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The Best Minnesota Lakes for Ice Fishing

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, how do you know which ones are best for ice fishing? Actually, there are officially more than 11,000 Minnesota lakes making planning an ice fishing excursion rather difficult without some insider tips! Some of the state’s lakes have excellent reputations for ice fishing, so if you like it cold, consider visiting these lakes for great catches amidst pristine winter scenery.

Mille Lacs
As the second largest lake in the state, Mille Lacs Lake is a popular fishing destination all year round, but it’s a spectacular location for ice fishing with its multitude of access points all around its seventy-four miles of shoreline. In addition, it’s only about a hundred miles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area so it’s convenient to reach. Ice fishing is a popular pursuit on both the northern and southern sides of the lake. Moreover, with well over 5,000 ice fishing houses and plenty of access to lodging, special packages (if you don’t prefer the do-it-yourself fishing trip), and even guides, Mille Lacs with its ready-to-bite northern pike, walleye, muskie, jumbo perch and small mouth bass is well worth braving the elements to fish!

Lake of the Woods
This northern lake shared with Canada is a popular ice fishing destination with its walleye, northern pike, muskie, and sturgeon (not to mention others). The lake is made up of well over 950,000 acres. After the five Great Lakes, Lake of the Woods is America’s sixth largest freshwater lake. During ice fishing season, anywhere between 1,500 and 3,500 ice fishing houses are set up for fishing. Seasoned ice fishermen suggest fishing in the bays or along the shoreline areas for the best catches!

Lake Winnibigoshish
Lake Winnibigoshish, or Lake Winnie as it’s lovingly called, is a perch-lovers dream. The particular facets of the lake are appealing to perch and they grow up to be the sort of sizes that delight the people who fish there. Fans of the lake boast that the fishing action is hot all winter long–though you have to know when to move deeper. The ice fishing season starts along the shoreline on Lake Winnie but moves out to roughly thirty-four feet by mid-winter. Of course, many fishermen have their ‘spots’ that they fancy are best fishing grounds. Located in the Chippewa National Forest, this lake is another one of the state’s beauties and contains other sought-after species too.

Lake Vermilion
Noted for its breathtaking scenery this large freshwater lake contains northern pike, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, and many others. Just shy of 40,000 acres, this lake is one the largest in the state and home to many amenities popular with travelers and fishermen. Situated in northeastern Minnesota, Lake Vermilion is celebrated for the quality of its ice fishing–though people love to fish its waters all year long!

If you love to ice fish, these lakes are favorite Minnesota fishing destinations in winter. When planning your fishing trip, be sure to pay attention to bag limits. Such restrictions have served to improve the abundance of the waters making braving the cold well worth the effort! For some of the best ice fishing to experience anywhere, these Minnesota lakes are standouts and are not likely to disappoint!

Wesley Thor is an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast. One of his favorite winter activities is ice fishing in Minnesota and recommend fellow travelers to visit there.

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