Why You’ll Get Hooked in Detroit Lakes
Whether you are an experienced angler or just getting your line wet for the first time, you will get hooked on fishing trips to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.
In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, there are more than 400 to choose from within a 25-minute radius of Detroit Lakes. Freshwater life is as varied as the waterfronts, presenting a myriad of options no matter the time of year (did someone say ice fishing?). Novices needn’t worry— look to experienced and knowledgeable guides with top-notch equipment to rent.
Nothing compares to catching big fish while spending quality time on a boat with friends and family among this breathtaking scenery. Best of all, you and your fellow travelers will feel like big fish with the hospitality of local hotels, resorts, restaurants, retailers and more. Read on if you’re ready to be lured to Detroit Lakes for a fishing trip that will grow in legend—like your catches—over the years.
There are more than 400 lakes in the region. Depending on where you cast your line, different fish will be biting. Most common in Detroit Lakes are:
- Sunfish, Crappie and other panfish
- Northern Pike
Bass are a fun species to catch because they put up a good fight. The bass season extends from mid-May to the end of February, giving anglers 9 months to catch their trophy. Top fishing holes for bass include: Floyd, Big Detroit, Sallie, Melissa, Long, Cotton and Toad lakes.
Crappies, Sunfish and other popular panfish can be caught any time of year, as their season never ends. Many local lakes offer excellent fishing for Crappie and other panfish, including Big and Little Toad, Long, Floyd, Cotton, Rock, Melissa, Little Pelican and Island lakes. They typically swim in schools, so, if you catch one, others may follow.
Muskie are among the largest of game fish populating area lakes. Muskie season opens in June but peak season is the fall. Head toward Big Detroit, Sallie, Pelican, Beers and Many Point lakes for the best chance at a catch. The muskie waters here tend to be very clear, so you can see the fish from above before casting a line. But be warned—they see you too, so you’ll want to keep your distance and be clever.
Walleye is the most targeted species in the area. It also happens to be the state fish. Similar to Bass, the Walleye season starts every year in mid-May, and runs through the end of February of the next year. Popular Walleye lakes include Big Detroit, Sallie, Melissa, White Earth, Cotton, Island, Big Toad, Pelican, Lida, Star, Height of Land, Shell, Round and Many Point lakes.
Northern Pike are slightly smaller than their Muskie relatives, but they can still grow to be well over 40”. The pike season is identical to that of Walleye and Bass, allowing anglers a chance to catch these fish on a boat or on the ice. Pike are found in many lakes in the area, including Melissa, Sallie, Big and Little Detroit, Pelican, Eunice, Maud and Big Cormorant.
Anyone who’s visited Detroit Lakes can attest to the fact that there is never a bad time to be here. That certainly extends to anglers and amateur fishermen.
Late spring and summer are the warmest months, but the fish are plentiful in all seasons. In fact, cooler temperatures (in air and on the water) and less humidity amp up the fishes’ appetites, making them easier to catch across the more than 400 lakes. Fall is also prime time for muskies—a target Minnesota and Detroit Lakes are known for.
Nature lovers will take in the experience of a peaceful morning or evening on the water where the call of a loon emanates from otherwise solitude surroundings. Those fishing area lakes become connected to something greater than themselves the first time their line hits the water, and they are hooked after they catch their first whopper. It’s no wonder anglers have difficulty keeping track of time! Once back on shore, there are other area outdoor activities like biking, hiking, birding and golfing to explore.
According to veteran fishing guide, Brad Laabs, “the fishing is not only excellent, but the experience of being on the lake at sunrise or sunset is hard to describe, and needs to be experienced. Communing with eagles, osprey, geese, ducks, and loons while fishing on the lakes adds to the experience when surrounded by the natural beauty of our area.”
You Are Not on Your Own
Never fear if you arrive without a rod, tackle, bait and a boat. All are available for rental at J&K Marina. The City Beach pier on Detroit Lake makes for a fine fishing spot, but be sure to consider a guided tour from experts who know where to get more than a few nibbles.
- Brad Laabs Guide Service has 35 years of guide service, showcasing his home terrain to visitors. He started as a tournament angler and has branched into building custom rods, also.
- Baxstar Fishing offers year-round guided fishing trips on many area lakes, plus icehouse rentals, pontoon rentals and guided tours of Detroit Lake for groups of all sizes.
Mid-June through mid-August is peak season, and deals can be found during otherseasons.
A Note from Brady Baxter
Owner and Guide for Baxtar Fishing LLC
I was born in Minneapolis, and have lived all over the great state of Minnesota. In my experience, there is no place quite like Detroit Lakes. From a mile long public beach located next to restaurants, lodging and shopping, to the incredible fishing opportunities for both seasoned and recreational anglers, there is something for everyone. I regularly guide groups for different species on many different lakes over the course of the year, because the fishing is that diverse, and it is that good! While I’d like to claim I am the only reason my customers come back every year, I know the other reason they keep coming back is because they can’t get enough of the Detroit Lakes area. One particular customer sums this up every time I see them, referring to the area as their “little slice of heaven”!
One useful tool is the Detroit Lakes Fishing Report, submitted by Brad Laabs Guide Service and sponsored by Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce. It offers weekly updates on lake and weather conditions and details the best locations to set bait. Why not give your intuition a helping hand?
The idea of fishing in Detroit Lakes may sound alluring, but nothing compares to the real thing. We invite you to take the bait and see for yourself why a trip here will be a reel good time.