All-Access Pass to Minnesota Lakes

There’s a local saying that goes something like: “You’re not a true Minnesotan without a cabin. But cabins never go on sale.” 

Now, I’ve never had to face this conundrum, because the house I grew up in happened to be lakeside, acting as our home and “cabin” in one, but the solution for visitors, transplants, or anyone without a lake place being passed down the generations is simple:

1. Find someone who has lake property. (It’s easy. Just ask the Minnesotan to your left—or right.)
2. Or find a lake with public access.

lakeUtimately, many lakes with public water access are often open 24 hours a day, with no specific launch fees to drop in a boat—though many are connected to a park (with a family-friendly beach, playground, and other amenities), which do usually require a vehicle admission permit and small expense. Regardless of where you’re traveling, The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources site is a practical, handy resource for finding these state-wide destinations, plus the types of licenses, permits, and regulations you may need to follow in order to fully (and legally) enjoy our lakes.

A little Minnesota 101: All watercrafts should be registered. And residents and non-residents need a license to fish.

One caveat: I may be water-raised, but we’re more of a tubing, waterskiing, relaxing on the pontoon sort. My fishing experiences consist of a colorful plastic fishing pole I likely received for Christmas as a kiddo and tried once or twice. Mostly I just try to dodge the light fish “pecking” while wading in the water.

But I know it’s a much-loved activity for many: Fishing season has officially begun, and I was surprised by all the boats already out when we put in our own dock last weekend.

Obviously lakes aren’t hard to find in these parts, but water quality, depth, and what species angelers can expect? That can get tricky—if you didn’t have The Lake Finder by the Minnesota DNR. Turns out my lake has catfish, dogfish, bullheads—pretty much all the fish that don’t seem to encourage consumption—plus largemouth bass, common carp, walleye, and more.

I’d tell you which one I frequent, but well, serene waters are still hard to come by in this land of 10,000 lakes…