11 Best Crappie Fishing Lakes in Minnesota

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Minnesota has so many lakes that are perfect crappie waters. The best crappie fishing in Minnesota will beat most states, hands down.

Of course, Minnesotans have the distinct advantage of having over 10,000 lakes to choose from, so the odds are in their favor!

Crappie fishing is fun but also popular because their white meat tastes so good. That’s a problem for crappies, though they tend to reproduce prolifically and are planted in several lakes to keep up populations.

Crappies spawn before bass, so they make the perfect early spring targets. Check out what makes the list, and then get out there and catch some crappie!

Minnesota’s Top Crappie Spots

You can catch crappie in rivers, ponds, small lakes, and massive impoundments. It’s up to you how you want to chase them, but we highly recommend the following fishing spots.

Sand Lake

Sand Lake is renowned for its crappie population, offering a serene and picturesque setting for anglers seeking a bucket of these feisty fish. 

During the spring and early summer, crappies migrate to the shallower waters of Sand Lake, making it the perfect time to target them.

The lake’s diverse structure, featuring submerged vegetation, underwater structures, and drop-offs, creates prime habitat for crappies. You will often find crappies hiding in the lake’s reeds and along its drop-offs.

Successful crappie fishing involves using light tackle and finesse techniques. Jigs and minnows are popular bait choices, mimicking the crappie’s preferred prey. Try drifting or anchoring near the weed lines and drop-offs once you find a school.

Keep in mind that crappies tend to school by size, so if you’re catching small fish, move on to another school.

The best fishing is at night, early mornings, and evenings. Cloudy days also help if you’re unable to get out there early.

Resorts dot the shores and cater to anglers. You’ll be able to get whatever you need at the bait shops around the lake. 

Lake Vermilion 

Lake Vermilion is another fantastic crappie fishing destination. The lake, sprawling across 40,000 acres, boasts clear waters and diverse underwater structures. During the spring, crappies move into shallow waters for spawning, presenting a prime opportunity for anglers to target them.

Slip bobber fishing near fallen trees and weed beds is a popular method to entice crappies. Try your luck jigging with small soft plastics or live minnows. This approach can be especially effective in deeper areas where crappies may suspend.

Whether fishing from a boat or casting from the shore, the diverse topography of Lake Vermilion ensures that you can find a good spot for some epic crappie action.

It’s also quite likely that you’ll hook up with some of Vermilion’s great smallmouth bass population.

Ice fishing can run from December through March. Several local resorts and outfitters will supply you with ice shelters and drills for a day of fishing the hard deck.

The lake has several resorts and campgrounds on its shores. The resorts all cater to anglers and have everything you’re looking for.

Red Lake 

Red Lake hosts some fantastic crappie fishing, offering you a premier destination to reel in tons of panfish. The lake, much like others in the area, provides prime crappie habitat. Target the shallow weedy areas, submerged structures, and drop-offs that crappies favor.

Red Lake’s crappies are known for their impressive size, with many reaching well above the average. Patience is key here, but the payoff is a massive haul of these delicious fish.

During the spring, as the water temperatures rise, crappies migrate to shallower waters for spawning, presenting an excellent opportunity for anglers.

Use live minnows or jigs, particularly in and around submerged structures and weed beds.

Resorts, hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants along the shoreline have most everything you need.

Leech Lake

Leech Lake covers roughly 110,000 acres and is full of crappies. It’s the perfect place to catch big numbers of quality fish. The lake has 11 islands, each with its own unique underwater topography. Weed beds and sunken trees are everywhere, so finding crappie habitat isn’t a big challenge.

Go to Walker Bay and target the edges of weed beds and drop-offs to find them.

Agency Bay is also full of weed beds and varying depths. It’s a great ice fishing spot for crappie.

Pine Point has plenty of weed beds and rocky structures that hold big numbers of crappie. 

Ice fishing on Leech Lake is nothing short of epic. Several outfitters in the area will set you up with ice shanties to keep you warm while you pull crappies through the ice.

Along with crappies, you will also find northern pike, smallmouth bass, walleye, bluegill, catfish, muskellunge, rock bass, plenty of yellow perch, and maybe a kitchen sink or two.

The town of Walker has all the amenities you need. The lake also has plenty of resorts and campgrounds spread around its shores. Most of these cater to anglers.

Lac Qui Parle 

Lac qui Parle is an excellent choice for anglers looking for top-level crappie fishing. This expansive reservoir, known for its scenic beauty, boasts a flourishing crappie population.

During the spring, crappie fishing peaks as they move to shallow waters for spawning. Target fallen trees, submerged brush piles, and weed beds, where crappies seek shelter and ambush prey. Jigging with minnows or using soft plastics will be your best bet.

Locals recommend exploring the lake’s bays, channels, and coves, as these areas tend to hold decent concentrations of crappie. Whether fishing from the shoreline or a boat, the abundant crappie population makes Lac qui Parle a must-visit destination.

The lake also has good numbers of walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and even the occasional lake sturgeon.

There are plenty of amenities in the area. Lac qui Parle State Park has excellent camping options, and there are a few fishing resorts around the lake.

Lake Winnibigoshish

Lake Winnibigoshish (Lake Winnie) is among the best crappie lakes in the state. Whether fishing in the spring, fall, or through the ice, you’re bound to catch a ton of crappie.

Crappies are most active here in the early mornings and late evenings of early spring. Fall is always a good option, as well. They tend to head deeper when things heat up in the summer, so finding them can be challenging.

The area around Bena is a local favorite. The shallow waters and weed beds make this a perfect spot for crappie. The quantity and quality of fish are high here. 

Cut Foot Sioux Lake is connected to the northeastern end of Lake Winnie. Its clear waters and thick weed beds offer great habitat for crappies.

Along with crappies, these waters teem with walleye, muskies, bass, sunfish, jumbo perch, bluegill, and northern pike. 

Resorts and campgrounds that cater to fishing surround Lake Winnie. Get a burger at the Gosh Dam Place for a tasty experience.

Spider Lake 

Spider Lake is a fantastic spot for crappie fishing. The lake’s clear waters, abundant aquatic vegetation, and varied underwater structures create an ideal habitat for crappies, making it a hotspot for anglers throughout the year.

Spring is the perfect time for crappie fishing on Spider Lake. As the ice thaws, crappies migrate to shallow waters for spawning, presenting a golden opportunity.

Light tackle and jigs with live minnows or soft plastics can yield impressive catches in the shallow bays and near submerged structures.

Summer and fall bring their own challenges to Spider Lake’s crappie fishing scene. Explore the deeper waters and submerged weed beds where crappies seek refuge from the warmer waters. Try trolling or vertical jigging. 

Spider Lake is pretty remote, located about a half-hour north of Grand Rapids (the one in Minnesota). There’s a campground on the north end. Be sure to bring everything you need for the trip.

Rainy Lake 

Rainy Lake straddles the borders of Minnesota and Canada and offers some incredible crappie fishing.

One of the most popular spots is the Sand Bay area on the west end. Sand Bay is known for its underwater structures and rock formations, providing ideal hiding places for crappie. Troll along the edges of these structures or cast your line near submerged rocks, submerged trees, and weed beds. 

Ice fishing here is epic. Big crappies await your bait. You can rent ice shanties from several local sources.

Rainy Lake is massive and holds promise for multiple gamefish species, including some massive northern pike.

Several resorts line the lake, giving you access to everything you need. Camping is also available. International Falls makes the perfect base camp for exploring the area.

Lake Andrew 

Lake Andrew Lake in west-central Minnesota is known among local anglers for its excellent crappie fishing, and several key spots stand out as prime locations. The lake’s submerged trees, drop-offs, and underwater vegetation create an optimal environment for crappies to thrive.

The eastern and western shores of Lake Andrew are must-fish areas for crappies.

These areas have submerged structures such as brush piles that attract crappies throughout the year. Target these spots with live minnows or jigs to entice the crappies hiding in the cover.

The northern bay of Lake Andrew is another hotspot for crappie fishing, especially during the spring spawning season. As the water temperature rises, crappies move into the shallower waters in this bay. 

Additionally, the deeper waters near the central part of the lake, where underwater drop-offs occur, are known to harbor schools of crappies throughout the summer and into fall. Trolling or vertical jigging in these areas can yield impressive catches.

Lake Andrew is just south of Alexandria. A few resorts dot the shoreline, and whatever else you need is a short drive from the water.

Artichoke Lake

Artichoke Lake is full of crappie hotspots.

The expansive weed beds are one of the prime crappie fishing locations. During the warmer months, crappies seek shelter and forage in these areas, making them ideal targets for jigs, soft plastics, or live minnows.

The lake offers a ton of submerged structures, including trees and brush piles, which attract schools of crappie. Trolling or casting around these structures with the right bait can result in bucket-filling catches.

Artichoke Lake’s shallow bays and channels are also great crappie fishing spots, especially during the spring spawning season. As crappies move into these shallower areas, capitalize on the increased activity by using light tackle and finesse techniques.

Nearby Ortonville has most of the goods you’ll need for the trip. There is no camping at the lake but Big Stone Lake State Park near Ortonville and the aforementioned Lac Qui Parle State Park are options within about a half-hour’s drive.

White Bear Lake 

White Bear Lake is perfect for a day of ice fishing near Minneapolis-St. Paul. Matoska Park on the western shore is the place to fish amid diverse underwater structures and submerged vegetation through the ice.

During the spring, crappies congregate in the shallows for spawning. The bay’s gently sloping contours and proximity to deeper waters make it a hotbed for crappie action.

The wider area around Manitou Island is also known for productive crappie fishing.

The island is connected to the mainland near the park, and the park has a boat launch.

With its mix of submerged trees, weed beds, and rocky structure, along with varying depths, Manitou Island fishing can be epic. During summer and fall, crappies often inhabit the deeper waters and submerged weed lines around the island.

Eastward across the lake, another top spot is the Mahtomedi Flats just off Mahtomedi Beach. This area features expansive flats and deeper channels that crappies favor. Try slip bobbers with live bait or casting jigs into the pockets and edges of the flats.

Catch More Crappie

Just getting started catching these delectable panfish? Try our easy guide to crappie fishing techniques.