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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum :: Fishing Forum :: Small fish in big lakes?
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06/01/2022 11:02AM
Thanks to you all! These are helpful tips !
05/29/2022 04:32PM
My husband and I want to try our hand at fishing and then cooking up a catch. We don’t live in Minnesota but already have our MN fishing license this year. As a kid I would fish for sunnies and perch in the Brainerd lakes area where you could catch a fish within 30 seconds off the dock. Neither of us have experience with more serious fishing, yet we do like fishing and want to try fishing from a canoe. Does anyone know if you can catch small panfish in Gunflint Lake and other large border lakes? We don’t have any special gear to catch anything in particular, just a basic fishing pole and a small selection of lures that came with the pole and small tackle box. We will be headed there in a few days. Thanks!
05/30/2022 07:43PM
You generally won't find bluegills and the like in Gunflint Lake (or other big border lakes) like you will in the Brainerd Lakes area. The closest thing you will find to that sort of panfish action is with smallmouth bass. Do some research on this site; they are not hard to catch if they are within the area. They are good to eat, as well, though lots of folks will tell you otherwise as there is a cultural bias against bass in much of northern Minnesota. Lots of fun to catch, too.
05/30/2022 09:23PM
Gunflint lake is very deep and not like the lakes you're used to. It does not have much for panfish if's a trout lake and a few other things. Panfish are in some boundary waters lakes but not a ton and not in real high numbers usually.

Is fishing and eating fish a priority? Or just something you might want to do? If fishing is a priority, Gunflint (which isn't in the BWCA) might not be your best bet.
05/29/2022 05:59PM
I don't know anything about the lake you inquired about, but most, if not all, will have bluegill. Whatever you're fishing with, it can surely handle smallmouth bass and walleye, I'm sure, and they are both great to eat. Cast out a line and whatever you pull in will make excellent table fair!

Tie on a 3-in curly tail grub or simple paddle tail swimbait and you can catch darn near everything the park has to offer.

Good luck.

05/31/2022 12:26PM
Agreed on Gunflint Lake maybe not being your best bet. I've fished Gunflint 3 years in a row now. I've learned how to catch lake trout there but that's pretty much it. That said, the lake does support a small population of rock bass. They have essentially replaced the yellow perch in that lake. I've been told they are good eating but can't confirm myself. Having never caught one myself, I can't point you to any spots, but they are going to be near shore. If you can find a shallow rocky area with vegetation nearby, you might stand a decent chance.

Couple of other options in the immediate area:

1) Hungry Jack lake, just down the Gunflint Trail roughly across from Trail Center, would be a strong option. Plenty of small bluegill there, as well as perch, sunfish, and rock bass. Also an opportunity to catch walleye/pike/smallmouth. You can put in at HJ Lodge if you pay a fee, or for free at the access at the end of the road on the north side of the lake.

2) Across the gunflint trail from HJ, Poplar lake holds black crappie and yellow perch. According the surveys, not much for size.

3) You could consider targeting stocked stream trout instead of panfish, in which case check out Leo or Mayhew lakes. Leo is stocked with rainbow trout and that's almost all you'll find there. The majority are going to be in the 8-14 inch range. Mayhew has bluegill and yellow perch, as well as naturally producing lake trout and stocked rainbows -- and maybe even some leftover stocked brown trout from years past. If you go this route, you will need a trout stamp if you are under 65 years of age.