Fishing South Minneapolis lakes: Plenty of fun and action for all!


UPDATED 8/14/2012 – Twin City metro lakes are some of the most overlooked lakes in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Don’t be fooled by this lack of attention. If you live in South Minneapolis, you are right on top of some bodies of water that offer you a chance for some great fishing action. Lake Nokomis, Powderhorn Lake, Taft Lake, Snelling Lake and the Mississippi River all offer easy-access fishing opportunities.

Mike Meyer, sales associate at Diamond Lake Ace Hardware on Nicollet Avenue near Nokomis, helps anglers buy bait and fishing gear. He reported they’ve had a very busy summer selling bait to people fishing the lakes and ponds in South Minneapolis. Mike said, “Folks have been catching some nice size largemouth bass and panfish on Lake Nokomis, and Harriet has been producing some really nice size muskie. We’ve got everything from minnows to worms along with all the fishing gear someone needs to get started.”

Lake Nokomis is the largest and most popular of the area lakes. The Department of National Resources regularly stocks the lake with walleye and muskie. It is also known for being one of the best crappie lakes in the Twin Cities. There are fishing docks at the north and east side of the lake, and fishing “piers” on the Cedar Ave. bridge. These fishing piers offers anglers using a small minnow hooked two feet below a bobber a chance for some nice crappies, bass or walleye. You can rent a canoe at the main beach if you want to get on the water. Motorized boats are not allowed on Minneapolis lakes. Fishing gear can be checked out for free at the Minneapolis park office on Nokomis.

Powderhorn Park offers a variety of fishing opportunities. Jimmy Thornton, Outdoor Activities Supervisor, said that anyone can check out a fishing pole to try to catch some of the channel catfish that are stocked in the lake. Try to cast as close to the lake’s aerators as you can for your best chance. You can also catch bass, sunfish and bullheads from the fishing pier. The park offers a number of fishing programs. Powderhorn Lake is stocked by the DNR’s Fishing In The Neighborhood program with bluegills, bass and channel catfish. Both Powderhorn and Nokomis can be easily reached by the metro bus service.

Two other lakes close by and worth mentioning are Taft and Snelling. Both offer fishing piers and aeration systems to keep the fish healthy and active. Taft Lake is a small pond just across the border in Richfield and is managed as a Kid’s Fishing Pond and is stocked with crappies, bluegills, and channel catfish. Snelling Lake is in Fort Snelling State Park by the airport and offers good fishing for bluegills and perch. Fishing gear can be checked out at Fort Snelling, and you don’t need a fishing licenses to fish there or in any other state park (but you do need a state park sticker on your car.) For best luck, bring some simple fishing gear with a worm for some fun panfish action.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fishing opportunities along the Mississippi River in South Minneapolis. Fishing can be outstanding for a variety of fish with your basic nightcrawler on a hock with a splitshot sinker under a bobber. Just throw it upstream, and you’re sure to catch one of the dozens of different fish in the river. The Minnehaha Falls Park is where the Minnehaha Creek flows into the Mississippi and is a great place to fish. You won’t find many people fishing the river there since it is a bit of a hike from the parking lot. However, if you’re looking for a quiet place to kick back for the afternoon and watch the river go by and catch some fish, it might be the perfect place for you.

You can also fish the river along the shores of Fort Snelling State Park. A popular spot is directly below the historic fort. Anglers park in the lot for the historic site, then walk down the bike path to reach the river. Anglers may also enter the park (off Post Road and Highway 5). Park at the visitor center lot and walk the trail to the river. If you enter the park, you will need a state park sticker for $5/day or $25/season.

You can fish virtually anywhere along along the Minneapolis side of the river, which is managed as a park by the U.S. Park Service. Gordon Dietzman, Park Ranger, said the fishing is outstanding from where the Minnehaha Creek spills into the river all the way up and down the shore. Above the dam, he recommends fishing under the Ford Parkway bridge or anywhere along West River Parkway. He has seen many walleye and catfish caught on that stretch of the river. Fishing below the Ford Dam is a catch-and-release only area for all walleye and bass, so you’ll need to throw any you catch back.

Here are a few tips when fishing these areas:

  • You can learn more about these lakes and fishing tips on the DNR website:
  • Anyone over 16 years old needs a fishing license which costs $8.50 for a one-day license, $17 for an individual, and $25 for a husband/wife. Active members of the military and the disabled can fish for free.
  • The fishing limits are six walleye or bass, 20 sunfish, 10 crappie and 1 muskie over 40”. Fishing below the Ford dam is catch-and-release only zone for walleye and bass but the season is year round in that area.
  • The closest bait shop to get gear, bait or a license is Diamond Lake Ace Hardware on Nicollet. Settergren Ace Hardware on Penn also offers bait.
  • Nokomis has Eurasian Milfoil and Zebra Mussels while Powderhorn has Eurasian Milfoil and Brazilian Elodea which are all invasive species.
  • You must drain your bait bucket with any water after you leave the lakes since transporting water can transport invasive species to other waters. This is also a law.
  • Because of mercury contamination, it is recommended that you eat no more than one Nokomis walleye meal each week and one Powderhorn sunfish or catfish meal each week.

I’ll be writing about fishing opportunities in St. Paul the next issue of Discover TC Outdoors

Happy Fishing!


UPDATED 8/14/2012: Changed “Southeast Minneapolis” to “South Minneapolis”