When I was considering where to go on my next vacation, Lake Missaukee kept coming to me again as a potential destination. On my travels along M-55 and M-66, I have passed this lake a number of times, but I have never detoured to fish in this gem.
Lake Missaukee is frequently neglected. Lake Houghton, which is located to the east, and lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, both of which are located to the west, are the ones that make headlines. Lake City is a really picturesque little hamlet that may be found on the eastern beaches of Lake Missaukee. The “Greatest Fourth in the North” Independence Day Festival is what brings the most visitors to Lake City every year. However, this location is known for its excellent fishing.
I went to Michelle’s Sports Store, a local bait shop, before I went fishing to get some live bait. Yes, Michelle runs and owns the business, and she is quite knowledgeable about the industry. She informed me that Lake Missaukee is home to walleyes, northern pike, crappies, bluegills, and a few muskies in addition to largemouth and smallmouth bass. She added that the walleye is the species that is sought for the most.
The Missaukee County Sportsmen Club was responsible for the first introduction of walleyes into the lake back in the 1980s.
The Walleye are stocked in the lake every other year by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). There is now a healthy population of walleyes, but you should be prepared to capture a few “smalleyes” for every “keeper.” However, it is not unusual to set limitations on your harvest. Pike was prevalent in the lake prior to the introduction of walleyes to the environment. The number of toothy creatures was reduced with the cooperation of the MDNR, which resulted in the size restriction being lowered. Although pike is becoming more difficult to find, there are still numerous large specimens in the lake.
On the eastern side of the lake, where the water is deeper (up to 25 feet), fisherman cast their lines in search of walleyes. Walleyes, bass, pike, panfish, and, of course, musky may be found hiding in the lake’s few weed beds, which are located in water that is six to ten feet deep. According to Michelle, walleyes may be caught on a number 5 “Smithwick lures, 1/8-ounce Beetle Spins, crawler harnesses, and leeches are some of the most effective fishing baits. Some of the locals are known to make unconventional use of leeches. Walleyes may be caught by attaching leeches to the treble hook of a Little Cleo or by cutting leeches in half and using them on a crawler harness. Spinner baits, Hulu Poppers, 1/3 oz. Beetle Spins, and Nut Clean Tail plastic worms are some of the most effective lures for catching bass. Crappies and bluegills may be caught with the typical bait, however, if you want to catch bluegills, try using a black and white rubber spider. Large Rapalas with a size 11 or 13 hooks are used to catch pike, and muskies are also susceptible to these lures and will bite. Large suckers fished beneath a bobber have the potential to attract pikes and muskies.
The county park located on the lake’s northeastern corner has the finest boat launch available on the body of water. This is a more in-depth launch, and there is some docking space that can be rented out. The charge to launch your boat is just one dollar, and a day usage permit for the park is the same amount. The staff is quite helpful and kind, and they are happy to provide you with free maps of the lake. In addition, the park has camping opportunities, with sites starting at around $12 per night. In addition to that, there is a sandy beach for swimming in the park.
I put in a lot of effort fishing in the lake, but the bulk of the walleyes and bass were not biting because of the recent cold front. I tried trolling, drifting, and standing motionless, but I could only catch a few rock bass using those methods. The wind was gusting, and the sun was shining brightly. I focused my attention on the areas with deeper water and the breaks, but to no avail. I walked into the weeds in water that was eight feet deep and attempted an old technique that was dependable. I started bouncing the leech through the pockets in the weeds using a chartruese jig that had a leech attached to it. It was effective. A 16-inch long “smalleye” was one of the fish that was boated “largemouth bass and two eyes that will need to be kept.
After speaking with a few fisherman in the area, I discovered that the night bite for walleyes can be pretty productive. They recommended fishing the dropoffs and the deeper water in front of the boardwalk that was located close to town. In deeper water, before sunset and after dark, anglers may catch walleyes that are suspended in the water. Rapala Shad Raps and other crankbaits designed for deeper water were the kind of lures that were recommended. Rapalas with a number 9 or 11 hook will also do the trick.
Fishing is quite popular in Lake City and the surrounding area of Missaukee County. The folks are really polite and welcoming. The facilities are in excess of what is required. However, you must launch your boat at the County Boat Launch. At the southernmost tip of the lake, at the end of Green Street, there is still another launch; however, due to the lower lake levels, this launch is now inaccessible.