Top Places for Bass Fishing in Minnesota

Top Places for Bass Fishing in Minnesota
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Samsel

Walleyes draw the most headlines, but don't let that fool you. Countless rivers and lakes in all parts of Minnesota offer outstanding opportunities to catch largemouths and smallmouths alike from the season opener through well into fall. Here's the scoop on three of the best bets for bass fishing in Minnesota.

Lake Minnetonka

Extreme convenience to the Twin Cities and a long-standing reputation for excellent fishing keeps fishing pressure heavy on Lake Minnetonka. Fortunately, this 14,000-acre lake can handle the attention well and yields excellent largemouth fishing year after year. Tournament anglers consistently enjoy big success on Minnetonka, with bass that average approximately 2 ½ pounds.

Minnetonka is a complex lake, with multiple basins that vary in depth, bottom make-up and even fertility. What that means from a practical standpoint is that you can catch fish a host of different ways and that a good bite is pretty much always happening somewhere. Focus on shallow vegetation early in the year and follow the fish to deeper weeds as the year progresses.

Mille Lacs

Walleye anglers curse Mille Lacs smallmouths, but bass fishermen drive long distances to do battle with big, mean bronzebacks. Love 'em or hate 'em, big bronzebacks call this 128,000-acre lake home in a big sort of way, and they serve up outstanding fishing through the warm months. Any rocky reef is likely to have smallmouths huddled about it through much of the summer. Assorted soft plastics and big walking topwater lures draw the bass' ire.

With smallmouths flourishing and walleye populations down, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has put into place controversial new regulations that will open the smallmouth harvest.

Lake Vermilion

Walleyes, muskies and pike garner the most lake attention at Lake Vermilion, which spreads across 40,000 acres in northeastern Minnesota and is dotted with rocky islands, but smallmouth bass absolutely abound in lake's dark waters. Although Vermilion is vast, its many cuts and channels allow you to pick a section and treat it almost like a smaller lake. Focus on rocky points and reefs, and it shouldn't take long to find some cooperative smallmouths. Most are 2- to 4-pound range, but any fish that bites could turn out to be genuine giant.

Also, don't overlook the Vermilion River, which flows out of the lake, and big smallmouths that get even less pressure than those that live in the lake!

Don't forget to share your best bass photos with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!

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