By Maralee Cook

Get out on the water!

Boaters, paddlers and fishermen all start itching to get on the water at the first hints of spring. Those fresh fragrances, sights and sounds are a siren’s song to the adventurous as well as for those who seek that special peace found only on the water. So get your boat on its trailer, load up the canoes and kayaks, stow your gear and c’mon over to Cadillac! The ice has thawed, the spring sun is bright and warming, and critters large and small along lake edges and river banks make our scenery even more appealing.

3 Awesome Lakes…

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell in Cadillac, and Lake Missaukee east of Cadillac, offer thousands of acres of prime fishing and watersports opportunities. Lake Cadillac’s 1,130 acres also feature over 400 acres of prime fish-holding weed cover. Lake Mitchell is a roomy 2,580 acres, with 2,000 of those dominated by lush patches of aquatic cabbage weed. The lakes are connected by a canal and offer many access points. In adjacent Missaukee County, Lake Missaukee’s 1,880 acres vary in depth from five to 27 feet, and much of the center portion lake bottom is covered with a wide variety of native aquatic plants.

The opening of the Canal that connects Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac.

3 Awesome Rivers…

Three prime rivers wind their way through or near the area and offer fishing and paddling experiences second to none, hosting paddlers and fishermen from around the world. The Big Manistee River, a National Scenic River, offers over 90 miles of access and varied difficulty levels, from beginner to expert paddling experiences.

In the Cadillac region it’s perfect for the casual paddler, and with its many switchbacks providing sandbars, it’s great for socializing and sunbathing. The Big Manistee is also a year-round haven for fly fishermen who chase its feisty Steelhead, varieties of salmon, trout and largemouth bass.

Awesome view on the Big Manistee River from high atop a soft sandy dune. The perfect place to stop and relax for a bit when paddling this top ranked river.

The Pine River lures anglers and paddlers with its designations as a Wild and Scenic River and as a Blue Ribbon Cold-Water Fishery. Its 7 percent river gradient in some sections offers the fastest average flow of any Lower Michigan river creating a challenging paddle. It requires watersports recreation passports for all watercraft and may be obtained at the US Forest Service Station.

About 20 miles southwest of Cadillac the Pere Marquette River flows in a westerly direction to its mouth at Pere Marquette Lake, just south of the City of Ludington. With Steelhead, salmon, browns and ‘brookies,’ it’s a popular haunt for fishermen, and paddlers return often because of its beautiful scenery.

The Free Fishing Weekend is a big weekend in the Cadillac Area, drawing many anglers to our rivers and lakes.

Take note of Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend – in June each year .All fishing license fees will be waived for two days on Michigan’s inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish for residents and out-of-state visitors. All fishing regulations still apply. For more information visit Check out for more information and a long and varied list of lodging opportunities from campgrounds to resorts, plus dining, shopping and a whole host of activities that will make your stay one to remember.