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Life in northern Minnesota is ideal. The miles of trails, dozens of family entertainment options, and countless Duluth fly fishing opportunities make it a must for anyone looking to tour around the North.
I spent the majority of my youth in northern Minnesota with a fishing rod in my hand exploring all the streams, lakes and rivers possible. I’ve hit all the hotspots and I’ve stumbled into lots of hidden treasures. I’ve hooked into all kinds of fish both large and small, and I know the flies that make them pounce.
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The streams running in and out of Lake Superior offer anglers a multitude of opportunities to land quite a few fish. You can expect to have your days filled with action and beautiful scenery.
Fly Fishing Duluth: Why Go?
Fly fishing in Duluth, Minnesota, isn’t extremely popular or well known. Therefore, there are miles and miles of streams anglers can visit without too much inconvenience or pressure from other anglers. The fly fishing community is extremely accepting and a joy to spend time around.
You can land a variety of fish and fish almost any type of water you’d like.
Species For Duluth Fly Fishing
The amount of fish species you can find in Duluth is somewhat astonishing. Almost any type of freshwater species is available for you to catch. Don’t think you’ll be limited when you visit northern Minnesota.
The brook trout in northern Minnesota are some of the most beautiful in the world. You can find these fish in a variety of colors and sizes. It’s truly a brook trout sanctuary. If you visit, you must target these fish. You can find them between 6 and 15 inches!
You can find them in the Lester River, Miller Creek and Sargent Creek. When targeting these fish, make sure you have your Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Hex Nymphs and a few Elk Hair Caddis. These will serve you extremely well.
Rainbow trout are another native of northern Minnesota. I’ve fished for lake-run steelhead as well. These are beautiful, hard fighting fish that take anglers on a wild ride whenever they’re caught. I’ve landed rainbow trout in sizes from anywhere between 10 and 25 inches.
Look for these fish in Amity Creek, Chester Creek and Steward Creek. These are designated trout streams around the Duluth area. Bring along your Woolly Buggers, Deceiver flies, Elk Hair Caddis and egg patterns. These will all land you quite a few fish.
Salmon are another fish fly anglers must target when they visit Duluth. The pink salmon run out of Lake Superior and into the surrounding rivers and streams. Don’t miss out on these runs in the early spring and late fall.
In my experience, egg patterns and bright or obnoxious flies work wonders. Remember, salmon often strike out of aggression! Give them a reason to be aggressive.
Brown trout are the other common trout species anglers target in Duluth. They swim out of Lake Superior to spawn in the streams surrounding Duluth. You can catch these upwards of 22 inches. They’re extremely large and will put up an incredible fight.
Look for these fish in Tischer Creek, Knowlton Creek, Keene Creek and Coffee Creek. These creeks are phenomenal trout habitats and require some extra finesse. Your streamer patterns will work great when you’re targeting brown trout. Also, bring along the Royal Wulffs and Pheasant Tail patterns.
Best Spots for Fly Fishing Duluth
Duluth and the surrounding areas have all sorts of great spots to fly fish. If you want to fish close to town, you have that option. If you’d like to find the seclusion that fly fishing can offer, you won’t have to travel far. Take your pick and you’ll have success either way.
The Lester River is a great spot to fly fish around the Duluth Area. Park your car near the Lester Park Golf Course and fish your way down to the lake. You’ll find a variety of fish in this river depending on the time of year you choose to fish it. You’ll find salmon and steelhead as well as brown and brook trout.
You’ll be close to the city, so this is a great option if you’re looking to sneak away for a few hours. It has heavily covered banks, so be sure you’re ready to wade and spend time in the water. You’ll have more success and opportunities to fish the opposite banks.
This creek is located right near the heart of the city. It receives lake-run fish during the late fall and early spring. If you head upstream, you’ll find stocked brown trout and wild brook trout. Again, versatility makes this stream great!
Bring along a 4 or 5-weight if you’re fishing upstream for the trout. It’s a tight stream, so you’ll need to be able to finesse your way through the waters at times. Nymphing is your best bet. They’ll fall deep enough in the pools and float their way through the riffles.
This is a unique creek. Take advantage of it to fish for some wonderful species throughout the middle of town.
This is a tributary of the Lester River, and it receives a nice population of lake-run fish every single year. This is where I’ve caught some of the largest and most exciting brook trout in northern Minnesota. Also, you’ll have a chance to land some steelhead if you time things correctly.
Bring your waders along because you’re going to want to wade out through the middle of the stream to find the best casting lanes. You can wade along Seven Bridges Road as well as Jean Duluth Road. Fishing throughout town is a unique experience many people won’t often experience!
Best Flies for Duluth
The list of the best flies for Duluth is extensive. Since there are so many different fish to target, anglers need to be prepared with a wide variety of flies to be successful. Here’s a list of flies that will work well for you.
If you’re targeting steelhead or salmon, make sure have a few egg patterns in your box. These are favorites of both of these species of fish.
Bring along a range of kinds and colors of egg patterns. You’ll need to try out a variety of patterns before you find one that works.
The Pheasant Tail is a perfect option for your early spring fishing. These have enough flash that they’ll stand out in the midst of the darker and stained water. Make sure you tie on an indicator when using this pattern. You need to be able to detect the strikes!
Gnat patterns are a must when you’re fishing along the north shore. You’ll quickly realize that there are thousands of gnats around you at all times! Toss one of these flies on the water early in the morning or late in the evening and you’ll be in for a treat. You can’t go wrong with these flies.
Swinging Buggers throughout the pools near the mouth of streams will attract lake-run fish and some of the larger trout. Pick a pool or wide portion of the river and begin swinging. Be prepared for fish to hit one of them! You can’t ever go wrong throwing a Woolly Bugger.
Prince Nymphs are another great pattern for anglers to use. Throw these after a rain or in the midst of cloudy water. Since many of the streams aren’t ground fed, water levels vary. When the streams are full, they’re likely going to be stained!
Duluth Fishing Season
You can fish in Duluth year round, but the best time to visit is in the late fall and early spring. This is when the fish are most active and you’ll find a nice population of lake-run fish.
The Duluth fishing season can be unpredictable, but it is possible to fish year round.
Duluth Fishing Report
Whenever I visit Duluth to fish, I spend the majority of my time nymphing. It has proven to work over and over again. Although I enjoy throwing streamers, I was able to land many more fish nymphing through the riffles and pools.
I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the Lester River and Chester Creek. Every time I’ve gone, both were producing quite a few nice trout!
Fly fishing Duluth, Minnesota, will test your skills and abilities. It’s beautiful and family friendly, but also requires your best! Because I grew up in the area, it turned out to be an excellent proving ground. I can say that fishing those waters had a big part in making me into the fly angler I am today.
The fish are picky and have had to adapt to some difficult conditions. As a result, they aren’t quick to fall for anything that doesn’t have a solid presentation.
Take a break from the city and drive up to northern Minnesota for some rest and relaxation. You’ll be in for a treat.
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