Fishing in Macomb County and Other Waterway Fun

Learn how to get the most out of your freshwater resources close to home. Take your family fishing in Macomb County!

As Michiganders, we are so lucky to have freshwater lakes and rivers at our disposable — especially in Macomb County. The Clinton River Watershed, for example, offers visitors over 760 miles of recreational activities.

Kaleigh Snoddy, Director of Education and Stewardship for the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) offered her insight into what families can enjoy while they are out on or in the water.

Fishing in Macomb County

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting a free fishing weekend on June 10-11, 2023. All weekend, all fishing license fees are waived, and a recreation passport is not required for entry or for boating access at the state parks. It gives families the opportunity to enjoy the Michigan’s state parks (especially fishing) for no cost.

That weekend is also known as “Three Free” weekend, where residents and nonresidents can enjoy fishing, off road trails and boating access sites without having to pay the fees. For an interactive list of public fishing sites throughout the watershed, check out SEMCOG’s ParkFinder.

“Although CRWC isn’t hosting an event for fishing, we do have our annual event, River Day, happening on June 10,” says Snoddy.

Photo credit: Clinton River Watershed Council

This event started in 1998 and has grown throughout the years. It was created to encourage appreciation and recreational use of the waterways of Lake St. Clair and also the Clinton River.

“Our River Day guide is pretty special because it gives you a wide variety of events to choose from,” she says. “From celebrating the water itself or even nature hikes at your local nature center, you don’t necessarily have to get wet to enjoy it.”

To celebrate River Day, your family can join in the Clinton River Day Clean-Up in Shelby Township, participate in the Utica Parks and Recreation Bird Friends Event, enjoy the New Haven Beautification Day — or attend one of several other events to honor and care for your local waterways.


“Swimming is something a lot of people like to do out on the water,” says Snoddy.

Beaches, waterparks, inland lakes and Lake St. Clair are all great spots for getting in the water. A popular Macomb County swimming destination for families is Lake St. Clair Metropark.

The Macomb County Health Department tests beach conditions throughout the year — so you know when swimming is safest for your family.

“After a big rain event, we recommend to give the water some time before going out and swimming because of storm water pollution,” she says. “When it rains it carries things like road salt and gas or oil from vehicles, pretty much anything sitting on the surface carries into the water.”

Photo credit: Clinton River Watershed Council

She explains to give it a day or two before heading into the water for a swim.

“Also, be sure to wear bright colors when swimming and avoid blue or green swimsuits,” says Snoddy.


“Boating is very popular on the inland lakes in Oakland County and in the Metroparks of Macomb County,” says Snoddy. “There are plenty of DNR boat launches.”

In Macomb County, the boat launches include:

  • Stony Creek Lake, Shelby Township
  • Lake St. Clair Metropark, Harrison Township
  • Selfridge Public Boat Launch, Harrison Township
  • DNR Boat Launch, Harrison Township
  • Harley Ensign Memorial Boat Access, Harrison Township
  • 9 Mile Boat Ramp, St. Clair Shores

“To stay safe boating on the water, life jackets or personal floating devices are a must,” she says.


Exploring the water from a kayak or canoe is a wonderful way to get to know the plants and animals that call the waterway home. Be sure to choose a waterway that is appropriate to your level of expertise and get ready to explore by paddling.

According to the CRWC website, “The lower river from Budd Park in Clinton Township downstream to Mount Clemens is the best stretch for beginners and the upper river in the Chain of Lakes area in Oakland County is also good for beginners.”

The riverway can be challenging after a rainfall due to the debris, but Snoddy shares that river stewards manage and report blockages on the water trail.

“We also had a gentleman named Clyde (OutsidewithClyde on YouTube) go out and paddle the whole water trail in the summer of 2020,” says Snoddy. “He chose a different one each day and paddled and filmed the whole thing.”

You can view his videos on their website or on his YouTube channel and get a feel for what the waterways are like.

“We recommend ages 14 and up for our paddling events and also to never paddle alone,” says Snoddy. Visit the CRWC website for a wealth of information and tips for a great paddling experience.

Tips for families

“A couple tips I have for families is to get out there and have fun, but to also make sure to leave places cleaner than you found them,” says Snoddy.

She also encourages families to enjoy hiking and biking near the river or the tributaries for some beautiful scenic trails.

For more information on living and learning in Macomb County, visit Make Macomb Your Home. Find more articles like this at Metro Parent’s A Family Guide to Macomb County.

Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Metro Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring metro Detroit with her son.


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