3 Harbors of Manistee County: Portage Lake in Onekama

by: Maralee Cook

Seven miles north on Lake Michigan’s rolling coastline, north and south piers mark the mouth of the channel entering into 2500-acre Portage Lake. A water sports lover’s dream with depths to 60 feet, it’s perfect for sailing and boating, tubing, PWCs, canoes and kayaks. A favorite spot for many anglers, the lake offers great fishing year-round with walleye, bass, perch and other panfish. The surrounding hillsides, with deep green fir, spruce and pine trees and a smattering of cottages and homes provide a panoramic background to fresh air activities.


The Village of Onekama nicknamed the ‘Two-Lake Town’ because of its proximity to Portage Lake and Lake Michigan, is found on its northeastern shore. A charming, long-time summer resort destination with parks, restaurants, food markets, shopping and motels. The Monday night summer Concerts in the Park, Onekama Days in summer and Fall Festival in October are favorites with both residents and visitors. Don’t miss the popular Winterfest, with several hundred entrants and spectators enjoying the competitive ice fishing contests. The Manistee County Fairgrounds are nearby and host the popular Manistee County Fair each August. These and many other events foster the charming, small-town atmosphere of Onekama.

There is no Municipal Marina on Portage Lake, so it’s considered a Harbor of Refuge by the DNR. The contact number for emergencies, (231.723.7412) connects boaters to Coast Guard Station Manistee.

Onekama Marine, (231.889.4219 or 231.889.5000), has three locations on Portage Lake with options for boaters for repairs, transient and seasonal slips, haul out, storage and other needs. The historic Portage Point Inn Resort’s marina, located north of the channel at the west end of the lake, also offers seasonal as well as transient dockage, (231.889.7500) and accommodations for boaters.




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