Best Lakes for Fishing in the North

Fishing is a good thing to do when taking a vacation or spending some quality time with your family. Some say fishing is a lazy activity, but if you’re angling in a good spot, it will never be a lazy job. There’s something surreal about catching a fish that will later serve as your dinner. And if you live in the Northern States, you must familiarize yourself with the fishing hotspots in your area. Here are the places to add to your fishing bucket list:

1. Bighorn River, Montana

Ok, the first area in this list may not technically be a lake, but it’s a body of water that offers gentle and clear waters like a lake. The Bighorn River in Montana is a legendary destination in the fly fishing world. It begins at the Boysen Reservoir in Wyoming and enters Montana downstream as it flows into Bighorn Lake formed by the Yellowtail Dam. This river is recognized as one of the country’s premier trout streams. It may be quite difficult to access, but the fishing experience (and catch) is far better than other easy-to-access spots. It is mostly home to brown trout and prized rainbows, making it a popular destination for fishers on a fly fishing trip to Montana. Most anglers who go here are sports fishermen who catch and release the trouts as they try new techniques.

2. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

Priding itself as the “Walleye Capital of the World,” Lake of the Woods offers some of the best year-round fishing you can find. It is a huge lake situated on the Northern side of Minnesota and occupies parts of Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. It is particularly renowned for ice fishing, so if you’re down for braving the frigid cold, you can book a weekend on its comfortable ice shanties. The most prominent catch here is walleye (obviously), but you can also angle some northern pike, sturgeon, sauger, perch and more. It’s also a great destination even in warmer months, but you need to also pay attention to what’s above you, since bald eagles also love to fish here.

3. Lake St. Clair, Michigan

Lake St. Clair is known for bordering the city of Detroit, but it’s also one of the best fishing spots for catching a muskie. At 430 square miles lying between Michigan and Ontario, Canada, this freshwater lake offers a thriving supply of game fish. You can find new and rare varieties of smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, bluegill and rainbow trout. If you take a charter boat here in the summer, you can catch more bass after six hours here than you might in other bodies of water for a week.

4. Lake Shelbyville, Illinois

Lake Shelbyville is an 11,000 acre reservoir located in Shelby County and Moultrie County in Illinois, created by damming the Kaskaskia River. Though it was man-made, the two bordering state parks and wildlife are all-natural. You can find plenty of yellow bass in this lake – in fact, it was named by Bassmaster Magazine as one of the best bass lakes in the state of Illinois. Besides bass, you can also find walleye, large carp, freshwater drum, flathead catfish, bigmouth buffalo and crappie.

5. Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota

Lake Sakakawea is a large reservoir in the north central United States that occupies about 1,300 acres. Improved water levels in this Lake made it a great source of northern pike, and its prime habitat made it a heavyweight pike fishery. Other catches include rainbow trout, brown trout, walleye, smallmouth bass, cutthroat trout, sauger, Chinook salmon and white bass. For those into ice fishing, expect catch of the northern pike, salmon, sauger and walleyes. The lake is a wonderland not just for anglers, but also for boaters, swimmers and campers. If offers easy access points around the lake.

6. Devils Lake, North Dakota

Devils Lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota and is one of the most beautiful sights in the state. While most lakes have freshwater, this lake is actually salty and has wide variations of salinity and depth depending on rains. It is normally shallow, but it can increase up to 60 feet in depth due to precipitation, since the lake has limited natural drainage. This is a great destination for catching trophy perch, walleye and northern pike. You’ll be amazed about how healthy and fat the fish here are. Every once in a while, you can also catch some nice white bass and crappie.

7. Lake Leelanau, Michigan

Lying in the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan, Lake Leelanau contains two bodies of water: the North Lake Leelanau and the South Lake Leelanau. This lake is one of the best inland walleye lakes in Michigan. You can catch walleyes between 15 to 28 inches here, especially in the south end of the lake. Besides walleyes, catches of trout (brown, lake, rainbow), perch, smallmouth bass and northern pike are also abundant. Other species of fish you can find here include bluegill, rock bass and pumpkinseed sunfish. You can also enjoy taking in the beautiful sight of the lake’s shoreline.

8. Lake Champlain, Vermont

Lake Champlain is a world-class bass and pike fishery with gorgeous, clear waters. This natural freshwater lake borders nearly half of Vermont and a portion of New York, as well as the Canadian province of Quebec. It’s a consistent contender in the Bassmasters Magazine’s top US bass fishing lakes. It is known for its largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as northern pike, but you can also catch here some muskellunge, Atlantic salmon, lake trout and rock bass.

9. Lake Springfield, Illinois

Originally created as a source of water for Springfield, Illinois, the Lake Springfield is now a hub for local recreation, provider of electricity and a producer of panfish. It’s a highly ranked fishing lake that offers great harvest of superb white crappie (you can catch crappies that are about 15 inches long), channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and white bass. Other potential catches include carp, black crappie, blue catfish, redear sunfish, green sunfish, walleye, black bullhead, yellow bullhead and saugeye.