World Class Smallmouth Fisheries of the Upper Midwest

World Class Smallmouth Fisheries of the Upper Midwest


From the Missouri River to the Great Lakes, and in a wealth of lakes and rivers in between, more big smallmouths abound than at any time in history. The time to catch them is NOW!

The Upper Midwest is home to some of the most incredible smallmouth bass fisheries in the world. Thanks to pollution abatement efforts and the increasing popularity of catch-and-release practices, the smallmouth bass populations in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs throughout the region have exploded. In this article, we will explore the top smallmouth bass fisheries in the Upper Midwest and why they are considered world-class destinations for anglers.

Missouri River Reservoirs

One of the prime locations for smallmouth bass fishing in the Upper Midwest is the Missouri River reservoirs in the Dakotas. Nowadays, it is common to encounter hordes of smallmouth bass while fishing for walleyes. These reservoirs are teeming with smallmouth bass, and anglers can expect to catch two to four pounders on a regular basis.

Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota

Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota is another top destination for smallmouth bass fishing. This lake is currently at a peak population level, with huge numbers of big smallmouth bass, many in the four to six pound range. The lake is known for its numerous shallow rock flats and reefs, which provide ideal habitat for smallmouth bass. Mille Lacs Lake offers world-class bass fishing opportunities, with a relatively low level of fishing pressure compared to other popular fishing spots.

Upper Mississippi and Other Rivers

Stretching along the Upper Mississippi River, as well as the St. Croix, Rum, and other rivers, are stretches of water that are perfect for smallmouth bass fishing. These rivers are predominantly shallow and rocky, making them ideal for small boats, canoes, and kayaks. Anglers can enjoy the thrill of fishing in these scenic rivers while targeting smallmouth bass.

Wisconsin’s Smallmouth Fishing

Wisconsin is another state that offers excellent smallmouth bass fishing opportunities. Rivers like the Menominee, Red Cedar, Flambeau, and Black Chief are known for their smallmouth populations. However, it is the Great Lakes fisheries in Wisconsin that draw the most attention. Places like Green Bay of Lake Michigan, including the world-famous Door County peninsula and Sturgeon Bay, host immense schools of monstrous smallmouth bass. Spring tournaments in Sturgeon Bay used to feature three and a half pounders across the board, but today, they are dominated by five and six pound bronze heads, with a few sevens and even the occasional eight-pounder thrown in for good measure.

Michigan’s Great Lakes Fisheries

Michigan boasts the most coastline of any state and is home to an amazing Great Lakes smallmouth fishery. From Little and Big Bays de Noc in the Upper Peninsula to the Grand Traverse Bay area in the northwest corner of the Lower Peninsula, there are plenty of opportunities to catch trophy smallmouth bass. Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, and the extreme western portion of Lake Erie are also known for their incredible smallmouth bass populations. If you’re looking for monster smallmouth bass, the bays, harbors, rivers, connected lakes, and islands of the Great Lakes in Michigan are the places to go.

Now is the Time to Go

If you have a fascination for monster smallmouth bass, the time to go is now. The smallmouth bass fisheries in the Upper Midwest are currently at their peak population levels, with big fish and lots of them. Thanks to pollution abatement efforts and catch-and-release practices, the water in these fisheries is cleaner and clearer than ever before, allowing the smallmouth bass populations to thrive.


The Upper Midwest is a haven for smallmouth bass fishing enthusiasts. From the Missouri River reservoirs in the Dakotas to Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota, the Upper Mississippi and other rivers, and the Great Lakes fisheries in Wisconsin and Michigan, there are plenty of world-class destinations to choose from. Whether you prefer fishing from a boat, canoe, or kayak, or enjoy the thrill of catching trophy-sized smallmouth bass, the Upper Midwest has it all. So grab your fishing gear and head to one of these incredible fisheries for an unforgettable angling experience.


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