Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 9-20-19
Recent summer-like temperatures have led to a rise in water temperatures and a delay in the transition to fall patterns. Once more seasonable temperatures return, expect the strong bite to resume. Walleye anglers continue to report the best success rates when using minnows.
For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR's Fish Minnesota web page.
International Falls - Rainy Lake & the Rainy River
Walleye remain aggressive, but the trick is finding out where they are congregating. Walleye may still be on the submerged reefs or closer to the shoreline weed beds. On calm days, try the submerged reefs; if the wind picks up, try 15 to 20 feet of water along the bay and island shorelines. Both Black Bay and Cranberry Bay are popular at this time of year. Crappies are especially active in the west end of Black Bay.
Rainy River walleye are also aggressive. The annual fall run of emerald shiner minnows has started which means that live bait is best right now. When fishing the river, bring along some heavier gear, a circle hook and several worms and try to land a monster sturgeon. The tag season remains open until the end of September so any fish you tag must be between 45 and 50 inches, or over 75 inches. Rainy River is a great example of a sturgeon fishery well into recovery, which is why there is an opportunity to tag one. After October 1, sturgeon fishing will transition to catch-and-release only. For both walleye and sturgeon, the swifter waters downstream from the dam at International Falls are a solid bet right now. The Ron Hall access in International Falls is an excellent launch. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
Lake Kabetogama water temperatures remain in the low 60s despite the recent uptick in air temperatures. Crappies have begun to school up in their traditional fall locations, although not in large numbers. Smallmouth bass are also gathering, but the water temperatures will needs to drop another 5 to 10 degrees before they will begin schooling up on the reefs. Walleye fishing has been a challenge as fish remain scattered. The east side of Kabetogama seems to be giving up more fish lately but this is typical in the fall. For the most action, throughout the lake, use lindy rigs with leeches, crawlers or minnows in depths of 20 to 25 feet of water at the inclines in the reefs and bays. Some anglers are also having success using lindy rigs with and jigs with minnows in 10 to 15 feet of water. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com
Walleye fishing has been fairly steady on most area lakes. Some of the walleye have begun to stage a bit deeper as water temperatures cool. For deeper walleye, use deep-diving crank baits. The larger lures can be deadly at this time of year as the bait fish are at their largest size of the season. Crank baits up to six inches long are perfect for depths down to 20 feet or so. The clear water lakes require baits that are neutral in color such as shad or shiner. Off-color lakes that are bog stained are best fished with brighter colors such as firetiger or orange which will show up better when fishing deeper waters. Live bait aficionados are still dragging crawler harnesses with good success. As the water cools further, minnows will be key to success. This can be some of the best fishing of the season as most species will be eager to put on weight before water temperatures plunge.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass are still attacking surface lures, but expect this topwater action to wane in the near future when deeper-diving crank baits and soft baits become the baits of choice. Soft crayfish bait imitations can be just the ticket for catching some of the largest bass of the season.
Lake trout anglers are still taking fish when pulling spoons and crank baits through waters 30 to 45 feet down. The stream trout, such as rainbows and splake, are staging at 10 to 15 feet no matter what the depth of the lake might be. This is also a good time to fish crawlers suspended under a bobber. Trolling small crank baits and spoons at these same depths will also produce trout. Stream trout anglers are reporting success when shore fishing with small jig and twisters, spinners, and nightcrawlers under a bobber. Lowlight hours and cloudy conditions have been best, but there are a few reports of anglers catching trout from shore right in the middle of a calm, sunny day. White, pink and yellow have been good colors.
Crappies have been turning up in better numbers, and this should be the norm this fall. Slowly trolling small spinners such as beetle spins or tiny crank baits are great for locate schools of crappies. Once found, either use these lures, or switch over to minnows, or jigs tipped with soft plastics.
Northern pike will soon respond to larger crank baits and spoons fished along the deeper drop-offs adjacent to weedy areas or rocky points. These fish will move shallower during the day, but seek deeper water during evening and early morning hours.
Muskie anglers have been reporting some excellent catches when throwing large plastics or using the largest suckers available either under a bobber or behind the boats over weed beds. Anglers should focus on the best weed beds they can find, as well as the river mouths and windy points. Multiple fish days are not uncommon for muskie anglers, even novice anglers! 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Duluth - Lake Superior, St. Louis River and inland waters
Lake Superior has been slow due to high winds and heavy rainfall. Anglers that have gotten out report a few lake trout when trolling 60 to 200 feet of water. Closer to shore, anglers are getting a few steelhead. The South Shore walleye bite has been almost non-existent as fish disperse to new areas and gear up for fall migrations into tributary areas. Stream fishing is starting to capture the interest of many anglers. Unfortunately, the bite has not been great, but look for things to heat up in the next several weeks. There have been a few reports of migratory salmon runs in select rivers around the area.
Fishing the St. Louis River has been very difficult due to high, fast and dirty water. Look for the estuary to catch fire in the coming weeks ahead as shiners begin to run.
The inland lakes, ponds, reservoirs and flowages have been the kindest to anglers. Crappies are starting to stack up in large roaming schools. The key is to use electronics to locate the groups. Don't be afraid to check their usual wintering holes. A few walleye and northern pike continue to be pulled from mid-lake reefs and humps. The best time of day has been later in the afternoons as water temperatures are at their highest. Surface water temperatures are still in the low 60s. Once the water temperature drops down and matches the thermocline, the full fall turnover can take place, resulting in freshly oxygenated waters. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Water temperatures have been dropping, settling in the mid-60 degree range. Anglers report an increase in action. More crappies and bluegill are coming from the deeper edges of the weedlines on to the deeper basins where they winter. Depths of 12 to 20 feet of water has been best. Slip bobbers with plastics, minnows or wax worms have been very effective, as are #3 jigging raps.
The walleye action is heat up as well. Anglers having the most success are fishing the main lake points and humps where fish have been scattered in 18 to 25 feet of water. A #7 jigging rap worked quickly has been a great way to locate schools of active fish. Once found, anglers will want to slow down and use with a lindy rig and creek chub or a jig and fathead minnow.
Bass and northern pike have also been eager to bite. These fish have been actively feeding in the green weed beds at all hours of the day. This is the time of year when these species are willing to chase a variety of presentations. Top water baits like frogs, walking baits and poppers are great options when the fish are feeding up. Otherwise, crank baits and spinner baits can be hard to beat this time of year. Slowing down your retrieval can be helpful as the water cools further. www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Walleye fishing on the south end of Lake of the Woods remains strong. The water temperatures continue to cool, and the walleye migration has begun. Good numbers of fish can be found at the structure all along the south shore with a big school of walleye lingering in front of the Lighthouse Gap (the mouth of the Rainy River) in 28 to 30 feet of water. The emerald shiners continue to run in some bays and in the Rainy River, but not at high levels. Anglers having success are trolling crank baits, drifting spinners, and jigging while anchored. Anglers report that the fall jig bite is coming on strong.
The emerald shiners are running in the Rainy River where nice numbers of walleye are coming from Four Mile Bay and up river east of Baudette. Snelled spinners and jigging are the go to method, and the best depth has been 14 to 16 feet. Sturgeon anglers also report lots of success.
Up at the Northwest Angle and Islands Area, walleye fishing remains excellent. Walleye are being caught in various locations around Garden Island, around other islands and in funnel areas between islands. Jigging at the structure and pulling spinners or crank baits over the flats are turning lots of fish. The crappie and perch bite continues to pick up as water temperatures cool. Muskie fishing remains strong. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Fall crappie fishing has kicked into high gear throughout the Park Rapids area. Anglers having the most success are concentrating on 19 to 25 feet of water at the deeper muddy bottoms. A 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a crappie minnow has been best, but keep an eye on your electronics so you know how high to keep your jig off the bottom.
Northern pike are often chasing these crappies, but anglers wanting to catch a huge pike will want to use a large sucker minnow on a live bait rig near the schooled crappies.
The walleye are beginning to school near the deep water at steep drop-offs with shallow weeds nearby. While many presentations will catch walleye, jigging rapalas are probably best. 800-247-0054; www.parkrapids.com
Unseasonably warm temperatures and several bright sunny days have caused water temperatures to rise from the high 50s to the mid-60s in Detroit Lakes area lakes. Most fish are in limbo and the bite has been inconsistent. Several lakes did turn over due to the high winds when water temperatures were in the 50s. Expect most of the others to turn over when water temperatures drop once again.
Anglers report that the muskie are moving shallow. Crappies are sliding deeper off the edges toward the deeper basin areas. The walleye are scattered with some on the shoreline break edges, and others still out deep at the offshore structure, sometimes as deep as 35 feet. Largemouth bass are active in the shallows. The smallmouth bass are concentrating at the deeper, hard bottom areas in 18 to 25 feet of water. Once the weather and temperatures become more stable and seasonable, the bite for all species will become stronger, and more consistent and predictable. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Brainerd Area Lakes
The walleye are establishing fall patterns and the bite has improved dramatically. Anglers are having the most success using red tails on live bait rigs, and casting and jigging rippin’ raps, especially at the windblown edges. Night trolling continues to improve. Anglers are taking large pike from the weed edges. Panfish action remains steady, with the crappie bite getting better by the day. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
The walleye and bass can often be found in the same locations on Lake Mille Lacs, with bass anglers inadvertently catching walleye. Last weekend, one launch group fishing St. Albans Bay caught 37 walleye and just one bass (nearly 21 inches!) while fishing during evening hours. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Recent summer-like temperatures seem to have caused fish to take on more summer-like fishing patterns. Water temperatures have risen to 70 degrees so lots of species can once again be found in the shallows and along the weedlines during early evening hours. Walleye have been active on Big Kandiyohi, Andrew, Eagle, Foot and Diamond lakes, with successful anglers using crappie minnows and wax worms. Anglers have been pulling sunfish and northern pike from underneath the Nest Lake Bridge, Point Lake, and in less than 20 feet of water on Diamond Lake. An added bonus for anglers fishing Point Lake is the beautiful fall color display. When fishing Eagle Lake, stick near the northeastern shore in roughly 25 foot depths for some nice crappies and walleye. Expect to find active bass on Point and Eagle lakes. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
Stillwater - St. Croix River
The beauty of the St. Croix River is that there are so many species residing in the waters that something is always biting! Currently, the walleye and sauger bite has slowed a bit, but it will pick up very soon. In the meantime, anglers are having a great time with the sturgeon and bigmouth buffalo. Lots of white bass are being pulled from the deeper waters. And flathead fishing has been great on calm nights. Smallmouth bass are abundant, and with the right weather conditions, they can provide very good action. Many types of fish are responding to minnows, with minnows now out-performing nightcrawlers. Both the shallow and deep waters are producing fish, so anglers will want to check 8 to 28 foot depths. 651/351-1717; www.discoverstillwater.com
Three Rivers Park District - Carver, Hennepin, Ramsey and Scott counties
The Three Rivers Park District offers fishing at 18 parks in the Twin Cities area with a chance to reel in muskie, northern pike, sunfish, bass and walleye. Launch your boat at a lake access site, rent a boat or stay on land as you fish from a pier or on shore. There are also free fishing adventures. Learn more!
Lanesboro/Preston - Southeast Bluff Country Rivers and Streams
As of Sept. 19, about 3.5 inches of rain fell in the Lanesboro vicinity, and more than 6.5 inches fell in the area just south of Harmony the night before on Sept. 18. Many areas south of I-90 received one or more inches. More rain headed was predicted. There was a great little blue-winged olive hatch noted on the South Branch Root River in Forestville State Park on Sept. 18. Please note that the catch-and-keep trout season ended on Sept. 15.
Fly anglers are encouraged to check out Free Fly Tying Fridays at the National Trout Center in Preston.
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.
Before you go, check out the DNR’s Stream Flow Report for the most current conditions, as well as the "Area Highlights" section of the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web page for stream maps. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
Ortonville - Big Stone Lake
One area bait shop on Big Stone Lake reports that the perch bite still going stone! 320-839-3284; www.bigstonelake.com
Be sure to visit the Explore Minnesota Fishing & Hunting page for information to help you plan your next Minnesota fishing trip!
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