Duluth, Minnesota Fishing: The Complete Guide (2023)

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Overlooking the mighty Lake Superior, enjoying some of the most stunning natural views, you’ll find a true fishing haven. Fishing in Duluth, Minnesota is a way of life, all thanks to the abundance of water here. Whether it’s the Great Lake on its doorstep, the St. Louis River, or the many inland lakes, the waters are beautiful, and the fish plentiful.

Duluth is home to the largest and busiest port on the Great Lakes, carved into the cliffs of Sawtooth Mountain. It gets a lot of visitors, most of whom come for the fishing opportunities. It’s the farthest inland port connected to the ocean, so these waters stretch all the way out to the deep Atlantic!

Let’s dive into everything that makes Duluth such a popular angling destination, so you can plan your next adventure.

What to Catch in Duluth

The Minnesota fishing scene has a lot to offer, and fishing in Duluth is probably one of the best experiences in the whole state. With access to a variety of waters, it boasts some incredible wildlife, including over 80 species of fish. We’ve compiled a list of top targets so you can easily figure out what fish to go after.

Salmon

Duluth is located right on the banks of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. This means one thing – lots of Salmon! In the Minnesota waters of the lake, there are Coho, Chinook, and Pink Salmon. Head out to the deeper waters during the summer months when they seek colder temperatures, and do some Salmon trolling.

(Video) Lake Superior charter fishing trip, Duluth MN

If you’re looking to fish from shore, your best bet is to visit in fall, when Salmon head up to the rivers to spawn. You’ll have easy access to the waters of the St. Louis River which holds an abundance of Salmon at this time of year. The mouth of the river is known as one of the most famous fisheries in all of Minnesota.

Walleye

This is a special one when we’re talking about fishing in Duluth! The St. Louis River Mouth is known for its abundant Walleye population, where they tend to hang around during spring and fall. This is when you can sink a line anywhere in the river, and expect to hook into this feisty species!

During the summer months, they head out into the waters of Lake Superior, so you can use this time to do some trolling. And if you’re up for a winter adventure, they’ll be hanging around the shallow Saint Louis Bay and Superior Bay. Whenever you decide to go Walleye fishing, you’ll get a good fight out of it, and an even better meal.

Northern Pike

If you’re looking to hook into some really big fish, look no further. Northern Pike can reach some incredible sizes, with specimens over 30 pounds becoming more and more common in the area. After their population declined due to overfishing, this majestic fish is now bouncing back to its former glory.

It’s no wonder, then, that Minnesota anglers are very happy about once again being able to hook into trophy Pike. You can find them in the smaller lakes around Duluth (there’s even a lake named Pike Lake!), as well as in Lake Superior. Lake weed beds and river shorelines are especially abundant, so visit some Lake Superior tributaries for the best action.

Trout

As with Salmon, there’s a variety of Trout species that live in the waters around Duluth. Lake Trout are one of the most iconic species in the Great Lakes, and Lake Superior is world-famous for its Lake Trout fishing. These predators will put up a big fight and you’ll have the time of your life.

(Video) Duluth fishing guide’s trusty tips for checking ice on Lake Superior

Other species of Trout that inhabit Lake Superior are Brown, Brook, and Rainbow Trout. But you’ll find these varieties in the lake’s tributaries as well. So whether you’re fishing from shore, heading out on a boat, or even ice fishing, there’s a Trout species with your name on it!

Bass

As one of the most sought-after freshwater fish in Duluth, fishing for Bass in this Minnesota town is great. You can hook into both Largemouth and Smallmouth here. If you’re up for chasing Smallies, head over to the Thomson Reservoir just outside of town. It’s a kayak-friendly body of water, so you can try catching them in an unconventional way.

If you’re looking for great Largemouth bites, visit the inland lakes around Duluth. Fish Lake Reservoir, Grand Lake and Caribou Lake all hold impressive numbers of this coveted species. They’re close to the city, but they’re secluded little natural gems.

And More!

While these might be some of the fish species anglers tend to target the most, there’s a whole lot more lurking in the waters of Duluth. Musky and Yellow Perch are pretty popular with locals. Catfish, Crappie, Sturgeon, and Sauger are also in the cards.

How to Fish in Duluth

There’s a variety of ways to go about fishing in Duluth. It lies on the largest freshwater lake in the world, so exploring the lake and its tributaries can be done in many different ways. In this section, we’ll help you decide on the way you’d like to explore this fishery.

Charter Fishing in Duluth

Charter fishing is especially important in Duluth, as Lake Superior is so vast that there’s no better way to explore it. Heading out on a boat has a lot of advantages, as you can cover a lot of ground this way. You can explore the deeper parts of the lake inaccessible from shore, where big fish head to during the summer months.

(Video) Catch Your Moment Foundation and Duluth, MN Walleyes!

And one more thing. If you decide to book a fishing charter, you’ll also be getting help from a local guide. This help is invaluable, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. Your guide will know where to take you and how to go after what you want, and they’ll also make sure you’re following all of the regulations. You won’t have to worry about anything!

Shore Fishing in Duluth

If you prefer to relax and fish the old-fashioned way, you’ll be happy to hear that you can go fishing pretty much anywhere in Duluth. With the Lake Superior shoreline on one side, and the St. Louis River on the other, the fishing opportunities are endless. You can also visit one of the smaller inland lakes for some more action.

If you’re planning on casting from shore, you should definitely consider visiting in spring or fall. During the summer, most species head out to the deeper waters in search of the perfect temperature. And if you’re up for a real challenge, fly fishing is a favorite for locals. Do it along the shores of the St. Louis River for the best results.

Kayak Fishing in Duluth

Another popular way of fishing in Duluth is from a kayak. It’s been gaining popularity in Minnesota, as it gives you a complete natural experience. You get up close and personal with the natural world, while also challenging yourself to some hardcore angling. Keeping your balance, paddling, and using your rod all at the same time takes some practice, but once you nail it down, it’s a blast!

Anglers normally take their fishing kayaks to the inland lakes in the area, like Grand and Pike Lake. However, some use them to explore the shallower waters of Lake Superior. Kayak fishing can be especially rewarding at river mouths, like where the St. Louis River empties into Lake Superior, as well as down the river.

Ice Fishing in Duluth

This is a special one for anyone who loves the holiday season. Duluth is known for its ice fishing scene, and you’ll have more than one spot to choose from here. If you’re looking for an urban angling spot, the St. Louis Bay is within walking distance of downtown Duluth. When it freezes over, it offers some interesting fishing, and a lot of fun come winter.

(Video) Catching Fall crappies with Garmin Livescope in Duluth, MN!

If you want a more natural experience, you won’t have to look far. Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” meaning there are inland lakes that freeze over completely. Some of these lie just outside of Duluth, like Caribou, Fish, and Boulder Lake. Just follow your interests, and you won’t be disappointed!

Where to Fish in Duluth

All that’s left for you to decide is where to go and you’ve got your Duluth fishing adventure figured out. We’ve already mentioned some of our favorite spots throughout this guide, but let’s make a definitive list of the best Duluth fishing spots.

  • Lake Superior: Do we even have to say it? It’s the largest freshwater lake in the world! In summer, you can head out on a boat and do some trolling for Salmon, or go after Musky, Pike, and Walleye. In spring or fall, cast a line from shore, and you’re bound to reel in some nice Salmon and Bass.
  • St. Louis Bay: This is one of the most abundant bodies of water in Duluth. You can find a lot of Walleye and Salmon here during the spring and fall months, before they head out to the deep waters of Lake Superior for the summer. It’s also great for ice fishing when it freezes over!
  • St. Louis River: If you’re looking for a relaxing day of fishing, head on down to the banks of the St. Louis River for a taste of exciting Salmon fishing. They come to these waters in spring to spawn, and fly fishing is especially popular with local anglers.
  • Canal Park: Don’t wanna travel too far? Then Canal Park is the spot for you! Walk down to this stunning area overlooking Lake Superior and enjoy fishing like the locals. Trout and Salmon are the most popular targets among fishermen casting in Canal Park.
  • Grand Lake: If you’re after some trophy Largemouth Bass, this is the place to be! It’s especially popular with kayak fishing enthusiasts, so you can have an action-packed adventure just outside the city. Walleye and Yellow Perch are also abundant here.
  • Fish Lake: And if you’re looking for Northern Pike, you’ll find them here. The waters of Fish Lake are full of this coveted species, and you can target them in a variety of ways. Whether it’s from shore, a boat, or a kayak, it’s sure to be productive.

Seasons and Regulations

Minnesota is a year-round fishery, so when it comes to fishing in Duluth, any time is a good time! That being said, where the fish are can differ depending on the season. Spring and fall are best for fishing the rivers and shallower waters, summer is when you should visit the deep waters of the lake, and wintertime is reserved for ice fishing!

When it comes to regulations, note that everyone over the age of 16 is required to have a Minnesota fishing license when fishing in Duluth. You can find more information on getting one in our simple guide. Also, be aware that most species have strict regulations and bag limits depending on where you’re fishing, so make sure you stay up to date before heading out.

Why Duluth? It’s a Midwest Fishing Heaven!

Still wondering if Duluth is worth visiting? Don’t! When it comes to freshwater angling, you’ll find everything here. Rich waters, an abundance of opportunities, and stunning natural views. There’s hardly a place in the Midwest where you can have a more prolific fishing experience. It embodies everything that makes fishing fun, so head on down to the “City on a Hill,” and enjoy!

Have you ever been fishing in Duluth, Minnesota? Tell us about your adventure, or ask any questions you might have in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

(Video) Lake Superior Fishing | #Happy Hookers Charters | Duluth

FAQs

Is there good fishing at Duluth MN? ›

The Minnesota fishing scene has a lot to offer, and fishing in Duluth is probably one of the best experiences in the whole state. With access to a variety of waters, it boasts some incredible wildlife, including over 80 species of fish.

Can you fish from shore in Duluth? ›

Quality shore fishing opportunities start in fall and continue into spring when the steelhead run begins. Good fishing can be found from Canal Park in Duluth all the way up the North Shore into Canada.

What lake has the most walleye in Minnesota? ›

When it comes to the best walleye fishing in Minnesota, few lakes enjoy the great reputation Lake Winnibigoshish has as Minnesota's premier world-class walleye fishing lake. Lake Winnie offers great structure and has large numbers of Walleye, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Muskie, Crappie, Jumbo Perch and panfish.

What is the best fish in Lake Superior? ›

Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass and Perch fishing is productive in this area. Lake trout trolling picks up in the Lake proper from Superior to Saxon and the Apostle Islands. Walleye action is still productive in the St. Louis River.

What months are best fishing in Minnesota? ›

While their metabolism is slow during the cold winter months, it kicks into gear around May. By the time June rolls around, their metabolisms are in full swing, so anglers can take advantage of hungrier, more aggressive fish.

How many walleye can you keep per day in Minnesota? ›

All walleye less than 17 inches in length must be immediately returned to the water. The daily and possession limit for walleye is three. A person's possession limit may not include more than one walleye over 20 inches.

How deep is the water under the lift bridge in Duluth? ›

The project depths are 28 to 32 feet in the entrance; 27 feet deep in the iron-ore route channels, and 20 to 23 feet in the inner channels. There are two piers at the Duluth Entry and there are four piers at the Superior Entry.

Are there wolves in Duluth? ›

Federal trappers capture and kill about 180 wolves each year in Minnesota near where livestock and pets have been confirmed killed by wolves, including several just outside Duluth.

Are there bears in Duluth? ›

Unlike many cities where a bear would be an unusual curiosity, Duluth has had plenty of bear visits and bear residents of its own. “Duluthians have seen enough bears that they are unusually tolerant.

How old is a 30 inch walleye in Minnesota? ›

Generally, female walleye which are 25 inches long are about 10 years old, and 30 inch females are in the range of 20 years old.

What is the most sought-after fish in Minnesota? ›

Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes than on rivers and streams. The average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year. Walleye are the most sought-after fish in Minnesota, followed by northern pike and muskie combined, panfish, bass, crappie and trout.

Where is the walleye capital of the world? ›

Baudette, the town trying to federally trademark the phrase “Walleye Capital of the World,” is in the northwestern-most corner of Minnesota and has a population of 1,106. Outside the town we spotted a large wooden sign rising out of a grassy field with “Walleye Retreat” hand-painted on it—our lodgings.

What is the deadliest fish in Lake Superior? ›

Three of the most dangerous fish in the Great Lakes are the pacu, snakehead and sea lamprey.

What is the biggest creature in Lake Superior? ›

Lake sturgeon are the largest fish in Lake Superior. They among the oldest fish in the lake too. Did you know that a lake sturgeon can live to be older than 100 years? This species of fish has also been around for a long time—about 150 million years.

Do alligators live in Lake Superior? ›

Many people don't realize Lake Superior is infested with fearsome man-eating alligators.

Which lake has the most fish in Minnesota? ›

Leech Lake is Minnesota's favorite fishing destination for Bass, Walleye, and Musky. Leech Lake ice fishing is all the rage during the winter.

How many fish can you catch per day in Minnesota? ›

With these new regulations, anglers can keep only the prescribed number of fish per day — it's five or 10 on most lakes with these special regulations — but can return the next day for another limit if they don't exceed the statewide inland water possession limit of 20 sunfish per angler.

What month is best for walleye fishing? ›

Fishing success tends to be highest in May and June. That's when walleye are most frequently in shallow or semi-shallow locations near shore, thereby making them easier to catch. Walleye move to deeper locations as water temperatures rise throughout summer.

What is the longest walleye ever caught in Minnesota? ›

LeRoy Chiovitte holds the state-record walleye he caught May 13, 1979. The fish weighed 17 pounds, 8 ounces, was 35.75 inches long and had a girth of 21.25 inches.

How many rods can you fish with in Minnesota? ›

How can I fish? You can catch fish with a line attached to a fishing pole. When the water isn't frozen, you must use only one fishing pole. When the water is frozen, you can use two lines, which don't have to be attached to a fishing pole.

Can you fish with 2 hooks in MN? ›

A. An angler may have up to three single or multiple hooks on a line used as a single tackle configuration attached to the end of a fishing line. The total configuration from the first hook to the last hook must be nine inches or less. Live, artificial, preserved, or dead bait is allowed.

Is there a cave under Lake Superior? ›

The World's Most Stunning Sea Caves

Consisting of 22 small islands in Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands hold some of the most magnificent sea caves in the world, especially during the winter months when they become temples of ice.

Can you swim in Lake Superior in Duluth? ›

Swimming in Duluth. The Duluth area has been blessed with a number of lakes, rivers, and streams worthy of a cool dip on a hot summer day. Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, is of course the most obvious destination for a little afternoon swim. And it should definitely be on your list, too.

What is the steepest hill in Duluth MN? ›

Climb to the top of Duluth's steepest street, Fifth Avenue West and Fifth Street. The Duluth News Tribune reports that it has a grade of 25%. To give some perspective, according to the article, the steepest run at Spirit Mountain is 19%.

Are there moose in Duluth? ›

Moose (Alces alces) is Minnesota's largest wild animal, commonly weighing in at 800 pounds or more. Minnesota is one of the few states where you can spot them, and every once in a while, you can see one in Duluth. If you are keen on spotting one, the Northland is the place to be.

Are there Bobcats in Duluth? ›

It's rare enough to see one bobcat in Minnesota's wilderness, but seeing three together is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that a photographer from Duluth had this past week. Mike Mayou was on a photography adventure by the St.

What percent of Duluth is black? ›

Duluth Demographics

Black or African American: 2.40% Native American: 1.70% Asian: 1.39%

Can you see the Northern Lights in Duluth? ›

Known as a spot to view migrating birds, this ridge offers magnificent views over the entirety of Duluth and is a great spot to see the Northern Lights. Hawk Ridge is located on East Skyline Parkway on the northeastern side of Duluth and features an overlook where viewers can park to see the lights from their car.

Are there grizzly bears in Duluth MN? ›

No, not any more, although grizzly bears may have lived within 50 miles of Ely 5,000 to 8,000 years ago. At that time, much of Minnesota was prairie. Grizzly bear skulls have been found as far east as Ontario and Labrador.

Do bears swim in Lake Superior? ›

(WXYZ) — A recent photo from the National Parks Service shows an American black bear swimming through Lake Superior in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. According to the NPS, black bears are powerful swimmers, and some of the islands of the lakeshore have the largest bear populations.

What is the best bait for walleye? ›

Minnows. Minnows are the most popular bait option for walleye anglers, I have found consistent success with shiner and flathead minnows. When targeting bigger fish, shiners in the 4-6″ range are the mainstay, these will weed through some of the smaller fish and get you on 25″+ Walleye.

How old is a 1 pound walleye? ›

The average weight of a 5 year old walleye is a pound and in terms of length they will reach about 36cm (14.2”). 10 – When they reach age 10, walleye will typically weigh about 2.6lbs. and will be about 49cm (19.1cm) long.

How deep do walleye hang out? ›

Walleye are generally caught between 10-40 Ft. A typical mid-sized lake in the Midwest would likely hold Walleye between the depths of 10-15 Ft. during the Spring, 15-25 Ft. transitioning to Summer, 25-40 Ft.

What are the best eating fish in Minnesota? ›

Some good choices are salmon, trout, sardines, herring, canned mackerel, canned light tuna, and oysters.

What is the biggest crappie ever caught in Minnesota? ›

Slide text left for complete information
Common nameLbs.Caught
Catfish, Channel382/16/1975
Catfish, Flathead701970
Crappie, Black51940
Crappie, White37/28/2002
7 more rows

What color attracts walleye? ›

On board were four anglers casting either purple, black, white or gold lures. While under clear conditions, none of the lure colors proved more alluring than another. In turbid water, gold worked best. In water green with algae, black was the walleyes' preference.

How old is a 15 inch walleye? ›

Female walleyes grow faster and become larger than males. The males reach maturity in two or three years, when they are 12 to 13.5 inches long; females mature in four to five years, at lengths of 15 to 17 inches (Fig. 2). On average, walleyes live to be about seven years old, but older specimens have been caught.

What colors do walleye see best? ›

Walleyes do have color vision that peaks in the orange-red-green portions of the spectrum. They see colors on both sides of each peak, but sensitivity declines. So they see wavelengths shorter than green and longer than orange-red, but not well. Overall, they see orange and red well, followed green and yellow.

What lives at the bottom of Lake Superior? ›

At the bottom of shallow waters, you can find snails, worms, clams, mayflies, and caddisflies. But the bottom of the cold lake is home to different creatures such as opossum shrimp, deepwater scud, copepods, and deepwater sculpins. These small fish and crustaceans are native to the deep freshwater of Lake Superior.

Are there orca in Lake Superior? ›

Note: no orcas in Lake Superior, so another breed.

How many ships have sank in Lake Superior? ›

Lake Superior is the resting place of 350 ships, at least half of which lay undiscovered to this day.

What is the deadliest lake in America? ›

1) Lake Michigan

With over 150 deaths since 2002, Lake Michigan is considered by many to be the most deadly lake in North America. Drownings are typically blamed on Lake Michigan's famous undercurrents and rip currents, but these are not the only culprits.

What is the deepest shipwreck in Lake Superior? ›

SS Scotiadoc
History
Length424 ft (129 m)
Beam48 ft (15 m)
Depth23.75 ft (7.24 m)
Crew29
11 more rows

What is the biggest shipwreck in Lake Superior? ›

SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that sank in Lake Superior during a storm on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew of 29 men. When launched on June 7, 1958, she was the largest ship on North America's Great Lakes, and she remains the largest to have sunk there.

Could a shark live in the Great Lakes? ›

The water temperature in the Great Lakes is far too cold for most sharks (including the Bull Shark). Even if it managed to make it through the summer months, our frigid winters would turn it into a “sharksicle” in no time.

How do you know if a lake has alligators? ›

Scour the Shore

Since alligators spend most of their time sunbathing on the shores, there are often telltale signs of their presence. Some of these markings might include large indentations or gouges in the ground and sliding marks where they reentered the water.

Are there water snakes in Lake Superior? ›

In Canada, the range of the Northern Watersnake extends from extreme southwestern Quebec across southern Ontario and into central Ontario, north to the North Bay area and west to the eastern shore of Lake Superior. It is one of the most common snakes found around lakes and rivers within its range in Canada.

Does Lake Superior have good fishing? ›

Fishing Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. In fact, it's so large that it could hold the water from all of the other Great Lakes, along with three more Lake Eries! That's a lot of water. And with all that water - comes good fishing.

What are the fish in Duluth Minnesota? ›

The St. Louis River, the largest tributary of Lake Superior, is, of course, a major fishing destination in Duluth. Here, you'll find sturgeon, smallmouth bass, walleye, perch, crappies, and other gamefish.

Does Lake Superior have good walleye fishing? ›

Lake Superior Fishing for walleyes is based on two season, form Mid May thru Mid June when we target the fish in St Louis Bay Estuary, then again when present in numbers, will specifically target walleyes, liberal limits in Wisconsin (5 fish/day) make them a great species in the late June to July time frame when the ...

What's the biggest fish in Lake Superior? ›

Lake sturgeon are the largest fish in Lake Superior. They among the oldest fish in the lake too. Did you know that a lake sturgeon can live to be older than 100 years? This species of fish has also been around for a long time—about 150 million years.

What is the most sought after fish in Minnesota? ›

Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes than on rivers and streams. The average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year. Walleye are the most sought-after fish in Minnesota, followed by northern pike and muskie combined, panfish, bass, crappie and trout.

What is the most caught fish in Minnesota? ›

Muskellunge & Northern Pike

Northern pike are one of the most widespread fish in the state. You'll find them all over, from the backwaters of the Mississippi to the wilderness lakes of canoe country. Anglers catch them on both live bait and artificial lures, by casting and trolling.

What lake in Minnesota has the most fish? ›

Leech Lake is Minnesota's favorite fishing destination for Bass, Walleye, and Musky. Leech Lake ice fishing is all the rage during the winter. Lake Winnibigoshish is famous for Minnesota's record-breaking Musky. Both lakes offer a range of leisure activities too.

What Lake in Minnesota has the biggest bass? ›

The state-record largemouth bass is an 8-pound, 12.75-ounce fish that was caught from Lake Tetonka in Le Sueur County. The state-record smallmouth is 8 pounds and was caught in West Battle Lake in Otter Tail County.

Are there any predators in Lake Superior? ›

The siscowet lake trout is only found in Lake Superior and is the main predator in the deepwater region of the lake. The siscowet lake trout feeds near the bottom of the lake during the day and ventures up into the water column at night in search of food.

Can you find diamonds in Lake Superior? ›

Made of pure carbon, it is the hardest naturally occurring mineral. No commercial deposits of diamonds have yet been found near Lake Superior, but diamonds do exist in northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario.

How many rods can you use on Lake Superior? ›

No more than two lines with one bait attached to each line may be used to take fish on Lake Superior, except that only one line may be used within 100 yards of the mouth of any flowing stream.

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