No boat, no problem. Bay County offers many options for water access.

As the ice begins to thaw and the days offer more hours of sunshine, many people turn their thoughts to being out on the waterways of Bay County.

No boat? No problem! Whether it’s the Saginaw Bay, the Kawkawlin River, or the Saginaw River, a multitude of options exist for getting time out on the water this upcoming spring and summer. Everything from pleasure cruises, to sailing lessons, to fishing charters are only a click or call away.

1. Sail away with BaySail – Appledore Tall Ships

If you’re looking to get out on the Great Lakes in a majestic schooner, look no further than BaySail. With both the Appledore IV and Appledore V ships, there are a variety of programs and tours available that appeal to both the novice and expert.

Chris Yaklin, Executive Director at BaySail, says tours are set to begin in mid- to late May, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

“We will be doing Science Under Sail trips for schools and are currently working on our Windward Bound trips for kids aged 14 to 18,” Yaklin says.

BaySail actively fundraises to try to keep the Windward Bound program free of charge. “Windward Bound is the way to go if you are of age. This is an application process that we will open up via our Facebook page.”

Additionally, you can book classic or specialty sails, charters and tours, and port visits through BaySail. Port visits are currently being scheduled and include a variety of stops for those looking to sail beyond our local waterways.

“We will be sailing in St. Ignace/Mackinac Island in June, visiting Cleveland for the Tall Ships Celebration in July, Tawas City at various dates, Detroit for the Detroit History Tours in August, and Erie for another Tall Ship Celebration,” Yaklin says.

This summer, you can step aboard the Princess Wenonah from a dock in Downtown Bay City.2. Cruise with Bay City Boat Lines: Princess Wenonah and Islander

While many locals see the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay from their own yard or as the crisscross the bridges from the East to West side of Bay City, sometimes it’s best to let someone else do the steering as you relax and enjoy the scenery, or enjoy festivities aboard the Princess Wenonah or Islander.

With public events running from June through September and private charters offered mid-May through early October, there are many ways to experience the waterways aboard one of the two ships. According to the website, the boat line offers, “Friday Night Entertainment Cruises, Saturday Evening Sunset Cruises, Saturdays on the Saginaw River Tours, Friday Afternoon River Tours, Free Weekday Morning History Tours (July only) and other Special Events including beer and wine tasting and Fireworks Festival Fundraiser Cruises.”

Docking locations are at Wenonah Park, 801 N. Water St., for the Princess Wenonah and on the Middlegrounds at 1201 Evergreen Drive for the Islander. Dates are still to be announced for 2022, but a full schedule of offerings can be found here. To schedule a private charter, just call (855) 891-2628.

The Float Paddle Center sits near walking and biking trails along the Saginaw River, but also near a Bay City business district filled with stores and offices.3. Rent your own kayak or paddleboard

If you’re looking to get right down in the water and do the paddling yourself, Float Paddle Center, 110 Salzburg Avenue, has what you need.

Saginaw River’s only rental outfitter is owned by the husband and wife team of Rick Learman and Kristi Kozubal. The center offers single and tandem kayaks as well as stand-up paddleboards. Rentals are available for anywhere from two hours to multiple days.

During your experience, you may get a chance to observe the wildlife that calls the Saginaw River home, such as mink, egrets, geese, or bald eagles, watch a sunset, or even take in the music during one of the concerts in the parks.

The launching point is located just steps from the rental shop on the west side of the river. To see tour options and schedule a rental, click here!

For those in the Pinconning area, Bay County Pinconning Park offers kayak rentals right on the beaches of the Saginaw Bay, with access to a changing station and rinse-off shower. During the late spring and summer months, this may be the perfect way to catch some sun and relaxation out on the water. Call (989) 879-5050 for more information.

Learn to row at the Bay City Rowing Club this spring.4. Row, row, row your boat at the Bay City Rowing Club

You need not be a professional or a member to enjoy what the Bay City Rowing Club (BCRC), 350 West Lafayette Ave., has to offer.

Those looking to improve their fitness, meet new people, or enjoy the outdoors might find a new hobby in rowing. Learn to Row classes are offered from May through August, and no membership is required to sign up and participate. These multi-week classes are designed with the novice in mind, so there is no pressure or judgment.

Anyone is welcome to apply for membership and will enjoy weekly rowing sessions, social activities, and clubhouse access. Annual memberships are good from April 1 through March 31 of the following year and are open to those entering high school and older. To contact BCRC for more information, you can reach out here.


5. Finesse your fishing skills at the Saginaw Bay Walleye Clinic

Hosted by the Bay City State Park, 3582 State Park Drive, this two-day clinic will cover techniques and equipment needed to catch walleye out on the Saginaw Bay. The event will be held May 3-4.

Day one keeps anglers on land, focusing on techniques, tips, and equipment selection. Day two of the clinic will get participants out on the water as they board charter boats for the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. Walleye Trail World Champion Captain Mark Martin’s pro-staff will offer anglers hands-on, one-on-one experience practicing the skills taught on the previous day. The cost of the clinic is $350.

To register for the clinic, click here, or for more information, contact Park Interpreter Jonathan Massung at (989) 667-0717.

6. Book a sport fishing or hunting charter

Though there are many places to cast a line from shore in the region, sometimes hiring a captain and charter boat can make a world of difference. When it comes to guided fishing and hunting on the waterways of Bay County, the choices are bountiful. One could start their search for the right boat and captain at Saginaw Bay Area Charter Boats or on the Bay City Fishing Booker site, or simply by searching “Saginaw Bay Fishing Charters.”

Some of the top-rated options available include:
  • Dietrich's Sportfishing Charters - Let Captain Shane Dietrich take you out on a morning or evening tour for walleye or perch. You can book now here.
  • Overkill Charters - Located on Lake Huron in Bay City and Lake Michigan in Ludington, Captains Dan and Ron offer morning and afternoon walleye and perch trips between 5-6 hours starting in Mid-April and running through late July. Call (989) 450-0274 or (989) 225 1271 to book a charter!
  • J & J Charter Services- Fishing and Waterfowl Hunting - Services include guided fishing trips for walleye, salmon, trout, bass, or pike as well as hunting trips for waterfowl in season. J & J also offers guided ice-fishing, private leisure boat service, and private boat service for birders. You can request to book by email or by calling (517) 294-8678.