Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 7-12-19
Fishing remains very good throughout the state. While summer patterns have taken hold for most of the state, many species can still be found in the shallows in far northern Minnesota.
The weather for this weekend calls for heat, humidity and mostly sunny skies. Temperatures will be in the 80s & 90s for much of the state.
For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR's Fish Minnesota web page.
International Falls - Rainy Lake
Most walleye remain in a transition phase on Rainy Lake. Fish are beginning to show up on the main lake reef tops, breaklines, and deeper points. Most of the activity is in 12 to 24 feet of water. Walleye on the reefs are generally holding on the top or near the top of the structure. Jigs, lindy rigs with a leech, and slip bobbers have all been catching fish. Many walleye remain shallow and continue to be caught in and around the weedlines. Traditional spinner rigs with a crawler or minnow continue to be effective. Expect more walleye to show up on the main lake structure in the coming weeks or even days.
Most smallmouth bass have completed their spawn, however, many remain shallow in 2 to 5 feet of water. Others are further along in their transition, holding in and around the deeper boulders in depths of 5 to 10 feet. As always, weed growth and wind make good rock structure even better.
Some crappies continue to be caught on small jigs or slip bobbers in 4 to 6 feet of water. The weeds or a combination of rock structure and weeds is often the best place to be. Other crappies are beginning to school-up on the breaklines, points and sunken brush piles.
Like the walleye, some northern pike are transitioning out to the main lake structure and are showing up on the deeper points and reef tops in 12 to 25 foot depths. Anglers have reported catching pike when walleye fishing in these areas, with the pike sometimes attacking their walleye as they are being reeled in. Other pike are still being caught when casting to the weed structure, shorelines and points. Spoons, spinner baits, and larger stick baits are the go-to presentations. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
The walleye bite remains very good. The reefs continue to give up fish, with lindy rigs and spinners producing the most fish. Leeches, crawlers and minnows are all working well. Try trolling at different speeds until you what’s best. A run and gun approach in depths of 15 to 30 feet is recommended. Using your sonar, work different reefs until you find active fish. Also try the weedlines using the same technique. The mayfly hatch has more fish relating to soft bottom areas and sand flats so try trolling lindys and spinners in these areas. One trick that is often overlooked is casting rapala jigging raps or something similar, but make sure you have braided line so stretching doesn’t occur. Work the soft bottom areas by casting in a spider web-type method around the boat. Aggressively pop your lure back to the boat making sure you are right on the bottom with the drop. This approach has been extremely effective recently.
Smallmouth bass are still in the shallows along the weedlines and rock structure. The bass are aggressive and will attack just about anything offered. Northern pike are also in the shallows near deep water, but will begin moving deeper as the water warms further. Casting large lures over deeper weed beds has been producing some big fish. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com
Ely Area Lakes and Rivers
Last weekend’s turn-out was the largest since the fishing opener, and walleye catches were impressive. Not only were good numbers of fish caught, but some large walleye were also reported. All depths seemed to be holding active fish. The best location was the shallow water weedlines in 10 to 15 feet of water. Casting a jig and leech and slowly dragging the bottom was key. Anglers also caught walleye around the sunken islands with mud. Spinner rigs, lindy rigs and power corking with a leech or crawler was best in depths of 12 to 18 feet of water. Anglers that kept an eye on their depth finder and tracking the walleye as they moved up and down the sunken island had the most success. Blue, gold, pink and purple continued to be the top producing colors.
The fantastic topwater smallmouth bass bite has begun to slow on many area lakes as water temperatures rise, pushing the larger bass out deeper. Still, anglers wanting to catch bass on topwater lures should target bass shallow on the main lake shorelines, especially early in the morning when water temperatures are to coolest. When the topwater bite cools off and the big bass move deeper during the day, anglers should switch to a simple senko rig, tube, spinner bait or in-line spinner. Natural colors on clear water lakes and bright colors on dark water lakes has been key.
The sunfish bite remains excellent in the shallow, weedy bays. Anglers have been catching them when using small crawlers, small leeches or waxworms under a bobber in 7 feet of water or less near the weed beds and lily pads. Crappies are also being caught in 10 feet of water, inside the weed beds about 3 to 4 feet under the surface. Crappies have been hitting small jigs and twisters run through the weed beds, as well as crappie minnows fished 3 to 4 feet under a bobber.
Anglers have been catching nice-sized lakers out over deep water when jigging large buck tails and white tubes. When fishing from a canoe, try trolling with down riggers and flashy spoons. Key depths have been 40 to 80 feet of water near the large mud flats since the mayflies on lake trout lakes have yet to reach their peak. Stream trout action has improved as well. Some fly anglers report feisty rainbow trout on area trout lakes. These aerial acrobats are a blast to catch on a limber fly rod. Trolling small spinners or spoons should also produce fish, as will suspending a crawler under a bobber.
Northern pike remain very active in the shallows. Lots of smaller pike are hitting suckers, spoons, spinnerbaits and large minnow baits at the weedlines, mouths of shallow bays and creek mouths. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Cook County: Lutsen-Tofte, Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage Area Waters
Fishing on Cook County area lakes continues to be excellent. Anglers are taking walleye from 12 to 15 feet of water on Devil’s Track and Two Island lakes. Bass are biting on Devil’s Track, Ball Club, Two Island, Northern Light and Caribou lakes, with fish responding to surface baits and jigs tipped with minnows or leeches under a bobber.
Rainbow trout are being pulled form Mink, Kimball and Trout lakes on spoons, crawlers and float rigs from the surface down. Splake are being taken on spinners worked near the bottom of Mink Lake.
Lake Superior seems to be giving up more fish each day according to one local guide, with salmon “starting to show up” and “tons of trout” being caught. For salmon, try salmon flies, spoons, flashers and dodgers near the surface. The big lake is starting to warm, so trout are moving to shallower depths. In Grand Marais, some anglers report success when casting from the rocks near the lighthouse and Coast Guard Point, with both salmon and trout being taken. 218-387-2524; www.visitcookcounty.com
Duluth - Lake Superior and Area Waters
Anglers venturing into deeper waters on Lake Superior. The spike in air temperatures are starting to heat up the water causing fish to move further off-shore. Lake trout are coming in on spoons, but it is important to determine the preferred color.
The water is extremely high on the St. Louis River, and some areas remain murky. With all that said, fish are still being caught off the channel breaks in 10 to 15 feet of water. Slowly drifting worms and leeches has been best with a nice mix of catfish, crappies, perch and rock bass being reported.
The fishing has been best on the inland lakes, which is typical this time of year. Good numbers of panfish have been coming in on live bait under bobbers near the vegetation and steep breaks. Most fish are roaming near the cooler waters, especially on the hotter days. Try flipping jigs and plastics into the shallower waters during early morning hours and later in the afternoons/evenings. Trolling is becoming be more and more productive as well. Soon, anglers will be trolling the basin for the larger game fish. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Grand Rapids Area Lakes
The warm weather has definitely been a bonus for anglers this week. Most species are biting and anglers have been very pleased. With the largemouth and smallmouth bass off their beds, they seem extremely hungry and are biting on many area lakes. The weed beds, shallow cover around the docks and other shoreline structure, and the darker waters are contributing to a consistent bite. The smallmouth bass have been active on the shoreline rock structure near deep water. Deer, Pokegama, Big Turtle, Trout and Little Jessie lakes are all good choices. The walleye fishing remains good. A small chub or half a crawler on a gold spinner is triggering the walleye to bite. Northern pike and muskie are active Spider, Big Cutfoot, Winnibigoshish and North Star lakes. Expect an increase in trophy fish as water temperatures heat up. Fast-moving baits fished over the top of the cabbage beds are sure to attract both species. www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
On the south end of Lake of the Woods, limits of nice-sized walleye continue to be taken by anglers jigging frozen shiners and leeches. Drifting spinners with crawlers is also producing nice walleye. The key depths remain 29 to 32 feet of water. Gold mixed with orange, pink or chartreuse have been the preferred colors. Crank baits are producing a few walleye as well.
On the Rainy River, walleyes are relating to the holes in the river, as well as the current seams. Smallmouth are active in the rocky areas, and at the weed beds and bridges. Northern pike are coming from the edges of the weed beds. The sturgeon “keeper” season runs July 1 through Sept. 30. One sturgeon measuring 45 to 50 inches or over 75 inches is allowed per calendar year. There have been lots of positive reports from sturgeon anglers already.
Up at the Northwest Angle, walleye fishing remains excellent. Anglers report that the mayfly hatch is nearing its end. Drifting spinners west of Little Oak is producing lots of eating-size and slot-size fish. Jigging and pulling spinners on and around the reefs in 13 to 20 feet of water has also been good for walleye. Smallmouth bass are being taken on crank baits and spinner baits worked over the rocks. Large catch-and-release muskie were reported this week. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Walker - Leech Lake
The walleye bite has turned more erratic on Leech Lake. On the good days, a nice mix of keepers and large fish being caught in the same areas. The bug hatch continues so a spinner rig and crawler worked at 1.0 to 1.5 MPH, or a lindy rig with a crawler or leech worked at 0.4 to 0.7 MPH have been great options. The fish are beginning to slide out over softer bottom areas close to rocky transitions. Don’t be afraid to move around until you locate them. Stoney Point, Annex Reef and the east side of Pelican Island are good places to start your search.
Anglers after multiple species have been very happy with Leech Lake and surrounding lakes with the shallow weedy areas holding various species right now. For lots of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike, cast spinner baits or jerk baits around these areas in 3 to 6 feet of water. Panfish can be found in and around the weedy bays as well. For lots of action, use a slip bobber and a leech or worm in 3 to 12 feet of water.
Muskie fishing is just starting to take off. Small buck tails retrieved quickly over the cabbage weeds are turning a few of the active fish into biters. Jerk baits or glide baits are also producing a few fish. 800-833-1118; www.leech-lake.com
High winds, rain and thunderstorms have made it difficult to get out the last few days. On a brighter note, the mayfly hatch seems to have ended, and the bite has picked up again for all species. Water temperatures are holding steady in the mid-70s. Most tactics are working well for walleye, but anglers primarily using spinners, jigs, rigs, jigging raps at the deep weedlines and deeper waters on mid-lake structure.
Crappies are on the edges and relating to cabbage weeds. Aggressive tactics are working well for quality fish. The sunfish are active in the weeds and can be caught on small jigs and plastics, as well as under bobbers with small leeches, pieces of crawler or highly sensitive plastics. Bass are coming off the docks, weed edges and submerged trees along shorelines. Anglers casting crank baits, spinners, and jigs with plastics are doing well. The northern pike are active along the shoreline weeds, but the larger fish are relating to deeper water off the sharp breaks. Casting, trolling and rigging are all turning fish. Over the holiday weekend, many anglers had success casting and trolling baits on several area muskie lakes. Some muskie over 50 inches in length were caught and released following photos. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Otter Tail Area Lakes
The sunfish have finally completed their spawn and are moving deeper, and the predator species are right behind. Walleye are much easier to locate through electronics when they move out depths greater than 10 feet. If the lake water is clear, walleye are more likely to feed during the day if they are in deeper waters. Jigs, bottom bouncers, lindy rigs, crank baits, slip bobbers and leeches and crawlers should all work well.
Unfortunately, crappies on some of the lakes never spawned due to the odd spring and early summer weather. If you catch and clean a crappie with spawn in its belly, that’s why. For now, crappie have established summer patterns and you can find them at the weed tops near deep water edges. Anglers having the most success are trolling with small crank baits, spinners, beetle spins, and other trolling lures. Once you catch a crappie, stop and cast with 1/16 ounce jig tipped with gulp or twister tail.
The bass are also establishing summer patterns, with fish responding to topwater lures, spinner baits, Texas or Carolina rigged worms and slugs, wacky worms, and live bait (largemouth love leeches, and smallmouth love minnows). A variety of locations are giving up bass, including the docks, rocks, pencil reeds, flats, islands and deep water. 800-423-4571; www.ottertailcountry.com
Brainerd Area Lakes
Gull, Round, Edwards and North Long lakes are all producing walleye. The summer patterns are taking hold, and fish are starting to move deeper. For the most action, try slow death rigs, crawler harnesses, and live bait rigs with leeches. A strong night bite is taking place, with the most successful anglers trolling rattling jerk baits. For a mixed bag of bluegills, crappies, bass and pike, hit depths of 12 to 20 feet of water at the tips of the points and inside turns of the weedlines. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
Fishing remains great. While the walleye bite has slowed a bit since late June, you can still count on a great bite on most structure. The large female walleye have been out on the flats which is typical for this time of year. Nightcrawlers have been out-performing leeches, but leeches have still turned fish. The basin and transition areas are holding a lot of fish. Try deep-trolling with lead core at the north sand. The shallow rocks are holding more of the smaller fish which is also typical for this time of the year. Top colors are pink, red, chrome and orange.
The smallmouth bass anglers can be found at the rock structure in 10 to 15 feet of water. Some have also been reported in semi-shallow rock structure. Crayfish colors are starting to produce, and crankbaits have been working well.
Most of the muskie are likely deep due to the high population of tullibee. The giant northern pike should begin biting very soon. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
Stillwater - St. Croix River
Anglers are enjoying a great walleye bite on the St. Croix River. Nightcrawlers and lindy rigs seem to be the most productive, especially in depths of 25 feet. Last week, good numbers of keeper-size and trophy-size walleye were taken on live bait and crank baits worked in depths of 8 to 26 feet of water. 651/351-1717; www.discoverstillwater.com
Lanesboro - Southeast Bluff Country Rivers and Streams
The fishing outlook is great despite the forecasted hot temperatures. All local trout streams are now clear or should be clear by the weekend, and hatching insects should make for great trout fishing action over the next week. A light rain last night in Fillmore and western Winona counties but this won’t impair the fishing and there are no big storms in the forecast for the next few days. It will be hot, so make sure to bring water and stay hydrated.
Since late May fishing conditions have been erratic with periodic heavy rains causing high, dirty water in the Root River and Whitewater watersheds. Some of the events have caused flooding. Since mid-May to July 11, only half of the days have had fishable water. The small first-order streams clear up faster and provide more fishable days so often anglers just need a day or so to find good fishing.
For years, the MN DNR has maintained assessable fishing sites in Whitewater State Park, near the Lanesboro Hatchery on Duschee Creek, and at the Lanesboro Park and Dam. Online maps are available.
Check out the DNR’s Stream Flow Report for the most current conditions. Before you go, check out the "Area Highlights" section of the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web page for stream maps. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
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