Fishing on the Big Manistique Lake in Curtis, Michigan

Big Manistique is our home and we're now on our 5th generation of family here. We love fishing this lake!

Big Manistique is one of the largest inland lakes in Michigan, coming in around 10,000 acres and offers several great fishing options including walleye, perch, smallmouth bass, bluegill, panfish, northern pike and muskie.

The unique thing about fishing here is these aren't slow fish! The fish here love fast-moving, crank bait type fishing and trolling, though all types and styles of fishing work depending on what you're going for. 

Here, you can be out on the water on opening day, May 15th every year until the lake is frozen over and find great fishing. And then, ice fishing from late December to early March brings a whole new level of action.

Lots of gravel on the bottom of this lake, which makes it great for cray fish, which the larger fish love to eat. So running small cray fish type, shad imitation types of bait, around 2-3 inches long, and getting them to bounce or skip on the bottom or above the weeds can work great.

But we personally find the best success in the weeds!

However, every fisherman has their own style here at different times of year. You can use lures, leeches, nightcrawlers, and minnows. Double hook crawler harness spinners, shad rap crankbait lures #2-#5, flicker shad type lures are some of the most popular among the lake's long time fishermen.

You'll find the best fishing tends to be in 7-12 feet of water (although we have caught tons of Walleye, Bass, and Pike in 5-7 feet too!). The great news is that, with depths maxing out at 20 feet on the lake, you can find great 4-12 foot depths all over the lake to find your own favorite fishing spots. Fish love underwater features like drop offs, weeds, and rocky areas -- so don't feel like you need to be in deep water to catch great fish.

While you might focus on more shallow water in the early season, later in the season as things get warm, a lot of fish will head to deeper waters to the basin areas of the lake, or a number of them will also be found heading into weedy areas where you can skip high lines over the top of the weeds to imitate a minnow going over the weeds and draws them up. Walleye are known for settling into weedy areas and waiting for fish to swim over their heads. Learning to fish above the weeds is a great thing to master up here for great mid to late summer fishing.

Also, as water temperatures get higher, the fish tend to get quicker and like quicker moving bait. Many will move their trolling speeds up from 1 - 1.5mph to speeds of 2mph. But again, it all depends on your style and what you're fishing for.

If you're into targeting perch, which can be a lot of fun, the shad rap #3 - #4 lures (1.5 - 2") while trolling work just like they do for walleye. The only difference is considering a slightly smaller shad rap crankbait than what you might for walleye. Although, I have to say, we do just fine on crawler harnesses with spinners.

We're excited that as of 2022-23 we expect there will be higher stocking levels of Walleye in the lake by the local Portage Anglers Club. A plant of 6,400 Walleye was completed in October 2022 along with another plant of 6,400 Walleye in October 2023. 

Local Fishing Tournaments

Frostbite Pike Contest (January)

Typically pays out a $500 1st place prize with prizes up to 5th place. This tournament takes place on the Big Manistique Lake, South Manistique Lake, Milakokia Lake & Millecoquin Lake.

For additional information, contact Mick's Bait Shop at (906) 586-6040 or the Curtis Area Chamber of Commerce for more details.

Portage Angler's Club "Curtis Clash" Walleye & Bass Tournament (June)

All proceeds from this event go toward stocking the Manistique Lakes! Join this popular tournament and win prizes for walleye, bass, perch, & bluegill! Contact the Portage Angler's Club or Mick's Bait shop at (906) 586-6040 for details.

Do you have little ones who are just getting started fishing?

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has provided a set of official certificates you can print and give to the kids when they catch their first fish or their big fish of the trip! 

Download blank copies here (with or without a photo area):

My First Fish Certificate
My First Fish Certificate with Photo Area
My Big Fish Certificate
My Big Fish Certificate with Photo Area

Enjoy Risk-Free Reservations!

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Need your Michigan Fishing License?

You can now get it online! Just visit the Michigan DNR E-License site here!

Licenses are required for anyone fishing 17 years of age and older.  If you are under 17, you may fish without a license, but you are required to observe all fishing rules and regulations. Any adult actively assisting a minor who does not have a license must have a fishing license. Please note, a license is required when targeting fish, amphibians, crustaceans and reptiles.

Michigan's annual fishing license is valid from March 1 each year through March 31 of the following year. Daily and out of state licenses are also available along with combination hunting/fishing licenses.

Michigan's Free Fishing Days!

Two days twice a year, families and friends can enjoy one of Michigan's premier outdoor activities, Michigan Fishing, for FREE.

2022 dates are February 19-20 & June 11-12

2023 dates are February 18-19 & June 10-11

Want to know when future Free Fishing Weekends will be? The winter weekend is always the Saturday and Sunday of President's Day weekend and the summer weekend is always the Saturday and Sunday following the first full week of June.

See what's available for you next stay at Trails End on the Big Manistique Lake!