7 Biggest Fish in the Great Lakes


The Great Lakes, a magnificent natural wonder shared by the United States and Canada, are not only a source of awe-inspiring beauty but also home to an incredible diversity of aquatic life.

Among the many fascinating inhabitants of these freshwater ecosystems are some truly massive fish species that have captured the imaginations of anglers and nature enthusiasts alike. In this comprehensive guide, we will dive into the depths of the Great Lakes and uncover the 7 biggest fish species that reside here.

7 Biggest Fish in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are renowned for their vastness and the rich variety of fish that thrive within their waters. Let’s take a closer look at the seven biggest fish species you might encounter in these majestic lakes.

Lake Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon, an ancient and prehistoric creature, reigns as one of the largest fish found in the Great Lakes. These giants can reach lengths of up to 7 feet or more and weigh several hundred pounds. Lake Sturgeon are known for their distinctive, elongated bodies and bony plates, which make them a unique sight for lucky observers.

Muskie (Muskellunge)

Muskie, often called the “fish of ten thousand casts,” is another giant that calls the Great Lakes home. These apex predators can grow up to 5 feet in length and weigh over 50 pounds. Anglers covet the opportunity to catch a muskie due to their elusive nature and incredible strength.

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon, also known as King Salmon, are famous for their size and delicious taste. These fish can grow up to 3 feet long and weigh over 30 pounds. They are a prized catch for both recreational and commercial fishermen.

Lake Trout

Lake Trout are a cold-water species that have thrived in the Great Lakes for centuries. These fish can reach lengths of up to 3 feet and weigh over 40 pounds. They are highly sought after by anglers for their challenging fight and excellent taste.


Carp are a common sight in the Great Lakes and can grow to impressive sizes. Some carp have been recorded at lengths exceeding 3 feet and weights of over 50 pounds. While they are often considered a nuisance, they provide an exciting challenge for anglers.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass are renowned for their aggressive nature and ability to put up a fight when hooked. While they are smaller in comparison to some other Great Lakes fish, they can still reach lengths of up to 2 feet and weigh over 5 pounds.

Northern Pike

Northern Pike are voracious predators known for their sharp teeth and powerful strikes. These fish can reach lengths of 4 feet or more and weigh over 20 pounds. They are a favorite target of anglers due to their ferocious behavior.

The Thrill of Catching These Giants

Catching one of these magnificent fish in the Great Lakes is an experience like no other. Anglers from around the world flock to these waters to test their skills against these giants. The thrill of feeling a powerful fish on the other end of your line, the adrenaline rush as it fights to escape, and the satisfaction of a successful catch are all part of the allure.


Are there any size restrictions for catching these fish?

While size restrictions may vary depending on the specific regulations of each Great Lake, it’s important to check the local fishing guidelines to ensure you are in compliance. Conservation efforts often dictate the minimum and maximum sizes that can be caught and kept.

What is the best time of year to catch these giants?

The ideal time for fishing these species can vary, but generally, spring and early summer are excellent times for anglers. During these seasons, many of these fish are actively feeding and are more likely to be caught.

Do I need a special fishing license for the Great Lakes?

Yes, fishing in the Great Lakes typically requires a separate fishing license, which can vary depending on whether you are a resident or non-resident. It’s crucial to research and obtain the necessary permits before casting your line.

Can I release the fish after catching them?

Absolutely! Catch and release practices help conserve these incredible fish species for future generations. Make sure to handle them with care and release them safely so they can continue to thrive in their natural habitat.

What is the largest recorded catch of these fish in the Great Lakes?

The record-breaking catches of these fish can vary from lake to lake and year to year. It’s always exciting to hear about anglers breaking records, so keep an eye on local fishing reports for the latest updates.

Are there guided fishing tours available on the Great Lakes?

Yes, many experienced guides offer fishing charters on the Great Lakes. These charters provide valuable knowledge and equipment, increasing your chances of a successful catch.


Exploring the Great Lakes and trying your hand at catching the 7 biggest fish species is an adventure filled with excitement and wonder. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice looking for a thrilling challenge, these freshwater giants are sure to leave a lasting impression. So, pack your gear, follow the regulations, and get ready for an unforgettable fishing experience in the Great Lakes.

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