Best Crappie Lakes in Minnesota

By Richard | Fishing Advice

best crappie lakes in minnesota
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Minnesota is known for its many lakes; in fact, a good number of people know it as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

However, in reality, the state has more lakes than that number.

It has a lot of lakes and rivers overflowing with crappies of all sizes and other freshwater fish varieties for all types of anglers.

Crappie is a freshwater fish and is a popular game fish because of its tasty, white meat, making them a favorite target for anglers.

Although there are various ways to catch crappie, new techniques are also being developed along with the fisherman’s resourcefulness.

Today, we will look at some of the best crappie lakes in Minnesota that are the locals’ favorites.

Different Types of Crappie

Crappie is a popular freshwater fish because of its abundance in different parts of the country and its delicious taste.

In truth, there are seven types of crappie populating different freshwater locations in the country, but we will focus more on the two popular ones: black and white crappie.

Black and white crappie are the two primary species of crappie, which, interestingly enough, has nothing to do with its colors.

The male crappie from both species usually transforms into a black one during the spawning season while also losing its body markings at some other times of the year.

Aside from that, water conditions also affect how these two species appear.

In clear water, crappies look darker than crappies found in muddy waters, where it seems utterly white without any traces of body markings.

The best way to differentiate these two species from one another is by looking at its markings.

White crappies have vertical bars throughout the length of their body, while black crappies have no distinct patterns and will usually show speckles.

Some anglers also distinguish one from the other through looking at its dorsal fins; you will find five to six spines in white crappie, whereas there are seven or eight in black crappie.

Anglers check the body shape of the crappie to know what species it belongs to.

White crappies have elongated bodies and more enormous mouths, while black crappies have a short and compact frame and a small joined mouth.

Black crappies favor clear waters, more shade, and dense vegetation, while white crappies are more suitable in open water and endure murky water better.

White crappies feed on shad and minnows, whereas black crappies like eating worms, crawfish, and insects.

How to Fish for Crappie

Some might think that crappie fishing is easy, but you will find it a bit complicated once you checked the various strategies and techniques on how to do it.

Since catching crappie became popular, crappie tournaments emerged, and competitors thought of new ways to catch this game fish.

Here are some popular ways and gear professional anglers use to take home a catch.

1. Minnow Rig and Classic Bobber

This option is one of the most productive and easiest ways to catch crappie at any time of the year.

When shallow fishing in springtime, get an Aberdeen hook #1 or #2 and attach it to a minnow with a fixed bobber set at least a foot or two above it.

You can allow the bait to swim freely without weight, or you can attach a bb split shot to prevent the bait from continually moving around.

Use and set a slip bobber if you will be fishing for suspended crappie under a cover in deeper water among standing timber and brush pile.

You can also use a bb split shots or pinch-on sinkers, so the minnow drops to your preferred deepness.

Additionally, you should use a seven feet rod for casting, or a longer one at 10 to 12 feet if you intend to flip your set-up down to where the crappie cover is.

2. Jig Fishing

Some favorite techniques in crappie fishing are casting and vertical jigging.

Anglers would generally cast a bit far from the target before retrieving the jig on top of the brush pile to get the attention of the aggressive prey.

Another option is to place the boat right above the brush, drop the jig straight into the cover, and wait until you feel a bite.

An angler’s jig fishing set-up would typically consist of a medium action rod and a spinning reel with four to six pounds of fluorocarbon line.

3. Shooting or Skipping Jigs

When your target crappie is hidden in overhanging tree limbs or under docks, dropping your jig as if it’s a bow and arrow will ensure that it is placed near the crappie’s cover.

The usual set-up for this technique is a limber-tipped rod that measures between six and a half and seven feet long, loaded with a 1/16 ounce jig that is attached to a four to six pounds fishing line.

The weight of the jig is crucial for this technique, as it will skip well once it’s on the water.

4. Spider Rigging

For spider rigging, it is vital to have rod holders so that you can troll minnows or jigs attached to 14- or 16-inch rods in front of the boat.

The spider rigging technique set-up typically uses two minnows or two jigs attached to Aberdeen hooks that are tied at different lengths on top of a heavy sinker.

5. Crankbait Fishing

Crankbait fishing is one sure way of catching big crappie in open water.

You can do this by trolling through the schooling crappie using a medium-diving crankbait that measures two inches long.

With the crankbait attached to a fluorocarbon line, let it dive at 10 to 12 feet deep.

Do this by either trolling several crankbaits on rod holders or by holding a rod for one crankbait.

Best Crappie Lakes in Minnesota

Minnesota is known to have thousands of lakes that offer excellent fishing opportunities to professional and novice anglers alike.

We will round up some of the best lakes in Minnesota where you can enjoy crappie fishing.

best crappie lakes in minnesota

1. Red Lake

Red Lake is found in Beltrami County and is one of the largest lakes, measuring 107, 800 acres with an abundant supply of crappie.

It is also popular for ice fishing, which is why there are resorts along the shore that offer ice houses for visitors.

There, you will also find fishing guides, open launch trips, campsites, and RV rentals throughout the year.

2. Sand Lake

This 4,328-acre lake in Cass County is an ideal fishing spot for fishing enthusiasts.

It boasts shallow waters, exquisite forested surroundings, and protected bays.

This lake houses various types of fishes, including crappie, jumbo perch, panfish, bass, and Northern pike.

It is also known for its different water temperatures, underwater structures, and its water access provision to other lakes and rivers.

3. Steiger Lake

This small lake from Carver County has catch-and-release regulations implemented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, resulting in the abundance of enormous fish in the area.

This 165-acre Steiger Lake houses sizeable Northern pike, black crappie, yellow bullhead, and bluegill.

4. Lake Andrew

The more substantial part of Lake Andrew is a sheltered wilderness; only the smaller part is advanced with resorts and other attractions for its visitors.

The lake is an excellent spot for anglers who want to catch bass, perch, bluegill, panfish, black crappie, and more.

Visitors and locals alike will surely enjoy spending their day or even a weekend in the waters of this 918-acre lake.

5. Bowstring Lake

This lake from Itasca County offers an abundant supply of black crappie, Northern pike, walleye, and yellow perch.

The shoreline of Bowstring Lake is situated inside the Chippewa National Forests and features neighboring campsites, resorts, and endless outdoor space for everyone.

6. Spider Lake

If you are looking for the perfect fishing getaway, you will enjoy this 1,392-acre lake, which is also found in Itasca County.

Most of its shorelines remain intact and brimming with natural beauty, such as secluded waters and protected bays.

Anglers will have a grand time catching bluegill, perch, muskie, walleye, crappie, Northern pike, and large and smallmouth bass in this lake.

7. Cut Foot Sioux Lake

You will find an active population of slab crappie, muskie, and walleye in one of the most popular fishing lakes located in Itasca County.

The area is popular among anglers during weekends; hence, you can easily find a lot of lodging and boat rentals nearby.

8. Rainy Lake

This lake from Kochingching County is one of the most outstanding fishing havens in Minnesota with its vast supply of Northern pike, walleye, crappie, and smallmouth bass.

Local anglers offer boat rentals, guided fishing tours, resort lodgings, and other coastal activities.

9. Annie Battle Lake

Found inside the Glendalough State Park in Otter Tail County, this lake is flocked all year round with anglers who wish to experience serene and isolated fishing.

You will find plenty of bluegills, crappie, walleye, Northern pike, and largemouth bass here, which boost fishing during spring and fall seasons.

10. White Bear Lake

This lake is busy throughout the year with its profusion of muskellunge walleye, bluegill, Northern pike, yellow perch, crappie, and bass.

White Bear Lake in Ramsey County is also famous during winter for ice fishing.

11. Lake Vermilion

Admired as one of the most picturesque lakes in the whole USA, this lake in Saint Louis County is also one of the most chosen fishing spots in Minnesota.

It has 40,000 acres of water, 1,200 miles of shorelines, and 635 islands, making it a perfect combination for an exceptional outdoor experience.

Anglers will find plenty of black crappies, brown bullhead, bluegill, bass, golden shiner, white sucker, and pumpkin seed here.

Visitors will also find countless camping and lodging choices within the neighborhood.

12. Cedar Lake

This 700-acre lake is located in Martin County and has been home to both white and black crappies for several years.

13. Lac Qui Parle

This lake is almost 6,000 acres.

The most profound part is at 15 feet and houses white and black crappies averaging in weight at half a pound each.

14. Artichoke Lake

From the Bigstone County in Western Minnesota, this lake is surrounded by islands, flats, bays, and narrows with an abundant supply of black crappies all year round.

Crappie Fishing Regulations in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is closely monitoring and implementing specific rules and regulations in regards to fishing.

  • If you are 16 years old and above, you are required to buy a state fishing license yearly, which you can use from March 1 up to the end of February of the succeeding year.

A more affordable license is also available for a shorter duration, although in some cases, you are not required to have a permit if fishing is done in state parks.

  • Crappies, sunfish, and catfish are some of the fishes that you are allowed to catch any day of the year.

However, some game fish like walleye, bass, and Northern spike, have a different ruling based on your location and the time of the year.

  • You can use one fishing pole when the water is not frozen, but you are allowed to use two lines when it’s frozen.
  • Anglers are required to be in the area if they plan to drop a line in the water.
  • Anglers are permitted to fish in lakes, streams, and rivers as long as you don’t pass through private property without getting approval from the owner.
  • Additionally, each person can only keep 10 crappies as the legal limit as part of the state’s fishing regulations.


We have provided a few of the best crappie lakes in Minnesota for you to consider visiting the next time you go on a fishing adventure.

We also have included some fishing regulations from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources so that you will be informed.

Even without the fishing regulations, you should know how to practice control when fishing, regardless of the abundant supply.

To get the most out of your fishing experience, you might also want to educate yourself on the best fishing rod and reel combo for freshwater.

Lastly, you should also be aware of the different types of fishing reels that you need to use for a specific gear for a more productive and enjoyable fishing trip.

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