Gone Outdoors

Pine River Fishing in Saint Clair, Michigan

by Richard Corrigan

The Pine River that flows through St. Clair County is one of several streams by the same name in Michigan, which can cause confusion to anglers looking for a place to cast a line. This particular Pine River is a fertile, slow-moving stream with abundant populations of warm-water game fish like crappie and bass. The Pine River is a tributary of the much larger St. Clair River, one of the top walleye fisheries in the state, and the two rivers meet in the community of St. Clair.

Fishing the Pine

Located entirely within St. Clair County, the Pine River is generally warm and sluggish, and the water is often moderately stained. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources points to the Pine River as one of the best crappie fishing spots in the county. The best fishing for crappie generally takes place in spring, when these fish gather in large numbers to spawn around shallow weeds and brush. Try casting live minnows and small soft plastic jigs. Crappie often share habitat with bluegill and largemouth bass, so catching a mixed bag of fish is always a possibility on the Pine River. Bullhead and carp are often available, and a few walleye make their way into the Pine River during the spring spawning season.

Fishing the St. Clair

The St. Clair River harbors walleye year-round, but in spring, these fish invade the river in droves from the Great Lakes to spawn. The St. Clair River is easily one of the best walleye fishing waters in Michigan, and "Game and Fish Magazine" notes that the area around the Pine River is a prime spot. It helps to have a boat to take you out into deeper water, but shore fishermen can catch their fill as well on a good day. Try casting crankbaits, live minnows or jigs tipped with bright-colored soft plastic baits. Of course, fishing in the St. Clair River doesn't end with walleye; the river supports year-round populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, rock bass and northern pike.

Ample Access

Rotary Centennial Park sits at the mouth of the Pine River and includes a fishing pier, picnic tables and a riverside boardwalk where anglers can access both the Pine and St. Clair Rivers. On the opposite shore of the Pine River, the St. Clair Boat Harbor provides a place to rent a fishing boat or launch your own craft. Canoe and kayak rentals are available, and the Pine River's calm waters are perfect for these small boats. You can launch a canoe or kayak farther up the Pine River at the Fred Moore Bridge or at nearby Turtle Beach. Shore fishing access is also available at both sites. Farther upstream, you can launch a boat or cast from shore at Fred Meiselbach Park on Newman Road.

Be Prepared

For all anglers over the age of 16, a current Michigan fishing license is required to fish the Pine River and all other bodies of water across the state. Licenses are available at bait shops, sporting goods stores and a variety of other retailers all over St. Clair County, including Angler's Outfitter in St. Clair and Anderson's Pro Bait in the nearby city of Port Huron. You can also purchase a fishing license online through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website. Statewide angling seasons, limits and other regulations are in effect.

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