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Fishing in Minnesota

If you’re one of the 1.5 million people fishing Minnesota this year, chances are you already know just how good the state’s angling really is. If not, you’re in for a real treat. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is widely-recognized as one of the best places on the continent to take on Walleye, Bass, Muskellunge, and a host of other freshwater species. 
Minnesota has more than earned its watery nickname. In fact, 10,000 is probably selling it short! From remote Northwood lakes to the vast open waters of Lake Superior to the heart of Minneapolis, anglers battle the incredible gamefish all across the state.
Around one in four Minnesotans holds a fishing license. That’s how big a deal sportfishing is here. The annual Minnesota fishing opener has grown beyond the start of the fishing season and is now more of a state holiday. And they don’t let the winter stop them! Some lakes are so popular in winter that entire villages pop up on the ice. No matter when you visit, you’ll be in for epic angling alongside an entire state of like-minded anglers. What more could you want?

Minnesota Fishing Spots

You can wet a line in any stream or puddle from Ontario to Iowa and find at least a panfish or two. Some spots are incredible even by local standards, though. Here are a few places you absolutely have to visit while you’re in the North Star State.

Mille Lacs Lake

With its sloping, shallow floor and its sandy and rocky bottom, Mille Lacs seems custom-built for amazing Walleye fishing. The lake is considered one of the best fisheries on the planet when it comes to Walleye. And the Pike, Musky, and Smallmouth Bass fishing here is almost as good! Late spring and fall are the top times to charter a boat out onto Mille Lacs. It’s also an amazing place to try the ice fishing Minnesota anglers love so much. Every winter, thousands of huts are set up on the ice, ranging from simple shacks to elaborate cabins complete with stoves, beds, and even hot tubs. People just can’t get enough of fishing here!

Lake Of The Woods

Lake Of The Woods has long rivaled Mille Lacs for the title of “Walleye Capital of the World.” But there’s a lot more to target here than just one species. Walleye and Sauger make for incredible spring battles, heading to deeper waters as the summer rolls on. They could just be staying away from the monster Muskellunge that dominate the lake throughout the summer, though. In the winter, this is also one of the most productive Pike fisheries in North America. Again, come sun or snow, anglers take to the lake. You won’t be short of guides whatever the season.

Lake Superior

It’s about time we mention the elephant in the room. Lake Superior is the largest in the world by area and is also the deepest of the five Great Lakes. There’s a lot of water here, is what we’re saying. Lake Superior also has arguably the best Lake Trout fishing in Minnesota, which local anglers go crazy for throughout the spring and fall. Alongside the Lakers, you’ll find plenty of Rainbow Trout, as well as decent numbers of Coho and Chinook Salmon. Duluth has the best charter fleet if you want to take a boat out in search of tasty Salmonids.

Twin Cities

But what if you want to catch huge fish without ever leaving town? You’re in luck! The Minneapolis-St. Paul area actually has some of the best fishing in Minnesota. Spend the spring battling Bass in Lake Minnetonka. Head to Lake Calhoun, Harriet, or Owasso to wrestle Muskies in the summer and fall. Over winter, the Mississippi River offers an awesome Walleye bite in spots like Pool 2, right next to town. Just want some family fun? Visit Coon Lake to spend the day pulling in panfish with the kids. They don’t call it the City of Lakes for nothing.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Roadless, untouched, off-limits for all motorized vehicles – you couldn’t find a more scenic fishery than Minnesota’s northern wilds. There are hundreds of lakes in the area. Some are full of Walleye, Pike, Bass, and Trout, some aren’t. You really need a knowledgeable guide to get the most out of these waters. The only way to explore the area is by canoe, which adds to the sense of wonder every angler feels as they take in the area’s staggering beauty.

And More!

We weren’t joking when we said 10,000 was selling it short! Head to Leech Lake for Muskies, Rainy Lake for Bass and Crappie, or Lake Kabetogama for Walleye. You can also fish the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers for Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Pike, and so much more. Wherever you go, you’ll find skilled guides, big fish, and unbeatable nature.

Fishing Techniques

You can fish a lot of different ways for a lot of different fish in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. There’s one set up that works wonders for many of Minnesota’s top species, though. Jig-and-minnow rigs are the go-to tactic for anything from Walleye and Perch to Crappie and Bass. They work best in spring and fall, when the waters are cooler, but can be adapted for deeper water, too. Northern Pike react well to large spoons, crankbaits, and minnows, while the best Muskie fishing is done with heavy jerkbaits or topwater plugs. They will also demolish well-placed bucktails during the hot summer months, making for some of the most exciting fly fishing Minnesota has to offer. 
These techniques are all great when the water’s wet, but don’t do much when there’s a foot of ice between you are your fish. Swimming lures and flash spoons will be your winter wonders out on Minnesota’s frozen lakes. Use them to jig up anything from Pike to Perch.

Need to Know

You will need a Minnesota fishing license to enjoy any of the state’s waters. You may also need a special stamp or tag, depending on your target species. If you’re heading into the wilderness areas, you will also need special permits and reservations before you can enter. 
The closed season for each species can change year on year and is often different from one body of water to another. Minnesota fishing guides will know all the rules and make sure you stick by them. If you’re heading out on your own, be sure to ask in a local bait shop to make sure you fish by the book.
Minnesota really is a paradise for freshwater fishing. From the smallest pond to the biggest river, the state’s fisheries have been well managed, and it shows. People here care about their fish and their fishing, and whether it’s the middle of summer or the depths of winter, you’ll find anglers out in force looking for their personal best. So if you want unbeatable angling with a view to die for, take a trip up to the North Star State. We warn you, you’re not going to want to leave!
Based on 19448 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Minnesota Fishing Seasons


Don’t let the snow put you off. Head to Gull Lake to compete in Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza, or visit St. Paul for the nation’s oldest Winter Carnival, running since 1886.


Tournament anglers compete on lakes around the state in events like Fishing for Ducks on Mille Lacs, the Ice Castle Classic on Lake Qui Parle, and the American Legion Ice Fishing Contest on Fish Hook Lake.


If the ice is still safe, take on Yellow Perch, Lake Trout, Brook Trout, and more. A lot of species are closed for harvest this time of year, but you can still enjoy catch-and-release action for some of them.


Spring season kicks off in a big way for Rainbow and Brook Trout (known here as Stream Trout). The first few Salmon show up at the end of April, and Crappie are on fire all month.


The Festival of Nations has celebrated the many peoples making up this country since way back in the ‘40s. It’s America’s oldest diversity festival, and one of Minnesota’s top events all year.


Up for taking on other anglers as well as huge fish? Head to Lake Bemidji for the Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic. Otherwise, wet a line pretty much anywhere and you’ll find big fish.


The Minneapolis Aquatennial offers beach parties, sandcastle contests, water ski shows, and more. And it has done for over 70 years! It’s a must-see if you can tear yourself away from the fish.


Over 280,000 people gather each year for medieval fun in the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. It’s also peak Musky season. Nothing beats these guys for fight or ferocity, as you’ll find out.


As the waters cool, all your favorite fish head back to the shallows. Minnesota fishing trips target Trout, Bass, Walleye, Musky, Pike, Perch, Crappie, Sauger, and much more this time of year.


The fall season is in its prime, with monster Walleye, Bass, Trout, and Salmon tearing through the shallow waters in search of prey. Dangle a tasty worm or a tempting lure and get ready for a fight!


The bite starts to drop off for some fish and smaller lakes may even freeze by the end of the month. You can still get in some great catches of Walleye, Trout, Perch, and Pike, though.


You’re guaranteed a white Christmas is you visit Minnesota. The first few huts show up on lakes in December, so head out on the lake to battle Pike, Musky, Perch, and Walleye. 

Minnesota Fishing Calendar

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Reviews of Fishing in Minnesota

Half day evening trip with Captain Brian
Justin W. fished with Muskies And More Guide Service on August 24, 2020
Book your trip with Muskies and More. Brian is good and will get you to the fish.
July fishing trip
Frank A. fished with Lake Superior Hatteras Fishing on July 27, 2020
You don’t need anything. Just get on the boat and fish.
July fishing trip
Sheila J. fished with Lake Superior Hatteras Fishing on July 12, 2020
It was recommended to go as early in the morning as possible for best fishing, but we did catch two at 9am and 1030am! Just being on the boat and out on the lake and taking in the sights was enjoyable when the fish weren't biting!
Late Morning Trip w/ Captain Gerry
Richard J. fished with Lake Superior Hatteras Fishing on July 3, 2020
Try here’s a reason they call it “fishing”... and not “catching.”
Fishing with Brad
Rod K. fished with Action Fishing Charters LLC on August 31, 2019
We had a great time fishing. Captain Brad works hard to get you on the fish I would recommend Captain Brad.
Full day with Jamie
Darron M. fished with Nate Berg Fishing Guides on July 29, 2019
Fish Mille lacs or the area. Trust your guide. If he knows the lake, he'll take care of you. Hes always prepared. As long as you come prepared, you'll enjoy yourself
Awesome Birthday Gift for 2 Boys
Katie P. fished with Angler Management Charters on July 27, 2019
Go ahead and try it and remember to enjoy the scenery while you are heading out and back in! Take in the view and watch the air for float planes as well!
Comfortable Boat
Karl S. fished with Lake Superior Hatteras Fishing on July 23, 2019
Just remember your sweatshirt in the morning. And drinking a couple beers seemed to help the fish start biting!

Top Fishing Techniques in Minnesota

Top Targeted Species in Minnesota