Fish of Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake by surface area in the world, measuring 31,700 square miles. (That is roughly the same size as South Carolina or Austria!) All that fresh water creates a paradise for those who like to fish.


Because of Lake Superior’s cool temperature, its nutrient and algae content remain very low. Visitors to Lake Superior will appreciate its clarity, while fish enjoy the rich oxygen levels, even in very deep parts of the lake. Eighty-eight species of fish can be found in Lake Superior, but only thirty-four are native to it.


Here are some of the 34 native fish species found in Lake Superior.




Walleyes like to swim in the very deep, cold water of Lake Superior. Their eyes have adapted to the low light near the bottom of the lake. Minnows make great bait for catching walleye.




Lake Whitefish can be found in all of Michigan’s Great Lakes. The most commercially fished species along Lake Superior, it is recognizable by its small head. Because of its delicate taste, whitefish can be found on most restaurant menus in the area.


Brook Trout


Nine eastern states claim the Brook Trout as their state fish, including Michigan. Brook Trout or ‘Brookies’ swim near the shores of Lake Superior, making them ideal for fly fishing. Their beautiful colors of brown, green, gold, and red make them a special catch.


Smallmouth Bass


Red eyes denote this member of  the sunfish family. Smallmouth Bass prefer cooler water temperatures than their cousin, the Largemouth Bass. Paradoxically, Smallmouth Bass have a penchant for large meals, even snatching up crayfish. Experienced fishers use spinners to lure in these beauties.


Lake Sturgeon


These fish live along the shoreline in 15 to 30 feet of water. A typical sturgeon can weight between 30 to 100 pounds and grow up to 6 feet in length. They prowl along the bottom of the lake eating snails and other small fish. Amazingly, the average sturgeon lives 55 years.


Yellow Perch


Sharp dorsal fins and vertical stripes identify the yellow perch. They swim in schools along the shore and grow to around 7.5 inches on average. Perch bite on nightcrawlers, making it a good fish for young children learning the art of fishing.




Humans remain the only threat in Lake Superior to the Muskellunge (or Muskie). Muskies stalk their prey and eat anything within striking distance. Anglers love to hunt the elusive trophy Muskie, which can reach up to 6 feet in length.


These are just a few of the 88 types of fish found in Lake Superior. When kayaking, keep a look-out for any that venture near the surface or shore. Fishing on Lake Superior is a great family activity to add-0n to a Paddling Michigan vacation.