Minnesota’s nickname, Land of 10,000 Lakes, is inaccurate. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has counted 12,000 lakes across the state. For children, fishing in Minnesota is the perfect way to introduce them to the state’s natural beauty and the fun to be had with family and friends. With so many options, it is hard to agree on the best fishing spots for children, but several offer terrific opportunities to enjoy a day on the lake.
Tips for Fishing With Children
When taking children fishing for the first time, make the trip a short one and focus on their interest level. While grownups like to fish, kids like to catch. Sunfish like bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish are common in Minnesota lakes and are easy to catch with simple bait such as worms or corn. Bring food for an outdoor lunch or picnic and try to gauge the child’s interest level as it goes up or down. Show your child how to care for a fishing spot by keeping it clean and picking up any litter or equipment. Enjoy the time in the outdoors rather than emphasizing the catch.
The Twin Cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul
The Twin Cities have a remarkable system of urban parks and waterways. Lakes dot the city centers and the Mississippi River runs between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Lake Calhoun, in uptown Minneapolis, is a good bet for catching walleye, muskellunge, also known as muskies, and bass. Four fishing piers are spread around the lake and beaches for swimming in the summer. Canoes can be rented at the booth on the north end of the lake next to the snack bar. Lake Como, in St. Paul, has a high population of bluegills and channel catfish. A level grassy area and a fishing pier make access easy for youngsters. When the fish stop biting, the Como Park Zoo is nearby.
Sometimes people forget that the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota at Lake Itasca near Park Rapids. Tim Lesmeister, a writer for "Game and Fish" magazine, recommends the appropriately named Fish Hook Lake for family fishing while visiting the headwaters area. Rock bass and perch nestle in the bulrushes around the shorelines, providing lots of opportunities for children to have a successful outing. After fishing, head over to Itasca State Park, where you can step from one side of the Mississippi to the other without getting wet.
According to Lesmeister, Lake Shetek in southwestern Minnesota is not well-known for fishing because the water is shallow, but he says the walleye love it. He suggests getting out in a boat or canoe, baiting your hook and drifting until the walleye come your way. When the family gets restless, the state park at Lake Shetek has a swimming beach, camping and picnic grounds, a 6-mile paved bicycle path and 14 miles of hiking trails.