Trout fishing is excellent in the many stocked mine lakes in this unique area. Here you can angle for rainbow, brown, brook, and even lake trout amid natural surroundings with no development and little competition. There is small stream trout fishing in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area as well as other streams in the Brainerd Lakes Area (principally Stoney Brook flowing into Gull Lake).
The best strategy is to fish the mine lakes. There is great fishing for other species, as well. If you are looking for a fun fishing experience in an unusually quiet environment, try our trout fishing. By the way, these fish are excellent table fare! Or better yet try fresh rainbows – smoked! A trout stamp is required for fishing the mine lakes.
Mine Lake Fishing for Trout
Gotch Ya!The mine lakes provide a unique fishing experience where shore fishing and boat fishing are employed to catch trout and other species. Only three of the mine lakes have improved boat ramp accesses at this time, they are Pennington (Ironton), Section Six (Trommald), and Sagamore, near Riverton. Pennington opens into other mine lakes including Mahnomen Mines 1 and 2, Arco and Alstead.
Fish are stocked every year at varying rates in selected mine lakes depending on access and size of the body of water. Up to date information can be found from area bait shops, especially those around Crosby, Deerwood, and Ironton. Call the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area Headquarters at: (218) 546-5926 or check out the DNR website for additional information.
When to fish
Mine lake trout fishing season opens with the general gamefish opener (mid-May) and closes at the end of September. Winter angling is allowed on the mine lakes from mid-January through the end of March. Live minnows are prohibited in mine lakes. Dead minnows are allowed. Early morning is the very best time to shore fish or boat fish for these fiesty trout.
Fly Fishing the Cuyuna Lakes
Trout Fishing Cuyuna Country Mine Lakes
In the spring and fall surface fly fishing can be good on the mine lakes as the fish will move near the surface in search of bugs. One word of caution: These fish are tough! Use at least a four pound test tippet and usually six (4X-3X) especially for subsurface. Surface flies can be caddis imitations such as bead-head nymphs of all kinds; surface flies include Beetles, Ants, Adams or Henryvilles in a size 18 to 10. These are stocked fish so they are not terribly selective. However, it is harder than it looks since you are throwing at rises and the fish are cruising.
On a calm day simply drift around throwing at rise forms. If surface flies don’t work, strip hard and sink them or use a basic hackle wet fly. Then employ various speeds of retrieve until the fish tell you what they like. Keep the rod low, pointed directly at the fly. If you feel the line stop, strip again and you’ll set the hook. A “strip set” is better since if the fish misses you can continue stripping. If you sweep set which is the natural reaction, you will pull the fly away and probably out of the water. You will then need to re-cast and the fish may well be gone.
Subsurface flies designed to swim are effective. Start with Hare’s Ear nymphs and Soft Hackle Caddis in a #14 and #16. If these don’t work, pull out some streamers such as Wholly Buggers or Deceivers in sizes 10 to 6. And always have some small Clouser minnows with you if you want to get deeper than ten feet quickly.
Fly fishing on mine lakes can be some of the very best found anywhere in the midwest. It is largely undiscovered here and awaits the adventurous, willing to experiment and explore. It is seasonal and dependant upon water temperature. A thermometer is extremely useful. As long as the surface water does not exceed 65 degrees, trout can be found in the top ten feet of the water column.
Fly Fishing Bass and Panfish
Probably the best fly fishing is for local bass, both large and smallmouth. Panfish in area lakes provide a fantastic resource for beginners and experts alike to take big crappies and sunfish on flies. The very best fly fishing in the area is river smallmouth. Key in on these in the heat of the summer when other fishing slows down. The best flies are poppers and minnow imitation streamers. Of course largemouth in lakes is also a blast for fly anglers of all skill levels.