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REGIONAL— While most anglers in the area are likely headed to Lake Vermilion this weekend in their quest for walleye, there are plenty of other excellent locations and other species to pursue …
REGIONAL— While most anglers in the area are likely headed to Lake Vermilion this weekend in their quest for walleye, there are plenty of other excellent locations and other species to pursue as the 2023 fishing season gets underway.
Here’s a sampling of recommendations from DNR fisheries staff around the region.
International Falls area
Lake Kabetogama usually warms more quickly than other border waters and that often results in good early season success for walleye anglers there. Much of the shoreline provides excellent walleye spawning habitat so the fish are well distributed, and anglers don’t have to go far to find fish. Fishing from shore can be good some years.
Strong year-classes of walleye produced in 2015 and 2016 have now largely grown into the protected slot but continue to provide opportunities for catch and release of larger fish. The 2022 Kabetogama fall assessment was dominated by smaller fish in the 8–12-inch range. Really good numbers of walleyes were caught from the 2021 year-class, ranging in size from 9.3 to 13.5 inches with most individuals in the 10–12-inch range. As a bonus, the 2022 Kabetogama survey showed good numbers of sauger in the 14–16-inch range.
Pelican Lake near Orr is a relatively large (nearly 11,000 acre) lake with a diverse fishery that provides opportunities to catch northern pike, bass (largemouth and smallmouth), walleye, black crappie, and bluegill. Special regulations for northern pike and bass were first implemented in 1998. The northern pike regulation has been discontinued and the lake is now part of the North Central zone regulation (22-26-inch protected slot, 10 fish bag, only 2 northerns larger than 26 inches). The bass regulation remains in place and protects fish from 14 to 20 inches.
Lake Vermilion will provide anglers an opportunity to catch walleye across a wide range of sizes. The protected slot from 20 to 26 inches with a four-fish bag limit is still in place. Abundance remains excellent with lots of keepers in the 14- to 19-inch range, especially in West Vermilion. Larger fish are more abundant than normal, too, including many in or above the protected slot limit.
Good walleye fishing can be found in many other lakes in the area, especially those that are challenging to get to. Smallmouth bass fishing, especially in the Boundary Waters, can be productive as well.
The Tower area hosts a number of designated trout lakes. Some have improved boat landings, some require portaging, some have a wilderness component, and some are suitable for shoreline angling. Trout species available in this area include rainbow, brook, and brown trout, and splake. A trout stamp is required to fish on designated stream trout lakes or to possess trout. A few of the trout lakes include Tofte Lake, Miner’s Pit, St. James Pit, and Mott Pit.
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