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Bow & Spear Fishing Regulations

Fishing Regulations Michigan Freshwater Fishing

The seasons, gear, waters, and species where a spear or bow and arrow or crossbow may be used are specified in the table below and lists which follow (except as otherwise prohibited). Spearing gear shall be limited to: hand-propelled spear, rubber-propelled spear, spring-propelled spear, bow and arrow, or crossbow. Artificial lights may be used. It shall be unlawful to use a rubber-propelled spear or a spring-propelled spear without being submerged and have the spear under control by means of an attached line not exceeding twenty feet in length. It is unlawful to spear any fish in a waterbody closed to fishing, except as noted in the spearing exceptions list. Unless noted otherwise, all general regulations apply for the species listed. Anglers should contact local enforcement offices for information concerning local weapons ordinances banning the use of bow and arrow or crossbow in some locations. 

Maps have been developed to assist anglers in identifying inland trout waters and the regulations associated with each Type as indicated by color scheme and text. Maps are only available online at

Table 3: Bow & Spear Fishing Regulations





Open All Year

spear or bow and arrow or crossbow

(as listed above)

ALL WATERS except: Designated Trout Lakes and Designated Trout Streams and Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters. Also see Spearing Exceptions List below.

bowfin, bullheads, burbot, carp, catfish, cisco (lake herring), drum, gizzard shad, goldfish, grass carp, longnose gar, smelt, **suckers, whitefish

Dec. 1 – Mar. 15 (through the ice)

hand-propelled spear (only)

ALL WATERS except: Designated Trout Lakes and Designated Trout Streams and Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters. Also see Spearing Exceptions List below. See
Inland Trout & Salmon Regulations for more information.

northern pike and muskellunge

**The term suckers refers to: suckers (longnose, white, northern hog, spotted), redhorse (silver, golden, black, greater, shorthead), buffalo (bigmouth, black), lake chubsucker, and quillback carpsucker.

All Type A and D lakes are Designated Trout Waters. All Types 1 and 2 streams, Gear Restricted Streams, Research Areas, Brook Trout Restoration Areas, and nearly all Types 3 and 4 streams are Designated Trout Waters.

Spearing Exceptions List

Waters Closed to Northern Pike and
Muskellunge Spearing

It shall be unlawful to fish by any means other than hook-and-line for northern pike or muskellunge in the following waters:

  • ALGER: Kingston L.; ALPENA/MONTMORENCY: Fletcher Floodwaters; BARRY: Thornapple L. (from McKeown Rd. to Barger Rd.); CHIPPEWA: Caribou L.; CLARE: Budd L.; CLINTON: L. Ovid; DELTA: Dana L.; DICKINSON: East, Island, South, and West Lks (all within Groveland Mines); IRON: Brule and Chicagon Lks., L. Emily, Paint L., Paint (Brule Isle Imp.) Pond, Stanley and Swan Lks.; KENT: Campau and Murray Lks.; KEWEENAW: L. Gratiot; LENAWEE: L. Hudson; LUCE: Round (North Manistique) L.; OTSEGO: Big Bear L.; SCHOOLCRAFT: Grassy and McKeever Lks.; ST. JOSEPH: Long L. (Fabius Twp. T6S, R12W, S7); VAN BUREN: Bankson and Round Lks. (Keeler Twp. T4S, R16W, S31)

Waters Closed To Muskellunge Spearing

It shall be unlawful to fish by any other means other than hook-and-line for muskellunge in the following waters: L. Erie, L. St. Clair, Detroit R., and St. Clair R.

Waters with Spearing and Gaff Hook Restrictions

It shall be unlawful to take or attempt to take any species of fish with spearing gear or gaff hook from Apr. 1 – Jun. 15 from the following waters of CHEBOYGAN County: Black R., Cheboygan R., and Indian R.

Waters Open To Yellow Perch Spearing

A hand-propelled spear or bow and arrow or crossbow may be used to harvest yellow perch from Jan. 1 – end of Feb. in L. St. Clair.

Designated Trout Streams Open To Spring Spearing

The following designated trout streams listed by county are open to the use of spearing gear from Apr. 1 – May 31, for taking bowfin, bullheads, burbot, carp, catfish, cisco (lake herring), drum, longnose gar, gizzard shad, goldfish, grass carp, smelt, **suckers (as listed above) and lake whitefish:

  • ALCONA: Bryant Cr. from Vaughn L. downstream to Little L.; Buff Cr.; Sucker Cr. from confluence of Vincent Cr. (T27N, R8E, S9) downstream to Hubbard L. (T28N, R7E, S36); CALHOUN: Nottawa Cr. from Calhoun Co. line (T4S, R8W, S31) upstream to T3S, R5W, S35; Rice Cr. South Branch Rice Cr. from confluence of Rice Cr. and Kalamazoo R. (T2S, R6W, S25) upstream to Concord Rd. (Jackson Co.); CHIPPEWA: Trout Cr. downstream of Big Trout L. (T42N, R3E, S31); Prentiss Cr. (T42N, R2E,); DELTA: Squaw Cr. downstream of Co. Rd 513; MACKINAC: Doe Cr. (T43N, R10W); Foley Cr. downstream of I-75; Hoban Cr. downstream of US-2; Hudson Cr. (T41N, R11W, S8); Martineau Cr. downstream of I-75; McClouds Cr.; Milakokia R. from Milakokia L. downstream to Heinz L.; Norton Cr. from M-135 downstream to South Manistique L.; Nunn’s Cr. downstream of Highway M -134; Pearson’s Cr. T42N, R1W and R1E; Rabbits Back Cr. downstream of Mackinac Trail; Scrams Cr. (T42N, R11W, S11); Taylor Cr. (T43N, R12W, S2, 11, 12 and 13); MASON: Sable R. from Freesoil Rd. downstream to Custer Rd. (T20N, R16W, S22); VAN BUREN: Dowagiac R. and tributaries upstream of 50th Street (T4S, R15W, S35); Lake of the Wood Outlet to confluence with Dowagiac R. (T45N, R15W, S34).