The 7 Best Lakes for Ice Fishing in Minnesota

Lake of the Woods, Minnesota - Ice Fishing in Minnesota
© Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: April 12, 2023

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Minnesota has a little bit of everything for everyone. Ice fishing is a popular recreational activity for residents and visitors alike. Thousands of people flock to Minnesota’s numerous frozen lakes in hopes of catching large fish.

If you aren’t sure where to go for ice fishing in Minnesota, keep reading to discover the seven best lakes.

Upper Red Lake

Upper Red Lake, Minnesota

Red Lake in Minnesota is divided into two sections, with Upper Red Lake being one of them.

©Dan Thornberg/

Upper Red Lake is popular for ice fishing in Minnesota. There are multiple resorts along the lake where you can fish and buy bait and gear. Upper Red Lake is technically part of Red Lake, Minnesota, which is divided into two sections, Upper Red Lake and Lower Red Lake. The total size of the entire Red Lake is 427 square miles. While ice fishing in Upper Red Lake, you can catch perch, walleye, and crappie. There are also multiple ice fishing cabins to enjoy your visit.

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

In both Minnesota and Canada is Lake of the Woods, which has over 14,000 islands.

©Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Lake of the Woods is a beautiful lake in Minnesota and Canada. It is over 70 miles long and 59 miles wide at its widest point. This lake has over 14,552 islands and a massive shoreline of 65,000 miles. Although it’s not entirely in the United States, it’s the 6th largest freshwater lake in the country, after the 5 Great Lakes. This stunning lake provides anglers with plenty of opportunities to fish. You can find panfish, crappie, lake trout, lake sturgeon, sauger, and muskellunge while ice fishing.

Lake Minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Minnesota

With nearly 15,000 acres, Lake Minnetonka is a popular fishing spot.

©Nikolay Donev/

Lake Minnetonka is beautiful and has a rich history. Its surface area is 14,528 acres with 125 miles of shore. This large lake has a few islands including Big Island and Crane Island. Its earliest settlers were indigenous natives who migrated to the region in 8000 BCE. Settlements continued to come and go with a strong emphasis on hunting and fishing. Today, fishing is still a popular sport and pastime at the lake. The lake is filled with green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, rock bass, yellow perch, yellow bullhead, common carp, and black crappie.

Lake Phalen

Bde Maka Ska


Lake Phalen is an urban lake in Minnesota in the suburb of Maplewood. It’s the largest lake in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and drains into the Mississippi River. This beautiful lake and the surrounding park see about 500,000 visitors each year. Not only is it calm and beautiful, but the lake is also stocked with fish, perfect for anglers who want to spend time on the water. Even when temperatures drop and the lake freezes, anglers can still fish at Lake Phalen, especially for bluegill and smallmouth bass.

Gull Lake

Ice fishing is particularly popular at Gull Lake, which offers fish house rentals.


Gull Lake is located in Cass County, Minnesota. This 9,947-acre lake is a popular fishing spot with a diverse fish and aquatic life population. Gull Lake is 15.3 miles long and 3.3 miles wide. Its average depth is 30 feet and its maximum depth is 80 feet. You can ice fish during the winter months and catch bass and panfish species. However, this lake is particularly known for being highly stocked with walleye. Ice fishing is so popular that there are multiple ice fishing charter companies along Gull Lake including fish house rentals.

Rainy Lake

At 50 miles long and 30 miles wide, Rainy Lake’s depth can vary, but it’s a great ice-fishing getaway.

©Ken Lund / flickr – Original / License

Rainy Lake is a perfect getaway for ice fishing in Minnesota. Its surface area is 360 square miles and its 50 miles long and 30 miles wide. The depth of the lake varies a lot, but its maximum depth is 160 feet. Rainy Lake is gorgeous and a perfect spot for fishing. You can fish on the shore or on one of the many islands within the large lake. Rainy Lake offers winter activities including ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The best part about ice fishing on Rainy Lake is you don’t have to plan or do it alone. There are multiple fishing charter companies around the lake.

Lake Vermilion

Lake Vermilion, Minnesota

Ice fishing at Lake Vermilion is popular for anglers who want to catch perch, crappie, and bluefish.

©W. Naze/

Lake Vermilion is located in Saint Louis County, Minnesota. It was originally named Lake Onamanii-zaaga’iganiing. The original name means “the evening sun tinting the water a reddish color”. Lake Vermilion is 24 miles long and 10.38 miles wide. The average depth of the lake is 25 feet, while the maximum depth is 76 feet. Lake Vermilion is known for its large supply of walleye. Ice fishing is especially popular for perch, crappie, and bluegill. You also don’t have to fish in the open, you can rent a cabin or a warm and cozy shelter.

Summary of the 7 Best Lakes for Ice Fishing in Minnesota

1Upper Red Lake
2Lake of the Woods
3Lake Minnetonka
4Lake Phalen
5Gull Lake
6Rainy Lake
7Lake Vermilion

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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