Fishing & Hunting
Indian River is surrounded by lakes, rivers and forests that abound with a wide variety of wildlife to fish, hunt and photograph. Fishing camps were one of the area's earliest attractions and people still come from far and wide to see what they can pull from the fresh, clear waters.
Fishing is a year-around endeavor, whether it's standing on the shore of a river casting flies, trolling in a boat on a lake in the summer or sitting in a shanty on the ice in the winter. The variety of fish in area waters is nothing short of amazing. Everything from bait-stealing perch up to sturgeon weighing more than 100 pounds. In between, you'll find walleye, bass, trout, suckers, muskellunge etc.
Walleye and trout fishing have always been northern Michigan fishing mainstays, but bass fishing has been drawing a bigger crowd in recent years. State record smallmouth bass and muskellunge have both come out of local lakes in recent years.
Episodes of several TV shows including Fishing University, Reel in the Outdoors and the Ultimate Match Fishing Championship have been filmed in Indian River. Bass fishing groups including Michigan Bass Nation, the National Bass Anglers B.A.S.S. Nation Team Championship Series and the Bass Federation of Michigan have hosted bass fishing tournaments in Indian River. In addition to the large tournaments, there are also local walleye tournaments in the summer and ice fishing tournaments in the winter. The Indian River Tourist Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce have assisted in coordinating tournaments and TV shows.
While the tournaments feature flashy bass boats, much of the fishing in the Indian River area is done by amateur fishermen fishing out of small boats or off of docks in the summer and out of ice shanties in the winter.
If you have your own boat, there are plenty of PLACES where you can launch it. There are also places where you can rent boats. There is a public fishing pier at DeVoe Beach in Indian River and several places along the Sturgeon, Little Sturgeon, Pigeon and other rivers where people can stream fish. Fly fishing is very popular in the streams and rivers running through the Pigeon River State Forest.
If you do happen to catch a big fish, you can take it to Pat & Gary's Party Store in Indian River to have it weighed and have your picture taken with it. The store has both summer and winter fishing contests. Fishing fame in Indian River is when you get a picture of you and your fish on the wall of Pat & Gary's and also have it published in the Straitsland Resorter newspaper.
Maintaining high level fishing is a cooperative effort. The Northern Inland Lakes Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee (INFO) meets each spring and fall at the Tuscarora Township Hall. Representatives of the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division, along with local sport fishing, tribal and lake and environmental groups participate in the meetings, exchanging information and sharing plans to improve the fishery. Among the topics covered are stocking efforts, regulations, research results and lamprey control.
For those who like the outdoors, but prefer to stay on solid ground, there are plenty of hunting opportunities in the Indian River area, from small game up to (if you're lucky enough to draw a tag) huge elk. Although everything from rabbits and partridge to bear and coyotes can be found in area forests, deer remain the most popular game in the area. On opening day, Pat & Gary's Party Store in downtown Indian River hosts Michigan's largest buck pole, awarding more than $10,000 in prizes to successful hunters.