The 5 Best fish to Catch in Minnesota This Summer

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: October 8, 2022
Image Credit Maclane Parker/
Share this post on:

Minnesota is widely known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The truth is that they have over 11,000 lakes, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. Do you know what you can find in those lakes? If you said lots of fish, you’re right. Minnesota has a great number of freshwater fish species. They’re found in lakes, rivers, and even the massive Lake Superior that people in this state have access to. Today, we’re going to show you the five best fish to catch in Minnesota this summer and explain what makes them so special!

What Are the Best Fish to Catch in Minnesota?

Since the state doesn’t have access to the sea, all the best fish to catch in Minnesota are freshwater. That doesn’t mean you can’t find diversity in their ranks, though.

The fish we’re going to explore throughout this list range from hard-to-catch fish for pros to good ones that regular folks can pull out of the lake and cook up for dinner.  We’ll show you how they look, how big they get, and where to find them!

2,174 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

1. Muskellunge (Musky or Muskie)

Musky or Muskellunge
Muskies can prove difficult to catch.

The fish is called the muskellunge, but just about everyone knows them as the muskie or musky. They are notoriously difficult to catch. After all, they have a lot of different power behind them and they’re not the most common fish.

The largest muskie ever pulled from the waters in Minnesota weighed 55 pounds and measured 57 inches long! Thus, this is one of the best fish to catch in Minnesota simply because it’s a challenge. The official season for this fish starts in June, but you can catch them in December.

Of course, the weather is a challenge at that point. Nevertheless, most of the bigger muskies have been caught at the start of autumn. Your best bet is to go out on a cool day. Try finding them along drop-offs from the shore or places off the main run of the lake with aquatic vegetation. They’re found in Fox Lake, Leech Lake, Mantrap Lake, and Lake of the Woods along with many others.

2. Walleye

Happy fisherman with walleye fish
Walleye can be caught with live bait.


The walleye is the state fish of Minnesota, so it’s only natural to include it on this list. The fish is also known as the yellow pike. Walleyes are named for their unique eyes that have a pearly luster to them. They average about 14 to 20 inches in length and only weigh a few pounds.

Yet, the larger members of this species can measure almost 3 feet long and over 15 pounds. These fish are known to mostly reside in lakes. They are frequently found in Lake of the Woods and Mille Lacs Lake, both of which are widely known for their large populations of fish. Using live bait is a good idea, including nightcrawlers.

Your best bet is to find the walleye in deeper water during the day and shallow water at dusk and dawn. Their eyes allow them to find food in low visibility, so that’s where they venture. Oftentimes, they’ll be found in rough waters. In fact, ask any local fisher about the walleye chop. They’ll tell you it’s one of the best things to look for when fishing walleye.

3. Northern Pike

The northern pike can be up to 4 feet long.


The northern pike makes our list of the best fish to catch in Minnesota for many reasons. Of course, the fish is quite large. They can measure from 2 to 4 feet long, and they can weigh 20 pounds or more. That means you will have a bit of a fight on your hands if you get one on your line.

The only downside is that a lot of the pike in Minnesota waters are in overpopulated areas or those with few fish to catch. Leech Lake, Red Lake, Mille Lacs Lake, and many others are good spots to find them.  

A common practice for catching northern pike is to use big, flashy lures. These fish are predators that like to score a big meal. You’ll find them in lakes and rivers, especially in places with a fair amount of weedy vegetation. If you get one on your line, get ready for a good battle to bring it abroad.

These fish aren’t bad to eat, but they are rather bony. That drawback makes some people avoid bringing them to the table.  

4. Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass from Lake
The largemouth bass is not a difficult fish to catch

Maclane Parker/

Is there anything more satisfying than lipping a largemouth bass for a picture? Of course, that’s not the only reason that the largemouth bass is one of the best fish to catch in Minnesota. This fish is not very difficult to catch, but it is good for sport fishing. That means it’s something that most people can reel in, making it great for sports pros and family outings.

Although you can cook this fish, it’s always a good practice to catch it, take a picture, and release it. The fish is usually found in lakes or even river backwaters. You can catch this fish in a boat or near a shoreline by looking for lots of plant life. Try using spoons, and spinnerbaits to help catch them, or use live bait like minnows and nightcrawlers.

5. Channel Catfish

Channel catfish
The channel catfish is simple to cook.

Aleron Val/

Channel catfish may not be the biggest fish, but they are among the tastiest. Fishing is a big part of life for people in Minnesota. Thus, it’s only natural to say that one of the best fish to catch in Minnesota this summer is rather simple to cook.

These fish are often spotted in lakes in the southern portion of the state. They are also very widespread in rivers like the Mississippi River, Minnesota River, St. Croix River, and many others. You’ll do well to catch these fish at dusk and the hours after dawn with live bait, including something as simple as worms.

Now that we have looked at the best fish to catch in Minnesota, you should have a good idea of which ones are up your alley. Do you want something challenging to catch or a sure thing? Are you experienced enough to pull in a muskie? Determine what fish you want to go for, find areas where they live, and check the weather before you depart. This state has some of the best fishing around!

Up Next:

Largemouth Bass from Lake

Maclane Parker/
Share this post on:
About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.