November 12, 2019
Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” In reality, there are more than 15,000 lakes in this midwestern state. It’s the 12th largest state in the U.S. and is an outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland. Visit Lake Superior on the east coast, or travel to Itasca State Park and Lake Itasca, the source of the great Mississippi River. Or visit any number of lakes throughout this great state, where waters will certainly be frozen by January 2020 – just in time for Minnesota’s “Take A Kid Ice Fishing Weekend.”
Ice fishing is a favorite technique for many locals and visitors in the area. You don’t need a boat to access the great fisheries of the nearby lakes. And the fish are sometimes easier to catch by ice fishing than other techniques used during the warmer months.
Each year the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources typically designates the third weekend of January as “Take A Kid Ice Fishing Weekend.” For 2020, that’s Friday, January 18 thru Monday, January 20.
During this three-day weekend anyone can fish without a license if they take children 15 or younger with them. Minnesota residents under the age of 16 don’t need a license any time of the year; this special weekend was created as a way for adults and children to fish together without having to worry about getting a fishing license. In a way it promotes ice fishing to children, but it’s also a way to get adults excited about the sport too. Participate in “Take A Kid Ice Fishing” and you may find yourself fishing more than just one weekend a year.
Once you experience this exciting weekend of ice fishing, head out the next weekend, and the next. You just need to first purchase a Minnesota fishing license. You can get a license for a single user, or a combination license that allows married couples to fish individually or together. Minnesota fishing licenses for residents start as low as $8.50.
To fish without a license in Minnesota any time of year, visit a state park. At Minnesota state parks anyone can fish without a trout stamp, from the shore, or go ice fishing as long as the lake is completely within the state park. There is a small vehicle fee for accessing state parks, and you can typically use loaner rods, reels, and tackle box for your adventure (available on a first-come, first-serve basis). Or bring your own favorite rod and gear.
It’s clear that the great state of Minnesota highly encourages men and women to go fishing throughout the year. The several “free fishing” weekends and state park regulations are strong indicators of the priority on fishing.
If you’re looking for where to go ice fishing in Minnesota, here are a few places we recommend:
Lake of the Woods. This lake is over 70 miles long and wide with over 14,500 small islands sprinkled throughout. During the winter, almost 3,000 ice fishing houses are set-up with anglers looking to hook up on walleye, perch, panfish, trout, and sturgeon to name a few.
Leech Lake. Located in north, central Minnesota in Cass county, Leech Lake is a top walleye fishery. Anglers can also find jumbo perch in their ice fishing adventures on Leech Lake.
Upper Red Lake. The largest lake in Minnesota, Upper Red Lake covers more than 288,000 acres. Access the lake from the East, near State Highway 72 and get ready for an amazing day of ice fishing for walleye.
Gull Lake. At 15 miles long and 2 miles wide, Gull Lake offers plenty of ice fishing opportunities for locals and visitors alike. The lake is famous for the world’s largest ice fishing event, Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, scheduled just a few days after Take Your Kids Ice Fishing Weekend. You can spend more than a few days on the ice between the two events!
Ice fishing is a great way to get outdoors and experience the beauty of Minnesota. The “Take A Kid Ice Fishing” weekend is a great promotion for the sport of fishing and encourages not only kids to go fishing, but also adults who may not typically drop a line. Find a buddy, friend, or local guide that can teach you and your kids all about the wonderful hobby of ice fishing. Check all safety regulations and be sure to dress warm. Mark your calendars now for January 18-20 and plan for a great few days of ice fishing in Minnesota!
Planning a fishing trip?
Find a Fishing CharterSearch Trips