Commentary by C.B. Bylander,
DNR information officer
The bass fishing catch-and-keep season opens Saturday, May 26, and spring is the time to enjoy it.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be easier to catch in spring and early summer when they spend more time in shallow water. Later, as water temperatures rise, bass move to deeper structure in search of sunken points, rocky humps and weed lines that offer both prey and protection. So, why wait? Now is the time to spring into action.
The catch-and-release only season opened in most of the state May 12. Statewide, you can start keeping fish on May 26, the start of Memorial Day weekend. The bass season doesn’t close until Feb. 24, 2019.
Minnesota’s reputation as an outstanding bass fishing state is clearly on the rise. This is due, in part, to the world-class smallmouth bass fishing at Mille Lacs Lake. Though local and regional anglers have long known about the lake’s great fishing this became national knowledge in 2016 and 2017 when the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year championships happened at Mille Lacs. Simply put, the abundance of big smallmouth bass blew the pros away. In fact, the 2016 fishing was so phenomenal – the winning three-day limit totaled 76 pounds – that the following year Bassmaster ranked Mille Lacs number one on its list of 100 best bass lakes.
Though the spotlight has been on Mille Lacs the broader story is that Minnesota is home to some 2,000 largemouth bass lakes, 500 smallmouth bass lakes and tens of thousands of miles of natural streams and rivers that hold bass. That’s a lot of water, and it’s a lot of water that isn’t fished for bass as hard as southern state waters because so many Minnesota anglers prefer to fish for walleye.
Never fished bass in Minnesota before? Here are two thoughts.
Think small: A lot of great bass fishing exists in lakes less than 1,000 acres in size. So, don’t overlook these smaller opportunities, especially if they are in remote areas and have a lot of shallow water. Go to the DNR’s LakeFinder has helpful information at mndnr.gov/lakefind.
But if you like big: Popular destinations include the Twin Cities’ Lake Minnetonka and these regional destinations: the southeast’s Mississippi River, the south-central’s Green Lake, the west-central’s Alexandria Chain of Lakes, the north-central’s Gull Lake Chain of Lakes and the far north’s Rainy and Vermillion lakes.
Limit and special fishing regulation information is available at mndnr.gov/fishmn.