Walleye Fishing on Pere Marquette River Michigan: Expert Tips and Techniques

Pere Marquette River Michigan PIC

The Pere Marquette River in Michigan is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, particularly those in search of walleye. Known for its diverse fish species and beautiful scenery, this river offers a unique fishing experience in West Michigan. Walleyes are highly prized by anglers due to their excellent taste and sporting qualities, making the Pere Marquette River an ideal location for walleye fishing.

While exploring the Pere Marquette River, anglers can expect to find walleye in various habitats like deep holes, drop-offs, and near submerged vegetation. Walleye are typically found in deeper waters during the day and move closer to the shoreline during dawn and dusk to feed. Timing is an essential factor as walleye are known for their elusive nature and preference for low-light conditions.

Key Takeaways

  • The Pere Marquette River offers a prime location for walleye fishing in West Michigan
  • Identifying walleye habitats, such as deep holes and drop-offs, is key for successful fishing
  • Anglers should focus on low-light conditions, like dawn and dusk, to increase their chances of catching walleye

Characteristics of Walleye Fish

Physical Features

Walleye fish are known for their large, glassy eyes that allow them to see well in low-light conditions. They have an elongated body with a golden-brown color on their back, fading to a pale yellow or white on their belly. A distinctive dark spot can be found on their dorsal fin, and their sharp teeth make them effective predators. A mature walleye can reach 30 inches and weigh up to 20 pounds.

Habitat and Behavior

Walleyes spawn in spring, soon after the ice breaks up and the water temperature hovers in the 38 to 45° range. In rivers, they prefer to broadcast their eggs over gravel or rocky areas. For their habitats, they tend to favor deeper, cooler waters during summer months and shallower areas during spring and fall. They are considered a nocturnal species, becoming more active during low-light conditions such as dusk and dawn.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Walleye fish are carnivorous predators that primarily feed on smaller fish. Their diet includes species such as perch, shad, and minnows. They also consume aquatic insects, crayfish, and other small invertebrates. Walleye are ambush hunters, waiting for prey to venture close before striking with their sharp teeth.

When fishing for walleye in the Pere Marquette River, using the right bait is essential for success. Popular choices include minnow-imitating lures, jigs, and live bait such as minnows and nightcrawlers. Knowing the walleye’s habits, habitats, and preferred food sources can greatly increase your chances of catching these elusive fish.

Best Time and Location for Walleye Fishing on Pere Marquette River

Seasonal Patterns

The Pere Marquette River in West Michigan offers anglers excellent opportunities for walleye fishing. Spring is generally considered the best time for walleye fishing, as the fish are more actively feeding during this period. However, fishable numbers of steelhead can be found in the river until May, providing exciting fishing opportunities throughout the season source.

River Sections with High Walleye Population

When targeting walleye on the Pere Marquette River, focus on areas with underwater structures, such as drop-offs, points, and humps, as walleye use these features for shelter and feeding. Keep in mind that the specific location of high walleye populations might vary from season to season.

Recommended Fishing Techniques and Gear

Fishing techniques for walleye on the Pere Marquette River can include jigging, trolling, and using live bait. Jigging with soft plastics or minnows can be highly effective, especially during the spring months when the walleye are actively feeding. Trolling with crankbaits or spinner rigs can help cover more water and locate actively feeding fish.

When it comes to fishing gear, a medium-action spinning rod and reel combo with 6 to 12-pound test line is suitable for most situations. Use a fluorocarbon leader for increased stealth in the clear waters of the Pere Marquette River.

While targeting walleye, anglers may also have the chance to catch other fish species, such as pike, which are known to inhabit the river as well.

Remember to always follow local fishing regulations and practice catch and release to preserve the fishery for future generations.

Regulations and Licenses for Walleye Fishing in Michigan

Michigan Fishing Regulations

Fishing regulations in Michigan are governed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These regulations are in place to protect fish populations and maintain healthy ecosystems. Changes to fishing regulations can occur annually, so it is essential to stay up-to-date with the most recent guidelines. The current regulations are in effect until March 31, 2024.

Walleye fishing on the Pere Marquette River in West Michigan is subject to specific rules and regulations, including size limits, daily bag limits, and fishing seasons. Keep in mind that these regulations may vary based on location and time of year, so understanding the rules for your specific fishing area is crucial.

Required Licenses and Permits

A Michigan fishing license is required for anglers age 17 and older. There are different types of licenses available, including resident, non-resident, senior, and youth licenses. Fees for these licenses can be found on the Michigan DNR website. Michigan residents who are veterans with 100% disability or active-duty military have their fishing license fees waived.

In addition to a fishing license, some locations may require special permits or have restrictions on certain types of fishing equipment. Always check the specific regulations for your chosen fishing spot before heading out.

Catch and Release Guidelines

Catch and release practices are crucial for maintaining healthy fish populations, especially when targeting walleye. When practicing catch and release, make sure to keep the fish in the water as much as possible and handle them with wet hands. Use a rubber net rather than a stringer to minimize stress and injury to the fish. Additionally, use barbless hooks or bend the barbs down for easier removal.

For walleye fishing in the Pere Marquette River, being knowledgeable about fishing in West Michigan is essential. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a successful and responsible angling experience while helping to preserve this treasured resource for future generations.

Tips for Successful Walleye Fishing on Pere Marquette River

Bait Selection and Presentation

When fishing for walleye in the Pere Marquette River, bait selection and presentation can greatly impact your success. A variety of baits and lures can be used, such as live baitfish, nightcrawlers, and leeches. For effective presentation, rig your bait with a large, heavy egg sinker or several split shots, positioned 12 to 18 inches up the line from the hook. Attach baitfish through the nose, leeches through the head, and nightcrawlers threaded onto the hook shank. Cast your line around the fringes of holes or in the heads or tails of pools to increase your chances of catching walleyes1.

Weather Conditions and Their Impact on Fishing

Weather conditions can significantly affect walleye fishing on the Pere Marquette River. In general, overcast days tend to be more favorable as walleyes are more active in low light conditions. On sunny days, walleyes might be found in deeper, shaded areas or near underwater cover like weeds or logs. Pay attention to water temperature, as walleyes prefer moderate temperatures; during warmer months, they often seek cooler water at greater depths.

Fishing Strategies for Different River Sections

The Pere Marquette River has more than 70 miles of fishable water, with various sections providing diverse opportunities for anglers2. To maximize your success, adapt your fishing strategies depending on the river section you are exploring:

  • Upper river sections: These areas tend to be shallower and narrower, where walleyes might be found in deeper pools and close to cover. Cast your line around bends, undercut banks, and submerged logs.
  • Middle river sections: Here, the river may widen, and currents can be more moderate. Look for walleyes around underwater structures like sandbars, drop-offs, and eddies created by rocks or fallen trees.
  • Lower river sections: As the river approaches its mouth at Pere Marquette Lake, depths generally increase. In this area, focus on fishing around deep holes and the confluence of tributaries, where walleyes may be feeding on sea lamprey due to the increased current in these locations.

By understanding the right bait selection and presentation techniques, taking account of weather conditions, and adapting your fishing strategy according to different river sections, you can increase your chances of landing a walleye while fishing on the Pere Marquette River.


  1. MeatEater – How to Catch Walleye in Rivers
  2. Pere Marquette Travel and Fishing Tips – Pere Marquette River, Michigan

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the fishing regulations for the Pere Marquette River?

The Pere Marquette River has specific fishing regulations that anglers must follow to help conserve its fish populations. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the State of Michigan’s fishing regulations before heading out to fish.

Where can I find the latest fishing report for the area?

For the latest Pere Marquette River fishing report, it is recommended to visit local fishing shops or websites, such as Baldwin Bait & Tackle. They often provide up-to-date fishing conditions, tips, and other helpful information.

Are there maps available for Walleye fishing spots?

Yes, there are maps available to help you locate fishing spots on the Pere Marquette River. You can pick up a physical map at a local fishing shop or access and print maps available online.

When does the Michigan Trout season begin in 2023?

In Michigan, the trout season usually begins on the last Saturday in April and lasts until the end of September. However, specific regulations and dates can vary depending on the location. It is recommended to verify the Michigan Fishing Guide for the most accurate information.

What are the specific size limits for Walleye in Michigan?

The size limits for Walleye can vary in different parts of Michigan. Generally, the daily possession limit is five Walleye, with a minimum size limit of 15 inches. However, additional regulations and limits might apply in specific locations. Always consult the Michigan Fishing Guide to confirm the limits for your desired fishing area.

Is there a catch and release policy on the Pere Marquette River?

Catch and release policies can vary along the Pere Marquette River, depending on the targeted fish species and time of year. Some areas may have mandatory catch and release regulations, while others may allow anglers to keep their catch within the established limits. To ensure compliance, refer to the Michigan Fishing Guide for the specific regulations in the area you plan to fish.


Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

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