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Metro Area Offers Great Fishing Close to Home

Odds are there is good fishing not far from your front door.

With more than 250 lakes in the metro area managed for fisheries and nearly 300 miles of good-sized streams and rivers, anglers would be hard-pressed to find another major urban area with such a wealth of fishing opportunities.

Take the Mississippi River, for instance.

Flowing through the heart of the metro, its northern reaches are well known as a top-notch bass fishery. Then there’s "Pool 2," the area between the dams at St. Paul and Hastings. A few decades ago, it was so polluted that bullheads could barely survive. Now it’s recognized as a world-class catch-and-release fishery for walleye and sauger—thanks in large part to the federal Clean Water Act and state and local efforts to clean up the river.

Another metro river, the St. Croix from Stillwater to Prescott, is one of the most popular fishing and recreational destinations in the region, with good catch rates for walleye and sauger (15-inch minimum size regulation on walleye). Later in May, the lower St. Croix also produces good size muskellunge and bass. And come September, it’s one of the few places in the state where an angler can harvest Minnesota’s largest and longest-lived fish, the lake sturgeon.

But metro anglers don’t need to be a river rats to enjoy metro fishing.

The region’s many lakes offer a wide variety of experiences, from the big waters of Lake Minnetonka or White Bear Lake to smaller but productive gems. Clear Lake in Washington County, for instance, holds walleye in above-average numbers and weights, as well as northern pike and hybrid muskellunge. West of the Mississippi, the Minneapolis chain of lakes provides good walleye fishing, especially on Cedar and Harriet, both of which are regularly stocked. Both lakes lend themselves to shorefishing.

Numerous other shorefishing opportunities are provided throughout the metro region thanks to DNR’s Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program. FiN works with local parks departments and others to maintain a network of more than 60 public shore and pier fishing opportunities strategically scattered around the St. Paul/Minneapolis metroplex. They stock fish—bluegills, walleye, pike, bass and channel cats. They work on shoreline restorations. They help kids learn to fish, and teach them about aquatic biology.

So no matter where anglers live in the Twin Cities, there’s good fishing nearby. All that’s needed is a license and tackle. Anglers under age 16 don’t even need a license, and if they go to one of the growing number of area parks that offer free loaner tackle, all they will need is bait.

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