Minnesota is known for many things, and shore fishing is at the top of that list. The great northern state has over 11,000 lakes, hundreds of rivers and ponds, and access to the Mississippi River. While fishing from boats and canoes is the preferred method for serious anglers, shore fishing in Minnesota is also popular.
In this article, we’re going to explore where the best shore fishing spots in Minnesota are and what you can expect to find when you cast your line. Let’s dive in!
Best North to South River Shore Fishing
Let’s start by looking at the best rivers to drop a line into. Each of these rivers runs from north to south and contains dozens of fruitful shore fishing in Minnesota locations.
St. Croix River
The St. Croix River runs throughout Minnesota and is teeming with excellent shore fishing opportunities. Part of the reason that shore fishing is so successful is that the St. Croix is a massive and deep river. Deep enough that large boats frequent the middle of the river, which pushes multitudes of fish towards the shoreline. Northern pike, walleye, bass, and trout are the most popular fish in the river but aren’t the only possibilities. Bayport Beach area, Point Douglas Park near Hastings, and the Excel Energy King Plant Electrical Generating Facility are some of the top spots for shore fishing in Minnesota.
The Cannon River in Minnesota is 112 miles of beauty and one of the most popular sight-seeing rivers in the state. However, it’s also loved for its fishing opportunities. The Cannon River Dam and Cannon River Reservoir are two of the best shore fishing spots. Anglers will find a variety of fish, including northern pike, rainbow trout, bullhead, and lake trout here.
There are 195 miles of the Mississippi River within Minnesota, and there are dozens of shore fishing spots to choose from. While smallmouth bass is the most popular fish in the river, northern pike, walleye, catfish, and muskellunge are also present. Anoka, Dayton, Elk River, Kadler Avenue, Ellison Park (Monticello), Montissippi Park (Monticello), Snuffy’s Landing (Becker), Clearwater, River Bluff Park (St. Cloud), and St. Cloud are the ten most popular shore fishing spots. Some parts of the river have restrictions on smallmouth bass fishing, so make sure to note the rules of your location.
Best Shore Fishing in Northern Minnesota
No matter where you’re from in Minnesota, you’ll likely make the journey to Lake Vermilion if you’re an angler. Few other lakes are as famous or as fruitful for fishing purposes as Lake Vermilion. The lake has 290 miles of shoreline and hundreds of islands to boat out to and fish from. While the lake is massive, it’s relatively shallow and one of the best fishing lakes in the country. It’s best known for its enormous walleye, northern pike, and muskie and contains perch, sunfish, bass, and crappie. The lake, combined with the islands, totals over 1,000 miles of shoreline just waiting to be fished.
Lake Bemidji is located in Bemidji, Minnesota, and is one of the top year-round fishing lakes in the state. It has over 15 miles of shoreline, and shore fishing is especially fruitful within the state park portion of the lake and at the many resorts that dot its coast. Bemidji is a Mississippi River fish hatchery and offers opportunities to catch walleye, bass, crappie, muskie, pike, sunfish, and perch. Diamond Lake Park is another excellent shore fishing option on Lake Bemidji.
Lake Superior Shore Fishing
A list of shore fishing opportunities in Minnesota wouldn’t be complete without including sections of Lake Superior. While not much of the great lake is within Minnesota, eastern portions are accessible from within state lines. Anywhere near river mouths and break walls offer the best shore fishing opportunities, but there are public access points all along the lakeshore. Steelhead, Kamploos, rainbow trout, and coho salmon are some of the top fish available to shore anglers.
Located in northcentral Minnesota, Leech Lake is within the Chippewa National Forest and offers breathtaking views and unforgettable fishing. It’s the third-largest lake in Minnesota and has hundreds of miles of shoreline to fish from. Weedy areas along the lakeshore offer the best, untouched fishing opportunities for shore fishing. Crappie, bowfin, bluegill, catfish, sunfish, bass, muskie, walleye, jackfish, yellow perch, and more have all been known to frequent the waters of Leech Lake. As a sidenote, shore anglers have the most success when they fish from the shore that the wind is blowing towards.
Best Shore Fishing in Central Minnesota
Gull Lake is consistently ranked as one of the top walleye lakes in the state and is covered with shore fishing opportunities. The Gull Narrows bridge is one of the most popular walleye areas, but anywhere in the 9,000-acre lake will have ample amounts of fish. The lake is just six miles north of Brainerd, making it accessible and popular for thousands of Minnesotans. Hole-in-the-Day Bay and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park are other excellent spots for shore fishing. Walleye, northern pike, bass, and crappie are the most popular fish in the lake.
Little Cutfoot Sioux
Connected to Lake Winnibigoshish, Little Cutfoot Sioux is a major walleye hole that the DNR uses as part of their stocking program. There are so many walleye in this area that the DNR often has to strip them from the lake. Little Cutfoot also contains northern pike, panfish, muskie, bass, and more. The best time to fish is when the walleye migrate into the lake during the spring. However, fishing is fruitful year-round at this central Minnesota paradise.
Lake Rebecca Park Reserve
The Lake Rebecca Park Reserve in Rockford is another beautiful but secluded fishing area. Shore fishing and pier fishing are your options at Lake Rebecca, and because it’s pretty remote, you’ll likely be alone. You’ll also have access to the Crow River for shore and canoe fishing inside the Lake Rebecca Park Reserve. Over 41 species of fish have been caught here, including catfish, crappie, sunfish, all manner of bass, and muskellunge.
Annie Battle Lake
Annie Battle Lake is small compared to many of the other lakes in the state, but it’s one of the best fishing lakes in Minnesota. It’s heavily regulated by the DNR, which means there is nearly always a multitude of fish teeming the waters. It’s located in Otter Tail County and is best known for scores of bluegill, various bass and bullhead species, northern pike, muskie, walleye, pumpkinseed, and perch. Annie Battle Lake is also a non-motorized lake, which means your fishing won’t be affected by loud boaters.
Lake Johanna is located in Ramsey County, just north of St. Paul. While Lake Johanna is most famous for its boating and boat fishing opportunities, it also has excellent shore fishing. The lake is accessible for people of all ages and is crawling with walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, muskie, bullhead species, and yellow perch. Shore fishing is currently limited to the Tony Schmidt Park area, where you’ll find clear, sandy beaches and an outlet structure.
Best Shore Fishing in Southern Minnesota
Mississippi Gateway Regional Park
The Mississippi Gateway Regional Park is located in Brooklyn Park and offers shore and pier fishing opportunities. It’s one of the most family-friendly spots on the Mississippi River and is readily accessible for people of all ages. While shore fishing is the most popular option, there are also two bridges and a pier that offer fishing opportunities. There are a number of species that you’ll likely encounter including small and largemouth bass, catfish, carp, and northern pike.
The Landing is located in Shakopee along the Minnesota River and exclusively offers shore fishing as its only option. It’s a relatively small and secluded area that’s great for privacy and tons of fishing fun. You can fish from shore and cast your line to deep spots on the river or step out onto one of the sandbars that run through it. You’ll encounter the same types of fish on this section of the Mississippi as you will at the site listed above in addition to freshwater drum and shortnose gar, bullhead, crappie, and sunfish.
Lake Andrew is located in Sibley State Park and is the smallest lake on this list. While you might run into walleye and northern pike, the lake is one of the top crappie lakes in the state. There’s also no boat access to the lake which means you’ll have fishing all to yourself at Lake Andrew.
Few lakes in Minnesota are larger or more famous for fishing purposes than Lake Minnetonka. One of the best spots within the lake is the Lake Minnetonka Channel, but shore fishing certainly isn’t limited to this area. Over 14,000 acres in size, Lake Minnetonka is the largest lake in the Twin Cities area and has hosted numerous fishing tournaments throughout the years. Largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, northern pike, walleye, and yellow perch are some of the most popular fish in the lake.
Final Thoughts About Shore Fishing in Minnesota
Minnesota is one of the rugged and most scenic states in the U.S. It’s also one of the best fishing states, and its thousands of lakes, rivers, and ponds are sitting patiently and calling your name. While this list covered 16 of the top spots for shore fishing in Minnesota.
In Minnesota, there are thousands more to choose from. No matter where you go, you’re bound to run into some excellent shore fishing opportunities.
If you know of another great location for shore fishing in Minnesota, please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear about your fishing adventures!
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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.