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Lake of the Woods – Rating 10.0
Rated a perfect score, Lake of the Woods is unbelievable. If you ever get the chance to experience this fishery, you will know why we rated this a 10.0. This lake has plenty of services to accommodate you on your trip, you can catch good numbers of fish and go after trophy fish too. It’s all here on Lake of the Woods.
Bemidji, MN – Rating 9.5
Bemidji is an awesome fishing town. You will plenty of lakes which offer several different species of fish. Go after muskie, northern pike, walleye, bass and panfish. There are plenty of places to accommodate you here as well.
Brainerd, MN – Rating 9.5
Brainerd is another destination similar to Bemidji. Lots of places to stay, plenty of services and excellent fishing for a number of different fish. Go after pike, walleye, bass, panfish and even muskie in the area. There is a lake for pretty much everything just a short drive from Brainerd, Minnesota.
Ely, MN – Rating 9.5
Ely is home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The fishing can be flat out incredible in this area. You have plenty of services here to accommodate you, however, there are boat motor restrictions on many of the better lakes in this area. Leave the 250 horsepower motor and go old school when fishing here. If you like a little adventure, you may want to consider a trip here. You can get action like in Canada, but you may have to do it out of a smaller boat, canoe or kayak.
Grand Rapids, MN – Rating 9.5
The Grand Rapids area is home to some of the better lakes in the state. You can catch good numbers of several species of fish including walleye, pike, bass and panfish and trophy-sized fish are possible here too. You may have to drive a little to find some of the better muskie lakes, but the other species of fish make up for it in this area.
Kabetogama Lake – Rating 9.5
Kabetogama Lake is very good for fishing. Once you learn the lake, you can expect to catch smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike in good numbers and big fish are possible for all 3 species of fish. Mix in some panfish and you should enjoy your trip here.
Mille Lacs Lake – Rating 9.5
Mille Lacs Lake used to be a walleye mecca. While hoping to return to that, the lake still offers excellent fishing for other species of fish. It has turned into one of the best smallmouth bass lakes in the United States and the pike fishing is very good too.
Rainy Lake – Rating 9.5
Rainy Lake is one of the better lakes to fish in the entire United States and the Canada side is even better. Walleye numbers are good and the pike fishing can be outstanding. We didn’t even mention the smallmouth bass. They are here in big numbers and plenty of trophy fish are here too.
Detroit Lakes, MN – Rating 9.25
The Detroit Lakes area is awesome for fishing. There are so many lakes that you can usually find somewhere to fish to get away from other anglers. Muskie, pike, largemouth bass and panfish draw the most interest and the fishing is good for all of those species of fish. Smallmouth bass can be found here too with some good fishing for panfish depending on the lake and the year.
Leech Lake – Rating 9.25
Leech Lake is a big lake with trophy fish potential. Walleye and muskie are what most people come here for, but the panfish can be very good for rock bass, bluegill, perch and crappie. Find the cabbage and the pike fishing can also be very solid here. It is a big lake though and when it does blow, you’re not going to want to be on the water.
Hackensack, MN – Rating 9.0
Hackensack flies under the radar, but we ranked it very high. There are enough places to stay at with good food and other services a close drive away. You can sneak over to Leech Lake to experience big water fishing or you can stay on the area lakes to target bass, pike, walleye and panfish. On some of the lakes, the bass fishing can be very good. On others, it’s the pike fishing. Mix in some walleye too and you have a lot of options for an area that most anglers would just drive right by on their way to Leech Lake.
Lake Vermilion – Rating 9.0
Lake Vermilion is big water fishing and with that comes big potential on any trip you plan here. The lake is known for trophy muskie, walleye, pike and bass. You may not always find the fish in big numbers, but when you can find a school of fish, you can do well here. On this lake, it pays to have a big boat, good electronics and the willingness to keep moving until you find some fish.
Otter Tail Country, MN – Rating 8.75
Otter Tail Country gets a lot of interest from people planning fishing vacations and it should. There are so many lakes here, plenty of places to stay, plenty of solid services in the area and good fishing for northern pike, walleye and largemouth bass. Mix in some smallmouth bass, muskie and panfish and you have a lot of options.
Park Rapids, MN – Rating 8.75
Park Rapids is another solid fishing town. There are a lot of lakes, plenty of services to keep you happy and some solid fishing for walleye, northern pike and bass.
Whitefish Area, MN – Rating 8.75
The Whitefish area is a very popular vacation destination. You are going to experience more crowds here from recreational boaters, but there is still plenty of room on the lakes to find a place to fish. The chain of lakes are known for being great for catching high numbers of largemouth bass, however, you’re going to catch a lot of smaller bass for every big fish. The walleye, pike and panfish can keep you busy as well.
Alexandria Lakes, MN – Rating 8.5
The Alexandria Lakes area has some very good lakes, plenty of businesses to accommodate you and some good fishing too. This area is known for good fishing for walleye, northern pike, muskie and largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass and panfish are here too.
Longville, MN – Rating 8.5
Longville is located near Leech Lake, so you have the option of fishing the smaller lakes or venturing out on Leech Lake. Whether you stay in Longville or head over to Leech Lake, you have plenty of options on your trip. In the Longville area, you have good fishing for northern pike, muskie, bass and panfish. Trophy sized fish are here as well with some big muskie, pike and smallmouth bass in the area lakes. Many of the lakes have walleye available too. Some lakes are better than others. If you really want to get your walleye fix in, you may want to head out onto Leech Lake one day.
Crane Lake, MN – Rating 8.25
The Crane Lake area is actually pretty amazing and many people probably wonder why we rated this area so low. This is a big area and you have to make some long boat runs here to experience the greatness of this area. Due to the lack of services in this area, we ranked it lower, however, that doesn’t mean the fishing isn’t great here because it is. Fish Sand Point Lake and Namakan Lake for smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike. There is trophy potential here too, especially for pike. Just make sure to bring a reliable boat because you will be taking some boat rides here to fish the better areas.
Lake Minnetonka – Rating 8.25
Lake Minnetonka is located near Minneapolis, which makes this a very popular lake. You are going to see other boaters and anglers on this lake, so don’t expect to come here and have plenty of water all to yourself. With it being a popular lake, it still fishes very good. It is one of the better largemouth bass lakes in the state for catching big fish. Mix in some very good northern pike fishing and you have plenty to keep you busy.
Marcell, MN – Rating 8.25
Marcell is an awesome area in Minnesota. There are some very good fishing lakes up here. For anglers who like to fish for bass, you can catch a lot of 1.5 to 2.5 pound bass in many of the lakes up here. They are very underfished and usually willing to bite. Walleye, pike, panfish and muskie are up here too. If there were more services in this area, we would rank it a lot higher. It’s a sleeper destination for most people.
Lake Winnibigoshish – Rating 8.0
Lake Winni is a very good lake for walleye, pike and perch. It is a big bowl, which isn’t very appealing, especially in windy weather, however, the fishing keeps people coming back every year.
Outing, MN – Rating 7.5
Outing is a small town with some solid fishing. There are several places to stay and some services in this area. Leech Lake is about an hour away, but for those of you looking to stay in Outing and do some fishing, you can do fairly well if you come here and target largemouth bass and northern pike. Panfish are available too in the area lakes, but it can be hit or miss with these smaller lakes depending on the lake and the year.
Upper Red Lake – Rating 7.5
Upper Red Lake is quite a ways away from many of the more popular fishing destinations in Minnesota. You won’t find nearly as many services here, but the fishing is actually very good. The lake is just a big bowl and it isn’t very deep. Anglers do well on walleye and northern pike. At one time, the crappie fishery was amazing. There are still some big crappie in here, but it isn’t what it used to be.
Lake Pepin – Rating 7.25
Lake Pepin is on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s a solid lake for fishing. Anglers target walleye, northern pike, bass and panfish here.