You don't always need a boat to catch walleyes in Minnesota. Here are 10 top places where you can get your string stretched from shore. (August 2006)
You can catch walleyes and other species from the dock on Lake Calhoun in southwest Minneapolis.
Photo by Ron Hustvedt Jr.
Shore-fishing is not just for kids and panfish anglers anymore. Serious anglers can catch a mess of walleyes in a bunch of locations around Minnesota without having to tow a boat around.
In a state that brags about how many lakes we have and declares the state fish as the walleye, the fact that they can be caught from the shore shouldn't come as a surprise, but how many of you have scoffed at the idea of shore-fishing for walleyes? If you are honest, probably most of you. Shake away those old misconceptions and consider the locations often targeted by boat-bound walleye anglers. If you've ever fished for walleyes a cast-length from shore, then you fished in a location accessible to shore-fishing.
The tough part about shore-fishing is finding prime locations adjacent to publicly owned land. A lake could be full of walleyes, but if houses dot the entire shoreline, it's basically off-limits to shore-anglers.
It's a good thing there are hundreds of shore-fishing platforms and piers throughout Minnesota. It's even better that many of them can be fished for walleyes. Here are some of the best, although this author recommends contacting the Department of Natural Resources for a copy of its Fishing Pier Map. Local bait shops are also great sources of information for shore-fishing. There is even a publicly updated shore-fishing discussion forum located at Fishing Minnesota's Web site at www.fishingminnesota. com.
Few lakes have been written about more and discussed more than Lake Vermilion in St. Louis County in the last decade. It's a multi-species haven, with a strong walleye bite. However, very little, if anything, has been mentioned about shore-fishing around this massive lake. Most of the shore is privately owned, but there is a significant area open to the public with some great walleye fishing.
"On Stunts Bay, you'll find McKinley Park and also down the river off the lake into Tower are good public spots owned by the city of Tower," said David Gubrud of Hoodoo Point Campground. The south side of the point is very rocky and attracts walleyes both in the spring and fall. "It's a very big hotspot for the locals, and there is a trail leading to the area," he added.
The campgrounds are open from May 1 to Oct. 1 and reservations are recommended during the peak times. There could be a summer night-bite at this location, but only campers know about it since all visitors must be gone by 10 p.m. when the campground closes.
For more information on the City of Tower's Hoodoo Point Campground, call (218) 753-6868 or go online to www.lakevermilion.com.
LITTLE CUTFOOT SIOUX
Connected to Lake Winnibigoshish, the lake with the interesting name of Cutfoot Sioux is a major walleye hole that is used by the DNR as part of their stocking program.
"The DNR does stripping of walleyes. They get so thick around there," said Bill Powell, owner of Fred's Bait in Deer River.
Big Winnie is home to some of the best walleye fishing in the state. Spawning fish tend to migrate from the big lake into the narrower waters of Cutfoot Sioux and Little Cutfoot Sioux. Over the years, many of the walleyes have liked the area so much they stick around all year long, and savvy anglers know that these fish are less pressured than those on Winnibigoshish.
The best area to fish from shore is right off Highway 46, which runs northwest from the town of Deer River. "There's a fishing pier there, but all the old-timers fish below the bridge where there's a good hole that bottoms out around 20 feet deep," Powell said. Powell said the area under the bridge is good from opener until the first week of June, and then after the second weekend in August. "Sometimes the fall is better than the spring," he added.
Leeches and minnows fished on slip-bobber rigs tend to work the best in this area. Powell said the slight current flowing through the narrows helps give your lure some drifting action.
For more information on Little Cutfoot Sioux, go to www.fredsbait.com or call (218) 246-8710. Area information can be found at www.lakewinnie. net.
The walleye fishing on Leech has traditionally been great, though it has slowed down a bit in the last several years. As the slot limit continues and stocking increases, the population will only improve.
Shore-anglers on big Leech have done better in recent years despite the slower action had by those in boats. While boat anglers target the heavily fished midlake structure, shore-anglers can hit the overlooked weedy areas.
There is a fishing pier just east of Walker on Shingobee Island right by the rest area and boat launch. This area is best in the spring and fall, though weed walleyes have been caught throughout the summer.
Tom Wilson is a guide for the Leech Lake Guide Coalition and he said Leech Lake shore-anglers pay careful attention to the wind. "Anytime the wind is sustained in the same direction for a few days, the windblown shoreline can be a good place to fish," he said.
When the wind is blowing out of the west, the Kabekona Bay boat launch piers can be a good location. The fish can be caught under the Highway 371 bridge as well. For a wind from the east, Wilson said to try the areas off the point in the Walker City Park -- especially at night.
For additional information, contact the Leech Lake Guide Coalition at www.leechlakeguides.com or call Tom Wilson at (218) 224-2815. Area information can be found at www.leech-lake.com or by calling 1-1-800-833-1118.
ST. CROIX RIVER
Forming the eastern boundary of Minnesota, the St. Croix is a beautiful river that receives heavy recreational pressure in the summertime. Most of this pressure is from personal watercraft, sailboats and speedboats. A 25-foot boat on the river on a hot summer day is considered a "small boat," which tends to keep many anglers off the river. This is great news for shore-anglers because it means the walleyes are not as pressured by anglers and they are more apt to relate to the quieter, calmer areas immediately offshore.
"You can catch a lot of great walleyes from the shore on the St. Croix,"
said Brian Jaroszewski of Jimmy's Bait & Tackle in Stillwater. "It's a beautiful thing."
Jaroszewski's first choice is the area right by the Excel Energy King Plant Electrical Generating Facility off Highway 95 north of Bayport. "The security guards will let you in past the security gates, and you want to go to where the water exits, which is good pretty much all year long," he said.
Other good sites include the Bayport Beach area, Point Douglas Park near Hastings, the boom site in Stillwater near the docks for the big paddlewheel boats and by Stillwater's famous railroad turn bridge.
Additional information can be found online at www.stcroixfishing. com or by contacting Jimmy's Bait & Tackle at (651) 430-2554. Area information can be found online at www.ilovestillwater.com or by calling (651) 439-4001.
Consistently ranked as one of the top walleye lakes in the state, Gull is also known for premier resorts and beautiful homes dotting the shoreline. Most lakes of this caliber have limited shore-fishing, but Gull is a tremendous exception to the rule.
Sherree Wicktor owns S&W Bait on Highway 371 just north of Brainerd, and she sells a lot of bait to Gull Lake shore-anglers. "This is such a hot live-bait area, and most people up here use it even though they've tried other ways," she said.
Wicktor said Gull Lake shore-anglers do very well near the Gull Narrows bridge off Highway 77 where there's a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. Located near a boat launch and several famous area restaurants, the area is best fished during low-traffic times -- dusk, dawn, midweek, after Labor Day and during the night. There is a current flowing under the bridge, and this is a big draw to walleyes. The area under the bridge is rocky near shore and bottoms out around 12 feet deep. Just below the bridge, immediately adjacent to the pier, is a 25-foot hole that holds walleyes throughout the year. Jigs and live-bait rigs work best, though crankbaits can be great at night.
Another great Gull Lake shore-fishing spot is found in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' park on the south end. This is where Gull Lake spills over a dam to create the Gull River and a magnificent walleye fishing location. Wicktor said the walleyes move in and out of the area, so if you don't catch anything for a while, try again later.
Hole-in-the-Day Bay is home to the famous Brainerd Jaycees Ice-Fishing Extravaganza as well as some great walleye shore-fishing action. Located right off Highway 371, this area is often filled with cars looking to do some evening and night-fishing for actively feeding walleyes.
For more information on Gull Lake fishing locations, contact S&W Bait at (218) 829-7010 or www.sandwbait. com. Area information can be found at www.explorebrainerdlakes.com or by calling 1-800-450-2838.
ST. LOUIS RIVER
The city of Duluth has a great Lake Superior harbor, and it leads to the St. Louis River and its great walleye fishing.
While anglers do some shore-fishing for walleyes, it's a vastly untapped fishery, according to John Lindgren, a DNR fisheries specialist for the Duluth area fisheries office. One of the best locations is along Rice's Point near the boat access closest to the Highway 53 bridge.
"There's an old railroad bridge here that's maintained as a fishing pier, but I hardly see anybody fishing there," Lindgren said.
It could be because the area is not well marked or that it's 10 to 15 feet off the water, but it has plenty of walleyes around it throughout the summer. Because the bridge spans the river, it moves over water as deep as 25 feet, and there's an underwater crib. "Not too many people fish it, but they should because you can work the entire estuary and it's in an area where it constricts and concentrates walleyes," Lindgren said.
Early in the season, top areas include the Boy Scout Landing in west Duluth and Chamber's Grove near the Highway 23 bridge. There is also an area in between these locations off Grand Avenue near Perch Lake. "You can cast from shore here and get into the main channel pretty easily," Lindgren said.
For information on the Duluth area, go to www.visitduluth.com or call 1-800-4-DULUTH.
Lake Bemidji has such a strong population of walleyes that it would be a shame to neglect it as a shore-fishing location. Even with two primary locations for shore-fishing, the odds are pretty good that it will be just you and the hungry walleyes overlooked in these locations by boat anglers.
"One of the areas you can fish is on the public fishing pier on the south end of the lake, and the other is a spot on Diamond Lake Park, which is my favorite," said Bryan Sathre of First Choice Guide Service of Cass Lake.
At the city park, people do well pitching minnow-shaped crankbaits into the lush cabbage beds. Working lures over the top of the weeds or through them can trigger voracious walleyes actively feeding in these spots. Walleyes move up and down all year long in this area where a depth of 30 feet can be reached with a healthy cast.
Sathre recommended bringing a pair of waders so you can extend your casting ability, especially parallel to the weed edge. "Walk out to where the water is a few inches shy of the top of your waders and cast away," he said.
Additional information can be found at www.firstchoiceguide.com or by calling (218) 444-5888. Area information can be found at www.visitbemidji.com or by calling 1-800-458-2223.
NORTHWEST TWIN CITIES
The river town of Anoka might be considered a suburb by big-city folks, but locals know this is a small town that's grown up and just happens to be part of the larger Twin Cities area. Either way you look at it, there is some tremendous walleye shore-fishing along the Rum River, Mississippi River and in several area lakes.
The mouth of the Rum River where it runs into the Mississippi River can be a tremendous location, according to Jack Kordiak of Action's Fishing in Anoka. "This is an area that's easily accessible, as is the Mississippi Point Park across the bridge on the Champlain side of the river," he said.
The Rum River flows through Anoka before emptying into the Mississippi, but not before it flows over a dam located right in town. Kordiak said the area just below the Anoka Dam is a prime location. The Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi River is another good location.
Farther downstream from the dam are several shore-fishing spots, including the Interstate 694 bridge by Anoka County Park off East River Road. "You can also fish on Rice Creek where it hits the Mississippi River in Fridley near the park," Kordiak said.
Upstream from Anoka and downstream from Elk River is another fine location for shore-fish
ing for walleyes. "There's a landing by the Highway 101 bridge where you can park and fish under the bridge," Kordiak said.
All of these locations are best fished with live bait, especially rainbow chubs and redtails when they are in season. "Minnows are best, but there are times when the walleyes prefer leeches," Kordiak said.
Other prime shore-fishing locations include Diamond Lake located along Diamond Lake Road between Rogers and Dayton. "The area by the boat launch is good for walleyes throughout the summer," he said.
Additional information can be found at www.actionsfishing.com or by calling (763) 422-4890. Area information can be found at www.visitminneapolisnorth.com or by calling 1-800-541-4364.
The DNR Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program has done a lot over the years to develop shore-fishing locations throughout the Twin Cities.
"Our program targets urban anglers and works to create places for them to go fishing. Most of our clients don't have access to boats and are shore-anglers," said Jim Levitt, a fisheries specialist with the east-metro FiN office.
Fishing piers and structures have been installed on numerous lakes, and a variety of species -- walleyes included -- have been stocked in these lakes. Shoreline maintenance and habitat improvement is part of this effort, partly to make shore-fishing better and mostly to improve the health of the lake.
In the east metro, one of the best lakes for shore-fishing for walleyes is Lake Phalen. Josh Stevenson of Blue Ribbon Bait in the east metro loves walleye fishing on Phalen, and said not enough people do it. He said the best shore-fishing location is the area by the fishing pier on the west shore near the inlet from Round Lake.
Levitt said the City Hall Pond in Inver Grove Heights is a great location, though it was hit hard through the ice last winter. "The great thing about it is you can walk the entire shoreline and cast into deeper water," he said.
The lake is a former rearing pond that's been stocked as a kid's fishing pond since 2004. A survey last summer showed a catch rate of 16 walleyes per gill net, which is a high density for a small pond. "Those fish were all about a pound each last summer in the 12- to 15-inch range, which is perfect for eating," Levitt added.
For more information on these east-metro locations, call (651) 772-7949 or go online to www.dnr.state.mn.us/ fishing/fin.
The west-metro FiN office operates in much the same fashion as its east-metro counterparts. Each office averages one new fishing pier per summer, with numerous stockings and maintenance projects on existing locations.
One of the best locations for west-metro walleye shore-fishing is on Lake Nokomis just off Cedar Avenue in south Minneapolis. Jetliners fly over low all the time, but local residents take great pride in this area, and property rates show it. The good news for shore-anglers is that the entire lake is publicly owned.
The top walleye spot is along the shore on both sides of the Cedar Avenue bridge. Should this area not produce, a good backup is a 15-foot hole adjacent to a bar located straight out from a point just north of the big swimming beach. Slip-bobbers work best on Nokomis, with the best bite coming at dusk.
Lakes Harriet and Calhoun in southwest Minneapolis are also great shore-fishing lakes often overlooked as walleye locations. On each of these lakes, fishing piers are the best places to begin because of their accessibility to deep water. Live-bait rigs are good, but do not overlook casting crankbaits from the pier or shoreline.
For more information on west-metro locations, call (952) 826-6764 or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/ fin.
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Now you know where to go fishing for walleyes from shore if you don't own a boat. Heck, it makes shore lunch a whole lot easier, too!
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