In Pequot Lakes, MN – just north of Brainerd in the Central Lakes region of Minnesota the water tower has been painted to look like a fishing bobber (affectionately known as Paul Bunyan’s bobber). The water tower is a representation of the importance of fishing in that part of the state, but it could just as easily be a golf ball-painted water tower for the spate of great golf courses nearby all the lakes. So it should be no surprise that there are many great fishing destinations near golf in Minnesota. After all, this is the land of 10,000 lakes – and more golfers per capita than any other state.
Many Minnesotans (and travellers to the state) like to enjoy both on their summer vacations – wetting a line after netting a birdie – so we decided to put together some of the best pairings of fishing and golf in the state. We asked fishing guide and golfer Walleye Dan (Dan Eigen of Walleye Dan’s Guide Service), who knows some of the best fishing places close to great golf in Minnesota. Here what he came up with.
Brainerd Lakes Area – Grand View Lodge, Madden’s on Gull Lake and Cragun’s Resort (for starters)
There are countless lakes and golf courses in the Brainerd-Baxter area in central Minnesota, but perhaps the best way to fish and golf is to head to Gull Lake, where the two endeavors are walking distance from each other. The resorts often have great “stay-and-play” packages, but they should think about offering a “stay, play and eat some fillet” packages.
“Gull Lake is right smack in the heart of all of those courses – Grand View to the North end of the lake and Madden’s and Cragun’s on the South end,” Eigen says. “Gull is a healthy lake, it’s got a good population of walleyes, and it has been known as a walleye lake. It’s loaded with structure, so the fish have many different places they can be.”
“It’s definitely a healthy walleye lake,” he says, “but it’s a good bass lake, as well. It’s a good pike lake and a good pan fish lake – a real quality fishery that is right in the heart of all those courses.”
But there are more choices in the area. A little to the northeast, you can find more lakes in the proximity of Breezy Point Resort and Deacon’s Lodge golf course, plus Golden Eagle Golf Club in nearby Fifty Lakes.
“As a fishing guide, certainly Gull Lake is the lake we fish the most,” Eigen says, “but there are times when the bite is not on, and we’ll run up to the Whitefish chain and there are some decent courses up in that neck of the woods.”
North Woods Area – Giants Ridge (The Legend and The Quarry) in Biwabik and Wilderness at Fortune Bay in Tower
This triumvirate of courses in northern Minnesota is always a huge golf draw, but Walleye Dan says that beautiful Lake Vermillion, which Wilderness at Fortune Bay is on, is great place to fish.
“Lake Vermillion is an awesome fishery,” Eigen says. “It’s a very well-known muskie lake. It’s a great walleye lake, it has a great population of smallmouth bass, and it’s probably one of the prettiest lakes in the state.”
If you are headed northwest out of the Twin Cities, the Alexandria area is great spot for a golfing and fishing trip. Slightly less popular than the Brainerd area, the Alex area is loaded with a chain of great fishing lakes – Lake Geneva, Lake Carlos, Lake Miltona, Lake le Homme Dieu, Lake Ida, and more.
“It’s a phenomenal area,” Eigen says. “The lakes are eutrophic, so they are fertile and in some of the smaller lakes around there, you’ll get bigger panfish. There is also the Vikings Sportsmen club in the area that for a number of years has raised money just for walleye stocking.”
Twin Cities – lots of lakes, lots of golf courses and lots of people
Eigen suggests that Lake Minnetonka is the cream of the crop, but everyone knows that. You may want to golf in off-peak fishing hours for the best success.
“Minnetonka is one of those lakes you don’t want to be fishing on a weekend or a nice day period with all the traffic, but it’s a great lake,” he says. “It’s got a pretty phenomenal muskie population, it’s full of large mouth bass, and has a good population of walleyes. You’ll want to find a time to fish it before the traffic gets out there.”
Eigen also suggests that if he is in St. Cloud, he is thinking about the Mississippi River rather than lake fishing. And you should then be thinking about the challenging and beautiful Territory Golf Club.
“The stretch of the Mississippi up through Clearwater and even north, can be really good fishing – for smallmouth bass in particular.”
Walleye Dan spends a lot of time on Minnesota lakes, and wishes for more time on the golf course – because together they make a great vacation combo.
“Absolutely. They’re two awesome sports and they seem to go hand in hand,” he says. “You go and play 18 holes and then you hit the lake, [and can] unwind on the water. The variety of the two is a pretty cool mix.”
Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to raise awareness of Minnesota golf courses and resorts as international travel destinations. Our member facilities feature award-winning, championship golf courses and are geographically disbursed across the great state of Minnesota. The combination of exceptional quality and outstanding value make Minnesota one of the best golf destinations in the United States.