Guide to Fishing the Minnesota Lakes

Guide to Fishing the Minnesota Lakes
The Land of 10,000 Lakes, as you might expect, has an abundance of fishing opportunities. From lakes in metro areas that are ringed with houses to out-of-the-way lakes few people fish, anglers can have a wide variety of experiences. The lakes are home to small fish like crappies and sunfish, to walleyes and bass, to northern pike and muskies that might weigh more than the anglers who catch them.

Locate a Lake

Perhaps you know the lake you want to fish and want to know more about its fish community and physical characteristics. Or maybe you are looking for a lake that offers specific fish or physical features. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources maintains a feature on its website called "Lake Finder," which allows fishermen to find out a variety of information about lakes, from how deep they are to the abundance of various fish species.

Different Lake Types

Different types of lakes can be found in the various parts of Minnesota. The lakes in the northeast are generally deep, clear and cool. These lakes do not have as much vegetation as others but have lots of rocks on the bottom. Trout and smallmouth bass do particularly well here, as do walleyes. Slightly shallower and more fertile lakes can be found in central Minnesota. They have abundant populations of many favored game fish, including crappies, sunfish, walleyes, bass and pike. The lakes in the southern, agricultural part of the state are primarily shallow and warm. Many of them have abundant submerged vegetation that, especially during hot summers, can grow too thick to allow angling. But walleyes, bass and panfish can be caught there.

Destination Lakes

Minnesota is home to some "destination" lake people from all over travel to fish. They are well-known and receive heavy fishing pressure yet seem to produce fish on a consistent basis. Crappies and sunfish can be found in lakes throughout the state, but some lakes are especially good for walleyes (Lake of the Woods, Leech Lake, Lake Vermilion, Lake Winnibigoshish, Upper Red Lake, Mille Lacs Lake); some for muskies (Lake of the Woods, Leech Lake, Lake Mille Lacs); and some for bass (Lake Minnetonka). Keep in mind that fishing on theses lakes can be a crowded affair.

Diverse Fish on Weed Line

Anglers who want to catch specific species of fish--like walleyes, bass, crappies or sunfish--or just catch a mixed bag are advised to find a weed line. Weed lines, which offer both shelter and a spot for fish to hunt from, hold a multitude of species for most of the fishing season. The depth of the weed lines varies depending on the water clarity, but they can be found in water up to about 20 feet. Jigs and live bait or plastic worms are especially effective here.

Sit Atop the Ice

Lakes in Minnesota are locked in ice for nearly as long as they are open each year. That leaves anglers with the choice to fish only during the open-water period, or to take up ice fishing. More and more are deciding on the latter. Ice fishing requires different equipment--smaller, lighter rods, reels, and lures--but the results can be just as good as open-water fishing. Green vegetation holds fish during the winter, as do the edges of humps and drop-offs. Sunfish and crappies are the most commonly pursued fish species during the winter, though many anglers also target walleyes and northern pike.

Article Written By Larry Anderson

Larry Anderson has been a freelance writer since 2000. He has covered a wide variety of topics, from golf and baseball to hunting and fishing. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including "Fargo Forum" newspaper. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from Concordia College.

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