Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, which means plenty of freshwater fishing, but what is the best time to go fishing in Minnesota, and what is the peak MN fishing season? 

While we’d like to say this month is the ultimate month, or these MN fishing seasons are the best, the answer is a little more complicated. Every month is different when you’re fishing in Minnesota, and each month has its own pros and cons. However, don’t worry because we will talk you through each month and what you can expect from Minnesota fishing seasons.

In the following article on Minnesota fishing seasons, we’ll be covering:

If you enjoy fishing and you’re always looking for exciting new places to fish in the United States, be sure to check out Unveiling the Secrets of Freshwater Fishing: A Guide to the Best Lures!

Let’s be honest. Getting tips, tricks, and information from other anglers can be challenging. It’s not like everyone is lining up to share their secret fishing spots with strangers. However, thanks to the premium Fishing Forecasting App, Fishbox App, you’ll be able to find the best spots to fish in Minnesota, including information on Minnesota fishing seasons, and know when it’s worth going and when you’re better off staying at home!

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Expert Opinion on Minnesota Fishing Seasons

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“Minnesota is a very popular destination for freshwater fishing for anglers across the country and even the world. Drawn by its thousands of lakes and unique biodiversity, Minnesota very rarely disappoints the anglers that travel there or call it their home waters. Although I have never personally been to Minnesota, it is 100% on my bucket list of places to go and fish. As the article mentions, tons of different freshwater species call Minnesota their home such as Lake Trout, Crappie, Walleye, Perch, Bass, Musky and Pike. While I can’t give y’all specific spot-to-spot fishing information, I can provide some strategies and advice that give you a better chance of having a successful day on the water regardless of where you are fishing. First off, Minnesota offers a great variety of fishing styles to choose from depending on the time of year that you are fishing there. Some of these popular styles include bank fishing, trolling, ice fishing and more. This being said, don’t let yourself just sit on one of these styles of fishing. I always say this to anglers when talking about fishing—it’s all about mixing it up with this sport. Yes, fishing in any capacity has the potential to be very fun, but when you mix it up and try different strategies and styles of fishing not only can it provide a change of scenery, but it also makes the sport so much more fun. Additionally, taking on a new style of fishing and trying it opens a whole new community of anglers to learn from to enhance your own fishing skills. The second thing I would like to say is that Minnesota provides a great year-round fishing experience. If you look at the chart provided in the article, you can easily see that for each and every month, there is at least one species that has either good or great fishing. This is such a game changer and for those that have the luxury of living in Minnesota, you should be very thankful for what you have right in your own backyard. I’ve mentioned this before, the fishery that I’m familiar with—North Carolina—is pretty good almost all year but winter is simply not that great, especially for freshwater fishing. I would love to have the opportunity to ice fish, but unfortunately, it generally doesn’t get cold enough down here to do so. This being said, you can’t really plan a poor time to go fishing in Minnesota. Take advantage of what you have been blessed with and get outside to enjoy God’s creation. Lastly, before I end my commentary, I would like to mention the state of the fishery in Minnesota. Minnesota is an extremely well-managed state in terms of fishery so respect this fact when fishing there. Follow the regulations and buy the necessary licenses. Don’t be cheap, respect the environment and have fun. Maybe you’ve never thought about Minnesota for a fishing trip, but hopefully, now you can see the immense value of this beautiful state and will put a trip on your itinerary. Tight lines!”

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Overview of Minnesota Fishing Seasons (Fishing Calendar)

Below, we have prepared a comprehensive Minnesota fishing season calendar that highlights the best times to catch each species, along with the worst time and also any season closures. Before you go fishing in Minnesota, be sure to check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and its current fishing regulations.

SpeciesJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Lake TroutGoodGoodGoodClosedClosedGreatGoodGoodGreatClosedClosedGood
CrappieGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGood
WalleyeGoodGoodClosedClosedGreatGreatGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGood
PerchGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGood
BassPoorPoorClosedClosedGoodGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodPoor
MuskyClosedClosedClosedClosedClosedGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGood
PikeGreatGreatClosedClosedClosedGreatGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGood

Month-By-Month Guide to Minnesota Fishing Seasons

January 

While winter fishing in some states slows to a crawl, Minnesota gives anglers the opportunity to land some fantastic Lake Trout and, let’s not forget, ice fishing. If the winter has been cold enough, Lake Superior should be mostly frozen over and present anglers in Minnesota with some fantastic fishing opportunities. Just park your car on the side of Highway 61, and you’ll be ready to fish. Be sure to check the thickness of the ice whenever you’re ice fishing in MN.

February

Ice fishing is still on the agenda in February, and the Lake Trout are still biting. The smellier the bait, the better for these monsters. Northern Pike fishing in February is still firing, and it’ll be your last opportunity to land one for several months as the season is closed in March, April, and May.

March

March fishing in Minnesota is a period of transition. The snow is beginning to melt, which makes ice fishing difficult but not impossible. Try northern lakes such as Lake of the Woods. There are also a lot of close fishing seasons in March in Minnesota, including for Northern Pike, Musky, Bass, and Walleye. If you have been wondering when the fishing season in MN ends, for most species, it’s around March-April.

April

April is an excellent month to transition away from the big trophy fish and focus on Panfish such as Crappie and Perch. It’s hard to believe, but Crappie fishing in Minnesota is second in popularity only to Minnesota Walleye fishing. The season is open all year round, but April, May, and June are the peak months to catch your bag limit.

May

The Perch and Crappie are still biting strong in May, and popular Minnesota hotspots include Lake Winnibigoshish, Lake Minnetonka, and Millie Lacs Lake. There is even a Crappie fishing contest, the Minnesota Bound, which is held on Lake Minnetonka annually. However, if you’re a bass fishing enthusiast, it’s time to start getting excited about the upcoming bass opening season for both Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass.

June

Now the warm summer weather is starting to roll in, it’s time to get excited about Minnesota Crappie, Perch, Bass, Lake Trout, Musky, Walleye, and Pike fishing! However, it’s not as easy as just throwing a line in and reeling one in. As the Minnesota water warms up, the fish will slowly start to move out of the shallow water and start trolling the deeper water. The catch and release state record for a Musky was recorded in June 2022.

July

If you only chase one fish species in July in Minnesota, then it has to be Bass. July is prime Minnesota Bass fishing season for both Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass. There are over 2,000 lakes across Minnesota where you can cast a line during the prime MN Bass season. Crankbaits will be your best opportunity to land a Bass and don’t be afraid to move around and try different locations.

August

While you can still land a fish during the hottest month of the year, don’t expect to go out every day and fill a cooler. The fish will be deeper in the lakes, avoiding the heat and seeking cool water, so tempting them to bite will be difficult. Deep diving crankbaits may offer you the best opportunity to lure a big fish out of the deep water during August in Minnesota.

September

September is probably one of the best months to go fishing in Minnesota, and it gives you the best opportunity to land almost every fish species in the state. The summer temperatures have dropped a little, and all major fish species are on the bite. Fish are feeding heavily to prepare for winter, and the Minnesota Walleye season is kicking off. If you love catching big Walleye, then the Walleye season in MN is perfect.

October 

If you didn’t get to cast a line in September, don’t worry because October fishing in Minnesota is still firing on all cylinders. However, if you love Trout fishing, the MN Trout season is getting into full swing. Lake Trout season in MN may be closing, but Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Brook Trout in the southern part of Minnesota are worth checking out. The Minnesota Trout season is perfect for any fly fishing enthusiasts.

November

November in Minnesota is all about the infamous Muskellunge, or as it’s better known Musky. This tricky fish didn’t get the nickname the ‘Fish of 10,000 casts’ for no reason! If you’re looking to test your angling skills against a trophy Musky, November in Minnesota is the month to do it. Millie Lacs Lake is the place to test your luck.

December

If you’re not afraid of the cold, there’s still some good fishing to be had in December. Ice fishing in the northern part of MN is looking viable, but be careful before you venture out onto any ice. If you’ve never been ice fishing before, look for a local guide or experienced friend to take you out on the ice for the first time.

Read also: Best Time for Bass Fishing: Deciphering Seasonal and Timing Patterns

When Does Fishing Season End in MN?

While no one likes to stop fishing, for the sake of fish stocks and future generations, season closures are essential. By closing fishing seasons at certain times of the year it gives fish an essential break for their spawning and breeding season.

When does the Walleye season end in Minnesota? Walleye Season closes on February 25th and reopens on May 13th, 2023. 

When does the Trout season end in Minnesota? Trout season for Brown, Rainbow, and Brook Trout catch and release runs from January 1st through to April 14th. You can catch and keep between April 15th and September 14th and then between September 15th and October 15th, it’s catch and release only until the closure of the season. 

While most Minnesota fishing seasons are statewide, some water open and close at different times of the year, depending on where you are, so it’s essential to check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for location-based season openings and closures.

Minnesota Fishing Season Regulations

Minnesota has strict fishing regulations that govern what you can catch, when and where you can catch it, how you can catch it, and whether or not you can keep it. The Minnesota fishing regulations are species and location-specific, so it’s essential to check the regulations before fishing, especially if you’re unfamiliar with where you’re planning on fishing.

It’s essential to check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for location-based season openings and closures. They also offer an exceptionally detailed PDF guideline that you can download.

Before you cast a line in Minnesota, you’ll need to purchase a fishing license. Additionally, the purchase price of every fishing license will go into the Game and Fish Fund, which is a dedicated account that can only be used for fish, wildlife, law enforcement, and certain other related activities. So, when you buy a Minnesota fishing license, you’re helping to preserve the state’s natural resources for future generations.

Everyone aged between 16 and 89 needs a fishing license to fish in Minnesota unless they have an exemption. Below, we’ll look at the most popular Minnesota fishing licenses:

  • Individual Angling License – Allows one person to fish.
  • Combination Angling License – This will allow a married couple to fish together or individually.
  • Individual Sports – Allows one person to fish and hunt small game.
  • Combination Sports – Allows one person to hunt small game and one person to only fish.
  • Non-Resident Angling – Allows one non-resident to fish in the state of Minnesota.

Please visit the Minnesota DNR website to see a full list of all available Minnesota fishing licenses and purchase yours online.

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If you’re a non-resident looking to find the best fishing spots in Minnesota, then you’re going to need a little help. Anglers are well-known for sharing their ‘Secret’ fishing spots, especially with strangers. In the next section, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular fishing spots in Minnesota and what you can expect to catch there.

  1. Big Stone Lake – Situated on the Minnesota and South Dakota border, this narrow body of water boasts Walleye, Crappie, Bluegill, Northern Pike, and many other popular species.
  2. Rainy Lake – Located in Northern Minnesota, Rainy Lake is well-known for its Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, and Crappies.
  3. Lake Vermillion – Is often referred to as one of the most scenic lakes in Minnesota, and within its 40,000 acres, you can expect to catch big Perch, Walleye, Bass, Crappies, and Musky.
  4. Otter Tail Lake – If it’s Walleye you’re after, then Otter Tail Lake, located in the West-central section of Minnesota, is the place to do it! It’s also home to some terrific Northern Pike.
  5. White Bear Lake – This lake is another Walleye hotspot that’s a favorite with local anglers.

Read also: The Ultimate Guide: Discovering the Best State for Bass Fishing Bliss

Tips for a Successful MN Fishing Experience

One of the great things about fishing in Minnesota is the diverse ways you can get a rod in the water. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning on visiting Minnesota for the Minnesota Bass season opener or the Walleye season opener. There are plenty of fishing opportunities for anglers of all types and skill levels.

Below, we’ll look at the most popular ways to go fishing in Minnesota:

  • Charter Fishing – If you’ve never fished in Minnesota before and are planning a destination fishing holiday, then getting a charter is the best way to ensure some great fishing action on one of Minnesota’s many lakes. It doesn’t matter if you want to fly fish for Trout, ice fish, or just troll for Musky, a charter boat will be able to give you the best chance of landing a fish in a small amount of time.
  • Canoe and Kayak Fishing – With over 4,500 miles of kayaking water, there are plenty of fishing opportunities in Minnesota. One of the advantages of fishing from a kayak or canoe in Minnesota is that it’s cheap and allows you to explore a wide range of different fishing locations. The best kayaking locations are Lake Vermillion, Big Fork, Mississippi River, St. Croix River, and Red River.
  • Shore or Pier Fishing – If you don’t have access to a boat, kayak, or canoe, there are still loads of shore fishing opportunities in MN. Spring in Minnesota is the best time to shore fish. You can visit the DNR to get a full list of shore-based fishing locations using their interactive fishing guide.
  • Ice Fishing – If you’re not afraid of the cold, ice fishing in Minnesota during the cold winter months is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From December to February, you can find a variety of lakes in Minnesota that you can ice fish on. If you haven’t ice-fished before, teaming up with a local ice-fishing charter operation is the best and safest way to do it.

Fishing Events and Tournaments in MN

If you visit the DNR, they have a full list of over 200 different fishing tournaments that are held throughout the state of Minnesota, along with the location, date, and prize money available. If you think you’ve got what it takes to take home first place, Minnesota is a great state to enter some fantastic fishing tournaments.

The American Fishing Contests also gives you a detailed list of the fishing contests available in Minnesota. You can check out their complete list of Minnesota Fishing Tournaments here.

One of the great things about entering any fishing tournament is the sense of community spirit and camaraderie. A fishing tournament, especially one in Minnesota, is a community event and a great place to connect with local anglers, meet new friends, and share a story.

One MN fishing tournament we can’t afford, not to mention, is the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, the world’s largest ice fishing tournament that’s held in Brainerd, Minnesota. This massive ice-fishing tournament has been in operation since 1991 and generates millions of dollars for the local community every year. So, if you fancy your ice fishing skills, get a team together and enter for your chance to win some fantastic prizes!

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Minnesota Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide – Conclusion

While Minnesota may not have the saltwater angling many other states offer, they more than make up for it with their first-class freshwater angling opportunities. If you only have the budget for one freshwater angling holiday this year, then the summer fishing season in Minnesota is one you can’t afford to see and experience for yourself.

Before planning your fishing trip to MN, make sure that you check out our detailed fishing season calendar above so that you can plan around the best time to catch your target species. 

Before you hit the water in Minnesota, it’s essential to check with the local fishing regulations in order to ensure that you have the correct license and your target fish species is in season and not closed. While some waters offer year-round fishing, others have closed seasons to allow fish the best opportunity during spawning.

If you only get one fishing trip this year, Minnesota is a beautiful state to visit, and thanks to its abundance of lakes, streams, and rivers, it offers some world-class freshwater angling opportunities.

Before you hit the water next, take a minute and download the Fishbox App. By taking advantage of the app for fishing, you can track weather conditions accurately and choose the best time to hit the water. The Fishbox App combines predictive fish behavior with weather, lunar, and tidal conditions to deliver optimal fishing opportunities in Minnesota.

The Fishbox App was developed in collaboration with accurate weather data and expert fish behavioral analysis. These advanced forecasts will significantly increase your catch rate while reducing your time on the water. Take your fishing to the next level thanks to the expert advice from the Fishbox App team.

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