The only thing more a part of Minnesota than its 10,000 lakes, mosquitoes and canoeing is fishing. In fact, according to Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota ranks first nationally in the sales of fishing licenses per capita. And no wonder. It has more than 158 fish species, 3.8 million acres of fishable waters and 15,000 miles of fishable streams. With so many places to fish, exploring Minnesota's waters is daunting. To make it easier for anglers new to the state, local outfitters offer many great, guided fishing trips.
Lake Superior Charter Fishing
Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world, boasts world-class fishing for monster lake trout and salmon. In 2009, the Minnesota DNR's Summer Creel Survey found most fishermen caught lake trout between 20 and 38 inches. The larger trout weighed more than 20 lbs. Chinook and coho salmon have been stocked in Lake Superior since the 1960s, with the goal of providing anglers trophy fish.
Join Tofte Charters' Captain Darren Peck on his 21-foot Bayliner Trophy for a half day of charter fishing on Lake Superior. He recommends bringing a sweatshirt along, because Lake Superior's average annual water temperature of 40 degrees F cools the air.
Northcoast Charters and Tours sails from the same port, Taconite Harbor, but Captain Tom Muntean runs a 24-foot Hewes powered by a 225hp Honda outboard. Running this larger boat allows him to haul up to six people instead of the four that Tofte Charters can haul.
Both guides provide excellent service. On the rare day the fish aren't biting ask if they'll take you to see Manitou Falls, a waterfall that dumps directly into the lake.
North Coast Charters & Tours
6921 West Highway 61
Tofte, Minnesota 55615
North Shore Fly-Fishing
Northeastern Minnesota's cold, clear streams tumble over waterfalls and across flats on their quick descent to the big lake. These streams provide habitat for plentiful brook and rainbow trout. They also provide some of the best fly-fishing in the state. From the northern Brule River down to the French River just north of Duluth, streams big and small challenge even the most experienced angler.
Lutsen Resort, a luxury spot with a rustic old lodge, offers a guided fly-fishing program for guests. During the complimentary program, the guide teaches participants how to cast as they make their way up the Poplar River, working all the pools, runs and rapids. Former Lutsen Resort fly-fishing guide Ilena Berg says her guests caught rainbow and brook trout, but most often smallmouth bass.
P.O. Box 9
5700 West Highway 61
Lutsen, Minnesota 55612
Boundary Waters Fishing
In the northern reaches of the state, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) stretches from west to east along 200 miles of the Canadian border. First established in 1978, the BWCA offers anglers more than 1,000 lakes interconnected by 1,500 miles of canoe routes. With more than 2,000 campsites to choose from, a guide will help you establish a base camp as a place to kick back after a long day of fishing. From there, on daily trips to other lakes, anglers catch bass, trout, northern pike and Minnesota's favorite--walleye.
On the western side of the BWCA in Ely, Boundary Waters Outfitters & Timber Trail Resort provides guided canoe trips with expert anglers. Guides know the local fishing holes, and they claim to have the best "hard-to-beat-fresh-in-the-pan" fish fry.
On the eastern side of the BWCA, outside of Grand Marais, take a drive up the historic Gunflint Trail and join a guided fishing trip offered by Bearskin Lodge. From mid-May through early October, a knowledgeable guide will teach you the tactics and show off local hot spots.
Boundary Waters Outfitters & Timber Trail Resort
629 Kawishiwi Trail
Ely, Minnesota 55731
124 East Bearskin Rd.
Grand Marais, Minnesota 55604-3003