Each year thousands of fishmerman trade in their boats for sled, shelters and cold weather gear to hit frozen lakes for trophy fish. Ice Hockey is the official state sport in Minnesota, but outdoorsmen and anglers will argue that ice fishing is number one. Minnesota is world reknowned for ice fishing and being the land of a thousand lakes.
So choosing the right lake for your ice fishing might be a long process. In this post, we have done the research and found the most popular hard water fisheries in the frozen state. Get your ice fishing tip ups, augers, and other ice fishing gear ready to take action on these hot spots.
These are the Best Minnesota Ice Fishing Lakes
Upper Red Lake
This is the largest inland lake in Minnesota with water covering 289,000 acres. Upper Red Lake is considered one of the best places to catch Walleye. A fact which is very impressive after the lake was overfished in the 90s and almost depleted of fish. A massive recovery has turn this fishery back into a Walleye fishing hub, especially in ice fishing season.
Clearwater Lake is located in Wright County Minnesota, near the city of St. Cloud. This lake is 3,200 acres and offers great opportunities for Crappie fishing through the ice. Most fishermen prefers to jig in water depths of 30-40 feet off some of the island drops. Stop at BJ’s Bait and Tackle for some local fishing tips before you hit the ice.
Leech Lake is the third largest lake in Minnesota with 113,000 acres of water. Rumor has it the Walleye bite is less than other locations in the state, but that means the Perch are flourishing without the pressure from the predators. Leech Lake reaches a maximum depth of 156 feet in Walker Bay. Pine Point and Grand View Flats are know as hot spots for ice fishing.
Located very close to Leech, Lake Winnibigoshish has all species you are seeking for the ice fishing trip of the year. Know for Crappie, Walleye, Pike and Perch, anglers are sure to catch a feast here at Lake Winnie. There are numerous resorts and lodging around the lake and guides to help visitor quickly get on the bite.
Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods is know for it’s northern pike, lake trout, smallmouth bass, walleyes, crappie, largemouth bass, lake sturgeon, and musky. Actually, the lake is sometimes called the walleye capital of the world. This is a massive lake and only smaller than the great lakes. There are over 65,000 miles of shoreline and an amazing 14,000 island throughout the waters of this fishery.
Sauk Lake is located on the border of Todd and Stearns counties in Minnesota. Fishing Sauk Lake in the winter provides a great opportunity for many species including Perch, Walleye and Crappie. The lake has over 2,100 acres of water and it is feed by the Sauk River.
With over 10,000 acres Gull Lake is a big one. The lake is home to huge schools of crappie walleyes, northern pike, and largemouth bass. The lake is celebrated as it holds one of the world’s biggest ice fishing contests every January, The Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza.
Mille Lacs Lake
Located approximately 100 miles North of Minneapolis, this lake is Minnesota’s second largest lake with 132,000 acres. The lake is on the shallow side with max depths of up to 42 feet. Much of the lake ranges in the 20-40ft depths. A decline in the walleye population has led to stricter fishing regulations on this lake and anglers are limited to one Walleye per day.
Lake Vermilion is well know for its Walleye, Musky and Pike fishing. Cold weather anglers can find their fix of toothy fish ing this 40,000 acre lake. One the the more popular methods is jigging ice fishing lures. Max depth in this lake reaches 76 feet. Lake Vermilion is located in the Northeastern part of the state.
Big Stone Lake
Big Stone Lake sits on the Minnesota and South Dakota border. It stretches 26 miles long and has over 12,000 acres of surface water. Like most lakes in Minnesota, ice fishing will target Walleye, Pike, Perch and more.
Best Lures for Ice Fishing in Minnesota
If we missed one of your favorite Minnesota ice fishing lakes, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for the article.