As I drove over the Mackinaw Bridge, a flood of fond memories from my youth came flooding back to me. Many of my childhood summers were spent in the Upper Peninsula fishing with my parents. When my dad and I went fishing at my destination, Indian Lake, which is close to Manistique, we once caught the maximum number of walleyes allowed. The following day would see walleyes and northerns added to the list of legally targeted species.
With an area of 8,400 acres, Indian Lake is one of the largest inland lakes in the Upper Peninsula. Additionally, the lake is only an average of 15 feet deep throughout its whole. Additionally, it is regarded as having some of the best walleye fishing in the Upper Peninsula, if not the whole state. The walleye fishing around here has changed in recent years as a result of being overshadowed by other bodies of water such as Lake Erie, DeNoc Bay, and Saginaw Bay. Only fishing on inland lakes is permitted here. It is possible to fish in this area with vessels as small as car tops or even smaller. It is possible for the lake to get choppy due to its shallow depth; but, unlike the major lakes, it does not have large waves.
The three state parks located on the lake each include one primary launch, one secondary launch, and one additional launch. Near the northernmost tip of the lake, at the terminus of State Route 149, is where you’ll find Palm Brook State Park. There is no camping available in Palm Brook State Park; nonetheless, the park is home to the incredible Big Spring, a natural spring that has water that is very clean. The ramp is nice, and it comes equipped with a dock and an outhouse; nevertheless, there is a limited amount of parking, and neither the entry road nor the parking lot is paved. When the doors were first opened in the morning, there were a lot of vehicles and boat trailers parked in the parking lot.
There is also a launch at the state park known as Indian Lake. The south unit is a large park that has camping, a swimming beach, camping cottages, and a good double boat launch with docks. Also included in the south unit is a boat launch with docks. This boat ramp has space for even the largest vessels. Paving may be seen on both the highways and the parking lots.
The lake is much deeper in the southern half than it is at the northern end. The relatively shallow northern end of the lake is separated from the rest of the lake by a rock shoal or simply “the rocks.” The Big Indian River flows into the lake at its northernmost point and departs at its easternmost point, close to the Indian Lake Golf Club.
The weed borders and the interior of the weedbeds are good places to find muskellunge, pike, bass, and perch. More weeds may be seen in the lake’s northernmost portion. It has been suggested by a number of natives that trolling crawler rigs or crankbaits around the weeds and the margins of the weeds may be fruitful. Because of the colder water, the fish, including walleyes, pike, and bass, seemed to be grouped together on the rocks during our excursion. This reef is covered by water that is as deep as 12 feet on its southernmost point and as shallow as 4 feet on its northernmost point.
Not only did the rocks give off the impression that they contained fish, but they also seemed to attract fishers like someone was handing out free money. The majority of boats were moored in water that ranged from eight to five feet deep. Leeches were presented by using slip bobbers just off the bottom of the water. The fish simply did not seem to be interested in crawlers and minnows this time around. Locals say that throughout the summer months, crawlers make for excellent bait for smallmouth bass and walleyes. A few boats cruised about the rocks, going over and under them.
On the opening, it appeared like most of the fishing was done about lunchtime. The fishing picked up as the water temperature rose. Walleyes could be seen foraging for food on the rocks against a clear blue sky. In the morning, I went fishing to the west of the boat convention in water that was around six feet deep. This was a patch of land that had a scattering of pebbles, gravel, and weeds.
I was able to identify many schools of bait fish that were being pursued by larger fish. My first cast with a chartreuse jig resulted in two huge smallmouth fish being brought to the boat. When I changed my bait to leeches, I caught numerous walleyes almost immediately. Later on during the trip, I hooked a northern that measured 30 inches on a leech.
The natural splendor of this lake surrounded by woods was breathtaking. There were eagles soaring over the northern portion. There were several subspecies of ducks present. This summer, if you want to take advantage of the warm hospitality of the Upper Peninsula, you should make it a point to visit Indian Lake and Manistique. Both of these locations offer fantastic fishing, a wealth of natural attractions, ample camping space, a large number of resorts, and close proximity to Lake Michigan.