Since Minnesota first became a state, it’s consistently been one of the major fishing meccas in North America. It’s known as the land of 10,000 lakes for a reason, and many of those lakes are packed with fish. Among the hundreds of fish species that roam the waters of the Northstar State, bass is one of the most prevalent and sought after.
If you’re an avid angler and you’re looking for the next great fishing trip destination, this article will go over some of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota. We’ll discuss various lakes in all regions of the state and go over each body of water in detail so that you know what to expect. Let’s go fishing!
Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Northern Minnesota
1. Lake Vermillion
We’ll start our tour of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota just south of Superior National Forest at Lake Vermillion. Lake Vermillion is consistently rated as a premier hotspot for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. If you’re targeting smallmouth bass in large quantities, you should focus your time on the west end of the lake.
However, if you’re going for size and quality over quantity, shift your attention to the east end of the lake. You’re also more likely to run into trophy largemouths on the west end. If you don’t want to take our word for how good Lake Vermillion is, you should at least trust the word of Fish and Game Magazine. They, too, have rated Lake Vermillion as one of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota.
2. Leech Lake
Located in the northern portion of the state and one of the largest bass fishing lakes in Minnesota, Leech Lake is a true gem. In addition to a wide variety of freshwater trophies, Leech Lake is home to some of the biggest and best largemouth bass in the state. The true popularity and potential of Leech Lake was first discovered in 1989 when a major bass fishing tournament was held there.
Ever since, the lake has gone through its ups and downs but has consistently held a large number of bass.
3. Rainy Lake
If you want to get a taste of bass fishing in both Minnesota and Canada, you have to check out Rainy Lake. It’s a massive body of water that covers over 345 square miles and lies partially in Canada and partially in Minnesota. Because it lies entirely north of the Voyageurs National Park, it’s more difficult to access than many of the other lakes on this list.
However, if you’re able to make the journey, Rainy Lake is easily one of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota. It’s known as much for its gorgeous scenery and views as it is for its large quantities of smallmouth bass.
4. Whitefish Chain of Lakes
Whitefish Chain of Lakes is yet another system of lakes that’s quickly gaining popularity as a top bass fishing lake in Minnesota. It’s starting to become a hotspot for bass fishing tournaments which is leading to increased popularity. It’s home to both largemouth and smallmouth bass in droves, in addition to other bass species.
So, if you’re looking for a scenic vacation in Minnesota where you can do some bass fishing, Whitefish Chain of Lakes is a good option.
5. Lake Kabetogama
Lake Kabetogama is located within Voyageurs National Park, the only national park in the state. As such, Lake Kabetogama is a lake that everyone knows is a great bass fishing lake in Minnesota, but because getting to the lake is difficult, it’s not fished as much as it should be. However, for all the die-hard bass anglers out there, it’s never too hard to get to Lake Kabetogama.
The waters in this lake are crystal clear, which make it one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the state. While catching the prized smallmouth bass on this lake take some work and skill, it’s well worth the effort when you see how big they are.
Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Central Minnesota
6. Mille Lacs Lake
No matter who you ask or what list you look at, Mille Lacs Lake is nearly always at the top of the list in terms of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota. Mille Lacs is located in the heart of the state straight southwest of Lake Superior and Duluth, Minnesota. While it holds several different types of bass, it’s especially popular for smallmouth bass.
Mille Lacs lake isn’t just one of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota. It also happens to be the second biggest and covers over 200 square miles of land. This lake is so popular for bass fishing, in fact, that it’s consistently ranked among the top ten bass fishing lakes in the US. In other words, if you can only pick one lake to fish in during your stay in Minnesota, you should strongly consider Mille Lacs Lake.
7. Pokegama Lake
Pokegama Lake is located in south-central Minnesota along the eastern border of the state. It sits on the upper portion of the Mississippi River and serves as one of its many tributaries. You can catch all manner of freshwater fish on Pokegama Lake, including the coveted largemouth and smallmouth bass. Most notably, Pokegama has previously been featured in several Bassmaster Fishing Elite events, making it one of the premier bass fishing lakes in Minnesota.
8. Chisago Lake
No, the name of this lake isn’t supposed to be Chicago. It’s spelled correctly. Chisago Lake is one of the smallest bass fishing lakes in Minnesota. It’s just under 1,000 acres in size and has just over 13 miles of shoreline. However, thanks to several major bass fishing tournaments being held at Chisago Lake, the secret about the monster bass lurking in its waters is out.
9. Lake Mary
We’ll wrap up our list of the top bass fishing lakes in central Minnesota with Lake Mary. This lake is bigger than Chisago Lake, but smaller than most on this list. Although it’s better known for its walleye, the waters of Lake Mary are teeming with monster bass, largemouth in particular.
In addition to the big largemouth that roam Lake Mary, it’s also known for having several different bass species. You can snag a smallmouth, rock bass, white bass, and more in Lake Mary.
Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Southern Minnesota
10. Prior Lake
If you’re looking to jump on one of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota that’s flying under the radar, Prior Lake is the one to try. Despite being located in the heart of Southern Minnesota just south of Minneapolis, it’s not one of the more sought-after bass fishing locations. However, its proximity to the Twin Cities is largely what’s leading this lake to finally gain the recognition it deserves.
Prior Lake is mostly known for having increasingly large numbers of bass lurking in its waters. Year after year, the numbers continue to increase and they’re not showing signs of slowing down.
11. Lake Minnetonka
Slightly further south in south-central Minnesota, you’ll find Lake Minnetonka. This lake is cut up and divided into a series of shorelines and islands. However, no matter where you drop your line in Lake Minnetonka, you’re likely to reel in a few quality bass. As was the case with Mille Lacs Lake, Lake Minnetonka consistently takes a spot on the list of the top 25 bass fishing lakes in the country.
It’s so popular, in fact, that the Classic Bass Champions Tour featured a tournament on the lake in 2018. Ever since then, it’s been a favorite spot for all types of bass fishing tournaments and hosts more than any other lake in the state.
12. Green Lake
Green Lake is a true hidden gem and is quickly becoming one of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota. It’s located in the town of Spicer west of the Twin Cities and is the largest lake in an area known as the Wilmar Lakes Area. At roughly 5,500 acres, this is one of the smaller lakes on our list. However, it’s jam-packed with both largemouth and smallmouth bass and is quickly becoming a premier fishing destination in south-central Minnesota.
13. Lake Washington
Lake Washington is one of the southernmost lakes on this list and one of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota that’s south of the Twin Cities. With just over 13 miles of shoreline and over 1,500 acres of area, this lake is one of the largest in southern Minnesota despite being one of the smallest on this list.
Like many of the top bass fishing lakes in Minnesota, a series of bass fishing tournaments is what led to Lake Washington becoming a hotspot for freshwater anglers. Despite being relatively small in size, this lake is known for having some of the biggest bass in the state including largemouth bass that consistently top the four-pound mark.
Wrapping Up the Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Minnesota
If you want to fish one of the best bass fishing lakes in Minnesota, you’re never too far away from one. The northern portion of the state is better known for its massive, primitive lakes, while the central and southern portion of the state is ripe with smaller, hidden gems. Regardless of what you’re looking for, Minnesota is a premier bass fishing destination for all anglers.
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.