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5 Monster Minnesota Muskie Lakes You Might Not Have Heard About

minnesota muskie lakes
Minnesota DNR

Interested in catching a Minnesota monster muskie? In these lakes, your odds of catching a fish of a lifetime may be better than you think.

Minnesota is known for its muskie fishing.  However, when most people think of catching a Minnesota "monster muskie", they think of some of the state's biggest waters. The most popular include Vermillion, Leech, Lake of the Woods, Winnibigoshish, Cass, and Mille Lacs. These water bodies are known for having healthy muskie populations and often produce fish that exceed 50".  However, they aren't the only lakes with this opportunity.

Did you know many of the smaller lakes are the state's best-kept secret for catching that fish of a lifetime?

Minnesota actively manages 99 lakes for muskie (with many others having unmanaged populations). Meaning, there are plenty of smaller lakes with populations of large muskie. You just have to know where to look.

With a record-breaking muskie being fished out of a new lake every year, it is surprising more people aren't aware of the 50" inch potential that sits in many of their local bodies of water.

Below is a list of five monster muskie lakes worth your time this year.

1. Pelican Lake, Ottertail County

The muskie potential of Pelican Lake became public knowledge when this man caught a state record (56" 7/8) June of last year. The record not only proved the lake's ability to produce quality fish but put the lake on the map for big fish. During the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's 2016 survey, the average size was estimated at 43". Fish were originally introduced into Pelican in 1978.

Pelican Lake Monster Muskie
Photo of Andrew Slette. Credit: Field & Stream

2. Detroit Lake, Becker County

One of the best-kept muskie fishing secrets, Detroit had an estimated 366 adult muskie in the 2016 survey. It ends up being roughly 1 muskie per every 8 acres. With such a small density, the lake is a prime destination for catching that trophy.  Just to prove it, we caught a 53" off the lake this month. It was one of many large muskie caught during that time frame.

A monster muskie caught in central Minnesota
Photo Credit: Kristi Bart

Muskie populations were introduced into Big Detroit in 1989.

3. Mantrap Lake, Hubbard County

Mantrap is likely the most famous muskie lake on this list. It has always been well-known for its muskie population, however back in 2010 famous muskie fisherman, Dave Bentley, brought a whole new meaning to Mantrap and muskie.  He was quoted in his Game & Fish article stating "now you can hardly spend a day on that lake without seeing at least a few fish over 50 inches."

Considering it is now 2017, can you imagine?

4. Lake Sallie, Ottertail County

Back in 2011, a man named John Gergen caught a muskie on Lake Sallie that he claimed was 57" long.  The would-have-been state record was poor timing, as the government was shutdown and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was therefore "out of service".  When his taxidermist measured the frozen fish, he came up with 55"... and he was far from shy when suggesting it could have been 57" when it was alive.

Although John never received credit for his record, he has had four mounted, including a 55 1/2 inch caught off of Lake Sallie back in 2007.

5. Man Lake, Cass County

Man Lake is a small lake with large potential. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources measured this 55" muskie on Man Lake back in 2015. That was quite a whopper for a lake that isn't even 500 acres in size.

Minnesota Muskie
Photo Credit: Minnesota DNR

During the 2012 survey, 46 fish with a length between 34.5" and 50" were also measured.  If you troll around Man Lake enough, your lure will have passed at least one, if not all, of the muskie in that lake.

I think it is pretty evident that the state of Minnesota manages for trophy muskie.  They tend to keep densities low and quality high, meaning there are a lot of lakes with large fish, leaving plenty of opportunity for their anglers.

You can get a complete list of the state's managed muskie lakes here. 

I guess you could say that Minnesota gives the "fish of 10,000 casts" a whole new meaning.


5 Monster Minnesota Muskie Lakes You Might Not Have Heard About