Absolute seclusion, undeveloped shoreline, thriving populations of pike, perch, bluegills and bass, Lake Dubonnet outside of Traverse City is a fisherman’s paradise.

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our magazine library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

This article was first published in April 2006. Last updated on MyNorth.com January 2024.

A quick drive on U.S. 31 South from Traverse City reveals what local anglers like to keep under wraps: a pristine 1,000-acre lake that has some of the best fishing around. To find Lake Dubonnet follow Wildwood Road deep into the trees until you pull up in front of Lake Dubonnet State Forest Campground. The lake is to your left, along with parking and a boat launch.

Cut the engine, breathe deeply and take a moment to savor the situation – yes, you pretty much have this lake to yourself. Once your vessel is floating serenely on the water, drink up the scenery made possible by Lake Dubonnet’s almost entirely undeveloped shoreline.

As you drift about, notice the flooded timber, lily pads and thick clusters of weeds scattered throughout the lake – these are hot spots for fish. Northern pike, perch and muskie are a few of the species that call this lake home, as well as monster-sized hybrid bluegills in the early spring and an impressive population of largemouth bass. And don’t forget to paddle past the lake’s marshy, pine-dotted “wandering” island. Local lore claims it’s the world’s only floating island; while this may or may not be true, the drifting land mass is still worth a look-see.

Kayakers seeking a quiet escape also can enjoy the solitude here, but remember to keep a respectful distance from anglers.

At the end of the day, hop on over to Karlin Inn, (7484 Karlin Road, 231-263-7995) a Karlin watering hole since 1934, for a frosty beverage and burger. On Friday and Saturday evenings, there’s a phenomenal fish dinner – perch fried up right with homemade slaw, French fries and house made garlic toast.


Photo by Jill Hayes

Emily Bingham is assistant editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.ebingham@traversemagazine.com

Photo(s) by Patrick Wellever