Lake & River Fishing

Nestled in the northwest corner of our beautiful state, Cadillac offers the best of Northern Michigan fishing with three large inland lakes: Lake Cadillac, Mitchell and Missaukee coupled with three awesome rivers: Pine, Manistee and Pere Marquette Rivers providing year round angling opportunities.


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Ice Fishing

In January, as the ice begins to reach thicknesses that are conducive to ice fishing, the lakes and ponds of the Cadillac area become populated with ice shanties and dedicated fisherman ready to brace the weather for a great catch.

Lakes Mitchell & Cadillac are known for their healthy pike, walleye, bluegill, and crappie populations. People are permitted to walk and drive on the lakes, although the DNR does not take responsibility for determining whether the ice is safe.

The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center and the Outdoors Skills Academy presents a Free Ice Fishing Seminar and Youth Ice Fishing Contest for kids under 16 in March each year. This family oriented event is held at the C.T.J. Hunting and Fishing Center. Seminars are presented  covering everything from jigs and bait, to floats, and ice safety with a segment covering rules and regulations.

River Fishing

  • Big Manistee River is one of the premier rivers of Michigan, offering over 90 miles of access and varied difficulty levels, from beginner to expert paddling experiences (depending on the segment).  This river is wide and smooth-flowing.  Some parts have tighter navigation and fast switchbacks, which may take you a little off guard, but overall in the Cadillac region, this river is perfect for the casual paddler.  With all of those switchbacks, you will quickly find many sandbars, perfect for socializing and sunbathing.
  • Pine River watershed is located 20 minutes west of Cadillac, south of M-55.  It has a drainage area of 265 square miles, and ultimately discharges to Tippy Dam Impoundment in Manistee County.  The watershed includes parts of four counties: Wexford, Osceola, Lake, and Manistee.  The  mainstream is approximately 49 miles long and is formed by the confluence of the North Branch and East Branch of the Pine River near Tustin in Osceola County at an elevation of 1,102 feet (336m).  The Pine River requires watersport recreation passports for all watercraft and may be obtained at the US Forest Service Station.
  • Pere Marquette River is lcoated 20 minutes southwest of Cadillac and drains an area of approximately 740 square miles.  Roughly 53 percent of the watershed is in Lake County.  The mainstream starts at the confluence of the Middle Branch and Little South Branch, know as the “Forks” and flows in a westerly direction for approximately 67 miles to its mouth at Pere Marquette Lake, just south of the City of Ludington.


Lake Fishing

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell have large populations of walleye, northern pike, crappie, bluegills, perch, large mouth and small mouth bass. The two lakes are connected by a canal built during the historic northern Michigan logging era. The canal was originally built so lumbermen could float timber from the shores of Lake Mitchell to waiting sawmills on Lake Cadillac. Today the canal serves as a convenient link between two of Michigan’s most popular fishing lakes. Together Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell offer over 3,700 acres of prime fish holding habitat.

  • Lake Cadillac is approximately 1,150 acres in size and features over 400 acres of prime fish-holding weed cover. A fertile body of water, 50% of the lake is 15 feet deep or less.
  • Lake Mitchell is connect to Lake Cadillac via a canal constructed in the late 1880s.  It is the largest of the area’s three major lakes at 2,580 acres.  The lake is a prime all-sports lake in the area with an average depth of 8.5 feet.  Over 95% of the lake is less than 15 feet deep.  There are many access points to the lake, with the Mitchell State Park being the primary.  There are two hotels and one restaurant available on the shores of Lake Mitchell plus one convenient store.
  • Lake Missaukee is located only 15 minutes east of Downtown Cadillac.  The lake covers 1,880 acres and is roughly oval in shape.  Water depths range from 5 feet to 27 feet.  Much of the center portion of the lake bottom is covered with a wide variety of native aquatic plants.  Lake Missaukee offers an extensive public beach with shoreline campsites and dining.

Show off your catch, take it to Pilgrims Village in Cadillac just south of the Canal (M-115/M-55) and they’ll take your picture and put you on the web.

DNR Fishing Survey Information

A 2012 DNR survey of Lake Cadillac produced:

  • 1,724 fish, including 15 different species were caught
  • Panfish included black crappie (342 fish, 5-11 inches)
  • Bluegill (128 fish, 4-8 inches)
  • Pumpkinseed sunfish (90 fish, 4-9 inches)
  • 31 walleye were pulled, with sizes ranging 14-24 inches
  • 106 northern pike ranged 11-27 inches.

A 2012 survey of Lake Mitchell produced:

  • 2,550 fish were netted, representing 13 different species
  • Panfish species included bluegill (88, 4-8 inches)
  • Pumpkinseed sunfish (58, 4-8 inches)
  • 65 walleye were also recorded (13-27 inches)
  • 128 pike (11-32 inches)

It was estimated in the survey that fishing on the two lakes generates over $1 million annually for the local economy.


Cadillac Fishing Resources


Fishing Specials

We want you to experience the great fishing available in our lakes and rivers!  Come to Cadillac!

Nestled in the northwest corner of Michigan, 1.5 hours from Grand Rapids (Straight up US-131), and 45 minutes south of Traverse City.  We have three large bodies of in-water (Lake Cadillac, Mitchell and Missaukee) coupled with three awesome rivers (Pine, Manistee and Pere Marquette Rivers) offering year round angling opportunities.

The following area hotels are offered, click on the blue hyperlink for property details, advanced reservation recommended:

  • Holiday Inn Express and Suites  We would love to accommodate our “fishing friends” during your fishing excursions in the Cadillac area. Our hotel has been newly renovated for the guest. All the guest rooms have a refrigerator and microwave. There is also a great hot breakfast, pool, hot tub and fitness center for our guest. We look forward to serving you.
  • Pilgrim Village Resort & Bait Shop  We offer cottages, motel and a 3 bedroom home on Lake Mitchell, just off the Mitchell State Park, with a robust on-site fishing and bait store. We produce the Fishing reports for the area, and typically know where they are biting!
  • Days Inn of Cadillac Offers quick access to both lakes, just minutes from the MDNR boat launches between the lakes. We also offer plenty of parking, a pool with jacuzzi, and breakfast bar.
  • Evergreen Resort.  We are just minutes from our lakes and rivers, with ample parking for your boat trailers.  We offer full service resort amenities on site – golf, restaurant with free breakfast, pool, bonfire, etc. Group packages available.
  • Coyote Crossing Resort.  We are just off M-55 west of Cadillac, minutes from the Manistee & Pine Rivers, and Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort. We offer weekday specials year around call for details.  Group packages available too!
  • Hampton Inn – Cadillac.  We are a full-service hotel with a robust complimentary breakfast, pool and work out facility, minutes from downtown, lakes and rivers. Call direct and ask for our mid-week deals.
  • Chippewa Landing.  Offering a full service livery, on-site camping (no hook-ups). Just south of Manton on the Manistee River.
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