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Are There Dangerous Fish in Lake Michigan?

Last Updated: 24.04.24


It’s true, Lake Michigan is one of the most beautiful places on earth. As a tourist, you will be welcomed by long pristine beaches, massive clouds that sometimes gather above the lake – making it just perfect for some surreal photography – and by colorful towns that just wait for you to visit them.

The lake itself is home to plenty of fish and other seafood, making Lake Michigan a place worth crossing if you travel by boat or worth diving in if you want to see what’s beneath the water surface.

However, diving should be done carefully, as in the depths of Lake Michigan lurk some dangerous creatures, as well. You might not expect some of the marine creatures that we are about to discuss  in the following paragraphs, but we assure you that they are there, waiting. However, you shouldn’t get scared, as the chances of encountering one of the following fish are quite slim.

Without any further ado, let’s see which the dangerous fish that swim inside Lake Michigan are.


No, they are not a fish that’s commonly found in Lake Michigan as it would make the location a rather dangerous place – and not beautiful. So far, there have been no reports of Piranha being found in Lake Michigan. However, they do tend to show up quite often in some of the little lakes in the Midwest area.

Moreover, a Pacu, which is a species of fish that’s closely related to the piranha – it’s bigger than the latter – has been caught in a lake in Illinois.

Piranha is a fish that’s commonly found in South America – so there is only one way they could have reached Lake Michigan, and that is through the hands men. It is believed that all of the Piranhas and Pacus that are caught by fishers have once been pets. Being kept at home, in a tank has probably led some owners to give them back their freedom – and therefore bringing them to Lake Michigan.

Of course, that’s a little irresponsible, as their numbers have reportedly increased in the past few years. Since cold water is their natural environment, we can say that they are having a good time swimming in Lake Michigan and in the surrounding lakes – a Pacu has been fished in Lake St. Clair, located in Port Huron.


Sea Lamprey

You can even bring with you your spinning rod – the chances that you will actually be able to catch a Sea Lamprey are close to none. Let’s see why. Originally a fish that lived only in the ocean, they have managed to adapt themselves to fresh water.

Because of this, the lakes of Michigan have witnessed infestations of Sea Lampreys back in the 1950s. This fish is a parasitic one and has a body that closely resembles the one of an Eel. But what’s really scary about them is their mouth – which reminds us of the Kraken in the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Their mouth is full of teeth – yes, you heard it right. From the outer to the inner parts of the mouth you can see almost only teeth. While relatively small, they are able to do a lot of damage to the living being that they decide to attach themselves to.

After this has been done successfully, the Sea Lamprey uses its tongue to grind down the flesh of the host, so that it would be able to feed on their blood. And no, a Piranha is definitely not more terrifying than this fish.

The Sea Lamprey saliva contains an anticoagulant that is capable of keeping a wound open for hours – in the best case – or even for entire weeks. But this depends mostly on its appetite. The wound will remain open as long as the Lamprey is attached to its prey and it will only go away when it gets a good meal or when the host dies.


Snakeheads are a serious threat – not only to Lake Michigan’s ecosystem but possibly also to you. Yet, they are one of the most interesting species of fish around the world!

First of all, you can leave your fish finder at home, because there’s a great chance you will find this fish on land – and walking! Just like the notorious Davy Jones – yet another Pirates of the Caribbean reference -, this type of fish can walk and breathe on land for only seven days. Since Davy Jones was able to stay on land for only one day, we guess it’s safe to say that the Snakehead has won this battle.

A Snakehead can grow up to three feet long and has razor-sharp teeth because it uses them to their maximum potential.

They threaten the ecosystem of the lakes they live in because they will devour every single living thing that can be found in it. Everything! And when they’re done, they will emerge from the depths, walk on land – with the help of their fins – and search for the next lake or body of water so that they can continue devouring.

They are so dangerous to a lake that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has even put a bounty on their head. Each dead Snakehead brought in once offered you gift cards worth $200. Yes – they are that harmful!

Of course, it’s not even worth mentioning that they have a frightening head that closely resembles the one of a snake – Snakehead, it’s obvious!


These were the dangerous fish you might find – rarely – in Lake Michigan or around it. There’s also the Bull Shark, but there have been no confirmed reports of such a creature being caught in Lake Michigan. Although it’s possible since it already has Sea Lampreys and Snakeheads – a shark would just be a common thing to see among those two terrifying species of fish.

As we mentioned before, it’s quite unlikely that you would meet such creatures while traveling across Lake Michigan. However, you should check the lake’s Riptide news and reports before heading for a dive.



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