Nothing is more authentic to the Alpena area than fishing. When the morning sun is peeking out from a blanketed horizon, the silhouette of a rod and reel can be seen casting along Thunder Bay River on your way into town. As the Autumn leaves bluster about the September breeze, they clear a line of vision toward the ripples on the lakes, lapping urgently at the hull of a bass boat near a weed bed. As winter embraces the region in her crystalline veil, the tip-ups and shanties come out to keep ice fishermen busy until the big thaw.
Office break rooms across the region are ripe with weekend fishing tales and enthusiasm builds as Spring warmth liquefies the lakes and anglers get their boats ready for the season. A bike ride along the city’s Bi-Path will yield a view of friends and families, young and old, standing along the banks of Thunder Bay River. A skill-set passed on from generation to generation, fishing is Alpena’s oldest tradition. The first settlement in the area was a fishing village on Thunder Bay Island in Lake Huron just off the coast of modern-day Alpena. Fishing has always been, and continues to be, a central element of our culture and local lifestyle.
Cast a line with us! Like any angler worth his salt, we aren’t going to give away our favorite fishing hole, but we will give you some tips on the most unique fishing spots you can enjoy during your next family vacation. Memories are made in the time and space in between your last life stressor and your next appointment. make sure you take time to relax, restore; and make those moments Pure Michigan memories.
- 9th Avenue Dam
The water-flow through the 9th Avenue Dam creates a unique fishing environment on the Thunder Bay River. It is located one mile upstream from Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay, and is the only part of the entire river that is accessible to freshwater migrating fish from Lake Huron. This portion of the river is also a designated trout stream. The easiest way to fish the pond is either from the rocky shore, with waders in the shallower water, or from the 9th Avenue bridge. This location is best for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch and steelhead.
2. Shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Fishing the big lake isn’t for the faint of heart. The mighty Lake Huron requires a mighty boat and knowledge of the unpredictable nature of a Great Lake. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects more than 200 shipwrecks off the coast of Alpena, Alcona, and Presque Isle counties in Lake Huron. Several different species of fish enjoy the protective cover these shipwrecks provide. These fish are a different temperament than inland lake and river fish. Be ready for a wild ride reeling in from these wolf pack schools. While fishing around these unique national treasures, be sure to be mindful that there may be divers exploring the wrecks. Look for dive flags, mooring buoys, and other watercraft as you approach a a wreck site. Launch from the City of Alpena boat harbor located just off US-23/State Ave. on Prentice Street.
3. Lake Winyah
This 1,530 acre impoundment is located on the Thunder Bay River and is sometimes referred to as the 7-Mile Pond for its location about the 7-Mile Dam. Search for walleye around the islands and the river channel near the dam. Its best to fish for pike in the early season in the shallow water, but later the bigger fish will be found in the cooler, deeper waters of the main basin. Small mouth bass can be found in the river channel near autumn. You will also find muskellunge, blue gills and crappies. The fishing expands well beyond the Lake Winyah portion, so make sure you also target the river area above the dam and below the lake. This is a great part of the river to take kids fishing. Access is available via a boat launch on Long Rapids Road just above the dam.
4. Fletcher Floodwaters
Fletcher Floodwaters is a part of the upper south branch of
the Thunder Bay River about 20 minutes west of the City proper. This is another great fishing spot for kids, beginners, and professional anglers to experience. One of the most unique things about the floodwaters is the lack of watersports due to the
abundance of stumps that sit just below the water, which also create the perfect fish habitat and a peaceful environment for relaxing your mind. Although it’s listed at 8,970 acres, it can shrink to half of its size during low water. Crappies and bluegills are found in the deeper parts of the pond near the dam in the spring. Look in the big bay at the northwest corner of the lake for bass and northern pike. Easy access is found via a north shore ramp off of Miller Road (Fishing Site Road).
“Everyone should believe in something; I believe I’ll go fishing.” Henry David Thoreau