WADENA – If you’re tired of the same old fishing hole, maybe it’s time to check out what else the area has to offer.
The Minnesota DNR has helped streamline your process by outlining some of the well-stocked options in this area.
Read on to see where you might need to cast a line next.
Walleye should stay shallow and be found around the spottail minnow’s traditional ranges. As such, most northern Minnesota bait shops should be stocked with this popular bait. Traditional walleye lakes in the Detroit Lakes region continue to have strong walleye populations. Some of these lakes include: Sallie, Detroit, Melissa, White Earth and Island.
The northern pike is always active during the first month of the fishing season. Anglers are reminded of the statewide area regulations for northern pike. In the Center-North zone, the bag limit is 10, all pike between 22 and 26 inches must be released, and no more than two pike over 26 inches long can be kept.
Fishing for black crappie and bluegill is a good choice in the Detroit Lakes area. Popular lakes such as Sallie, Melissa and Detroit have black crappie populations with good numbers of harvestable fish. Although less plentiful, trophy black crappie can be found in Big Floyd, Tamarack, Shell, and several other less popular smaller lakes within the boundaries of the White Earth Indian Reservation. Anglers should note new sunfish regulations on Turtle Lake (Becker County), Sarah Lake (Polk County) and Island Lake (Becker County), where the daily sunfish limit is now 10. A new Sunfish regulations on Sand Lake (Becker County) are also in effect. where the daily panfish limit is five.
Rainbow trout are found in two lakes in the Detroit Lake District, the largest of which is Bad Medicine Lake. Catchable size fish are stocked in spring and fall. The trout angling season on Bad Medicine Lake is closed in the winter, allowing fall stocked fish ample growth time. This management strategy not only provides an abundance of harvestable sized fish, but anglers also reasonably expect to catch a more memorable sized fish. Rainbow trout can also be found in Hanson Lake, located just east of Cotton Lake in the Hubbel Pond Wildlife Management Area. Catchable size rainbow trout have been stocked in Hanson Lake in the spring for the past three years, providing good angling opportunities in this small lake. Stream-to-lake trout season runs from May 14 to October 31 and requires the purchase of a trout stamp.
Fergus Falls at Perham Region
In general, anglers should expect good walleye fishing on area lakes in the 2022 season as several strong natural year classes and additional stockings have established abundant walleye populations. Small, shallow lakes are generally popular for the opener as the water temperature will be warmer and the fish more active. Some traditional favorites for the opening include Walker, Anna, South Ten Mile, Orwell and Fish lakes.
Some larger, deeper lakes that currently have strong age classes of fishable walleye include Star, Dead, Pelican, Sybil, Eagle, and Pine lakes. Anglers should be aware that there is a protected slot size limit of 18-26 inches for Walleye on Big and Little Pine Lakes.
Northern pike should be actively feeding as they spawn earlier than walleye. Most of the larger lakes in the region regularly produce above average sized pike. Some smaller lakes that anglers may want to visit for some nice pike include Marion, Wall, Anna, Johnson and Jolly Ann lakes. Anglers are reminded of the slot length limit for northern pike. The bag limit is 10 with no more than two over 26 inches. All 22-26 inch pike should be released. Anglers looking to take advantage of the 10 fish bag can look to lakes like Swan, Dead, East Battle, South Lida, Heilberger and Loon. These lakes are teeming with small pike less than 22 inches in length.
Sunfish opportunities may be a viable option if walleye and northern pike are not cooperating. Many lakes in the area currently support abundant populations of sunfish and black crappie with good sized structures. Several of these lakes include Big McDonald, Little Pelican, Adley, McDonald, Schwartz, Dead, Blanche, and Leaf lakes. Anglers targeting bluegill should be aware of the 19 lakes in the region with reduced daily bag limits. The intent of the reduced catch limits is to maintain or improve Pumpkin size structures in lakes that have historically produced quality populations. Lakes with a daily bag limit of five sunfish include West Silent, Franklin, Bass, Middle, Fish by Weetown, and Fish by Parkers Prairie. Lakes with a daily bag limit of 10 sunfish include East Lost, West Lost, Crystal, Deer, Wall, Red River, Prairie, Stuart, Star, Big Pine, South Lida, North Lida, and Long by Vergas. The statewide possession limit for sunfish still applies to these lakes.
The largemouth and smallmouth bass angling seasons will also begin on May 14; however, there is catch and release only until May 28. Anglers interested in a float fishing trip should consider the Otter Tail River, as it has a renowned catch-and-release smallmouth bass fishery.
For anglers looking to try something unique to the area for the opening, Bass Lake in Maplewood State Park is an option for trout fishing. Bass Lake is stocked with rainbow trout each year. Anglers are reminded that a state park permit and trout stamp are required to fish Bass Lake. The use of live minnows as bait is prohibited and the bag limit is five with no more than three over 16 inches in length.
Northern pike and walleye should be in the patterns after spawning by the May 14 fishery opening. As with other species of fish, the timing of water warming and the length of the photoperiod will dictate where that particular species actively spawns.
Walleye fishing should give anglers a chance to catch some great fish. The adult male walleye must be in post-spawning mode, ready to feed. Some of the best early season lakes in the Park Rapids area for targeting walleye would be Eagle, Fish Hook, Island, and Potato chain. As the season progresses, other lakes such as Big Sand, Eleventh Crow Wing, Kabekona, Long, and Upper and Lower Bottle are favorite lakes for local anglers.
Northern pike are abundant in the Park Rapids Fisheries Management Area. The lakes that have better overall size structure are the lakes that have the special 24 to 36 inch protected slot regulation such as Big Mantrap, George and Fifth and Sixth Crow Wing. In terms of area regulation, lakes such as Garfield, Portage, Potato, and Straight have high abundance but smaller sizes. In turn, anglers in these area-regulated lakes can take advantage of the increased possession limit of 10, of which no more than two can exceed 26 inches, and all fish between 22 and 26 inches must be released.
Like most years, black crappie and sunfish action should start to pick up around Memorial Day weekend. The lakes that will provide plenty of angling opportunities in the Park Rapids area are Big Mantrap, Belle Taine, and all of the lakes in the Crow Wing chain. Some of the best lakes in the area for largemouth bass are Belle Taine, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Crow Wing and Little Mantrap. Duck Lake and Lake George also have abundant bass populations, but not many large bass. Smallmouth bass fishing should improve as the season progresses and some of the best lakes in the Park Rapids area are Belle Taine, Big Sand, Boulder, East Crooked, and Potato.
Anglers are reminded that the second set of Quality Sunfish Initiative lakes was implemented on March 1.
Park Rapids area lakes in this round include First Crow Wing and Garfield lakes. The special rule is a daily limit of five bags. QSI’s first round lakes were Second, Third and Fourth Crow Wing Lakes.
We remind northern pike anglers that there is a difference between the Northern Pike Core Zone Rules and the Special Northern Pike Rules. In Park Rapids we have eight lakes with special regulations for northern pike and several more for bass, crappie or walleye. These lakes include:
• Northern Pike – Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Wing Crow; george; Big Mantrap and Blueberry
• Bass – Little Mantrap and George
• Crappie – Big Mantrap and Spider
• Sunfish – First, Second, Third and Fourth Crow Wing and Garfield
• Walleye – Big Sand and Kabekona
• All species – Lester and LaSalle
If you don’t have a particular fish species of interest and are willing to try different techniques, consider trying Fish Hook or Potato lakes, with the goal of catching multiple fish species. These two lakes are some of the best anywhere around the lakes as you can find walleye, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill and crappie.