The Top 8 Reasons Minnesota Has the Best Fishing in the Country

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: November 17, 2023
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When it comes to fishing, Minnesota reigns supreme as the ultimate destination for anglers. With its abundant lakes, diverse fish species, and the thrill of catching trophy-sized fish, Minnesota offers an unparalleled fishing experience. From the distinct fishing seasons and opportunities to the well-maintained fishing areas and family-friendly initiatives, this state has everything to make an angler’s heart skip a beat.

In this article, we explore the top eight reasons why Minnesota has earned its reputation as the best fishing destination in the country. So, grab your fishing gear, prepare to be amazed, and discover why Minnesota is a haven for fishing enthusiasts!

1. Abundance of Lakes and Rivers

Mille Lacs Lake southwest side below dramatic clouds in north central Minnesota on a sunny summer afternoon

Mille Lacs Lake is one of many exquisite bodies of water in Minnesota that offer exceptional fishing.

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©Dan Thornberg/

Minnesota boasts a remarkable number of lakes and rivers, making it an angler’s paradise. With over 10,000 lakes and countless miles of rivers, the state offers an unparalleled fishing experience. This abundance of water bodies provides diverse fishing opportunities. Anglers can explore different environments, from serene lakes surrounded by forests to powerful rivers flowing through scenic landscapes.

Some of the best rivers and lakes to fish in Minnesota include the legendary Mississippi River, known for its exceptional walleye and bass fishing. Mille Lacs Lake, with its abundant walleye population, is also a popular destination. Also, the scenic Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness offers pristine lakes and rivers teeming with various fish species. Each water body offers a unique fishing experience and a chance to discover new fishing techniques and strategies.

2. Variety of Fish Species

Smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass can be found in abundance in many of the lakes and rivers in Minnesota.

©CLP Media/

In Minnesota, there are various types of fish that can be found in its waters. Some common fish species in Minnesota include:

  • Bass
  • Bigmouth buffalo
  • Bowfin (Dogfish)
  • Burbot (Eelpout)
  • Catfish
  • Cisco/Tullibe/Herring
  • Crappie
  • Freshwater drum
  • And many more.

It’s important to note that the number of fish species in Minnesota may change as additional species are discovered and recorded by the scientific community. The Mississippi River, which runs through Minnesota, is home to more than 120 species of fish, including smallmouth bass, silver carp, and common carp.

For more specific information on fish species found in Minnesota, you can refer to resources such as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wikipedia. Also, the Minnesota DNR provides images and graphics of various fish species for educational use.

3. Trophy-Sized Fish

man holding sturgeon fish



fishing is both popular and extremely rewarding — They can measure up to 6.5 feet!

©Fabien Monteil/

One of the most exciting aspects of fishing in Minnesota is the potential to catch trophy-sized fish. The state’s waters are known for producing record-breaking catches, including massive muskies, enormous walleye, and giant northern pike.

Here are some examples of record-breaking fish caught in Minnesota:

Muskie: Eric Bakke caught a muskie measuring 58.25 inches, breaking Minnesota’s previous tied records of 57.25-inch muskies.

Sturgeon: Twin Cities anglers caught a lake sturgeon measuring 78 inches, which is not only the longest lake sturgeon caught on record but also the longest fish ever caught in Minnesota.

These remarkable catches not only demonstrate the potential for anglers to achieve their fishing dreams but also highlight the exceptional fishing opportunities that Minnesota offers.

4. Fishing Seasons and Opportunities

Upper Red Lake, Minnesota - Ice Fishing in Minnesota

Minnesota undergoes distinct fishing seasons throughout the year, offering a range of opportunities.

©Dan Thornberg/

Minnesota experiences distinct fishing seasons throughout the year. From the ice-covered lakes in winter to the open-water fishing in spring, summer, and fall, there’s always an opportunity to cast a line and reel in a catch. Ice fishing is a beloved tradition in Minnesota, offering a unique experience during the winter months. As the seasons change, anglers can transition to open-water fishing, targeting different species depending on the time of year. This variety of fishing opportunities ensures that anglers can indulge in their favorite pastime year-round.

5. Well-Maintained Fishing Areas

Fishermen cast into the water from the pier at sunset in Steamboat Bay of East Gull Lake, Minnesota.


The state of Minnesota takes pride in maintaining its fishing areas. Efforts are made to preserve natural habitats, promote sustainable fishing practices, and provide amenities for anglers. Anglers can take advantage of well-maintained fishing areas, including easily accessible boat launches, well-maintained fishing piers, and picnic areas. These amenities enhance the overall fishing experience, making it more convenient and enjoyable for anglers of all levels.

6. Fishing Resorts and Lodges

Wynne Lake Minnesota

Giants Ridge Resort is located near Wynne Lake in the northeast part of Minnesota.


Minnesota is home to a wide variety of fishing resorts and lodges, catering to the needs of fishing enthusiasts. From rustic cabins nestled in the wilderness to luxurious resorts with all-inclusive packages, there is an accommodation option for every preference and budget.

Here are some examples of top fishing resorts and lodges in Minnesota:

Sportsman’s Lodge (Baudette): Known as one of the best fishing resorts in Minnesota, Sportsman’s Lodge offers excellent fishing opportunities and comfortable accommodations.

River Point Resort & Outfitting Co. (Ely): This resort offers fishing packages and a variety of lodging options, including cabins, for a memorable fishing experience in Minnesota.

Paradise Resort (Bemidji): Located near Bemidji, Paradise Resort provides a range of amenities and activities for families and fishing enthusiasts, making it an ideal destination for a fishing trip or a family vacation.

Fenske Lake Cabins Resort (Ely): Fenske Lake Cabins Resort offers a secluded and peaceful setting with Northwood’s charm. Guests can enjoy fishing on Fenske Lake and explore the surrounding canoe-only areas.

Northwind Lodge (Ely): Northwind Lodge offers a relaxing retreat with opportunities for fishing, art classes, and comfortable cabins. It provides a perfect setting for those seeking natural social distancing and outdoor activities.

These fishing resorts and lodges offer a range of amenities and services specifically designed for fishing enthusiasts. They may provide boat rentals, fishing guides, fish cleaning stations, and even on-site tackle shops. Some resorts may also offer special packages that include meals, fishing charters, and access to private fishing areas, ensuring that anglers have everything they need for a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

7. Family-Friendly Fishing

young woman learning to fly fishing with a guide

Fishing in Minnesota can be a fun activity for the whole family.


Fishing in Minnesota is a fantastic activity for the whole family to enjoy. The state’s commitment to promoting family-friendly fishing is evident through the various initiatives and programs available. Fishing clinics and youth fishing programs are offered throughout the state, providing opportunities for children to learn about fishing techniques, safety, and conservation. There are also numerous family-friendly fishing spots, such as designated fishing piers and areas with calm waters, making it easier for families to have a successful and enjoyable fishing outing together. Minnesota encourages families to bond over the joy of fishing and create lasting memories in the great outdoors!

8. Fishing Competitions and Events

Tiger muskie

Minnesota is famous for its fishing competitions and events that draw anglers from various locations.


Minnesota is renowned for hosting a range of fishing competitions and events that attract anglers from all over. These events showcase the competitive spirit and camaraderie within the fishing community. Fishing competitions, such as bass tournaments or ice fishing derbies, offer anglers a chance to showcase their skills and compete for prizes.

Here are some examples of fishing competitions and events in Minnesota:

Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza: This is the largest charitable ice fishing contest on earth, held annually on Gull Lake near Brainerd, Minnesota. Anglers from all over gather to compete for prizes and support local charities.

Wabasha Riverboat Days Fishing Tournament: This fishing tournament takes place during the Riverboat Days celebration in Wabasha, Minnesota. Anglers can participate in the tournament and compete for prizes while enjoying the festivities.

These events allow anglers the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, share fishing stories, and learn from experienced anglers. Fishing competitions and events in Minnesota create a vibrant atmosphere and highlight the passion and dedication of anglers in the state.

Please note that the availability and schedule of fishing competitions and events may vary from year to year. It’s always a good idea to check with local fishing organizations, tourism boards, or fishing associations for the most up-to-date information on fishing competitions and events in Minnesota.

In Conclusion

Minnesota stands out as the ultimate fishing destination, offering an unparalleled fishing experience. The top reason Minnesota is considered the best fishing spot is its abundance of lakes and rivers, providing diverse fishing opportunities. The variety of fish species, including walleye and muskie, adds excitement and challenge to every angler’s adventure.

The potential for catching trophy-sized fish further enhances the thrill of fishing in Minnesota. With distinct fishing seasons and opportunities for both ice fishing and open-water fishing, anglers can indulge in their passion year-round. Well-maintained fishing areas, along with the availability of fishing resorts and lodges, elevate the overall experience, providing convenient amenities and services. Family-friendly fishing initiatives and the excitement of fishing competitions and events foster a sense of community and make fishing in Minnesota a truly memorable experience.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Willard/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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