Do we need a license?
Minnesota residents age 16 or alder and all non-residents need an angling license. Licenses can be purchased at sporting goods stores, bait stores, and some convenience and retail stores. Be sure to follow fishing regulations; a regulation booklet is available where you buy licenses. NEW: In some Minnesota State Parks you do not need a license to fish, some restrictions apply. More information.
There is a Spanish publication called ¡Vámonos de pesca! which gives license information details. Here is a link to current fishing regulations.
Where should we fish?
Many lakes have public fishing piers or docks. Here are lists and maps of lakes in the Twin Cities, and here is a booklet with details on over 60 small lakes in the Twin Cities. Click on a county name on the left side of this page to see maps of these lakes. NEW: Many Minnesota State Parks have weekly fishing programs called "I Can Fish". These are free events with equipment and bait provided. Locations and dates.
Once you are at the lake start on the dock, but if the fish are not biting try a new spot. Often it helps to try the other side of the dock, near plants or trees in the water, in shady areas, or near rocks.
What should we fish with?
Your equipment should be the proper size for the type of fish you are trying to catch. Use a small hook or lure for fish such and sunfish and perch. If you want to fish for something bigger, use a bigger hook or lure.
What bait should we use?
You will probably have best luck with worms - pinch a 1 or 2 inch piece and “thread” it on the hook. If you do not have live bait, try canned corn, pieces of hot dog, or marshmallow. Or try to find bait by looking under logs and rocks for worms. Here is a link to bait stores in the Twin Cities.
What if my line gets tangled?
Do not worry. This will happen. Try for a few minutes to untangle it, but do not spend too much time. It is easy to cut the line and retie the hook. Here is a guide to fishing knots. Give the knot a tug to make sure it will not slip.
What if we catch a fish?
Handle the fish firmly but carefully. Most fish have spiny fin rays that can poke your hand. Some fish have sharp teeth, so be cautious about putting your fingers in the fish’s mouth. Get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible if you are going to release it. If the hook is in too deep to get out, just cut the line and let the fish go with the hook – it is easier on them.
What kind of fish is it?
Here is a guide to some of the more common fish found in Minnesota lakes.
Are the fish safe to eat?
Generally, yes. The standard fish consumption advice for women and children is one meal per week for panfish, and one per month for larger fish. For adult men, it is unlimited for panfish and one meal per week of larger fish. For lake-specific advice check Lakefinder. Only keep what you need – practice catch and release. Keep fish cool until you get them home.
This is very important. Young children should always fish with an adult. If you fish from a boat or canoe ALWAYS wear a life jacket. If weather turns stormy, get away from the water. It is a good idea to wear sunscreen and sunglasses because sunlight reflects off the water. Be aware of your hook, it is sharp – do not let it swing around and do not swing it in front of people while casting.
Take a break
If you are fishing with young kids it is important to take breaks. Bring snacks, take a walk, go to the playground, go look for birds or turtles. Make fishing part of a fun outing. And remember that you will not always catch something. Have fun!
Follow park rules. Do not litter and do not throw old fishing line or tackle in the lake.