Top Minnesota Lakes

 

Minnesota Fishing

Minnesota features more than 10,000 lakes and 15,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams. Anglers could spend many happy lifetimes here fishing the waters throughout the state. Gamefish are abundant, ranging from local favorites such as Walleye, Northern Pike, and Panfish to Muskie, Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass. Not only are there lots of fish and lots of places to fish on your next Minnesota Fishing Trip, but there are plenty of locations that make it easy for anglers to get out on the water. In all, there are more than 3,000 public boat launch ramps across Minnesota, and this easy access is one of the many reasons why fishing is so popular here. MinnesotaFishingReports.net is your source for the most detailed information on Minnesota Fishing Reports, the Top Minnesota Fishing Lakes, Fishing Resorts, Fishing Guides, Campgrounds, Public Boat Launches, Lake Maps, Minnesota Fishing Tips and much MORE.

 

 

 

Minnesota Fishing Reports

This report is brought to you by Explore Minnesota Tourism, with information provided by statewide tourism organizations and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

 

Bemidji Area Fishing

 

The 2015 Fishing Opener was a success for many anglers in the Bemidji area, with walleye on the menu for Mother’s Day dinners in many homes. This week’s strong cold front and rainy weather has not kept the anglers off of the lakes. Most of the larger lakes in the area have multiple launches, so there are at least a few good launches with deep enough water to float most boats off the trailers in almost any water level. Unfortunately, some of the accesses on the lakes are still too low to launch most large boats, especially boats on bunk trailers. The bad news for anglers with large boats can be good news for anglers with boats small enough to launch in low water levels, and there are quite a few lakes right now that are getting no fishing pressure due to low water levels. Anglers may be able to use pay accesses through one of the resorts on these low water lakes since the resorts often have better boat accesses than the public accesses. Jigs and shiner minnows were the presentation of choice for most anglers on the fishing opener, with good supplies of bait at most of the bait stores. Leeches on live bait rigs, jigs, and bobber rigs also worked well for walleye. Most of the larger lakes gave up walleye in depths of 6-18 feet depending on weather, time of day and amount of fishing pressure. Crappies have also been very active, with anglers finding lots of fish in shallow waters on the edge of the reeds or cane patches. Anglers having the most success used bobber rigs with hair jigs or ice fishing jigs tipped with fathead minnows.

 

Brainerd Lakes Area Fishing

 

The walleye bite has been fantastic on many area lakes and it should only improve! A common mistake that many people make this time of year is to fish too deep. Last weekend, the best bite seemed to be in the 6-9 foot range along the inside weed edge. Shallow running crankbaits and lightweight 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jig and minnow combinations produced numerous fish. If the fish aren’t there, begin slowly working your way out towards the weed edge in 10-14 feet of water depending on that particular body of water. Gull, Round, and North Long were the top producers. The panfish bite has been hit or miss. Surface water temperatures have been fluctuating daily, and most lakes seem to be hovering around the 55 degree mark. Unstable weather can easily push these fish out from the shallows and back out to the first nearby break/drop-off. This week, use look for old reed beds in 3-5 feet of water if the sun is shining. Lakes such as the Upper Gull Chain, Margaret, North Long, Round and the Mission Chain have been kicking out some nice fish. Minnesota’s new “catch-and-release” bass season started off with a bang! This season runs from May 9 until the official bass opener, May 23. Largemouth bass have been stacked up in shallow water bays in 2-6 foot depths at the green weeds. Shallow-running crank baits or chatterbaits that have a wide wobble are outstanding for covering water and enticing active bass this time of year. If fish seem finicky and sluggish, slow down your presentation and throw a traditional jig and pig or wacky worm rig. As with the panfish, work your way out towards the weedline in search of active biters if you aren’t seeing much activity in the back bays.

 

Detroit Lakes Fishing

 

Reports were mixed during last weekend’s opener. A few lakes, such as the shallower, early ice-out lakes, produced good numbers of fish. Saturday was one of the busiest openers in years. Sunday was slower due to colder temperatures, rain and high winds. Most walleye came from 12 feet of water on jigs and shiners, especially at the inside turn with wind quartering into it. Once temperatures warm back up, look for the shiners to move into shallower waters and the walleye to follow. The post-spawn northern pike bite was incredible on most lakes. Crappie action was good, and they continue to bite. Water temperatures dropped from around 60 degrees to the low 50s during the cold snap. Crappies will move onto their spawning beds when water temperatures warm up a few degrees.

 

Lake of the Woods Fishing

 

Water levels were low on Lake of the Woods for the 2015 Minnesota Walleye Opener, but anglers still walked away successful! Limits of walleye and sauger were taken by anglers throughout the weekend, with many slot fish thrown back. Pine Island was a popular spot, and anglers did well when jigging a live minnow or frozen shiner in 15-19 feet of water. Towards the west, Zippel Bay, Long Point and Rocky Point gave up nice numbers of fish. The most successful anglers anchored in 17-19 feet over the rubble. The best tackle colors were white, gold, and pink. Rainy River fishing was very good during morning and evening hours. Saugers helped fill limits, and a few smallmouth bass were caught and released. Sturgeon were hitting in the deep pockets from Clementson to Four Mile Bay. Anglers having the most success used a 4/0 or 5/0 circle hook with 2 to 3 ounces of weight baited with a bunch of crawlers. Even some unsuspecting walleye anglers using a jig and minnow took sturgeon! The catch and release sturgeon season remains open through May 15. Up at the Northwest Angle, limits of nice-size walleye were pulled from 25-30 foot depths; most trophy-sized fish were found in depths of 15-20 feet. Jigging with a minnow worked best near Oak and Flag islands.

 

Lake Mille Lacs Fishing

 

Lake Mille Lacs was a little quieter than normal over the opener - a little quieter on the walleye bite and a little quieter in angler hours. That's not to say that there weren't any anglers or they didn't catch any fish. In fact, most anglers reported some fish (seven on average), including some "keepers!" The action was best on the north end of the lake in 18-22 feet of water during the day, and in 7-12 feet of water in the evenings. Leeches and shiners were the top producers. Smallmouth bass action was good, with nearly all of the fish coming from less than 5 feet of water. Small tube jigs and grub tails worked the best.

 

Leech Lake Fishing

 

The fishing opener drew large numbers of anglers to Leech Lake, with anglers concentrating on the traditional early walleye hot spots. Anglers who hit the lake early faced icy-cold conditions and a dark, cloudy morning with a good walleye chop. These early anglers reported that the walleye were hungry and aggressive, with nice walleye limits taken along with a few jumbo perch and northern pike. Lots of eating-size fish were also caught. The protected slot limit for walleye on Leech Lake is 20-26 inches, giving anglers a chance to catch some larger fish. Many pictures of nice catch-and-release fish and happy anglers were also taken. Saturday morning, the sun came out, the wind died down, and the bite cooled off a bit. Sunday morning’s weather was similar except that anglers were facing a strong northeast wind, along with a pouring rain by late afternoon. Overall, a jig and shiner minnow combination seemed to work best, especially in depths of less than 10 feet. Expect the larger walleye to turn more aggressive as weather conditions stabilize later this week. A jig and a minnow should still be the rig of choice, and last weekend’s hot spots should still hold fish. The Stoney Point area, along with Little Stoney and Northland Reef, Grand Vu Flats, and Pine, Star and Oak points are great places to start.

 

Otter Tail Area Lakes Fishing

 

Anglers fishing in Otter Tail County over the walleye fishing opener were extremely pleased with their choice. Anglers of all skill levels caught walleye, and it was hard to keep the northern off the line. Nearly every lake in the county was giving up fish. The cool temperatures over the weekend were a set-back to the shiner spawn, with mid-week water temperatures in the upper 40s. Be aware that fishing may be a bit more challenging this weekend then it was last weekend. Once the water warms back up to 55 degrees, fish will not be as impacted by major weather changes. Panfish who had made homes in the shallows the past week or two may have retreated to deeper water. Once the sun shines for a day, however, they will hurry back. Spawning time for crappies isn’t far off. This week and weekend, walleye anglers should begin with shiner minnows, and this doesn’t do the trick, switch to night crawlers or leeches--it’s important to bring several types of bait along this time of year. Presentations may also vary from day to day, with lindy rigs working one day, and jigs working the next. For your walleye, northern pike and perch, work the area between the deep weed line and the shoreline since fish will linger in this area until the shiner minnows have finished their spawn.

 

Rainy Lake Fishing

 

During last week’s fishing opener, Rainy Lake walleye anglers had the most success when jigging in 20-25 feet of water near the rocky shorelines and islands, and over the submerged structure. The rocky shorelines were also holding nice smallmouth bass and northern pike—both reacted well to crankbaits cast toward shore. Some anglers found pockets of crappie while fishing for walleye. On the Rainy River, most anglers continued to fish for sturgeon, with reports of some very nice fish being taken. Please note that the sturgeon season closes Friday, May 15 to allow for spawning. Walleye and smallmouth bass have also been active in the river where jigging with a minnow near the edges of the current has been productive.

 

 

 

Minnesota Fishing

Minnesota Walleye Fishing

 

The Walleye is the state fish of Minnesota and is avidly pursued by anglers from spring through winter. Thanks to a combination of abundant natural spawning habitat and an aggresive stocking program, Walleyes are found across Minnesota. Walleyes are very sensitive to light, and typically feed in shallow water during early morning and early evening hours to avoid the bright daytime sunlight. During the day, Walleyes will often move into deeper water or near available cover such as boulders or logs. Walleye fishing is usually best in Minnesota Lakes on windy and cloudy days, when there is a good "walleye chop" on the water. The best time for Walleye fishing is typically during spring and fall when the fish are most active. Walleyes often key in on rocks and submerged weeds during the day. Walleyes are schooling fish and often congregate with like-sized fish; thus, once one fish is caught in an area, there will usually be others of similar size nearby.

 

Top Minnesota Walleye Fishing Lakes

 

Lake of the Woods

Leech Lake

Lake Vermilion

Upper Red Lake

Lake Winnie

Otter Tail Lake

Lake Mille Lacs

Rainy Lake

Lake Kabetogama

Pokegama Lake

Cass Lake

Lake Miltona

 

Minnesota Muskie Fishing

 

Muskies are one of the most prized fish swimming in Minnesota waters, but are also the most difficult to catch. It has been estimated that it takes over 100 hours of fishing to catch one legal-sizes Muskie. They like to spend their time alone living among the weed lines, rock shelves, shoals, and other areas of natural cover. The best fishing for Muskies in Minnesota typically occurs late in the morning or during the afternoon, particularly on cloudy days. Targeting good Muskie habitat is key to your fishing success. Points, weedy bays, islands, gravel bars, breaklines, and dropoffs are all popular Muskie haunts in Minnesota lakes. These fish attracting areas are even better if located near deeper water, as Muskies seek such naturally occurring transitions. These spots should be fished from shallow water into deeper water.

 

Top Minnesota Muskie Fishing Lakes

 

Lake Mille Lacs

Lake Vermilion

Lake of the Woods

Leech Lake

Lake Minnetonka

Detroit Lake

Cass Lake

Lake Bemidji

Shamineau Lake

Lake Alexander

Pike Bay Lake

 

Minnesota Smallmouth Bass Fishing

 

Pound for pound, the Smallmouth Bass is the best fighting fish in Minnesota waters. Smallmouth Bass prefer clear, rocky lakes and rivers and can be found around rocky shorelines, points, and shoals. Areas with a good mix of small, medium, and large rocks tend to hold the most fish. In the spring, find shallow, rocky flats and areas with a mix of gravel and sand. Autumn is normally the best time for a trophy-sized Smallmouth Bass. Cooling temperatures trigger a serious, shallow-water feed before fish head to deeper waters for the winter.

 

 

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Minnesota Northern Pike Fishing

 

In Minnesota, the Northern Pike is the most widely distributed fish and they can grow to huge sizes. Generally, fishing for Northern Pike is good in early season, declines in mid-summer and is best when late summer turns to fall. The peak of Northern Pike fishing in Minnesota seems to begin as the days of September flow into October. In the fall, Northern Pike go on a feeding binge to fatten up for winter. Big pike move into the shallows, following baitfish and become recklessly hungry. This typically begins after the first cold snap or when the nights turn cool and the days are Indian summer. Plenty of Northern Pike can be caught throughout the summer months as well on live bait by trolling spoons, plugs, and spinnerbaits. A jig and minnow can also be effective on Northern Pike. They like to lurk in quiet areas thick with vegetation such as weedy bays and estuaries in the spring and summer. In the winter months, look for Northern Pike in shallow bays and near points and dropoffs. Tip-ups rigged with live minnows can produce some nice catches while ice fishing.

 

Top MN Northern Pike Fishing Lakes

 

Lake Mille Lacs

Lake of the Woods

Lake Vermilion

Leech Lake

Lake Winnie

Rainy Lake

Cass Lake

Lake Minnetonka

Pokegama Lake

Upper Red Lake

 

Minnesota Crappie Fishing

 

To a Minnesota fisherman, Crappies are the first sign of spring. The best Crappie fishing is often just after ice-out when the fish will move into shallow, weedy bays and similar areas to feed and spawn. They will typically be in water less than 5 feet deep around developing weeds, reeds, docks, and any shoreline cover. By late spring, Crappies leave the shallows and move to deeper waters where they can become more difficult to locate.

 

Minnesota Largemouth Bass Fishing

 

One of the best-kept secrets is the strong Largemouth Bass fishing in Minnesota. In this state where Walleyes rule, surprisingly few anglers bother to chase Largemouth Bass, which is great news for bass fishermen. Largemouth Bass prefer warm, weedy, and slow-moving waters. They spend a lot of time in the shallows, among reeds, lily pads, docks, and other cover.

 

Minnesota Fishing Season 2014

 

Walleye - 5/10/14-2/22/15

Northern Pike - 5/10/14-2/22/15

Muskie - 6/07/14-12/01/14

Largemouth Bass - 5/10/14-2/22/15

Smallmouth Bass - 5/10/14-2/22/15

Lake Trout - 5/10/14-9/30/14

 

 

 

Minnesota Summer Walleye Fishing

 

Summer produces the bulk of the fishing season in Minnesota for most anglers. Natural food chains are in high gear and Walleyes have lots of food to choose from. Patterns are identifiable and presentation becomes a key. If you've read any number of fishing articles over the years, you know that many perpetuate the notion that all Walleyes live in deep water on the rocks. Truth is, that's not the case. Yes, some Walleye groups make seasonal use of deep water. But weeds play a far more important part in the Walleye's lifestyle in Minnesota Lakes than most anglers believe. Some heavily fishing classic Walleye lakes in Minnesota host sizeable weed Walleye populations. If the lake is heavily fished by smart anglers, those beautiful deep water rocky points and sunken islands won't hold the numbers of Walleyes you think they do. Those Walleye schools have often been fished down to a low level. In fact, the strongest, most untapped segment of the Walleye population in these lakes often lives full-time in the weeds. Weeds provide plenty of food, oxygen and cover, and most anglers don't fish weeds for Walleyes because they're unaware of what's available. Any time you find an abundance of healthy green vegetation, you've got some Walleyes in the weeds. Normally, that's late spring, summer and early fall. If you had to pick an average depth where summer weed Walleyes would be in most Minnesota Lakes, it'd be 6-12 feet. The reason that 6-12 feet is a key depth range is that, in most lakes, it's the depth where the deepest weedgrowth lies.

 

It's the classic early morning/late evening Walleye feeding time; that's when you want to be out there fishing for the big catches. As the sun dips to the horizon, the Walleyes begin getting restless, moving out to the edges of the weeds, preparing to feed. Once it gets dark, look for the Walleyes to move very shallow. Right up to the shore in 2-3 feet of water. Gravel points, fallen trees, docks, river inlets - they're all key shallow water cover areas that attract nighttime Walleyes. Casting crankbaits at night is great for small, well-defined spots like an obvious point or shallow rock pile. Yet when you're faced with a large weed flat, you're usually better off trolling as it allows you to cover more water quicker, and with less effort.

 

 

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