Types of Fish in Minnesota: Nine Species You Can Catch

By Richard | Fishing Advice

types of fish in minnesota
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Without a hobby, life can be pretty dull. Not having anything to do during your free time to de-stress and do what you love doing can really burn us out and make us feel exhausted all the time.

That is why we must find something that gets us excited, as well as you can enjoy with your friends and relatives.

If you live in the great land of Minnesota, you’re probably aware of how many lakes and other bodies of water are actually in this state.

That’s perhaps the reason why fishing is also popular among the locals.

Diving your way into the world of fishing can be quite overwhelming, and that’s why we wanted to make sure that you know a thing or two about the types of fish in Minnesota.

We will give you a head-start in understanding the fish species of the land of ten thousand lakes.

How Many Species of Fish Are There in Minnesota?

There are many species of fish found in different bodies of water all over the world. In fact, there are an estimated 33,600 fish species in the world today.

It’s quite important to have a basic understanding of the different fish species because certain species are quite rare and must be left untouched.

To answer the question of how many species of fish are there in Minnesota, it’s better if we discuss it further for you.

There are about twenty fish species lurking in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, streams, and other bodies of water.

In the following sections, we’ll help you understand these species better.

Types of Fish in Minnesota

Believe it or not, there are exactly eleven thousand eight hundred and forty-two (11,842) lakes in Minnesota alone.

This number is a testament to the variety of fish that you can find in this state.

That said, we’re here to discuss the most common types of fish in Minnesota and how you can identify them.

1. Bass

Lots of different species of fish actually share the name bass fish.

Generally, this type of fish is known for its perch-like appearance, which is also how the term bass was coined.

In Middle English, perch is translated as bars and resulted in the name bass.

The most common types of bass fish in Minnesota are spotted, smallmouth, or largemouth.

Schools of bass fish are often found in freshwaters like lakes or rivers, but certain bass fish types can also be found in marine water.

Both smallmouth and largemouth bass species range from ten inches up to two feet and can weigh from eight ounces to almost ten pounds.

2. Salmon

In pretty much the same way as the bass fish, salmon is a general term for several species that share the same ray-fin appearance.

The name “salmon” was coined after the family name of these species which is Salmonidae.

Salmons lay their eggs in freshwater, which is also where they hatch.

However, even if that’s the case, salmons would migrate to the ocean, only to return to fresh bodies of water for reproductive purposes.

Salmons are also divided into three categories, namely, Atlantic, Pacific, and freshwater.

In Minnesota, freshwater salmons are more common as compared to the other salmon types.

This type of salmon may range between about 20 inches and can reach up to five feet.

As such, salmons weigh around three pounds but may also reach a hundred pounds.

3. Trout

A trout is a freshwater fish that’s also under the Salmonidae family.

All types of trout are common in lakes and almost exclusively stay in freshwater.

Other trout species may spend a few years living in the sea but would still always return to freshwater.

With the abundance of the trout species in lakes and other freshwater bodies, they’ve become an essential part of the ecosystem.

Bears, hunting birds, and even humans alike, all benefit from trout and considers it as a vital food source.

The sizes of trout fish vary greatly depending on what specie it is.

Generally, brook trout is around ten to twenty-five inches and may weigh from six ounces to six pounds.

On the other hand, bigger trout species like the more common lake trout may range from fifteen to forty-two inches and weighs at around one to twenty-seven pounds.

4. Walleye

A walleye is also called a yellow pike that’s mostly found in freshwater areas.

The term yellow pike is due to the fact that walleyes are largely gold or olive in color.

The more common name walleye is from the fact that the eyes of this fish specie point outward, making it appear like it’s looking at a wall.

Walleyes are fished for recreational purposes but are also sometimes used commercially for food.

This type of fish is perhaps one of the most popular species that anglers often fish for.

As such, walleye fishing is often regulated by various agencies to ensure that they don’t go extinct.

Walleyes can grow up to thirty-one inches and can weigh up to nine kilograms. Believe it or not, the largest walleye ever caught was around forty-two inches and weighed around thirteen kilograms.

types of fish in minnesota

What Are Rough Fish in Minnesota?

The term rough fish is used to describe the types of fish that are not often caught in fishing for various reasons such as the rarity of the fish, the fact that the fish isn’t recognized as a food source, or anglers do not find them desirable when it comes to fishing as a sport.

We’re here to help you gain adequate knowledge as to what is rough fish in Minnesota.

1. Carp

Carp is a freshwater fish found in almost every part of the world.

Even though this type of fish is common, this fish specie is considered rough fish, especially in Minnesota, because of its invasive behavior.

Aside from the fact that carp isn't commonly eaten, this type of fish often damages other exotic species that are otherwise widely known in the sport of angling.

2. Buffalo

Another rough fish you’d find in Minnesota lakes is buffalo fish, which is a type of fish that looks like carp.

However, instead of being an invasive species, buffalo fish is considered rough fish for a different reason.

This fish type takes an extremely long process of preparation because it has lots of bones, a quality that is not good for food.

3. Gar

The gar is a type of fish under the Lepisosteiformes family.

Perhaps the first thing you’d notice when you see a gar is its long mouth, almost like that of an alligator.

These elongated jaws are full of sharp teeth that can easily devour smaller fishes.

They are considered rough fish in Minnesota because of their very thick scales and small bones that are quite difficult to remove.

4. Bowfin

The last type of rough fish we will discuss is called a bowfin.

This type of fish is related to the gar and has elongated bodies.

That said, instead of elongated jaws with sharp teeth, bowfins have huge mouths.

Bowfins are considered rough fish because they also have lots of bones, and they eat other types of fish that are otherwise desirable for the table.

What’s the Biggest Fish in Minnesota?

Since Minnesota consists of eleven thousand lakes, it’s not surprising to find lots of different species of fish in the state.

These fish species have their own characteristics, with some being more desirable for anglers while others are not.

If you’re curious about finding out what’s the biggest fish in Minnesota, well, we haven’t discussed it yet.


The biggest fish in Minnesota that’s sought after by lots of anglers is called a sturgeon.

This type of fish actually consists of around twenty-seven species.

Some of these twenty-seven species can grow from seven to twelve feet.

Other sturgeon species produce a product called roe, which is then used to make caviar, which is often considered as a luxury food.

As such, natural agencies provided stricter rules in sturgeon fishing to prevent overexploitation or total extinction.


Fishing is one of the many recreational activities you can do with your friends or family.

Whether you’re spending your spring break on the mountains or having a quick summer vacation with your family, fishing must definitely be on your to-do list.

Who knows? Maybe that will be your first step towards becoming an actual fish angler.

In the world of fishing, it’s important that you have adequate knowledge about your equipment and fish species.

That will ensure you get to fish without breaking any regulations concerning fishing.

In learning more about the different types of fish in Minnesota, you’ve come to understand a few things about fish species.

Whether you catch them in the land of ten thousand lakes or a different state, we’re confident that you already have adequate knowledge about these types of fish.

What are you waiting for? Gather your rod, reel, line, lures, and other pieces of equipment and head to the lakes!

We’ll be here whenever you need information on catching fish, and, well, catch you later!

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