Fishing

A fish is held in one hand over a tub of water.

NPS/Joe Amundson

Voyageurs National Park has many options for the aspiring or experienced angler. Fish abound in the 30 named lakes, which consist of four large lakes and 26 smaller interior lakes. Fifty-four fish species have been identified in the park’s aquatic habitats. Some of the better-known fish species include Walleye Sander vitreus, Sauger Sander canadensis, Northern Pike Esox lucius, Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu, Yellow Perch Perca flavescens, and Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus.

Learn about fish species present in the park.

Licenses

Visitors fishing within Voyagers National Park must obtain a State of Minnesota Fishing license.

Fishing Regulations

Except as provided below, fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Minnesota. For state fishing regulations go to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. Unless otherwise designated, fishing in a manner authorized under applicable State law is allowed (36CFR7.33).

The fishing regulations apply to all “finfish” found in the park. Other taxa, including amphibians, mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and are addressed by National Park Service regulations governing “wild life” (36CFR2.2).

These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.

The following are prohibited:

  • Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets.

  • The use or possession of fish, wildlife or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights.

In addition to the above regulations, the following park specific regulations apply:

  • The following State fishing laws and/or regulations do not apply in the listed areas:

  • Fish, as defined under Section 1.4, does not include mussels (clams), crayfish, frogs, and turtles (State law permitting the taking of mussels (clams), crayfish, frogs, and turtle species conflicts with federal law and is not assimilated as a permitted activity within the park.)

  • Possession or use of live or dead minnows or other bait fish, amphibian, non-preserved fish eggs or roe is allowed in the following fresh water areas:

  • The waters and adjacent shorelines of Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point lakes are designated for possessing or using bait for fishing

  • Bait may also be possessed on the frozen surface of Mukooda Lake for transportation purposes when traveling non-stop on the most direct route

  • Fishing from shore, picnicking, hiking, and all other legal recreational pursuits is prohibited within 200 yards of an occupied reserved campsite except by members of the permitted camping group.

  • The following activities within 50' of the centerline of snowmobile trails are prohibited:

  • Fishing activity or other forms of recreational activity except snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, and other strictly human powered forms of travel

  • Property may be left unattended for periods longer than 24 hours in the following areas and under the following conditions:

  • Structures used for fishing on frozen lake surfaces during the ice fishing season and in compliance with state laws

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters


The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters, including those of Voyageurs National Park, have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who eat fish.

Voyageurs National Park Fish Consumption Advisories

All advisories below are from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Large Lakes: Kabetogama, Namakan, Rainy, and Sand Point.
Interior Lakes: Agnes, Beast, Brown, Cruiser, Ek, Fishmouth, Jorgens, Little Shoepack, LittleTrout, Locator, Loiten, Lucille, McDevitt, Mukooda, Net, O’Leary, Oslo, Peary, Quarterline, Quill, Ryan, Shoepack, Tooth, War Club, Weir, Wiyapka.

A park map can be helpful for learning the locations of the lakes in the park.

Aquatic Invasive Species


Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are waterborne, non-native organisms that out-compete native organisms, introduce diseases or parasites, or adversely change the aquatic ecosystem. Humans unwittingly assist the spread of these organisms by transferring them from one body of water to another on footwear, waders, nets, watercraft, and other equipment.

Exotic species such as spiny water flea, zebra mussel, and rusty crayfish and fish diseases are threats to the aquatic ecosystems of regional lakes including those in Voyageurs National Park. Spiny water fleas have recently invaded multiple lakes in the region, including Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point lakes within Voyageurs National Park. Rusty crayfish have invaded at least one lake in Voyageurs National Park and many lakes in the region. Larval zebra mussels were found in Black Bay of Rainy Lake just outside of park waters in 2021, and zebra mussels have infested many lakes in northern Minnesota.

How You Can Help – Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers

Delaying infestation of water bodies as long as possible provides important time for advances in control and prevention technologies for aquatic invasive species.

Follow all state laws and recommendations for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species: Clean In Clean Out | Minnesota DNR (state.mn.us)

Follow all Voyageurs National Park aquatic invasive species regulations and Best Management Practices:


The Interior Lakes of Voyageurs National Park

Best Management Practices for Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

  • Bring a separate set of gear that is likely to contact lake water (including fishing gear) to use on the interior lakes, or before using any gear on an interior lake, make sure that all gear has been thoroughly dried for at least 5 days or washed water at least 140 °F for at least one minute

  • When leaving any lake, remove aquatic plants and animals, including gelatinous or cotton batting-like material from equipment, including fishing line

Regulations to Protect Interior Lakes from Aquatic Invasive Species and Fish Diseases

  • artificial bait only (on all interior lakes only)

  • no privately-owned watercraft allowed in interior lakes (the park currently provides canoes and row boats for rent through the Boats on Interior Lakes program and Commercial Use Authorizations on Mukooda Lake)

  • no float plane landings on interior lakes

The Large Lakes of Voyageurs National Park (Rainy, Kabetogama, Sand Point and Namakan Lakes)

Best Management Practices for Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

  • Inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment and remove visible aquatic plants, animals and mud before leaving the water access

  • Drain water from your boat, motor, bilge, live wells, and bait containers before leaving the water access

  • Dispose of unwanted bait and other aquatic plants and animals in the trash

  • Spray or rinse boats and equipment with water at least 140 °F for at least one minute, or dry boats and equipment for five days before moving them to a different body of water.

 

Last updated: October 20, 2021

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Mailing Address:

Voyageurs National Park Headquarters
360 Hwy 11 East

International Falls , MN 56649

Phone:

(218)-283-6600

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