|3||Chinook Salmon||47.86 lbs||Big Sable Point, Mason County (Lake Michigan)||Trolling method|
|4||Common Carp||61.5 lbs||Wolf Lake||Spear method|
|5||Flathead Catfish||53.35 lbs||St. Joe River||Baitcasting|
|6||Longnose Gar||18 lbs||Williamsville Lake||Spin casting|
|7||Muskellunge||49.75 lbs||Thornapple Lake||Baitcasting|
|8||Redhorse||12.89 lbs||Muskegon River||Baitcasting|
|9||Walleye||17.19 lbs||Manistee County’s Pine River||Baitcasting|
|10||White Perch||2 lbs||Bear Lake||Baitcasting|
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- Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/dnr/Documents/Fisheries/misc/state_records.pdf?rev=a01a3b751390422fa09b2744b966faf0
- Southeastern Outdoors, Available here: http://www.southeasternoutdoors.com/outdoors/fishing/michigan-fishing-records.html
- Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/about/newsroom/releases/2022/06/06/new-state-record-flathead-catfish-tops-53-pounds