A Look at the Bass Fishing of Grand Rapids, MN

By:  Andy Walls

Tranquil sunrises interrupted by viscous strikes with copious amounts of action would best describe the Northern Minnesota bass fishing. Grand Rapids, Minnesota, nestled into the northern woods of Itasca County has a multitude of bass fishing locations and lure presenting options.

With over 1,000 lakes in Itasca County alone, Grand Rapids has everything to offer for nearly every angler. There are not many places in the country where you have a chance to have legitimate 100 fish days, and we literally have hundreds of different lakes right in our back yards!

The bass fishing season starts as early as the second weekend in May right along with the regular fishing season opener. With the change in fisherman’s target species and fishing habits in the recent years, Minnesota’s laws have changed too. Now all anglers on Minnesota waters can target and fish for both Large and Smallmouth bass for the first two weeks of the season with a catch and release rule.

This is some of the best time of the year to get out and catch numerous large sized bass with ample opportunities to catch fish in the 3-5 pound range. Most all the fish in the systems are up in any available shallow cover, typically in 2-6 feet of water. Looking for the best cover or the warmest water early in the year is typically going to lead you to the promise land.

Early in the year, I like to cover water with a swim jig to look for active fish. Once I start to get a few bites, slowing down and picking apart the cover with finesse tactics usually will provide the best and most consistent bite in the areas that have good numbers of bass.

After the first couple weeks of catch and release season, and the summer temps are really heating up the fish transition in to their summer haunts. Usually, the fish are starting to set up on main lake structures that have good cover like rocks, grass, or stumps. We like to look for points off of flats, main lake points outside spawning pockets, main lake humps, or deep cuts that run into shallow flats. These are usually transition sports that the bass use between spawning and their summer haunts.

Texas rigged worms, jigs, and creature baits seem to be great options for fishing the heavier cover because these options tend to fish through the cover better than treble hook options. Because we run a shorter season, the fish usually don’t have any summer feeding lulls when the water temperatures rise.

Another fun part of summer fishing in Northern Minnesota, is the top water bite. We experience a great top water bite most all of the summer. Morning and evenings tend to produce the most action, but it can last all day too!

As the water temps start to cool, we see the biggest push of active fish head for the banks again like in the spring. Usually at the first signs of fall, when the evenings are dropping well into the 50 degree mark, the fish will start making their way to the fall feeding grounds. I usually start in areas that have good remaining cover, but also have access deep water for the fish to easily pull off and stage for winter.

In the early stages of fall, when the water temperature is still between the 55-65 degree mark, casting moving baits like vibrating jigs and spinner baits are a great option to catch those active fish bulking up for winter. As the water cools further, and the grass in our lakes continues to die off the fish usually become less aggressive but much more concentrated. Normally fishing these same areas with slower presentations like a jig or a Texas rigged plastic will still improve your success.

Historically know for walleye, northern Minnesota has some of the most beautiful wooded country around, and offers anglers unique opportunities at fishing some hidden gems where the bass rarely see baits. With flourishing populations of large and smallmouth bass there in nearly every lake, there is no other place to look than Grand Rapids, Minnesota when planning your next vacation!

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