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Best Fishing Lakes In Minnesota

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Guide to top places to fish for bass, catfish, crappie and more in MN.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Big Stone Lake, Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Minnetonka, Lake of the Woods, Lake Vermilion, Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake and Rainy Lake are the most popular places for fishing in Minnesota, offering anglers the chance to pursue a variety of fish species. If you enjoy ice fishing, it is available at many of these lakes in winter.

  • Big Stone Lake, MN
  • Kabetogama Lake, MN
  • Lake Bemidji, MN
  • Lake Mille Lacs, MN
  • Lake Minnetonka, MN
  • Lake Minnewaska, MN
  • Lake of the Woods, MN
  • Lake Pepin, MN
  • Lake Vermilion, MN
  • Lake Winnibigoshish, MN
  • Leech Lake, MN
  • Otter Tail Lake, MN
  • Pelican Lake, MN
  • Rainy Lake, MN

Minnesota is a haven for fishing enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of fishing lakes that cater to both warm water and cold water species. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about the best fishing lakes in the state, and the species found in each lake. Here's a look at the fishing opportunities provided by these lakes:

Warm water lakes in Minnesota are known for their abundant populations of popular fish species. Lakes such as Lake Minnetonka, Lake Vermilion, and Lake Mille Lacs are renowned for their warm water fisheries. These lakes support species like largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, muskie, and various panfish such as crappie, bluegill, and perch. Anglers can enjoy the thrill of catching trophy-sized bass, the challenge of pursuing muskie, or the satisfaction of landing a walleye from these warm water lakes.

Cold water lakes in Minnesota are famous for their trout and salmon fisheries. Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, provides exceptional opportunities for anglers to target species such as lake trout, steelhead trout, and coho salmon. The inland lakes of the North Shore region, such as Lake Superior's tributaries and streams, are ideal for trout fishing. Lake Saganaga, located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, is another notable cold water lake known for its lake trout and splake (a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout) populations.

Minnesota's fishing lakes are also home to a variety of other species, making them even more appealing to anglers. Crappie, both black and white, can be found in many lakes across the state, providing enjoyable panfishing experiences. Catfish, including channel catfish and flathead catfish, thrive in the warm water lakes and rivers, offering exciting angling opportunities. Panfish species like bluegill, perch, and sunfish can be found in abundance in both warm water and cold water lakes, providing excellent opportunities for anglers of all ages.

The fishing seasons in Minnesota vary depending on the species and the location of the lakes. Spring and summer are typically prime times for warm water species, with the fish becoming more active and accessible. In contrast, the colder months of fall and winter offer exceptional fishing opportunities for cold water species, particularly for trout and salmon in Lake Superior and other inland lakes.

Minnesota's fishing lakes, whether warm water or cold water, provide a rich tapestry of angling possibilities. From chasing trophy-sized bass to battling feisty trout or reeling in a variety of panfish, anglers of all skill levels can find their fishing paradise in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. With its diverse fish populations and breathtaking scenery, Minnesota is truly a haven for fishing enthusiasts.

Fishing Boats For Rent In Minnesota

Fishing Lakes in Minnesota


Big Stone Lake, Kabetogama Lake, Lake Bemidji, Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Minnetonka, Lake Minnewaska, Lake of the Woods, Lake Pepin, Lake Vermilion, Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, Pelican Lake and Rainy Lake are considered the best options for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. More...


The Minnesota River, St. Croix River and a few lakes and ponds are favorite options for channel, blue and flathead catfish. More...


Big Stone Lake, Cross Lake, Goose Lake, Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Minnetonka, Lake of the Woods, Lake Vermilion, Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, Rainy Lake and Turtle Lake are the most popular for black and white crappie. More...

Sunfish, Perch & Panfish

Bear Creek Reservoir, Big Stone Lake, Lake Bemidji, Lake Mille Lacs, Kabetogama Lake, Lake of the Woods, Lake Vermilion, Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, Otter Tail Lake and Rainy Lake are popular spots to fish for bluegill, perch and other sunfish. More...


Big Stone Lake, Kabetogama Lake, Lake Bemidji, Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Minnetonka, Lake of the Woods, Lake Pepin, Lake Vermilion, Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, Otter Tail Lake, Pelican Lake, Rainy Lake and Upper Red Lake are some of the many great lakes for walleye fishing. More...


Many rivers and streams, Lake of the Woods and Lake Superior are among the favorite options for rainbow, brook, brown and lake trout. More...


Lake Superior and the tributary waters flowing into it are the most popular choices for atlantic and coho salmon fishing. More...

Visit the Minnesota fishing page for links to information covering a wide variety of fish species and destinations in the state. Visit the Minnesota map to identify your best route to these top fishing locations.


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