If you’re like me, I enjoy scanning over a good topographic map or scrolling over the mapping system in my GPS to look for new lakes to explore. When you do, you’ll often find clusters of small lakes tucked away in some regions; lakes that are under a few hundred acres that are often uncharted and have limited access. But that often means they receive little to no fishing pressure.
Here are some areas you can explore:
Hiawatha National Forest, MI
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, there’s the beautiful Hiawatha National Forest with over 75 small lakes and 600 miles of streams within it’s boundaries. These lakes contain a wide range of warm and coldwater species to fish for. It’s a true wilderness experience with limited access on some of the lakes. For canoe and kayak fishermen, this could be a real find.
Vilas County, WI
Heading a little west, Wisconsin’s Vilas County boasts over 1,300 lakes of all sizes throughout the region. Vilas County’s website does a wonderful job of listing all the lake sizes, types of public accesses, and species of fish within them.
Chippewa National Forest, MN
Within the area surrounding massive Leech Lake, the Chippewa National Forest landscape is dotted with smallmouth bass and panfish lakes. You may have to drive down some dusty forest roads to get to some of these out-of-the-way places, but chances are, you’ll have them all to yourself.
Alexandria Area, MN
The Alexandria area is well-known as a walleye hotspot within it’s numerous larger lakes, but peppered between them are some of the best largemouth and panfish lakes in the state. These edge of the prairie lakes have the right habitat to grow ’em big!
Glacial Lakes, SD
The Glacial Lakes area of northeastern South Dakota has some unique bodies of water. Access is limited to many of the smallest lakes, but with rising waters, you can often find a hidden passage for out-of-the-way places off the bigger lakes.
Just like with any treasure hunt, research is key. There are a lot of good resources out there to help you find the gem you’ve been looking for.