If you ask anyone – angler or not – what Minnesota is known for, they’ll immediately tell you, “fishing.” It’s no wonder, either. Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Doesn’t it make sense that there’d be some fish?
What’s great about Minnesota is that the fishing is excellent year round. You’ll catch your limit in the summer, but you’ll do pretty darn good with ice fishing in Minnesota, too. If you’re planning your next weekend trip, you’ll want to look at this list of the 5 best ice fishing spots in Minnesota.
Lake Harriet, Minneapolis
Let’s start with a lake in a more populated area of Minnesota: Lake Harriet. Located in Minneapolis, you can venture out on your first ice fishing trip without worrying about bringing too much gear. There are plenty of hotels and cabins around; no need to spend the night on the ice.
What will you catch in Lake Harriet? Just about everything you’d want to. Walleye, Northern pike and crappies will be your main targets, but they’ll come out to feed at different times of day. That means a full day of active fishing – plenty to keep you coming back.
Mille Lacs Lake, Mille Lacs County
Here’s a fun fact about Mille Lacs Lake: Mille Lacs translates from French to thousand lakes. But don’t call it Thousand Lakes Lake to the locals. Instead, come spend a day here and call it the best fishing spot in Minnesota.
Mille Lacs Lake is a ways from the city, but you’re still going to find that it’s quite a popular lake. Still, there’s plenty of fishing area to cover to reel in jumbo perch, tullibee, walleye and more. There’s plenty of camping nearby, and Mille Lacs is a great place to bring the kids for their first ice fishing trip.
Leech Lake, Bemidji
Leech Lake doesn’t sound very fun, but don’t worry. You don’t have to worry about the leeches in the winter. What you do have to worry about is what type of bait you’ll use, because walleye, bass, crappie and pike all live in Leech Lake.
Crappies will bite at night on this lake, but come prepared with a good ice fishing heater and a shanty or at the very least a flip-over shelter. If you’re more of a daytime angler, the Walker Bay basins almost guarantee you your limit of walleye.
Otter Tail Lake, Otter Tail County
Next up is Otter Tail Lake. This is a huge body of water – 21 square miles – so it’s going to take a little longer for the ice to support a vehicle. Check local conditions before you go out on the ice, and be prepared to settle for walking or riding your snow machine.
Once you get out on the lake, though, you’re set. You’ll find a huge range of topography under the water; bring a fish finder if you can. Bluegill, Northern Pike, walleye, bullhead, yellow perch and many more species live in Otter Tail Lake.
North Long Lake, Brainerd Lakes Area
Last on our list of the best places to fish in Minnesota is North Long Lake. This is another large lake, so you’ll need to take the same safety precautions as with Otter Tail. But North Long Lake is generally less populated by humans in the winter, making it easier to catch your target.
Year-round, you’ll find largemouth bass, Northern pike and bluegill. Other panfish will occasionally bite, but plan to use simple bait like worms, crickets and wet flies. Anglers familiar to the area love red wigglers; that’s about as simple as it gets!
There’s no way to cover all 10,000-plus Minnesota lakes in one small guide. But these five will give you a good sampling of just how good ice fishing in the state can be. Choose a more populated lake or one that’s remote, then get out there on the ice in Minnesota!