Brown Trout

Your Fishing Guide for Success on Michigan’s Tahquamenon River

A fishing guide for the Tahquamenon River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Learn where to fish, what you can reel in and what tackle to bring.

Most people when they hear Tahquamenon River think of the world-renowned Tahquamenon Falls, a pair of lower and upper waterfalls that are some of the largest and most visited in the U.P. But this tranquil river has lured anglers into the wilderness for centuries. Discover why when you wet your line and reel in feisty and tasty catches!

Tahquamenonm Watershed

The River’s Story

The Tahquamenon River (pronounced təˈkwɑːmənɒn, -nən or tə-KWAH-mə-non, -⁠nən) flows slowly in a generally eastward direction for 89.1 miles (143.4 km). It begins at the Tahquamenon Lakes in Columbus Township, Luce County to its mouth on Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay. Along its forested course are the Upper and Lower Tahquamenon Falls, two of the most visited waterfalls in Michigan. The Upper Falls is Michigan’s largest waterfall and one of the largest east of the Mississippi River.  

The meaning of the river’s name is lost. But you will be intrigued by its root beer color. The tannin from the cedar, spruce and hemlock trees at the river’s headwaters create the golden-brown water, and the Upper Tahquamenon Falls is said to be the largest naturally dyed waterfall in the United States.

Another of the river’s claims to fame is in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem, The Song of Hiawatha. Hiawatha learned to paddle a birchbark canoe in the Tahquamenon River, something modern-day canoeists and kayakers still do today.  

Northern Pike

Prime Fishing Spots on the Tahquamenon River

Why this river is so popular with anglers is the many places to fish with or without a boat. These are five of the best places and what to expect to catch: 

TAHQUAMENON LOWER FALLS

This picturesque spot in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Paradise is home to northern pike, muskellunge, walleye, yellow perch and smallmouth bass. Upstream from the falls, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) annually stocks brown trout, making this a favorite place to cast your line. 

RIVER MOUTH, WHITEFISH BAY, LAKE SUPERIOR

This is a top place to fish, with or without a boat. Anglers can launch their boat here or fish off the dock. Target yellow perch, channel catfish, northern pike and muskellunge. The DNR has been stocking walleye in the area and you can expect some exciting catches here.

Locals recommend trolling at the mouth, focusing on areas under and around road pilings. Use large spoons, Rapalas and chugs to reel in the bigger fish. Northern pike over 40 inches long have been pulled from the river’s waters. 

If you prefer to stay on shore, this is also a fantastic spot to make catches with crawlers, minnows, chubs, spoons and Rapalas (orange tends to be a winner). If you drive north of the river mouth to the Tahquamenon Trail, there are numerous pull-offs to claim your place for a day of fishing. 

SLATER’S LANDING

This is an easy-access fishing spot south of the Upper Falls. The landing puts you in reeling range for northern pike, muskellunge, walleye, perch and smallmouth bass.

MCPHEE’S LANDING

When you are staying in Newberry, pack up your gear and head over to this landing where northern pike, muskellunge, walleye, yellow perch and smallmouth bass are hungry and waiting for you to lure them to your line. 

DOLLARVILLE FLOODING

This is another fertile fishing ground near Newberry. It features a fishing dock and boat launch at the Dollarville Dam and the Natalie State Forest Campground. You can pull in yellow perch, muskellunge, and northern that will give you a fight, but make for great photo ops and stories later.

Smallmouth Bass

Things to Know Before You Go

These tips will help ensure a successful, bragging-rights fishing trip on this famous river! 

FISHING REGULATIONS AND LICENSES

Before you head to the river, always carry a current Michigan fishing license and the identification you used to purchase it. Anglers aged 17 and older must own valid licenses. There are special licenses for Michigan residents 65 years and older.

Familiarize yourself with regulations for possession limits, seasons, size requirements and legal fishing methods to ensure you are in compliance and help us protect Tahquamenon Country’s environment. Learn more with these resources:

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Website

Michigan Fishing Guide Online Version (click on the fishing tab)

Michigan Recreational Boating Information System

ENJOY TWO FREE FISHING WEEKENDS

Twice a year on two weekends, you, your family and friends can fish for FREE. Check the dates each year for the weekends in mid-February and early June. 

All fishing license fees will be waived for two days for Michigan residents and out-of-state visitors. You can enjoy fishing on inland and Great Lakes waters, including the Tahquamenon River. All fishing regulations still apply on both weekends.

There’s another thing that’s FREE on those two weekends. You also can enter state parks and boating access sites without a Recreation Passport – including Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Muskallonge Lake State Park.

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR FISHING TRIP

Be sure to pack your tackle box and poles, bug spray, sunblock, and a jacket or fleece to be prepared for the Upper Peninsula’s changing weather conditions. Other things to bring are snacks, water, a cell phone, a flashlight, a compass, a fire starter kit, a pocket knife, an emergency blanket and a camera to capture your trophy catches.

WHERE TO GET FISHING SUPPLIES, FOOD AND LODGINGS

The two largest communities near the Tahquamenon River are Newberry and Paradise. Here you can find bait shops, general stores, fishing guides, restaurants and lodgings. 

Plan to stay at least one night to do more of the adventures and relaxation Tahquamenon Country offers. Book your stay early for the dates, amenities and rates you want. 

See you catching the big ones on the Tahquamenon River soon!


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Kirkland Warbler
POV biker racing down a dirt track in the forest
Yellow Ladyslippers
Tahquamenon Falls in summer
scenic shot of Crisp Point Lighthouse
a small bunch of white trillium on the forest floor
closeup of rocks
Blackburian Warbler on a pine tree limb
The Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat heading up the river.
The northern lights over Lake Superior
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