Fish Shelter Project Overview

15 Fish Shelter Locations in Elk Lake

Volunteers from ESLA and other lake associations throughout the Elk River Chain of Lakes built dozens of fish “shelters” between 2012 and 2014 that are now placed in Elk, Torch, Clam, Bellaire and Intermediate lakes. Elk Lake has 15 shelter locations, each with three shelters and all located north of the Narrows. Eight are on the west shore and seven on the east shore. Skegemog was not considered for the program because it already has an abundance of logs, stumps and areas with aquatic plants that draw fish.

The structures are all made from natural materials and aren’t really shelters for game fish, but designed to attract smaller baitfish and crayfish that, in turn, attract larger fish — primarily bass, perch and various panfish. Using the GPS coordinates for each structure, you should be able to find the shelters. They’re a great place to take young anglers. The predominant catch will likely be rock bass, which can grow up to a foot long.

Below you can find the links for the shelters in all the ERCOL lakes:

Fish Shelters Brochure

Written approval from the riparian in front of whose property the structure will be places is required before the structure can be installed:

Fish Shelter Permission Sheet

This map shows the location of all of currently installed shelters (GROUPS OF THREE) and will be updated as more shelters are placed:


View Installed Fish Shelters in a larger map

The shelters deployed most recently weren’t the first placed in Elk Lake. Several times shelters – including vehicle bodies – have been dropped to provide habitat for mainly baitfish, crayfish, bass and panfish. Starting in the early 1900s, the Michigan Conservation Dept. (the forerunner of the DNR) and later the DNR, sunk many wooden structures as well as weighted trees at the first drop-off from shore, in 15-25 feet of water, directly out from many road ends. Most of these early shelters have since deteriorated to woody debris scattered on the bottom, but still attract fish and promote weed growth.

The new fish shelters deployed in 2013 are in 14-22 feet of water. Each location contains 3 shelters of separate designs, all within 50 feet of each other. One design is a 4-foot cube made of wood slats, another is a six-foot tall fabricated wooden tree, and the third is a cluster of stumps and cherry tree trunks and limbs. They were all designed, built, and installed by volunteers from ESLA and other Chain of Lakes associations and with the approval of the DNR. During early spring on sunny, calm days, some are visible from a boat.