A Water Wonderland

Lakes | Fishing | Kayaking & Rafting |

Lakes and Beaches

With over 90 inland lakes, Otsego County is truly a water wonderland.  Our lakes range from clear water with sandy, white beaches perfect for relaxing in the sun to glistening gems hidden deep in the forest, lined with trees. 

Whether you’re looking to relax in a beach chair at the Otsego Lake State Park, play a game of volleyball at the Otsego Lake County Park or kayak along still waters that feel away from it all, we have the perfect place for you to get your feet wet.  

Many area lakes offer perfect areas for swimming, with shallow waters and gentle waves.  Lay back and relax on a tube or just enjoy the beach with a good book.  All you need to bring is sunscreen and your towel!


Fishing in Otsego County


For those looking looking to drop a line, dozens of lakes are stocked with the catch-of-the-day. Otsego Lake offers a variety of species of freshwater fish and a variety of seasons in which to pursue them. The water is alive with walleye, perch, small-and large-mouth bass, pike sturgeon and crappie, among other sport fish. And ice fishermen find Otsego Lake a great place to shanty up when the ice grows thick in the heart of Michigan’s winter.

Beyond Otsego Lake, Big Bear Lake and Big Lake are two favorites for fun. Big Bear Lake has a maximum depth of 36 feet and occupies 350 square acres. Big Lake has a maximum depth of 81 feet and is about a third of the size of Big Bear Lake.

Sure, Gaylord’s got loads of fantastic fishing lakes-they’re those big blue blurbs all over the map-but did you know the area is stocked with a heap of streams chock full of the North’s famous trout?

Otsego County is the headwaters to five favorite rivers: Black River, Pigeon River, AuSable River, Manistee River & Sturgeon River.

For information on public access sites and fishing in Otsego County, use the Printable Guide to Fishing in the Gaylord/Otsego County Area.  Also visit the DNR website for seasons, license requirements and free fishing weekend information!


Looking for an excellent fishing resource? Check out the Michigan Fishing Guide.

Buy your license online or click here for a list of Otsego County license vendors.


 Michigan Trout Trails


Check out Michigan’s Trout Trails which are biologist-verified great trout waters that are often lesser known. The DNR created the Trout Trails website to includes detailed descriptions and photos for each site, as well as information for area lodging, restaurants and guide services to assist with your trip planning needs. In addition, site-specific information such as the trout species available, regulations, stocked or natural reproduction and other noteworthy tidbits are all at your fingertips!

Visit the Michigan Trout Trails page>>>



Canoeing, Kayaking & Rafting

Our geographically-gifted position right in the center of Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula offers the state’s best base camp for any outdoor pursuit. With easy access to trail networks, river systems, inland lakes, parks, ski resorts, and big wilderness spaces, Gaylord is alive with adventure!

Otsego County is the headwaters to five favorite rivers: Black River, Pigeon River, AuSable River, Manistee River & Sturgeon River.

The Sturgeon River is the fastest river in Michigan’s lower peninsula! Not whitewater, but exciting and challenging with its quick and often tricky current, along with leaning trees, stumps, and logs (especially when navigating through numerous narrow passages and sharp turns!). The current does most of the work, but it’s up to you and/or your partner(s) to maneuver your watercraft down the crystal-clear, spring-fed stream, as it winds its way through beautiful state forest.

Take a short drive north and check out Sturgeon River Paddlesports in Wolverine or Big Bear Adventures in Indian River to experience all the Sturgeon River has to offer!  Get ready for four-seasons of fun and check out guided winter rafting, offered at both locations.  

The Pigeon River runs through the north-central part of the southern peninsula of Michigan. Its headwaters are located a few miles northeast of Gaylord. The river then flows in a northernly direction to its mouth at Mullet Lake, a distance of 42 miles.

While on the  Au Sable River, you stand a good chance of seeing bald eagles along the river during any season. The Au Sable guarantees a leisurely, beautiful float, and there are plenty of canoe liveries available in the area if you do not have your own boat.

If lake kayaking or canoeing is more your speed, check out our recommendations for Where to Drop a Kayak in the Gaylord area.  



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West Dixon Lake Dr.
Gaylord, MI 49735
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