13 Best Walleye Fishing Lakes and Rivers in Minnesota

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Minnesota has some of the best walleye fishing in the country. The waters vary from massive lakes to small-town ponds and everything in between.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that walleye is Minnesota’s state fish.

Vast waters like the fabled Lake of the Woods provide some of the best walleye action in the world.

It’s definitely worth spending the time to explore the state and test out the best walleye spots in Minnesota.

Before we get started, always be sure to update yourself on current fishing regulations. Walleye regulations can change at a moment’s notice.

Top Walleye Fishing Spots

Honestly, there were some tough calls in this walleye wonderland.

Let’s take a look at the waters that made our list.

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods is one of the best walleye waters in the world. It’s split between Canada and Minnesota, with plenty of incredible walleye spots on the U.S. side. The lake features over 14,000 islands, wildly varying depths, and perfect walleye structure.

One of the prime locations is Four Mile Bay. This area has shallow waters, rocky structures, and weedy patches that create an ideal habitat for walleye.

Try casting jigs and live bait around the submerged rocks and drop-offs, where walleye often congregate, especially during dawn and dusk.

The mouth of the Rainy River is one of the top spawning areas in the lake. Head here and target the underwater points and sandbars that attract walleye looking for food and shelter. Trolling with crankbaits or drifting with a Lindy rig can be effective in this part of the lake.

Zippel Bay has some great structure and should provide some excellent walleye fishing.

Ice fishing becomes a popular pursuit in the winter months, and Zippel Bay has become a go-to location for ice fishing.

Around the corner, you’ll find Rocky Point, which lives up to the name. Walleye pack the rocks in that area.

Head north via boat or snowmobile (depending on the season) to the Northwest Angle. This remote area offers a unique angling adventure. The rocky shorelines and deep drop-offs provide excellent opportunities for jigging and live bait presentations.

The site is truly remote, so be prepared.

Ice fishing is among the most popular activities around the entire lake, one of the very best winter fishing lakes in a state full of them.

The local towns are full of fishing guides and resorts that cater to anglers. You’ll find everything you need in the area.

Rainy River

The Rainy River forms the border between Minnesota and Canada. It’s full of walleye and is a go-to during the spawn.

One of the most popular spots for walleye fishing on the Rainy River is the Wheeler’s Point area near Baudette. Here, the river has a mix of deep holes, rocky structures, and submerged weed beds that serve as perfect hiding spots for walleye.

Try your luck jigging with minnows or trolling with crankbaits in those favorite holding spots.

The early spring and late fall seasons are particularly productive in this area, as walleye migrate to and from Lake of the Woods.

Moving downstream, Franz Jevne State Park offers another exceptional spot. Fishing from the shore or boat in this stretch can yield impressive catches. Target underwater points, current breaks, and eddies, as these are favored haunts for walleye seeking to get out of the river’s flow.

Around Birchdale and Clementson, anglers can explore prime walleye grounds where the river widens and features expansive flats. These areas are exceptional when walleye spread out to forage during the summer.

Trolling with live bait rigs or casting jigs near submerged rocks and drop-offs can bring big strikes from these trophy fish.

As the river meanders towards the town of Rainy River itself, strategic fishing opportunities arise near the mouth of the river. The convergence of currents and the proximity to Lake of the Woods create a fantastic environment for walleye.

Here, trolling along the edges of the river channel or anchoring near submerged structures can yield results, especially during changing weather conditions.

Whether you choose to explore Wheeler’s Point, Franz Jevne State Park, or the areas around Birchdale and Clementson, there are plenty of amenities for you.

Leech Lake

Leech Lake in northern Minnesota is renowned for its excellent walleye fishing opportunities. This large water covers over 112,000 acres, all full of walleye goodness.

With its diverse underwater structure and pristine waters, Leech Lake offers a variety of prime fishing spots that promise an epic fishing trip.

Walker Bay is one of the most popular walleye fishing spots on Leech Lake. Known for its rock piles, sunken islands, and expansive flats, Walker Bay provides an ideal habitat for walleye. Try trolling along the edges of these structures or casting near submerged points.

During the early morning and evening, walleye tend to be more active, making these times particularly good.

The Walker Narrows is another hotspot connecting Walker Bay to the main lake. This narrow passage concentrates walleye movement, creating the perfect opportunity to target these toothy critters.

Jigging with live bait or using a variety of artificial lures like Rat-L-Traps can be fantastic in the narrows.

Sucker Bay, situated on the lake’s eastern shore, is another favorite spot. The bay’s unique combination of submerged vegetation, rocky structures, and drop-offs provides excellent habitat for walleye.

Trolling with spinner rigs or using live bait rigs near the Sucker Bay’s edges can entice walleye to strike, especially in summer when they often move to deeper waters.

In the southern part of Leech Lake, the Big Hardwoods and Little Hardwoods areas are renowned for walleye fishing. These areas feature massive flats, rocky piles, and submerged humps.

Try using a combo of live bait and artificial lures like jigs tipped with minnow or worm harnesses, adapting your approach depending on what’s working that day.

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 massive walleye through the ice, along with yellow perch and other popular species.

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.

Rainy Lake

Rainy Lake borders Minnesota and Canada and offers some incredible fishing. Hundreds of small islands dot the lake, and the underwater structure is perfect for walleye.

One of the most popular spots is the Sand Bay area.

Sand Bay is known for its underwater structures and rock formations, providing ideal hiding places for walleye. Troll along the edges of these structures or cast your line near submerged rocks.

The varying depths in Sand Bay make it a prime location for different fishing techniques, from jigging to live bait rigging.

Kettle Falls is another hotspot that’s a series of rocky points and drop-offs, creating natural ambush points for walleye to prey on smaller fish. Casting or trolling along the edges of these drop-offs during low light conditions, such as early morning or late evening, can yield impressive catches.

The Narrows is a narrow channel connecting Rainy Lake to the adjacent Kabetogama Lake.

The depth and structure of the Narrows provide excellent opportunities for anglers to locate schools of walleye. Drifting with live bait or using artificial lures in this channel can be very productive.

Ice fishing here is legendary. Giant walleye as well as massive pike await your bait. You can rent ice shanties from several local sources.

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.

Kabetogama Lake

Kabetogama Lake, just south of Rainy Lake, is renowned for its pristine waters and excellent walleye fishing opportunities.

Spanning over 25,000 acres within Voyageurs National Park, Kabetogama Lake stands out as a premier destination, boasting hotspots catering to novice and seasoned anglers.

Sullivan Bay is known for its underwater structure, including submerged reefs, points, and drop-offs that create ideal conditions for walleye to thrive. Anglers can often find success by targeting these structures with live bait rigs or jigs, especially during the low-light periods when walleye are most active.

For those seeking a bit of adventure, the Lost Bay and Blue Fin Bay areas are worth exploring. These remote locations on Kabetogama Lake provide a more secluded and serene fishing experience.

Quiet bays and sheltered waters are excellent for drifting or anchoring while casting or trolling for walleye. Additionally, the scenic beauty of these spots adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the fishing excursion.

Rocky shoreline areas, such as the Ash River entrance and the mouth of the Blind Ash Bay, are known for producing sizable walleye catches. The rocky structures provide excellent hiding spots for baitfish, luring walleye in search of an easy meal.

All of these spots are even more prolific under the hard deck. Ice fishing is the bread and butter of this lake.

The lake offers the same amenities we discussed with Rainy Lake. International Falls is the gateway to the area.

Lake Winnibigoshish

Lake Winnibigoshish, located in northern Minnesota, is renowned for its pristine waters and exceptional walleye fishing opportunities. Spanning over 56,000 acres, “Lake Winnie” is an angler’s paradise.

The lake’s structure includes expansive flats, underwater points, rocky shorelines, and numerous submerged structures that provide an ideal habitat for a thriving walleye population.

Lake Winnie’s western and southern shores are particularly popular among walleye anglers. The lake’s irregular shoreline offers countless points, bays, and underwater humps that provide ample cover for walleye to ambush prey.

These areas are often productive throughout the year, with varying depths that cater to different angling techniques. Ice fishing is popular in this area.

The expansive Tamarack Bay, located on the eastern part of the lake, is another hotspot for walleye fishing. Its mix of shallow and deep waters, submerged islands, and points stand out for those looking to troll for walleye.

Try trolling over the mid-lake humps and bars that dot Lake Winnibigoshish. These underwater structures serve as feeding grounds for walleye.

Lake Winnie also has plenty of other great fisheries, including sometimes phenomenal crappie fishing.

Several resorts on the lake offer boat and ice shanty rentals. Camping is available at The Pines Resort and Campground. Most of the resorts have all the amenities you’ll need.

Mille Lacs Lake

Mille Lacs Lake, located in central Minnesota, covers over 132,000 acres. The lake’s diverse underwater structure, combined with favorable conditions, makes it an ideal habitat for walleye, creating numerous hotspots for anglers to explore.

The mud flats are the top target on the lake during spring and fall. As the water temperatures change, walleye move to these flats to feed on schools of baitfish.

Trolling or drifting with live bait rigs or artificial lures along the edges of the mud flats can lead to impressive catches of trophy walleye.

The various rocky points and reefs scattered across the lake also serve as walleye magnets. These structures provide excellent ambush points for walleye as they wait to pounce on passing prey.

Jigging with live bait or working crankbaits around these rocky areas can be fruitful, especially during low-light conditions. Anglers often find success by focusing on specific depths and adjusting their techniques based on the time of day.

The deep basin areas of Mille Lacs Lake are worth targeting during the summer. Try out some vertical jigging techniques or use live bait rigs to target suspended walleye in these deeper regions.

Understanding the thermocline’s effect on where the walleye are holding and adjusting your presentation accordingly can improve your chances of landing a trophy walleye.

Small towns around the lake offer bait and tackle and most amenities you may need. Resorts and campgrounds are readily available along the shore.

Lake Vermilion

Lake Vermilion covers over 40,000 acres and boasts more than 1,200 miles of shoreline. Located in northern Minnesota, this lake has everything an avid walleye angler wants. It’s also known as the most beautiful lake in Minnesota.

One of the prime walleye fishing spots is Frazer Bay, with its rocky structures, submerged points, and varying depths.

Early morning and evening hours are particularly good in Frazer Bay, as walleye tend to be more active during low-light conditions. Try using live bait rigs or jigs tipped with minnows in these areas.

Another popular location is Big Bay, which is characterized by its extensive flats and deep pockets, creating the perfect walleye habitat. Trolling along the edges of drop-offs and using crankbaits or spinner rigs can be effective strategies in this area.

Pike Bay (sometimes labeled as Tower Bay), on the southern part of Lake Vermilion near Tower, has a good combination of rocky shorelines, submerged points, and weed beds. Casting jigs or slip-bobber rigs near the rocky structures often yields positive results.

Norwegian Bay on the lake’s northwest side is a hidden gem for walleye fishing. The bay’s diverse underwater topography, including sunken islands and submerged timber, provides ample hiding spots for walleye. Jigging and live bait presentations are effective techniques.

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

In the warmer months, Lake Vermilion also is an excellent bass fishing lakes and made our list of Minnesota’s top smallmouth spots.

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, located in the heart of northern Minnesota, offers many walleye fishing spots. Both traditional and ice fishing are popular here in season.

One of the standout features of Red Lake is its two distinct sections – Upper Red Lake and Lower Red Lake – each offering unique fishing opportunities.

Upper Red Lake, the smaller of the two, is shallower and filled with submerged structures such as sunken islands, rock piles, and expansive weed beds.

Lower Red Lake has deeper waters and a more expansive lakebed. Its underwater landscape is dotted with drop-offs, underwater points, and submerged reefs, creating prime locations for walleye to congregate.

During the summer, anglers often find success trolling along the edges of these deeper underwater structures or jigging in deeper pockets where the walleye are holding.

The Tamarack River mouth, where the river flows into Upper Red Lake, is a fantastic spot. This area serves as a natural funnel for walleye during migration, providing an excellent place for casting or trolling.

The narrows between Upper and Lower Red Lake also allow you to catch walleye moving between the two sections.

Explore the expansive mud flats that Red Lake is famous for. These vast stretches of soft-bottomed lakebeds provide ideal feeding grounds for walleye, especially during the summer and fall months.

Drifting or slow trolling with live bait or Rat-L-Traps over these mud flats can yield epic catches.

Ice fishing can be great here. Most of the resorts in the area offer guided excursions with ice shelters. Tip-ups with minnows are the go-to here.

You’ll find bait shops and other amenities, and there’s plenty of lodging and camping.

Otter Tail Lake

The largest lake in west-central Minnesota’s Otter Tail County, this place is truly an angler’s paradise. At about 120 feet at its deepest point, it’s loaded with structure and cover, including flats, holes, humps, break lines, and weed beds.

Over half the lake is less than 15 feet deep, making it the perfect mixture for walleye.

The rocky shorelines and sandy bottoms are perfect for casting and trolling.

As summer arrives and temperatures rise, walleye tend to move deeper, seeking cooler waters. You should find success by targeting mid-lake structures such as underwater points and sunken islands.

Use a variety of techniques, including live bait rigs, jigging, and trolling, for success during the summer months.

Fall brings walleye back to shallower areas, providing you with excellent opportunities to catch these elusive fish. Weed beds, submerged vegetation, and rocky structures remain productive during the fall.

Ice fishing at Otter Tail Lake can be epic. There are so many walleye in the water that you almost have to try not to catch them.

Local resorts and guides provide ice shelters and will get you on the fish. Tip-ups with minnows work well.

Battle, Rush, and Pine Lakes are also fantastic walleye waters within a few miles of Otter Tail Lake.

Several resorts and lodges are in the area with a focus on angling. They have all that you might need.

Lake Minnewaska

Lake Minnewaska in west-central Minnesota is renowned for its exceptional walleye fishing. Its maximum depth is 32 feet, with an average depth of 17. Rocky cliffs surround most of the lake and offer fantastic jigging opportunities.

Target walleye around Big Stone Reef. Located near the western basin, this underwater structure provides a haven for walleye, attracting them with its varying depths and submerged features.

Try jigging or using live bait rigs along the edges of the reef, where walleye tend to lurk in search of bait fish.

The eastern shoreline offers a combination of submerged rock piles, underwater points, and underwater vegetation, creating a habitat that walleye find irresistible. Casting or trolling near these features, especially during dawn or dusk when walleye are most active, can yield impressive results.

In the southern part of the lake, head to the deep holes and channels that provide sanctuary for walleye during the warmer months.

Deeper areas serve as a cool retreat for walleye in the summer heat and can be particularly productive when using techniques like vertical jigging or dragging live bait along the lake bottom.

When walleye spawn in the spring, the shallow bays and flats become key locations. These areas offer ideal conditions for walleye, and casting or trolling in these shallower waters can lead to trophy catches.

Ice fishing these waters is usually very productive. Take the time to talk with local guides or tackle shops to get the latest on locations and baits.

Glenwood is on the shore of the lake and has dining and bait, as does Starbuck at the opposite end. A few resorts and campgrounds dot the shoreline.

Lake Elysian

Lake Elysian, located in southern Minnesota, offers an unparalleled angling experience only about an hour from Minneapolis. This picturesque lake, covering approximately 1,900 acres, boasts several prime walleye fishing spots.

Massive weed beds flourish throughout the lake. These provide an ideal habitat for baitfish, attracting walleye looking for dinner.

Cast near the edges of these weed beds, where walleye patrol in search of prey. Additionally, trolling along the outskirts of these submerged structures can be productive.

Find the rocky points and underwater structures. Jigging with live bait or using soft plastics that mimic the movement of injured baitfish can bring strong bites in these rocky environments.

Try varying your retrieval speeds and experiment with different depths to find the optimal presentation for the day’s conditions.

Ice fishing here is always good. Set up your shelter and put out a few tip-ups baited with minnows while you jig through another hole.

Elysian is on the shore of the lake and has most of the things you’ll need. Camping is available in the area, as is lodging and dining.

Lake Washington

Lake Washington is another top destinations for walleye enthusiasts. It offers a variety of prime fishing spots that cater to seasoned anglers and those just starting to go after walleye.

West Bay offers deep waters and submerged structures, which provide the ideal habitat for walleye to thrive. Try trolling along the edges of the drop-offs and underwater points in this area.

The key is to use live bait or artificial lures that mimic the natural forage of the lake, such as minnows or leeches.

The narrows between East and West Washington are another hotspot. The constricted channel creates a natural funnel for walleye as they migrate, making it a strategic location for anglers to set up and cast their lines.

Jigging and live bait rigs are effective techniques in this channel area, especially during the low-light periods of dawn and dusk when walleye are more active.

Hit the southern part of the lake and near inlets. These areas can be less crowded. Focus on submerged rock piles, weed edges, and transitions from shallow to deep water for a higher chance of landing walleye in these locations.

The points and humps in the central basin are known to hold good numbers of walleye. Using electronics to locate these structures and adjusting your fishing techniques to match can lead to a successful day on the water.

Catch More Walleye

Find basic tips and tricks in our walleye fishing how-to guide.