Fishing Big Turtle Lake

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Arcadia Lodge is located on one of Minnesotas best Bass fisheries, Big Turtle Lake. Big Turtle has just over 2,000 acres of water, depths that reach 150', and 21 miles of shoreline. This makes it big enough to spend the whole week exploring but small enough to never get lost or having to worry about rough water during windy or stormy days. Check Out Fishing Photos Sent In By Arcadia Guests!

Small & Largemouth Bass

By far Bass fishing is what Big Turtle Lake is best known for! At Arcadia we stress the importance of practicing catch and release to maintain this excellent fishery for future generations. 20" Bass are not uncommon with several 21" fish caught every year. The average size Small or Largemouth Bass caught over the last 15 years has been increasing. Over the last 2 years many groups average 17-18" Bass all day long. This is in huge part because guests have been "Putting The Monsters Back", or releasing even the largest fish caught.

Prime Bass fishing is from late May through the end of June. During this time guests will be working pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn fishing. Pre and Post-Spawn the Bass will hang in 5 - 10 ft of water near steep drop-offs. Live bait, primarily worms & leeches, along with simple plastics and lures like rapelas and spinners work well. Post Spawn is where we see the most action! While the Bass are spawning they will not feed, this means they are ravenous once their eggs are laid. On average the Bass spawn at a water temp of 65-68 degrees. The second week of June is when we typically start to see the Bass spawn out and move off their beds and begin feeding. Depending on the weather this can take a few days up to a couple of weeks. The wonderful part about June fishing is that during each of these 3 phases catching Bass is the easiest we see all year.
Now Lets talk spawn fishing. During this time the Bass will be in 1-3' of water hovering over their beds. The Bass will be located in sandy or rocky areas of the lake(about 75% of Big Turtle). They will use their tails to clear away sand exposing the rocks and this is where their eggs will be deposited. They are very easy to spot! If you approach slowly the Bass will stay directly over the bed and you'll see them. Cast toward the beds with plastics, tube jigs tend to work the best, and slowly return the bait. The Bass will be a little sluggish on the bed but they will defend the bed attacking anything that gets to close.
Post spawn is the best for kids and those that are new to Bass fishing or Big Turtle Lake. During this time keeping it simple is the way to go. A bobber with a plain hook tipped with a leech in 5' of water off the rocks will have your kids hauling in Bass all day! The Bass will stay in these areas for 2 to 3 weeks feeding. In early July we see the Bass moving to deeper water as the lake warms up. During this time we stick with live bait and plastics for the most part. We often see kids out fish dad by keeping it simple!

Northern Pike

It is not uncommon to catch and release trophy-sized Northern Pike on Big Turtle Lake. Fishing the weed beds and rocky underwater humps seems to be the most productive way to catch these toothy critters. The primary food source for the Northern Pike are the Tulibee or Whitefish. They are found in the deeper water except in the spring and fall. The Northerns will follow their food into the shallower waters during this time and the best method is trolling in 12 - 18' of water with spoons, spinners and rapelas. During the summer they stick to the deeper water with folks fishing suspended in 60 - 80'. No matter how you catch them, when you get a big one on your line, hold on tight -- these fish put up a tremendous fight.


Due to Big Turtle Lake having very clear water & very little natural spawning Walleyes struggle a bit. The clear water gives them a disadvantage compared to the Bass when it comes to foraging. Because of this the Minnesota DNR along with the lake association stock Big Turtle with fingerlings. While our lake will never produce large numbers of Walleye those that are caught trend on the larger size. A number of fish in the high 20s and a few 30 - 33" fish are caught every year. Like with the Bass we highly recommend releasing these larger fish for others to catch.

The best method for catching Walleye is to troll with a Lindy rig and a worm or leech. During June you'll want to be in 8 - 15' of water. Keeping to this depth will also mean picking up Bass and the occasional Pike in between Walleyes.

Crappies, Pan Fish & Perch

Big Turtle Lake has a large number of these species which the kids will love bobber fishing for. Located near the weed lines and lilly pads the kids can spend all day practicing for the monster Bass reeling in sunnies, bluegill, perch, rock bass and crappies!

Helpful Minnesota Fishing Links

Big Turtle Lake Information & Fishing Sampling Report

Big Turtle Lake Map

Big Turtle Lake Water Quality Chart 

There is a special fishing regulation in effect for Big Turtle Lake:
All Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass 12" and larger must be immediately released.  Only one over 20" is allowed to be kept.

Photos Courtesy of Arcadia Lodge Guests ~ Click To Enlarge


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