Make Fishing Part of Your Minnesota Trip

By Kelly Jo McDonnell

There are three major holidays in the state of Minnesota – Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Minnesota Fishing Opener. Or so goes the saying ... and it’s no wonder. Minnesota is known for its fishing.

Kelly Jo McConnell fishing with sonIt’s the land of 10,000 lakes (actually even more); it says so right on our license plates! So including a fishing adventure as part of your trip to Minnesota makes perfect sense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned angler or a complete novice, the sport of fishing can be enjoyed by all.

It’s easy to include fishing as part of a vacation or quick getaway, no matter what area of the state you’re visiting, including the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Local visitors bureaus often have information on nearby lakes and rivers; the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also provides info on lakes and fishing, including the licenses required.

If you want to fish on your own and have your own gear, bait shops are a great source of information on where and how to fish in the local waters. These folks will know what fish are biting and what they’re biting on. Stop in for bait and get the local fishing scoop while you’re there.

If you’re staying at a resort, the staff usually have some great fishing tips. Resort owners and their teams are often diehard fisher-people themselves, and are more than happy to share any wisdom with visitors.

Bait shops, resorts and local tourism bureaus also have the names of local fishing guides in their rolodexes. Don’t poo-poo this idea. If you’re not familiar with Minnesota waters or don’t fish regularly, Mother Nature has a way of depriving you of a catch. Guides can be worth their weight in gold to both casual anglers and seasoned veterans.
Some resorts and guides are able to provide guests some basic fishing gear if you don’t have your own, so check ahead of your trip to see if this is the case.

Fishing GuideWhile I am biased in favor of fishing guides (my father was a fishing guide for years), many resorts and bait shops will point visitors in this direction too, especially on a first trip. They can refer you to experienced guides, and may have worked with them for years. Whether you want to introduce your kids to fishing or enjoy an outing with old fishing buddies, there’s a guide out there who can make the fishing adventure happen.

If you find one who interests you, check out their website, or give them a call to find out rates and more information. Trip rates are usually broken down into full day or half day, and a set number of people. Perhaps you want a shore lunch or shore dinner, which some guides can accommodate. Keep in mind that sunrise and sunset are often the times when the fish are most likely to be biting. Try fishing with a guide early in your trip, and use the tips you get to fish on your own for the rest of your vacation.

“Almost every lake has multiple guides,” says Travis Frank, Minnesota fishing guide and owner of Trophy Encounters. “Tell them what you’re looking for. Looking to catch a trophy? Just have a good time? These are the things we need to know to do our job.”

“Most of the guides out here, we love the outdoors,” he adds. “We love being on the water, and love the opportunity to show somebody our office and playground. It’s what we do.”

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