Fishing in Duluth, Minnesota: A Complete Guide
Apr 23, 2021 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Overlooking the mighty Lake Superior, enjoying some of the most stunning natural views, you’ll find a true fishing haven. Fishing in Duluth, Minnesota is a way of life, all thanks to the abundance of water here. Whether it’s the Great Lake on its doorstep, the St. Louis River, or the many inland lakes, the waters are beautiful, and the fish plentiful.

An aerial view of Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth is home to the largest and busiest port on the Great Lakes, carved into the cliffs of Sawtooth Mountain. It gets a lot of visitors, most of whom come for the fishing opportunities. It’s the farthest inland port connected to the ocean, so these waters stretch all the way out to the deep Atlantic! 

Let’s dive into everything that makes Duluth such a popular angling destination, so you can plan your next adventure.

What to Catch in Duluth

An infographic showing the top fish species to target when fishing in Duluth Minnesota, including Northern Pike, Lake Trout, Walleye, Salmon, Perch, and Bass

The Minnesota fishing scene has a lot to offer, and fishing in Duluth is probably one of the best experiences in the whole state. With access to a variety of waters, it boasts some incredible wildlife, including over 80 species of fish. We’ve compiled a list of top targets so you can easily figure out what fish to go after.

Salmon

Duluth is located right on the banks of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. This means one thing – lots of Salmon! In the Minnesota waters of the lake, there are Coho, Chinook, and Pink Salmon. Head out to the deeper waters during the summer months when they seek colder temperatures, and do some Salmon trolling.

A female angler fishing for Salmon on a boat in Duluth Minnesota

If you’re looking to fish from shore, your best bet is to visit in fall, when Salmon head up to the rivers to spawn. You’ll have easy access to the waters of the St. Louis River which holds an abundance of Salmon at this time of year. The mouth of the river is known as one of the most famous fisheries in all of Minnesota.

Walleye

This is a special one when we’re talking about fishing in Duluth! The St. Louis River Mouth is known for its abundant Walleye population, where they tend to hang around during spring and fall. This is when you can sink a line anywhere in the river, and expect to hook into this feisty species!

A female angler holding a Walleye on a boat

During the summer months, they head out into the waters of Lake Superior, so you can use this time to do some trolling. And if you’re up for a winter adventure, they’ll be hanging around the shallow Saint Louis Bay and Superior Bay. Whenever you decide to go Walleye fishing, you’ll get a good fight out of it, and an even better meal.

Northern Pike

If you’re looking to hook into some really big fish, look no further. Northern Pike can reach some incredible sizes, with specimens over 30 pounds becoming more and more common in the area. After their population declined due to overfishing, this majestic fish is now bouncing back to its former glory.

A happy angler holding a big Northern Pike on a boat

It’s no wonder, then, that Minnesota anglers are very happy about once again being able to hook into trophy Pike. You can find them in the smaller lakes around Duluth (there’s even a lake named Pike Lake!), as well as in Lake Superior. Lake weed beds and river shorelines are especially abundant, so visit some Lake Superior tributaries for the best action.

Trout

As with Salmon, there’s a variety of Trout species that live in the waters around Duluth. Lake Trout are one of the most iconic species in the Great Lakes, and Lake Superior is world-famous for its Lake Trout fishing. These predators will put up a big fight and you’ll have the time of your life.

An angler holding a Rainbow Trout in the water

Other species of Trout that inhabit Lake Superior are Brown, Brook, and Rainbow Trout. But you’ll find these varieties in the lake’s tributaries as well. So whether you’re fishing from shore, heading out on a boat, or even ice fishing, there’s a Trout species with your name on it!

Bass

As one of the most sought-after freshwater fish in Duluth, fishing for Bass in this Minnesota town is great. You can hook into both Largemouth and Smallmouth here. If you’re up for chasing Smallies, head over to the Thomson Reservoir just outside of town. It’s a kayak-friendly body of water, so you can try catching them in an unconventional way.

A female angler holding a Smallmouth Bass on a boat

If you’re looking for great Largemouth bites, visit the inland lakes around Duluth. Fish Lake Reservoir, Grand Lake and Caribou Lake all hold impressive numbers of this coveted species. They’re close to the city, but they’re secluded little natural gems.

And More!

While these might be some of the fish species anglers tend to target the most, there’s a whole lot more lurking in the waters of Duluth. Musky and Yellow Perch are pretty popular with locals. Catfish, Crappie, Sturgeon, and Sauger are also in the cards.

How to Fish in Duluth

There’s a variety of ways to go about fishing in Duluth. It lies on the largest freshwater lake in the world, so exploring the lake and its tributaries can be done in many different ways. In this section, we’ll help you decide on the way you’d like to explore this fishery.

Charter Fishing in Duluth

Charter fishing is especially important in Duluth, as Lake Superior is so vast that there’s no better way to explore it. Heading out on a boat has a lot of advantages, as you can cover a lot of ground this way. You can explore the deeper parts of the lake inaccessible from shore, where big fish head to during the summer months.

A motor boat on a lake

And one more thing. If you decide to book a fishing charter, you’ll also be getting help from a local guide. This help is invaluable, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. Your guide will know where to take you and how to go after what you want, and they’ll also make sure you’re following all of the regulations. You won’t have to worry about anything!

Shore Fishing in Duluth

If you prefer to relax and fish the old-fashioned way, you’ll be happy to hear that you can go fishing pretty much anywhere in Duluth. With the Lake Superior shoreline on one side, and the St. Louis River on the other, the fishing opportunities are endless. You can also visit one of the smaller inland lakes for some more action.

Early morning sunrise at Canal Park in Duluth

If you’re planning on casting from shore, you should definitely consider visiting in spring or fall. During the summer, most species head out to the deeper waters in search of the perfect temperature. And if you’re up for a real challenge, fly fishing is a favorite for locals. Do it along the shores of the St. Louis River for the best results.

Kayak Fishing in Duluth

Another popular way of fishing in Duluth is from a kayak. It’s been gaining popularity in Minnesota, as it gives you a complete natural experience. You get up close and personal with the natural world, while also challenging yourself to some hardcore angling. Keeping your balance, paddling, and using your rod all at the same time takes some practice, but once you nail it down, it’s a blast!

An angler kayak fishing on a river

Anglers normally take their fishing kayaks to the inland lakes in the area, like Grand and Pike Lake. However, some use them to explore the shallower waters of Lake Superior. Kayak fishing can be especially rewarding at river mouths, like where the St. Louis River empties into Lake Superior, as well as down the river.

Ice Fishing in Duluth

This is a special one for anyone who loves the holiday season. Duluth is known for its ice fishing scene, and you’ll have more than one spot to choose from here. If you’re looking for an urban angling spot, the St. Louis Bay is within walking distance of downtown Duluth. When it freezes over, it offers some interesting fishing, and a lot of fun come winter.

A family returning from ice fishing in Duluth Minnesota

If you want a more natural experience, you won’t have to look far. Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” meaning there are inland lakes that freeze over completely. Some of these lie just outside of Duluth, like Caribou, Fish, and Boulder Lake. Just follow your interests, and you won’t be disappointed!

Where to Fish in Duluth

All that’s left for you to decide is where to go and you’ve got your Duluth fishing adventure figured out. We’ve already mentioned some of our favorite spots throughout this guide, but let’s make a definitive list of the best Duluth fishing spots.

An aerial view of the popular Canal Park Avenue in Duluth
  • Lake Superior: Do we even have to say it? It’s the largest freshwater lake in the world! In summer, you can head out on a boat and do some trolling for Salmon, or go after Musky, Pike, and Walleye. In spring or fall, cast a line from shore, and you’re bound to reel in some nice Salmon and Bass.
  • St. Louis Bay: This is one of the most abundant bodies of water in Duluth. You can find a lot of Walleye and Salmon here during the spring and fall months, before they head out to the deep waters of Lake Superior for the summer. It’s also great for ice fishing when it freezes over!
  • St. Louis River: If you’re looking for a relaxing day of fishing, head on down to the banks of the St. Louis River for a taste of exciting Salmon fishing. They come to these waters in spring to spawn, and fly fishing is especially popular with local anglers.
  • Canal Park: Don’t wanna travel too far? Then Canal Park is the spot for you! Walk down to this stunning area overlooking Lake Superior and enjoy fishing like the locals. Trout and Salmon are the most popular targets among fishermen casting in Canal Park.
  • Grand Lake: If you’re after some trophy Largemouth Bass, this is the place to be! It’s especially popular with kayak fishing enthusiasts, so you can have an action-packed adventure just outside the city. Walleye and Yellow Perch are also abundant here.
  • Fish Lake: And if you’re looking for Northern Pike, you’ll find them here. The waters of Fish Lake are full of this coveted species, and you can target them in a variety of ways. Whether it’s from shore, a boat, or a kayak, it’s sure to be productive.

Seasons and Regulations

Minnesota is a year-round fishery, so when it comes to fishing in Duluth, any time is a good time! That being said, where the fish are can differ depending on the season. Spring and fall are best for fishing the rivers and shallower waters, summer is when you should visit the deep waters of the lake, and wintertime is reserved for ice fishing!

A photo referring to Duluth fishing seasons and regulations

When it comes to regulations, note that everyone over the age of 16 is required to have a Minnesota fishing license when fishing in Duluth. You can find more information on getting one in our simple guide. Also, be aware that most species have strict regulations and bag limits depending on where you’re fishing, so make sure you stay up to date before heading out.

Why Duluth? It’s a Midwest Fishing Heaven!

Still wondering if Duluth is worth visiting? Don’t! When it comes to freshwater angling, you’ll find everything here. Rich waters, an abundance of opportunities, and stunning natural views. There’s hardly a place in the Midwest where you can have a more prolific fishing experience. It embodies everything that makes fishing fun, so head on down to the “City on a Hill,” and enjoy!

A lighthouse on the shores of Duluth

Have you ever been fishing in Duluth, Minnesota? Tell us about your adventure, or ask any questions you might have in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

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