Sunday, September 30, 2018

Southeast Michigan Lakes That Are Stocked With Rainbow Trout Annually

Michigan is one of the best states to live in if you're an outdoorsman or woman.  There is no shortage of public land for hunting and camping.  Not only that but there are thousands of lakes to explore and fish from.  Not to mention the great lakes present unique fishing opportunities unlike anywhere else in the world.

If you're not from here, I'm sure Michigan has its on sportsmans mystique for you.  If you're a fly fisherman or woman then you've heard plenty of stories about the fly fishing the Au Sable river for big rainbow and brown trout.  Maybe you've read magazines about the great musky fishing on Lake St. Clair and it is one of your must visit fishing destinations. Either way Michigan fishing has made an impression on fishermen far and wide.

With so many different great places to fish and such a large variety of species to fish for, it's pretty easy to miss out on some of the more unique fishing opportunities available right in our back yard.  For example if you're live in the southern lower peninsula fishing for rainbow trout is something you may overlook because most of the great trout waters are a few hours north of you. As a result of this rainbow trout maybe one of those species you just don't think twice about pursuing. Well, if that's you then it's time you put trout back on your radar because throughout the state the Michigan DNR stocks trout annually to keep our fishing opportunities diverse.  Below is a list of the bodies of waters that are stocked annually by the Michigan DNR for our fishing pleasure.

Hillsdale County:

Bear Lake
City: Cambria Township
Surface Area: 117 Acres
Max Depth: 50 feet

Bear lake is actually part of a chain of lake which includes Bankers Lake, Wilson Lake and Bear Lake.  This 117 acre lake is the largest of the three and the only of the three that receives annual stocking of rainbow trout usually in numbers just over 8,500 fish. 

While bear lake is known for its perch fishery, every year it is stocked with trout. Given bear lakes size and depth the trout released here be a bit more transient than those in smaller lakes.  So if you're planning on fishing Bear Lake for trout bottom fishing with dough bait is not a bad idea.  Trolling with spoons, spinners and minnow baits will be effective as well.

Bird Lake

City: Frontier
Surface Area: 113 Acres
Max Depth: 64 feet

Bird Lake is a 113 acre gem of a lake located in Jefferson Township whose main attraction is its stocked trout fishery.  The trout stocked are on average 10 to 12 inches in length however occasional 20 inch holdovers are throughout the year.  Most people enjoying the trout fishery from shore use some of the more common baits used for stocked trout, such as Berkley dough bait, Pautzke balls o fire eggs and crawlers.  While those fishing from boats opt for trolling with spoons, spinners and minnow baits to catch their limits.

While the stocked trout fishery may be the main attraction for this lake, Bird Lake is not a limited fishery.  Bird lake contains many of the fish we all like to chase including: black crappie, bluegill, largemouth Bass, norther perch and yellow perch.

However no matter what species of fish you are seeking you'll want to keep in mind that you will not be having this lake to yourself during the fishing season.  Bird Lake gets a fair amount of from pleasure boaters and other people enjoying the lake so the best time to fish would be weekdays when traffic is low.  For access there is a boat launch on the south side of the lake, in Shadyside, and bank access on the north side in Fountain Park.

Hemlock Lake
City: Reading
Surface Area: 140 Acres
Max Depth: 64 feet
Hemlock lake is an 140 acre lake located 4.7 miles from reading in Hillsdale County.  Hemlock is the northern most lake in a chain of 3 lakes connected by small channels, Hemlock Lake, Carpenter lake and Long Lake with Hemlock being the only one of the three which receives annual trout stocking. 

Noted by anglers for its walleye and trout fishing, Hemlock is mostly fished for walleyes that can range up to 10lbs and stocked rainbows averaging 15 inches. Hemlock also has some pretty big pike and bass lurking in its depths. So be aware that while you're pitching spinners for trout there is a fair likelihood that you'll hook into a bass or pike. At a max depth of 64 feet the trout in this lake can be just about anywhere in the water column that has sufficient forage and comfortable temps.  So make sure you're fishing different depths when chasing the trout that are planted in Hemlock lake.  In fact trolling is a great option for picking up fast limits, but that doesn't mean shore fishing won't get your limit of rainbows. 

The only thing to keep in mind about hemlock lake is that it gets a fair amount of boat traffic.   However in the spring around the time of the trout opener many pleasure boaters are still parked inside their warm living rooms.

Jackson County:

Farwell Lake
City: Hanover Township
Surface Area: 213 Acres
Max Depth: 43 feet
Farwell lake is actually one of two connected lakes, Farwell Lakein the south and Pine Hills Lake in the north.  Farwell Lake at 213 acres is a pretty large lake that receives annual trout stocking thus holdovers are pretty common in this lake and the trout have plenty of places to go once released into the lake.  On average the trout released into the lake are 6.25 inches long however there are some pretty big holdover rainbow trout in this lake with some fish up to 24 inches long. 

Not only is Farwell a good trout lake it also has plenty of crappie, smallmouth and largemouth to fish for.  So don't be shocked if while you're pitching spoons or spinners you land some nice largemouth as well. 

As this is a pretty large lake there is a decent amount of usage from pleasure boaters and other anglers throughout the year as well as quite a few private homes around the lake.  So be prepared to share the lake with locals if you plan on enjoying this fishery.  Also there is boat access but that access is through a launch in Pine Hills lake in the north.  

Swains Lake 

City: Southeast Albion
Surface Area: 74 Acres
Max Depth: 60 feet
Swains Lake is a primarily a panfish lake with anglers coming to it to fish for the bluegill and crappie that populate the lake.  However what many of the locals will not tell you is that this lake is also stocked annually with over 5000 trout.

Swains is directly across from Swains Lake County Park campground and picnic area which make a convenient holding spot for those traveling to fish Swains. I haven't personally fish Swains lake so I can't say much about the fishery here but please feel free to comment with any tips for trout fishing Swains Lake that you may have.  

Lenawee County:

Allen Lake
City: CambridgeTownship
Surface Area: 63 Acres
Max Depth: 45 feet
Lenawee County's 63 acre Allen Lake is another lake that is actually a part of a chain of lakes.  This chain including Wolf Lake, Allen Lake and Meadow Lake.  As a result this gives the trout close to 200 acres of lakes to roam through once released into Allen Lake.  

Allen Lake has the usual suspects when it comes to other fish species present ie. bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass and pike. However the stocked trout are the draw to this lake so if you're fishing Allen Lake on the opener be prepared to not be alone.  Especially if you're planning on fishing around the boat launch.  

If you're gonna fish Allen Lake I suggest fishing it from kayak so you can find the trout that have ventured away from the boat launch and haven't been spooked by boater traffic. 

Deep Lake

City: Located In Onsted State Game Area
Surface Area: 65 Acres
Max Depth: 50 feet

Deep Lake is another of the trout lakes that I haven't fished personally so I can't give many tips from my personal experience.  However from what I've gathered from people I know who do fish this lake I can say the following.  For trout the usual baits work however many people are catching their limits of trout with wax worms or the eggs and bacon combination of wax worm and dough bait.  Small minnows, crawlers and fly tackle are also great options for pulling the trout from Deep Lake. 

Deep lake does have a boat launch on the western end of the lake for those wanting to get cover more surface area of the like while fishing for trout.  I do recommend kayak fishing or boat fishing this lake if possible as there are plenty of private homes around it, limiting the amount of shore access.

Livingston County:

Appleton Lake
City: Hamburg Township
Surface Area: 56 Acres
Max Depth: 38 feet

Situated inside of Brighton Recreation Area, Appleton lake is a 56 acre lake who's prime attraction is annual trout stocking.  On average the DNR stocks trout around 6.25 inches in length however larger hold overs are commonly caught. Appleton has a concrete boat ramp with parking or 10 rigs and toilets at the landing for anglers. 

Appleton is located within close proximity to many other lakes within the recreation area making it a good starting place to camp if you're wanting to do a weekend of camping and fishing with different options to choose from.  Just like the other lakes anglers will be using the usual baits for stocked trout ranging from, Berkley dough bait to inline spinners. 

Spring Mill Pond

City: Brighton
Surface Area: 5 Acres
Max Depth: NA
Spring Mill Pond is a small lake inside Island Lake Recreation Area.  At only 5 acres it is the smallest of the lakes in southeast Michigan, that is stocked annually with trout. However what lacks in size it makes up for it with fishability.

By fishability I'm talking about the amount of actual fishable area around the pond.  Because Spring Mill is a summer time local swimming spot, close to 40 percent of the lake is swimming beach which leaves 40% of the lake open to fishing from shore or by wading.  Not only is the beach a fishable area but around the shore there is still plenty of open area to fish.  Beyond shore fishing many people fish this lake during the trout opener from kayak or float tube, literally putting themselves in the middle of the fish.

The ample  fishable area makes Spring Mill Pond a great place to take your family the day after the trout opener.  It’s definitely a lake, if fished soon after the opener, that the whole family can enjoy catching their limits.  Not only that but if you’re introducing a kid to kayak fishing this is the perfect little lake to get them started on to curb their fears of big water.

The large amount of fishable area on spring mill pond combined with its small size lends it to being a highly pressured lake on the opening day of trout season and for a couple weeks afterward.  This pressure and the fact that the DNR only stocks on average 1600 trout annually means Spring Mill pond is usually fished out within a couple of weeks. 

Trout anglers on spring mill pond use a variety of baits to catch the trout that roam through the pond all day.  Wading anglers are usually using spoons, spinners or small rapalas to catch their limits.  While shore anglers usually use corn, dough baits, crawlers and minnows to catch their fish.  No matter what you use you’ll have a great chance and adding a couple of trout to your stringer if you’re fishing at spring mill pond.

Oakland County:

Lower Proud Lake
City: Milford
Surface Area: 49 Acres
Max Depth: 37 feet

At only 36 miles west of Detroit, Proud Lake in Oakland County is the furthest east of all of the Southeastern Michigan lakes that receive annual trout stocking.  At a combined acreage of 104 acres upper and lower proud lakes are absolutely beautiful lakes to fish any time of the year.  As the center piece of Proud Lake Recreation Area they get quite a bit of summer time traffic.  However most people fish the Huron River below lower Proud lake for stocked trout. 

This is due to where the fish are released into the lake. The trout are released just at or below the foot dam at the western end of Lower Proud Lake, causing most of the fish released to flow into the Huron River while fewer head up into the main lake.

The fish that flow into the Huron offer one of the more realistic trout fishing settings as these fish often hang in the undercut banks, below fallen trees, and in deeper holes throughout the river. While the trout that flow into the lakes tend to be more transient due to the shallow water and lack of oxygen in deeper areas.

Like Spring Mill Pond if you’re looking to the fish opening night at midnight, be ready for some combat fishing as the area directly below the damn is lined with people at midnight trying to get a fast limit of fish.  While they’re fishing the Michigan DNR are on top of the bridge over the dam making sure people only keep legal limits and are keeping the peace.

If you’re looking to fish some of the more lightly used spots make sure you pack your waders as some of the trails along the Huron River are often water logged if we’ve had substantial rain or snow in the weeks before.  

Anglers fishing proud lake tend to use corn, dough baits, crawlers, minnows inline spinners and small rapalas to land the brown and rainbow trout stocked here.  Additionally this trout fishery doesn’t last long as the trout are often fished out or preyed on by pike within the first few weeks after the trout opener as this is a put and take fishery.

Lotus & Maceday Lakes
City: Waterford Township
Surface Area: 453 Acres
Max Depth: 117 feet
Lotus and Maceday Lakes are actually the northern and southern sides of one lake taking up 453 acres of surface area.  Maceday Lake is unique in the fact that it is a deep, clear and cold lake that can sustain holdover trout allowing some of them to get to pretty big sizes.  It's for this reason that the Michigan DNR plants Maceday annually with not just rainbow trout but also splake and lake trout as well in very large numbers.  For example in 2018 alone the DNR has planted 12,000 Rainbow Trout, 10,000 Splake and the Lake Trout stocking report hasn't been updated yet but I suspect the numbers are just as high. 

If you're looking for season possibilities for rainbows, splake or lake trout Maceday is the lake for you.  Rainbows can be caught by bottom fishing with minnows and dough bait or casting spoons and spinners.  As well they can be caught by trolling plugs along dropoffs or in the shallows during the cooler parts of the season.  If splake and lakers are your quarry I suggest you reach out to one of the local bait shops as I'm not sure of the best tactics for them as I haven't had the opportunity to pursue them on Maceday Lake just yet. 


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