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Brainerd ranks first among top ice fishing destinations in the U.S.

In a news release, FishingBooker ranked Brainerd, Minnesota, area first with Lake Habeeb in Maryland and Devils Lake in North Dakota following behind.

Tim Feekes holds a 14.25 inch tulibee he caught as Rachael Feekes takes his picture to enter the virtual ice fishing contest Saturday, Jan. 30, on Hole-in-the-Day Bay for the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Although the event took place all over Minnesota some anglers still chose Hole-in-the-Day Bay as their fishing spot. When a fish was caught two photos needed to be uploaded, a photo of the angler and their fish and a photo of the fish on a measuring board, to the FishDonkey app. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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The Brainerd area has been ranked as the top ice fishing destination in the U.S. by a digital platform that specializes in booking fishing trips.

In a news release Thursday, Dec. 2, FishingBooker ranked Brainerd at the top of its “eight best ice fishing destinations” in the country. Lake Habeeb in Maryland was second and Devils Lake in North Dakota was third.

In ranking Brainerd as the top ice fishing destination in the U.S., FishingBooker said it was only a matter of time before the community rose to the top of the list.

“Over 460 lakes within 25 miles of the city make it a perfect location for angling enthusiasts,” FishingBooker said of Brainerd. “The fishing is great any day of the year and even in winter that doesn’t change.

“Whether you’re going for an ice fishing trip on Round Lake, trying your luck at Lake Hubert, or joining in the activities on Gull Lake, you’re in the right place. Bluegills, walleye, largemouth bass, yellow perch, northern pike and many others inhabit the waters around Brainerd.”


In its ranking, FishingBooker cited Devils Lake’s perch, walleye, northern pike and white bass fishing, along with the occasional crappie, as attractions for wintertime anglers.


“As the ‘Perch Capital of the World,’ Devils Lake made the list of Best Ice Fishing Destinations in the U.S. last year as well and for good reason,” FishingBooker said. “It’s the largest natural body of water in North Dakota and therefore features a wide range of fishing spots along the shoreline and on the ice.”
Lake Sakakawea, of course, is larger, but as a reservoir is considered man-made rather than a natural body of water.

The ranking incorrectly stated that anglers can also find striped and kelp bass in Devils Lake.

Striped bass once upon a time, yes, but kelp bass are a marine species native to the eastern North Pacific Ocean, according to Wikipedia.

As for striped bass, here’s the story:

According to Herald archives, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department stocked 13,000 striped bass fingerlings in Devils Lake in 1977 as part of a one-time stocking effort. The last reported catch occurred in 1993, when a Grand Forks angler landed a 20-pound, 12-ounce striped bass that stands as the North Dakota state record.

Only two other records of striped bass are documented in the Game and Fish Department’s Whopper Club listings: an 18-pound striper caught in May 1989 and a 16-pound, 7-ounce striped bass caught in May 1988.


Rounding out FishingBooker’s top eight ice fishing destinations were:

  • Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin.

  • Copper Harbor, Michigan.

  • Castle Lake, California.

  • Boysen Reservoir, Wyoming.

  • Moosehead Lake, Maine.

Last year, FishingBooker ranked Devils Lake as the top ice fishing destination in the U.S., followed by Upper Red Lake, which failed to make this year’s ranking.

The full FishingBooker article is available here .

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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