GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — When it comes to fishing on Michigan’s swollen lakes, if you can make it on the water, the payoff may be better.

Captain Mike Nelson of Nelson Charters says the waters in Grand Haven are too high, leading to flooding on roads and docks. Elevated lakes have also spilled over boat launches, preventing anglers from getting onto the water.

“Everyone has been joking that you can launch your boat in the parking lot practically. It’s crazy,” said Nelson.

Nelson said there’s a silver lining: the fish are larger than normal.

“The salmon are bigger — a lot bigger,” he said. “Our biggest fish this year is 27 pounds.”

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Generally, fish benefit from higher waters. Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Matt Diana says the elevated levels give fish access to shallow streams and wetlands they may not be able to normally reach.

The high waters can also impact fish reproduction.

“Many fish species spawn in shallow wetland areas, particularly northern pike. And flooding results in increased reproduction,” Diana explained. “The flooded vegetation is good substrate for eggs and habitat for juvenile fish.”

The DNR says it’s monitoring high lake levels statewide. Boaters are encouraged to visit the DNR’s closures page for updated information on waters before heading out to use boating access sites.

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