Red Lake Fall Fishing Report


Upper Red Lake presents unique regulations that include a protected slot of 1 over 20 inches, making fishing for trophy walleye a problematic endeavor; there’s also the chance of legal-size pike being caught here.

CO Demosthenes Regas of Blackduck South spent this past week monitoring fishing and boating activity on area lakes and patrolling recreational vehicle trails in his region.


Red Lake continues to provide anglers with an excellent largemouth bass fishing experience, as anglers report success using topwater lures, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits as well as drop shot rigs – some anglers even use creature baits to target deeper brush piles and weed lines! As fall progresses, fish begin moving into shallower waters, where they can be found on mud flats and along sand shorelines.

Red Lake Reservation’s fishing season is overseen by its Fisheries Program, consisting of one biologist and three full-time technicians. They tend management and conservation reservation fish stocks covering 237,000 acres in Upper and Lower Red Lake, 135 smaller lakes, 55 miles of rivers and streams, as well as maintaining an incubator capable of raising 10 million walleye fry annually as well as having previously used its small recirculating aquaculture unit to cultivate yellow perch.

Red Lake boasts Minnesota’s largest walleye population and oldest commercial fishery, starting in 1917. Walleye stocks had collapsed by the late 90s, but a multi-agency recovery plan has restored them to health through collaboration between Red Lake Band and the Minnesota state government.

As well as boasting a healthy walleye population, the reservation also boasts an outstanding lake trout fishery and flourishing yellow perch and brook trout fishing opportunities. Furthermore, with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lake Sturgeon Stocking Project, the tribe maintains a small project designed to reintroduce this once-abundant species into reservation waters.

Upper Red Lake in Minnesota belongs to the Red Lake Nation, and fishing regulations indicate this. State-licensed anglers are warned not to cross into tribal waters. If tribal leadership successfully claimed all Minnesota waters of Upper Red Lake, it would represent a tremendous victory for their community; however, at this stage in proceedings, it remains uncertain whether this victory can be secured – litigation over this issue has begun in federal court.


Smallmouth bass fishing on this lake has been excellent despite the water temperatures still being relatively calm. Target shallow waters around sunken islands and rock points for smallmouth bass; target gravel bottom areas that hold dime to golf ball-sized rocks for target shallower waters with drop-offs into deeper waters for ideal smallmouth bass targets. Casting green or yellow-colored paddle tail baits, or grubs around these spots is your best shot at catching smallmouths!

Largemouth bass fishing on this lake is excellent. A variety of crankbaits work effectively for targeting these bigmouths; look for fish on rocky points and gravel shorelines within 6-15ft of water; use smoke sparkle or green pumpkin hula grubs rigged to 3/8oz football jigs when targeting these spots, or employ chartreuse crawfish style crankbaits over submerged weed beds in the late evening for targeting smaller walleye.

Walleye anglers have also succeeded on this lake, finding active walleye in shallow waters (15-30ft). Look for these fish on rocky gravel humps or coves with brush or other structures to find active walleye. A standard jig and minnow setup or lindy rig with a large minnow will most successfully catch walleye on this lake.

Crappie fishing on this lake is excellent, with many good-size fish being caught. Garlic-flavored dough baits or prepared stink baits work effectively in catching these species; look out for larger crappies hiding among vegetation cover for optimal fishing success.

This lake offers excellent fishing for smallmouth bass, pike, walleye, and channel catfish. It is perfect for kids to try their luck fishing, too – with plenty of rocks to explore and shallow waters making it easy for young anglers to catch fish! It is a fun lake for the entire family to visit for an enjoyable fishing adventure.


Even after several snowy days this week, anglers on Lake Vermilion are still finding fish. On the east end, the pike is still being caught along the deeper edges of remaining cabbage beds using 3/4-ounce Mepp’s bucktails tipped with white mister twisters from 3/4 ounce Mepp’s bucktails casting 3/4 ounce Mepp’s bucktails listed with mister twisters from Mepp’s. As those cabbage beds decline further, pike will move to roam over windblown main lake basin shorelines; trolling these windblown shorelines with Rapala Husky Jerks in Firetiger or chrome blue has proven successful.

On the west end of the lake, pike have begun moving away from post-spawn areas along shorelines and into deeper water over developing weed lines. Larger-sized pike is frequently seen outside these weed lines in 7′ to 9′ of water, keying in on bluegills and perch forced deeper by dying vegetation, using purple descent color shad raps with side imaging for success and targeting them during pressure changes as they tend to remain more grouped. Running number 5 shad raps will provide better results.

Walleye and sauger have proven difficult to catch this week; those who do are often rewarded with delicious meals. Most walleye and sauger action has occurred 20 miles out; those positioned correctly could catch multiple fish before the day ends.

As ice season ends, some anglers are preparing for the removal deadline. State anglers must stay north of longitude coordinate 94 deg. 43′ 12.0”, while areas south are reserved for tribal use only.

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) focused this week on angling and hunting activity as well as responding to predator-related calls, while CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling and snowmobile activities on area lakes while responding to numerous wildlife calls as well as conducting a hunter education course. CO Andy Goodman (Fergus Falls) patrolled ATV/Snowmobile trails and checked anglers’ fish house locations before responding to wildlife-related calls on reserve and bowfishing complaints on Spruce Run Reservoir.


As fall sets in on Lake of the Woods’ southern end, walleye fishing continues to prove fruitful for anglers. Even on less-than-ideal days, they report landing an abundance of eater sauger, protected slot fish, and trophy walleye.

This week has seen excellent shallow water action, with many anglers reporting great success using skinny water techniques in 4 to 10 feet of water close to shorelines and sunken islands. A simple Lindy rig with a large minnow fished in these locations has proven successful; successful walleye anglers often opt for gold, orange, and perch color jigs when feeling these areas.

Lower water surface temperatures have created some of the most challenging days, altering fish behavior and feeding cycles. Walleyes will typically move into classic late summer habitats such as rip rap, mid-depth gravel flats, and submerged vegetation as soon as temperatures change – anglers have had great success finding these areas by working hard, covering ground quickly, staying mobile, and evolving presentations often.

Recent cooler weather has helped walleyes return to feeding again. Opening Day fishing was excellent and is still fantastic as we approach September. Finding fish can be tricky sometimes, but these opportunities exist for anglers willing to work and persevere – you need patience.

Red Lake provides anglers access to walleyes, chain pickerel, smallmouth bass, and pumpkinseed sunfish, all four predatory species worth targeting! If this sounds exciting, then making the trip will pay off.

Wired2fish’s McKeon Roberts provides an informative tutorial on fishing for finicky walleye from a kayak, using live shiner minnows for bait – something every walleye angler should note! Using real live bait when fishing walleye in northern Minnesota waters is crucial, and shiner minnows make for excellent live bait options.