The Daily, The Water

Michigan’s 20 largest inland lakes

Big pike are found in all 20 of these lakes. Fish near submerged weedbeds.

The outdoors is much more than just fishing and hunting. There is a vast store of knowledge about various aspects that I know too little about, and I take pride in my knowledge.

For instance: one glaring error in my outdoor education is my knowledge of bushes and trees. Sure, I know what beech, birch, maple and oak trees and their leaves look like, but throw an oddball tree my way and ask me to identify it, I’m as lost as last year’s Easter egg.

I started thinking today about a question one of my kids asked 30 years ago. David asked: “Dad, have you fished every lake and stream in the state?”

A probing question from my oldest son.

The answer then and still is “no.” I’ve fished a good number of them over my half-century of prowling this state, but there are many I haven’t fished and may never try. Time is against me or most people who would try to accomplish such a daunting feat.

That thought brought me to today’s topic. Someone emailed me this morning, and asked if I knew the largest inland lakes in the state. By sheer good fortune, I knew the five top lakes in terms of size, and could even name them in order; Houghton, Torch, Charlevoix, Burt and Mullett lakes. Beyond those five, I was lost and began doing some intense research.

An obscure DNR booklet named Michigan’s 20 Largest Inland Lakes was found tucked away in a file cabinet, and the topic proved fascinating. Fifteen of the largest lakes are in the Lower Peninsula and five are found in the Upper Peninsula.

What follows is that list, ranging from No. 1 to No. 20, the county or counties where they are found, the size in acres, and the miles of shoreline (which includes islands) around it.

*1. Houghton Lake is in Roscommon County. It has 20,044 acres and has 30.0 miles of shoreline.

*2. Torch Lake is located in Antrim and Kalkaska counties, and has 18,770 acres. There are 40.8 miles of shoreline.

Some lakes have more shoreline miles because of points and other land features.

*3. Lake Charlevoix is in Charlevoix County. It has 17,260 acres, and the shoreline covers 56.0 miles.

*Burt Lake is in Cheboygan County. It covers 18, 120 acres, and the shoreline measures 30.1 miles.

*5. Mullett Lake also is in Cheboygan County. It has 16,630 acres, and the shoreline measures 31.6 miles.

*6. Gogebic Lake, the Upper Peninsula’s largest inland lake, is found in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties. It covers 13,380 acres, and has 34.4 miles of shoreline.

*7. Big Manistique Lake, rests in Luce and Mackinac counties, and it is tied for 7th place with 10, 130 acres. It has 26.5 miles of Upper Peninsula shoreline.

*8. Black Lake in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties, also has 10, 130 acres. It has 18.7 miles of shoreline.

*9. Crystal Lake in Benzie County is one of the state’s most beautiful lakes. It has 9,711 acres and 20.8 miles of shoreline.

*10. Portage Lake in Houghton County was one of the last strongholds for sauger in this state. Fisheries biologists feel the sauger have disappeared. The lake has 9, 640 acres with 55.9 miles of shoreline.

*]11. Higgins Lake in Crawford and Roscommon counties has 9,000 acres. It has 21 miles of shoreline.

*12. Fletcher Floodwaters is located in Alpena and Montmorency counties. It has 8,970 acres with 24.7 shoreline miles.

*13. Hubbard Lake is located in Alcona County. It has 8,850 acres and 19.3 miles of frontage on the lake.

I’ve fish all 20 of Michigan’s largest lakes. It’s always fun learning a new lake.

*14. North and South Lakes Leelanau in Leelanau County covers 8,320 acres. It has 40.2 miles of shoreline.

*15. Indian Lake is found in Schoolcraft County. It has an even 8,000 acres with 16.7 miles of shoreline.
*16. Elk Lake in Antrim and Grand Traverse counties has 7,730 surface acres. It measures 25.8 miles around the lake.

*17. Michigamme Reservoir is located in Iron County. It features 7,200 acres but has 78.0 miles of shoreline.

*18. Glen Lake in Leelanau County includes the east and west basins, and covers 6,285 surface acres. It only has 17.0 miles of shoreline.

*19. Grand Lake in Presque Isle County. It covers 6,660 acres with 35.5 miles of shoreline.

*20. Long Lake in Alpena and Presque Isle counties has 5,652 acres. It has 25.3 miles of shoreline.

Keep this list handy, and it can settle any type of bar bet or resolve discussions with other anglers.


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