In Michigan, relatively few anglers target flatheads, but in several rivers, as well as lakes Muskegon, Manistee, and White, accidental catches are common, particularly for anglers trolling crankbaits. On the Grand, St. Joseph, and Manistee rivers, summer fishing with live bluegills, bullheads, or suckers in woodcover produces flatheads in the 20- to 30-pound range. On bigger riverine lakes, trolling plugs over thick timber piles yields outsize fish. The woodpiles are remnants of Great Lakes logging operations from the late 1800s, and the biggest piles lying along drop-offs hold most of the flatheads.
Most of Michigan's Master Angler entries for big flatheads come from Lake Manistee, though large fish also come from unexpected waters. In January 2014, the 52-pound state record was caught on Barron Lake. Other top spots include the east end of Muskegon Lake and the lower stretches of the Muskegon, Grand, and Saginaw rivers. Peak fishing occurs in summer through early fall. Catfish guides are rare in the area, and local bait shops can point you in the right direction.
Contact: D & R Sports Center (Kalamazoo, St. Joseph River), 800/992-1520; Solberg's Marina (Manistee), 231/723-2611; Frank's Great Outdoors (Bay City, Saginaw River area), 989/697-5341; Michigan DNR, michigan.gov/dnr