Big Turtle Lake - One of Minnesota's Top Smallmouth Bass Fisheries
Walleye, Northern, Largemouth Bass Sunfish and Crappie Are Also Plentiful
Big Turtle Lake, home to Arcadia Lodge, is a 2,066 acre glacial lake recognized as one of Minnesota's Top Smallmouth Bass Fisheries. The Smallmouth Bass here are extremely aggressive feeders and equally aggressive fighters. Fighting a 3-4 lb. bass is a thrilling experience you will remember for a long time. The peak season for catching Smallmouth is from early June through the end of August. The possession limit is six.
There is a special fishing regulation for Turtle Lake:
All Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass 12" and larger must be immediately released. Only one over 20" is allowed to be kept.
Smallmouth Bass can usually be caught by casting several types of spinner baits, crank baits, jigs and plugs. You may want to tip these lures with leeches, worms or minnows. The most common size crank baits are #5 to #7 shad raps or rebel crawfish. A 1/4 oz. - 3/8 oz. jig tipped with a 6" rubber worm or with a night crawler also works great. We fish live bait, tube jigs, and crankbaits for these scrappy fighters on ultra-light rods and reels. Remember to never underestimate the smallmouth. They can be crafty and difficult, and, when they want, they can tax your patience.
Spring Smallmouth Bass Fishing -- During the spring almost every lure imaginable works. Topwater is probably the most productive lure for this particular time though. Lure depths are usually in the 1 to 5 foot range. But this depends on where you are fishing and current water conditions. You might have to fish as deep as 10 to 15 feet. Floating Rapala's or similar types are usually fantastic as are buzzbaits, soft jerk baits and worms. All coves and inlets should be thoroughly checked out and all points leading into the coves. The best thing to remember about this time of year that even though lure speeds are generally faster, if what you are using is not producing slow down your retrieve or change your presentation.
Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing -- During the summer you'll usually want to use topwater lures in the shallow areas in the morning and worms, jigs and deep diving crankbaits during the rest of the day. Smallmouth will come shallow at night to feed and are still hanging around at first light. After the sun comes up and the water heats up they will migrate back down to deeper water. The best tactics for this season is to find deep ledges, deep weedbeds, underwater humps and deep points. Work these areas with either Texas rigged or Carolina rigged worms, deep diving crankbaits or jigs. Because of the water clarity in Big Turtle Lake, you may need to go as deep as 30 to 50 feet.
Fall Smallmouth Bass Fishing -- In the Fall, the smallmouth are gorging themselves on just about whatever they can find in preparation for the long winter ahead. They are more likely to be in large schools at this time more than any other time of the year. Some of the best tactics are to fish the same areas that you fished in the Spring with topwater, hard and soft jerkbaits, shallow running crankbaits, worms and jigs. One of the best retrieves during this time would be a fast erratic stop and go retrieve with a crankbait or a good jerky stop and go with a hard jerkbait. Spinnerbaits are an excellent choice this time of year. Using a fast retrieve burn it along just under the surface and suddenly stop reeling while keeping a tight line. The blade will keep spinning while the bait is falling. This gives the impression of a dying shad or minnow. One thing to remember is that no harvesting of smallmouth bass is allowed after September 10, 2000 through the end of the season. Any smallmouth bass taken during this period must be immediately returned to the water.
Walleye Fishing -- There are plenty of feisty Walleye in Big Turtle Lake. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources augments the natural reproduction of Walleye in this lake by stocking it with Walleye fingerling. In the early spring you'll find the Walleye in the shallower waters, but in mid-August when we vertical jig in 30-50 feet of water, the results are astounding. Big Turtle Lake offers impressive Walleye fishing year-round. Whether you're pulling them through the ice or landing them in the boat, you're bound to catch some big fish.
Northern Pike Fishing -- 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. 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.
Crappie Fishing -- When you locate a school of Crappie, you will have the time of your life pulling in one after the other. The action is amazing. It's a good thing that these fish are not only one of the tastiest fish, but are fun to catch. It is also fortunate that the personal possession limit is 15 fish. Big Turtle Lake is well known for its sizable black crappie. Many of the Crappies caught here measure 10-15 inches. Crappie fishing is usually good all year, but is especially good during the winter months.
Helpful Minnesota Fishing Links
Big Turtle Lake Information & Fishing Sampling Report
Big Turtle Lake Map
Big Turtle Lake Topographic Map
Big Turtle Lake Water Quality Chart
Minnesota Fishing Regulations
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.
Fishing License Information & Rates - Resident
Fishing License Information & Rates - Non-Resident
State Record Fish