Minnesota’s 10,000 Lakes

minnesota's 10000 lakes

In 1950, Minnesota vehicle license plates began to first display the slogan “10,000 Lakes” as the state is known as the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. Though Minnesota factually has 14,444 lakes larger than 10 acres, the 10,000 moniker that was originally a tourist slogan has stuck on firmly.

Minnesotans are blessed with nearly 2.6 million acres or 5% of its total area comprising water. The state’s wealth of lakes were formed during the last Ice Age when the glaciers receded. As they retreated, they left craters and deep troughs that contained ice. The ice gradually melted, filling the hollows with water and forming lakes. Some of them drain into or out of rivers.

If you ask a ‘sotan, she or he will tell you that apart from 4 counties, every other county in Minnesota is blessed with lakes. St Louis County, with 890 lakes, has the most.

Obviously, all this makes the North Star State bordering Canada an angler’s delight. The nearly 90,000 acres of water hold a wonderful diversity of game fish ranging from the fabulous Northern Pike, bass, and sturgeon to crappie, sunfish, walleye, perch, bullhead, and flathead catfish.

What’s A Lake, Exactly?

Professional climatologists opine that there’s no universal definition of a lake. There are no clear terms of reference regarding acreage, size, depth, etc., to determine whether a water-body is to be called a lake or a pond.

While it’s a hotly debated topic on what constitutes a “lake,” current regulations in Minnesota demand that a petition signed by 15 or more registered voters can apply for a water-body to be termed a lake. They have to argue their case before the County Board to get the final permission.

Enjoying The Lakes

Visitors and locals love the lakes. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, renting or purchasing a lake-shore property, enjoying water-sports or fishing, the lakes hold the key to wonderful moments of adventure, rest, peace, and scenic beauty.

Take an awesome cruise across many of the enormous lakes that border National Parks. You can view the origins of the mighty Mississippi River in Lake Itsaca, or take tour-boats and paddle-boats on smaller lakes, or view great cities such as Duluth from the harbors of Lake Superior.

Lakeside beaches are a popular gathering spot for families with children, artists, and swimmers. Several popular resorts line many of the state’s picturesque lakes. Campgrounds offer canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding through the many canals that connect some of the big lakes.

If you’re lucky, you could even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from your tent under the stars.

Fishing is the most popular sport here, and it’s a rare ‘sotan who doesn’t call herself/himself an angler.

Passionate About Fishing

If you’re new to the sport or to the state, you may need to do some homework before you pick up a rod and reel. There are some great online resources that you could browse, such as these. While experienced anglers know what they want and where to look for it, those that are new to the game can certainly benefit from the right information and advice.


If you’re 16 and above, you will need to purchase a Minnesota fishing license. You can purchase different types of licenses based on your needs, preferences, and budget. The most popular are individual angling license, combination license for married couples to fish together or alone, individual or combination sports licenses, non-resident individual angling, and a huge range of other licenses issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. You can purchase an annual license if you’re a resident or a short-term one if you’re a visitor. Locals don’t require licenses to fish in state parks. Anglers have to pay more to fish for trout, salmon, or sturgeon.


You can fish during all four seasons in Minnesota. However, you may have to check the regulations for the type of fish you can catch and timings at different lakes. As the third most popular inland fishing destination in the country, the all-year-round opportunities are amazing for sunfish, crappie, perch, channel catfish, etc. The official season begins with the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener that corresponds with Mother’s Day. This date is a great one for many species, such as Northern Pike, trout, walleye, and bass. These are known as game-fish, and there are several other regulations that govern angling for these. While they offer the best challenge and adventure, don’t discount the fun and excitement of catching panfish such as crappie and perch. You’ll enhance your evening with a wonderful dinner of fresh catch sauteed in butter and herbs. Consult the Trout Fishing Regulations for accurate information and details.


Experts suggest that if you’re a total newcomer, it’s wise to hire the services of experienced guides on your initial fishing trips. This helps you pick up essential tips and tricks. When in quest of walleye, use lighter lines that are more sensitive to their taps as they examine the bait. If you’re using live bait, move it around with a bottom-bouncer rig. Hook walleye with shorter strokes of the rod and offer larger bait that gets hooked more firmly when the fish pulls it into the mouth.

Lures and Bait

Walleye are fussy and picky, so attract them with the right bait. Live works best for them. Bass are attracted to bright colors, especially in muddy water. Bait scent gives the right touch of realism. Northern Pike love to pursue the bait slowly, so don’t pull your lure out of the water too quickly. You need patience and skill for them and a tough, sturdy rod.

Other Regulations

The Department of Natural Resources regulates the size and number you can catch in a day in a particular lake or river. The count includes those you stow in your freezer that were caught elsewhere or at a different time. Never cross private property without permission. Check the property boundaries before you set out. Some areas may have the information posted, but others may not. There are many Fishing Events organized by the Department of Natural Resources. You can check the calendar for Catch-And-Release events, border water events, specific species, stream trout in lakes fishing, etc. Get more information at fishing in Minnesota.


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