Fishing on the North Shore

So here you are on the biggest freshwater lake in the world. Have you thought about fishing?

You can fish Lake Superior,  it’s tributaries or inland lakes and streams. Catch lake trout and a variety of salmon on the big lake, trout and salmon in streams, and walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch and brook trout from inland lakes.  See fish descriptions and a few tips on catching below.

No boat? Don’t worry. Shore cast form any public lands along Lake Superior, [think public access areas and state parks]. Inland, choose one of the fishing piers noted below, or hire a charter. You can find charter fishing boats in Duluth, Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Grand Marais. Inland fishing guides are centered along the Gunflint Trail with a few near Grand Marais.

Licenses, bait, tackle and gear can be found at most gas stations and outfitters along the shore and up the Gunflint Trail. You will need a trout stamp if fishing for trout. What happens if you don’t catch any? Well, you probably had a great day outdoors, but check local grocery stores and fish markets for fresh and smoked Lake Superior fish, too!

Check out details on the specific fish below and here are the details for the Spring Creel Report on Lake Superior Tributaries


Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by cleaning boats and gear, draining water, and drying your watercraft.

Did you know boating and fishing are threatened by the spread of aquatic invasive species? Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are organisms that are not native and cause significant harm to an ecosystem when introduced. Harmful impacts can include effects on local game fish populations and impaired swimming waters.

Follow the three steps when leaving a body of water:

  1.  Clean your boat, trailer & equipment
  2.  Drain all water
  3.  Dispose of unused bait in the trash
  4.  Dry your boat and equipment

For more information contact local government or visit this website.

Scroll down to find a list of Spots to Fish from shore.

Good luck fishing!


State Record Fish

  • Atlantic Salmon: 12 pounds, 13 oz; Baptism River at Tettegouche State Park
  • Chinook Salmon: [shared record] 33 pounds 4 oz, Poplar River, Lutsen and Lake Superior, near Duluth
  • Coho Salmon: 10 pounds 6.5 oz, Lake Superior, northeast of Two Harbors
  • Pink Salmon: 4 pounds 8 oz, Cascade River, Lutsen
  • Steelhead Rainbow: 16 pounds 6 oz, Devil Track River, Grand Marais
  • Lake Whitefish: 10 pounds 6 oz, Lake Superior, northeast of Lutsen
  • Lake Trout: 43 pounds 8 oz, Lake Superior, Hovland
  • Brown Trout: 16 pounds 12 oz, Lake Superior, northeast of Two Harbors
  • Walleye: 17 pounds 8oz, Seagull River, end of the Gunflint Trail

Fish Descriptions & Tips


Average 1-2 pounds, but can exceed 10 pounds

Found in shallow waters (less than 15 feet) moving to deeper waters as temperatures increase, best bite is at dawn & dusk

A “walleye chop” (waves) on the water or overcast skies usually means more active fish


Try a spinner-bait, slip-bobber rig or jig head with bait (minnow, leech or nightcrawler)

Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass

average weight 1 pound; great fighting fish

found in shallow water [less than 15 feet] moving to deeper waters as temperatures increase


try a spinner-bait combo or troll with a Rapala

Lake Trout
Lake Trout

average 2-3 pounds, but can exceed 40 pounds

prefer cold water, so move deeper as temperatures rise


for shorecasting, try yarn flies, tiny spinners or spoons

from a boat, try dodger fly with downriggers or planer boards

Other Trout: Brook, Brown, Splake, Rainbow
Other Trout: Brook, Brown, Splake, Rainbow

average .5 – 1 pound, elusive fish

found in pools on shaded small streams, and tributaries and small inland lakes


small spinners, nightcrawlers or flies

check regulations concerning live bait

Salmon: Chinook, Coho, Pink, & Atlantic
Salmon: Chinook, Coho, Pink, & Atlantic

size varies with type of salmon

can be found on Lake Superior and it’s tributaries


pinks tun in odd-numbered years and are caught late summer

Coho prefer cooler water and are found in early July

Chinook run peaks in early July

Atlantics have a fall run around the first of October

Where to Fish from Shore

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR] and US Forest Service [USFS] provide accessible fishing piers in the North Shore area. These are great areas to fish if you don’t have a boat.

Hogback Lake

Accessible fishing pier at rustic campground; fish for rainbow trout and splake

From Hwy 61 MM 60, drive north on the MN Hwy 1 for 22 miles, turn east / right on the Wanless Road for 11.9 miles

Crescent Lake

Fish for walleye, smallmouth bass and an occasional muskie from this pier. An accessible campsite is adjacent to the pier.

From Hwy 61 MM 83.2, drive north on the Sawbill Trail for 17 miles, turn west / right on the Wanless Road for 11.9 miles

Sawbill Lake

Cast for walleyes and enjoy the view of the lake.

From Hwy 61 MM 83.2, drive north on the Sawbill Trail for 23 miles.

White Pine Lake

Try for walleye or northern at dawn or dusk.

From Hwy 61 MM 92.5, drive north on the Caribou Trail 6.7 miles, go west / left on the Honeymoon Trail for 2.6 miles, then right onto white Pine Access Road

Mink Lake

Catch splake and rainbow trout off the pier.

From Hwy 61 MM 109.1, drive north on 5th Ave W for .7 miles, turn left onto the Gunflint Trail for 10 miles, thens east / right onto Trout Lake Road for 1.7 miles

Trestle Pine Lake

Note the old railroad trestle crossing the lake; fish for rainbow and splake.

From Hwy 61 MM 90.1, drive north on 5th Ave W for .7 miles, turn left onto the Gunflint Trail for 3 miles, west / left on Devil Track Road for 5.7 miles, north / right on Ball Club Road 4.6 miles, then east / right on Trestle Pine Road for .9 miles