Here are some area fishing hotspots you may have never tried before
Area fisheries professionals dish on where you might find a few for the dinner plate.
WADENA — If you're tired of the same old fishing hole, maybe it's ime to check out what else the area has to offer.
The Minnesota DNR has helped streamline your process by outlining a few of the well stocked options in this area.
Read on to see where you may need to cast a line next.
Detroit Lakes area
Walleye should remain shallow and be found around traditional Spottail Shiner runs. As such, most bait shops in northern Minnesota should be stocked with this popular bait. Traditional walleye lakes in the Detroit Lakes area continue to have strong walleye populations. Some of these lakes include: Sallie, Detroit, Melissa, White Earth and Island.
Northern pike are always active during the first month of the fishing season. Anglers are reminded of the statewide zone regulations for northern pike. In the North Central Zone, the bag limit is 10, all pike from 22 to 26 inches must be released, and no more than two pike over 26 inches long can be kept.
Black crappie and bluegill fishing 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. While less abundant, trophy black crappie can be found in Big Floyd, Tamarack, Shell and several other less popular small lakes within the White Earth Indian Reservation boundary. Anglers should note new sunfish regulations on Turtle (Becker County), Sarah (Polk County), and Island (Becker County) lakes where the sunfish daily limit is now 10. A new sunfish regulation on Sand Lake (Becker County) is also in effect where the daily sunfish limit is five.
Rainbow trout can be found in two lakes in the Detroit Lakes area, the most prominent of which is Bad Medicine Lake. Catchable-sized fish are stocked both in spring and fall. The trout angling season on Bad Medicine Lake is closed during winter, allowing fish stocked in the fall significant time to grow. This management strategy not only provides an abundance of harvestable-sized fish, but anglers also have a reasonable expectation of catching a fish of more memorable size. Rainbow trout can also be found in Hanson Lake, located just east of Cotton Lake within the Hubbel Pond Wildlife Management Area. Catchable-sized rainbow trout have been stocked into Hanson Lake in the spring the last three years, providing good angling opportunities in this small lake. The season for stream trout in lakes runs from May 14 to Oct. 31 and requires the purchase of a trout stamp.
Fergus Falls to Perham area
Generally speaking, anglers should expect good walleye fishing on area lakes during the 2022 season as several strong natural year classes and supplemental stockings have established abundant walleye populations. Small, shallow lakes are usually popular for the opener because the water temperatures will be warmer and the fish more active. Some traditional favorites for the opener include Walker, Anna, South Ten Mile, Orwell and Fish lakes.
Some larger, deeper lakes that presently have strong year classes of harvestable walleyes include Star, Dead, Pelican, Sybil, Eagle and the Pine Lakes. Anglers should be aware that there is an 18- to 26-inch protected slot size limit for walleye on Big and Little Pine lakes.
Northern pike should be feeding actively as they spawn earlier than walleyes. Most of the large lakes in the area consistently produce above-average sized pike. Some smaller lakes that anglers may want to check-out for nice northern pike include Marion, Wall, Anna, Johnson and Jolly Ann lakes. Anglers are reminded of the northern pike slot length limit. The bag limit is 10 with not more than two over 26 inches. All pike from 22 to 26 inches must 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 have an abundance of small pike less than 22 inches in length.
Panfish opportunities may be a viable option if the walleye and northern pike are not cooperating. Many area lakes presently support abundant populations of sunfish and black crappie with good size structures. Several of these lakes include Big McDonald, Little Pelican, Adley, McDonald, Schwartz, Dead, Blanche and the Leaf lakes. Anglers targeting sunfish need to be aware of 19 lakes in the area with reduced daily bag limits. The intent of the reduced bag limits is to maintain or improve the size structures of sunfish in lakes that have historically produced quality populations. Lakes with a five-sunfish daily bag limit include West Silent, Franklin, Bass, Middle, Fish by Weetown, and Fish by Parkers Prairie. Lakes with a 10-sunfish daily bag limit 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 for these lakes.
The largemouth and smallmouth bass angling seasons will also begin on the May 14 opener; however, it 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 only smallmouth bass fishery.
For anglers wanting to try something unique in the area for the opener, Bass Lake in Maplewood State Park is an option for trout fishing. Bass Lake is stocked annually with rainbow trout. Anglers are reminded that a state park permit and a trout stamp are required to fish Bass Lake. The use of live minnows for bait is prohibited and the bag limit is five with not more than three over 16 inches in length.
Park Rapids area
Northern pike and walleye should be in post spawn patterns by the May 14 fishing opener. As for other fish species, the timing of water warmup and photoperiod lengths will dictate where that particular species is actively spawning.
Walleye fishing should provide anglers with a chance to hook into some excellent fish. Adult male walleye should be in the post spawn mode, ready to feed. Some of the better early season lakes in the Park Rapids area to target 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 the go-to lakes for local anglers.
Northern pike are abundant in the Park Rapids Fisheries Management Area. Lakes that have a better overall size structure are lakes that have the special regulation of 24- to 36-inch protected slot such as Big Mantrap, George, and Fifth and Sixth Crow Wing. In regard to the zone regulation, lakes such as Garfield, Portage, Potato and Straight have high abundance but smaller sizes. In turn, anglers at these zone-regulated lakes can take advantage of the increased possession limit of 10, of which no more than two can be above 26 inches, and all fish between 22 to 26 inches have to be released.
Like most years, black crappie and sunfish action should start getting good around Memorial Day weekend. Lakes that will provide ample angling opportunities in the Park Rapids area are Big Mantrap, Belle Taine and any of the lakes in the Crow Wing chain. Some of the better 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 be getting good as the season progresses and some of the better lakes in the Park Rapids area are Belle Taine, Big Sand, Boulder, East Crooked and Potato.
Anglers are reminded that the second round of lakes in the Quality Sunfish Initiative were implemented on March 1.
Park Rapids area lakes in this round include First Crow Wing and Garfield lakes. The special regulation is a daily bag limit of five. Lakes from the first round of QSI were Second, Third and Fourth Crow Wing lakes.
Northern pike anglers are reminded that there is a difference between the northern pike central zone regulation and the special regulation for northern pike. In Park Rapids, we have eight lakes with special northern pike regulations and several others for bass, crappie or walleye. These lakes include:
• Northern Pike – Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Crow Wing; 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 have no particular fish species of interest and are willing to try different techniques, consider trying Fish Hook or Potato lakes, with a goal of catching multiple species of fish. These two lakes are some of the better all around lakes because you can find walleye, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill and crappie.