Minnesota fishing: Are bass taking over?

Walleyes are the undisputed king in Minnesota, but anglers who open their minds a bit will discover that Minnesota has some pretty darn good bass fishing, too. (Photo courtesy of Joe Albert)

I’m not much of a walleye guy because I get bored not catching anything. That probably says as much about my skills in coaxing our state fish as anything else, but still …

Oddly enough, I really enjoy muskie fishing, even though in an average year I probably catch more walleyes than muskies. So I guess that leaves me with bass, which are my bread and butter because I can usually go out and catch a few (which often isn’t particularly difficult) and cast and move around as I do it. Bass fishing, to me, is about the perfect blend of fishing and catching.

Minnesota always has had something of a subculture of bass fishermen, though a whole lot more people poo-pooed the sport as too simply because they had no trouble going out to a weedline and catching a bunch of bass on a leech or nightcrawler. Fair enough, but it’s hard not to notice a shift when it comes to bass fishing. Suddenly, it seems like more Minnesotans – and certainly, more people from outside the state – are taking seriously the bass fishing we have here.

Part of that’s been driven by the incredible smallmouth bass fishery at Lake Mille Lacs, but you can’t ignore the fact that national bass-fishing tournament trails also have started paying more attention to Minnesota. I’m not saying their stamp of approval means we’ve arrived, but by the same token, national fishing leagues don’t tend to hold tournaments in bass-fishing wastelands. Some guides also are seeing increased interest in bass fishing among their clients.

Tony Roach, who guides on Mille Lacs and beyond, said he’s seen “a huge uptick in people coming from the South (to) bass fish in Minnesota. That’s a whole new sector of tourists coming here to experience our quality bass fishing … Many of them have never been here before but are coming to experience our quality bass fishing.”

Bass never will overtake walleyes in terms of popularity in Minnesota, but some fishermen, if they’d just open their minds a bit, would be surprised by the enjoyment bass fishing provides.

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