Information on Fishing in Minnesota

Information on Fishing in Minnesota
With more than 10,000 lakes spread across the state and Lake Superior--the largest of the Great Lakes--on its northeast border, Minnesota offers many freshwater fishing opportunities for 158 species within its borders. Minnesota sells more fishing licenses per capita than any state and stocks its lakes from 17 hatcheries.


Fishing licenses are required throughout the state and vary in price from $8.50 for a single-day angling permit for a state resident to $52.50 for an unrestricted family angling permit for nonresidents. Note that additional license stamps are required for trout, walleye, sturgeon and white tulibee herring as well as for spear fishing.


Year-round fishing is available in Minnesota, but specific seasons have been identified concerning specific types of fishing and fish species. In general, most Minnesota species-based fishing begins either in mid-April (stream fishing for trout), early May (walleye, sauger, northern pike, trout in lakes) or late-May / early-June (large-mouth and small-mouth bass, muskellunge). Catch-and-release season for small-mouth bass and trout begins in mid-September. Winter trout fishing on Lake Superior begins in December.


Minnesota has a variety of regulations controlling aspects of fishing, ranging from periodic closures on specific dates and lakes to restrictions on certain types of fishing, such as bow fishing and gill netting, as well as tournaments. Regulations are available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.


Minnesota has a variety of lakes. Shallow, small lakes dot the farming regions in the south and feature several rough fish species. Bands and clusters of lakes of various sizes are found from Minneapolis-St. Paul, north to Duluth and Moorhead and feature popular sport fishing species. Colder and deeper deep-forest lakes are in the Arrowhead region between Duluth, International Falls and Grand Marais. Deep-lake fishing is found on Lake Superior. Rivers such as the Mississippi, Minnesota, Red and St. Croix feature trout fishing. Famed Minnesota sport-fishing lakes include Mille Lacs, Itasca (headwaters of the Mississippi River), Leech, Minnewaska, Winnibigoshish and Rainy.


Minnesota is famed for its walleye and northern pike fishing. Other prized game fish include the muskellunge, large-mouth and small-mouth bass and lake trout. Prevalent species include various varieties of trout, lake sturgeon, bluegill, lake whitefish, crappie, smelt, salmon, perch, carp, catfish and bullhead.


As with fishing in many states and regions, Minnesota's sport fish can experience a variety of diseases that limit their angling availability and edibility. These include lympho and dermal cysts and sarcomas and bass tapeworms.

Article Written By Gary Olson

Gary Olson is a freelance writer, editor, photographer and designer with 34 years of experience. His work has appeared in such publications as Sailing, Northwest Living, 5280, The Arizona Republic, The Denver Post and many other newspapers and magazines. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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