Lake Mille Lacs: ‘It’s like Disney World for Fishermen!’

Planning to spend your summer in search of the elusive smallmouth bass? Look no further—we know just where to find them.

Lake Mille Lacs, located in the heart of Minnesota, was ranked sixth in Bassmaster magazine’s list of “Top 10 Bass Lakes” in the U.S. in 2016, up from tenth in 2015. And it’s not only one of the state’s largest lakes; it’s a world-class fishing destination that attracts bass anglers from around the country.

But don’t worry. With over 132,500 acres of water there are plenty of fishing hot spots to go around.

“You can fish all the way around the lake and find smallmouths everywhere,” said Tony Roach, owner of Roach’s Guide Service on Mille Lacs. “An angler could spend a lifetime on Mille Lacs and not fish all the spots.”

Catch-and-release smallmouth season begins in May on Lake Mille Lacs, and later in the month anglers can keep three bass under 17 inches with one over 21 inches. Experts say the beginning of the season, pre-spawn, is the best “hot-and-heavy bite,” followed by late July and into August when the bass here come up shallow where there’s a rocky lake bottom.

“It’s a huge lake with lots of structure, and not only lots of fish, but lots of really big fish that are always biting,” Roach says.

Last fall, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Tournament was held at Lake Mille Lacs, and the nation’s top 50 professional bass anglers were impressed by the mighty bass.

“I’ve been to a lot of places, but Mille Lacs offers the best smallmouth fishing I’ve ever experienced,” said pro Drew Benton, who took ninth place. “It’s like Disney World for fishermen.”

Pro fisherman James Elam, who took fifth place in the tournament, agreed.

“Mille Lacs Lake is the best smallmouth fishery I’ve visited in my four years as a professional angler,” he said. “There is a tremendous amount of fish over 4 pounds. As a bonus, the largemouth fishing is rumored to be good as well.”

And, you don’t have to be a pro to catch these lunkers.

Mike Verdeja, a guide for McQuoid’s Inn and Guide Service on Lake Mille Lacs, often captains charter or launch fishing boats for large groups, up to 50 anglers at a time.

“I’ve seen 100 fish in the boat in one trip,” he said, talking about one of the fishing launches he’s guided. “Around here, 18- to 22-inch smallies are normal.”

And there are still plenty of walleyes, pike and muskies to go around.

“There’s always something to be caught,” Verdeja added. “Lake Mille Lacs is a trophy fishery, no matter what species you’re after.”

That’s not all. Aside from the exceptional fishing, the Lake Mille Lacs area is home to the largest connected ATV trail system in Minnesota with 300 miles of trails to explore. There are also two state parks bordering the lake. Kathio State Park features 30 miles of hiking trails and a 100-foot fire tower to get a bird’s-eye view of the scenery, while Father Hennepin State Park has a beautiful sand beach that stretches as far as the eye can see.

Lake Mille Lacs is located 90 minutes north of Minneapolis and offers world-class fishing and year-round outdoor adventure for the entire family. For more information on fishing, lodging or things to do around the lake, visit