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Pickerel fishing in Lake Superior

Pickerel fishing in Lake Superior is a thrilling and rewarding experience for anglers seeking adventure in one of North America’s largest and most pristine bodies of water. With its crystal-clear waters, stunning landscapes, and abundant fish populations, Lake Superior offers an ideal environment for pickerel, also known as walleye, fishing. In this guide, we will delve into the essentials of pickerel fishing in Lake Superior, including the best locations, techniques, gear, and tips to make your trip a success.

Introduction to Pickerel Fishing in Lake Superior

Lake Superior, one of the Great Lakes of North America, is renowned for its remarkable beauty and exceptional fishing opportunities. Pickerel, also known as walleye, are a highly sought-after species in this vast and diverse ecosystem. Pickerel are known for their delicious, flaky white flesh and challenging behavior, making them a favorite target for anglers of all skill levels.

Choosing the Right Location

The first step in planning a pickerel fishing trip to Lake Superior is selecting the right location. Lake Superior offers numerous options for pickerel fishing, each with its unique characteristics and advantages.

  1. Chequamegon Bay: Located on the south shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, Chequamegon Bay is famous for its abundant pickerel population. The bay’s sheltered waters and productive ecosystem make it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced anglers. The Bayfield Peninsula and nearby Apostle Islands provide a picturesque backdrop for your fishing adventure.
  2. Keweenaw Peninsula: The Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is another prime location for pickerel fishing. The rugged coastline, clear waters, and deep underwater structures offer a challenging and rewarding experience. The towns of Houghton and Copper Harbor serve as ideal starting points for exploring this region.
  3. North Shore, Minnesota: The North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota offers a mix of pickerel fishing opportunities, including river mouths, rocky shorelines, and deepwater trolling. Duluth, Two Harbors, and Grand Marais are notable access points for pickerel enthusiasts.
  4. Isle Royale: For the more adventurous angler, Isle Royale National Park is an isolated paradise located in the middle of Lake Superior. Accessible by ferry or seaplane, this remote island offers pristine pickerel fishing in an unspoiled wilderness setting.

Best Techniques for Pickerel Fishing

Pickerel are known for their unique feeding habits and can be challenging to catch. However, with the right techniques, you can increase your chances of a successful catch.

  1. Jigging: Jigging is a popular technique for pickerel fishing in Lake Superior. Vertical jigging with a variety of jigs and live bait, such as minnows or leeches, can be highly effective. Experiment with different jigging motions until you find what works best on the day.
  2. Trolling: Trolling is another productive method, especially when targeting larger pickerel. Use planer boards and deep-diving crankbaits to cover a wide area of the lake. Vary your trolling speed and depth until you locate active fish.
  3. Casting: Casting near rocky shorelines, submerged structures, and drop-offs can yield great results. Crankbaits, soft plastics, and spinnerbaits are popular lures for casting.
  4. Night Fishing: Pickerel are often more active at night, so consider night fishing for an added challenge. Use glow-in-the-dark lures or add lighted bobbers to your setup to attract pickerel in low-light conditions.

Essential Gear and Equipment

Having the right gear is crucial for a successful pickerel fishing trip in Lake Superior. Here’s a list of essential equipment:

  1. Fishing Rods and Reels: Choose medium to medium-heavy spinning or casting rods with sensitive tips to detect subtle bites. Match them with quality reels that can handle the line capacity required for Lake Superior’s depth.
  2. Fishing Line: Opt for monofilament or braided line in the 10-20 pound test range. The line should be strong enough to handle pickerel but light enough to maintain sensitivity.
  3. Lures and Baits: Carry a variety of lures and baits, including jigs, crankbaits, soft plastics, and live bait like minnows and leeches. Having a diverse selection allows you to adapt to changing conditions.
  4. Tackle Box: Organize your tackle in a waterproof tackle box to keep everything accessible and protected.
  5. Fishing License: Ensure you have the necessary fishing license for the state or province where you plan to fish. Regulations may vary, so check the local guidelines.
  6. Safety Equipment: Safety should always be a priority. Bring life jackets, a first-aid kit, and any other safety gear required by local authorities.
  7. Navigation Tools: Lake Superior is vast, and a GPS unit or fishfinder can be invaluable for locating productive fishing spots and navigating safely.
  8. Appropriate Clothing: Dress in layers to stay comfortable in Lake Superior’s variable weather conditions. Don’t forget rain gear, sun protection, and warm clothing for cooler evenings and mornings.

Tips for Pickerel Fishing Success

To increase your chances of a successful pickerel fishing trip in Lake Superior, consider these valuable tips:

  1. Research the Area: Study maps, talk to local anglers, and read fishing reports to identify productive areas and patterns.
  2. Stay Patient: Pickerel can be elusive, so be prepared for periods of slow action. Patience often pays off when waiting for the right moment.
  3. Mind the Weather: Weather conditions can affect pickerel behavior. Overcast days and light rain can sometimes trigger more active feeding.
  4. Respect Conservation: Always practice catch-and-release when appropriate, and adhere to size and bag limits to protect pickerel populations for future generations.
  5. Learn from Experience: Keep a fishing journal to record your successes and failures. This information can help you refine your strategies over time.
  6. Stay Informed: Stay updated on local fishing regulations and check for any updates or changes before your trip.


Pickerel fishing in Lake Superior offers a unique and memorable experience in a breathtaking natural setting. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced angler, the thrill of reeling in a pickerel from the clear waters of Lake Superior is an adventure you won’t soon forget. With the right location, techniques, gear, and a bit of patience, you can embark on a pickerel fishing journey that will leave you with lifelong memories and a deep appreciation for this remarkable freshwater fishery. So, pack your fishing gear, head to Lake Superior, and get ready for an unforgettable pickerel fishing adventure!