The Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Minnesota

The Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Minnesota
With almost 6,000 lakes suitable for angling, Minnesota offers many opportunities to catch the much-prized largemouth and smallmouth bass. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are aggressive carnivores that are exciting to catch and delicious to eat.

The species

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) are members of the sunfish family. They are aggressive feeders and very agile. They are easiest to catch when feeding but will also take an angler's bait when not hungry because of their predatory and territorial nature. They can grow to more than 20 pounds and tend to be light sensitive, hunting more actively on cloudy or overcast days.
While smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) grow to only about half the size of the largemouth, they are more agile and powerful for their size, making them attractive to anglers.

Best Minnesota Bass Lakes

While both species are distributed throughout the state, larger lakes in which largemouth and smallmouth bass are prevalent include Lake Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods, Lake Pepin, Lake Vermilion, Lake Winnibigoshish, Lake Minnetonka, Lake Minnewaska, Lake Superior, Lac Qui Parle Lake, Leech Lake, Otter Tail Lake, Cass Lake, Kabetogama Lake and Rainy Lake.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources lists the record for largemouth bass as 8 pounds, 15 ounces and 23.5 inches long caught on Auburn Lake in Carver County in 2005. The record smallmouth bass is listed as 8 pounds (no length listed) caught on West Battle Lake in Otter Tail County in 1948.


Largemouth are attracted to artificial lures such as spinners, crank baits and plastic worms set at shallow or medium depths depending on the season and time of day--shallower in the morning and evening, deeper in midday. They will respond to earthworms and minnows, and pork baits in the winter.
Smallmouth bass feed similarly to the largemouth and respond to much the same if somewhat smaller lures and baits, including spoons and jigs.

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.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.