Leech Lake is one of Minnesota’s biggest water bodies and is well-known for its excellent year-round multi-species fishery. Every winter, thousands and thousands of anglers come here to target various species, hoping to hook up to one of Leech’s trophy walleye or jumbo perch.
If you’ve never fished this water, such a vast lake system can be quite intimidating, and it can be pretty challenging to locate the fish.
That’s why I reached out to one of the lake’s top guide services and asked them for their best tips and advice on how to ice fish on Leech Lake.
The result is the following article with a ton of expert tips on:
- target species
- fishing methods
- hot spots
- ice fishing seasons
- best guides, rentals, and bait shops
- fishing regulations and licenses
- ice safety
Let’s get right to it, shall we!
PRO TIP: Need to gear up for first ice? Then check out this essential equipment on Amazon.
It’s very cost-effective and durable. Everything you need for your upcoming ice fishing adventures!
What Fish Can You Catch Ice Fishing on Leech Lake?
Leech Lake is home to many species that can reach respectable sizes and every year, plenty of trophy fish are caught through the ice here.
The most popular and fished-for species on Leech is definitely the walleye.
The lake has a healthy and large walleye population, which means that you can generally fill your limit without much of a hassle.
Leech Lake’s eyes are also known for their exquisite taste, so make sure to bring your cooler when you head out on the lake!
Effective ways of catching ice walleye on Leech Lake include both jigging and dead sticking with Northland Gumball jigs, or JB Neon Mooneye jigs tipped with smaller minnows or fatheads always produce a lot of bites.
The average Leech Lake walleye measures between 10 and 20”, but fish between 25 and 30” get caught every year.
Leech is known to harbor some pretty big perch, and jumbo sizes aren’t that uncommon.
Perch are abundant in the lake and a popular target for anglers during the daytime when the walleye bite is slow.
They can be found and caught fairly easily all over the lake and small lures, such as the Lindy Rattl’N Flyer Spoon, or a simple Swedish pimple will do the job any day of the week.
The lake’s perch can reach a size of 10 to 15”, and even bigger specimens are caught through the ice from time to time!
Crappie are another abundant and fairly easily caught species on Leech Lake.
Due to that fact, they are especially popular among children who spend a day or weekend on the ice fishing with their parents.
You can catch Leech crappie with both small spoons, jigs, and small-sized minnows. The Lindy Little Nipper Jig is a solid choice that always produces plenty of crappie on Leech.
The average Leech Lake crappie measures 8 to 10”, which is considerably large.
The pike in Leech Lake have an excellent growth rate and reproduction, resulting in plenty of bigger-sized pike.
The best way to target them through the ice is by using tip-ups with larger dead or live baits such as shiners, suckers, or ciscoes. You can also successfully catch them on large spoons or jigs.
The average size of Leech pike is around 4 to 8lb, but plenty of fish between 10 and 15lb are caught every year.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass
PRO TIP: For current slot limits, please check the fishing regulations section further down in the article!
Where Is the Best Ice Fishing on Leech Lake?
Leech Lake has plenty of huge bay areas, and many of them are absolute hot spots for ice anglers.
Especially during first ice, this is where many people will target Leech’s various fish species.
The number one bay area on Leech Lake is most definitely Walker Bay, located in the Western part of the lake.
Being one of the lake’s biggest bay areas, Walker Bay offers plenty of hot spots for walleye, panfish, and pike and is fished by many ice anglers.
It’s a super popular area that is very productive throughout the season, even though it can sometimes take a little longer to freeze.
First ice areas on Walker Bay generally include:
- Sand Point (out from City Park in Walker)
- Shingoobee Bay
Others will fish the larger flats close to the shorelines on the main lake.
The main lake area’s large flats along the southern shoreline are a good starting point if you’ve never fished Leech Lake, as they are easy to find and have good accessibility.
Popular spots in this area of the lake include:
- Pine Point
- Grand Vu flats
- Stoney Point
- Diamond Point
When Is the Best Time to Go Ice Fishing on Leech Lake?
Leech Lake’s ice fishing season typically stretches from mid-December to the end of March.
Fishing during the first ice in December can often produce outstanding results, and the entire period from December through January is usually considered to be the most productive on this water body.
Walker Bay sometimes freezes over a little later than other bay areas. If that happens, it is typically not fishable before Christmas.
Usually, by the 1st of January, the ice on Leech Lake is thick enough for ATV traffic and sometimes even small vehicles.
Does Leech Lake Have a Night Bite?
The night bite on Leech Lake can undoubtedly be called decent. Both walleye, eelpout, and sometimes also tullibee bite well during the dark hours of the day.
Typically, the hours between right after sunset and 8 or 9 p.m. are considered the very best, but walleye especially can bite throughout the entire night.
Where Is Leech Lake Located?
Leech Lake is located in the north-central part of Minnesota and can be found southeast of Beltrami County.
Most of the lake is part of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, and all of it is located within the Chippewa National Forest.
Leech Lake is Minnesota’s third-largest water body, covering 102,947.83 acres, with 195 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 156 feet.
Leech Lake GPS Coordinates
47.1487° N, 94.4207° W
Best Ice Fishing Guides and Rentals on Leech Lake
The knowledgeable and friendly guides from Leisure Outdoor Adventures are Strike&Catch’s number one recommendation for ice fishing guides on Leech Lake!
The guides have a ton of experience and know the lake like the palm of their hand, ensuring that you can enjoy the ultimate ice fishing experience on Leech!
A guided ice tour with Leisure Outdoor Adventures can produce all sorts of target species, including walleye, crappie, perch, pike, tullibee, and even burbot.
So if you’ve never fished Leech Lake and want to fill your limit, make sure to give them a call and book your ice fishing tour with Leisure Outdoor Adventures! And rather sooner than later, because these guys are always busy!
Their services include the following:
- Half-day and whole-day guided ice fishing trips
- Heated fish houses or portable houses
- Transportation to and from your fish house
- Jig sticks & jigs available upon request
- Fish cleaning
They also offer ice house rentals:
- 5h rentals
- 10h rentals
Leech Lake Fish House Rentals offer both day and sleeper shacks, as well as guided fishing packages.
For bookings and more information about their services, please visit the Leech Lake Fish House Rentals website.
Outright Angling offers ice fishing day trips for walleye, crappie, and perch.
A basic trip is usually 5 hours and includes the following:
- heated portable shelters
- rods and reels
- tackle and bait
- lake transportation as needed
For information on packages and prices, please visit the Outright Angling Ice Fishing website.
Brindley’s offers exclusive ice fishing packages for perch and rent out heated ice houses (note that the ice houses are only rented out in combination with a booked perch tour!).
Their overnight perch guide trips include:
- Full time guides to help locate fish, drill holes and coach
- Professionally manufactured ice houses (typically – eight holes, heat, lights)
- Portable two person ice shelters to follow active fish
- Free fish cleaning
- Overnight lodging in high quality 3, 4 and 5 bedroom homes
- A continental breakfast
For more detailed information on their perch packages and prices, please visit the Brindley’s Harbor Resort website.
Best Bait and Tackle Shops Near Leech Lake
611 Minnesota Ave W, Walker, MN 56484, USA
333 1st ST N, Hackensack, MN 56452
8240 MN-371 NW, Walker, MN 56484, United States
Phone: +1 218-547-2248
522 Minnesota Ave W, Walker, MN 56484
Helpful Gear Tips for Ice Fishing on Leech Lake
If you instead decide to try your luck on your own and need to buy some essential ice fishing gear, you might find this section of the article very helpful.
Bringing the right equipment onto the ice is essential both for your fishing, comfort, and security!
The items below are considered basics for any successful ice fishing trip and will certainly help you to catch more fish and all of them can conveniently be found on Amazon:
PRO TIP: And make sure to NEVER go on the ice without your safety picks. They might end up saving your life!
Leech Lake Fishing Regulations
Special fishing regulations for inland waters apply to Leech Lake, which is something you must be aware of when fishing this Minnesota water body.
For more detailed information and current slot limits for all of Leech Lake’s species, please visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fishing regulations section for inland waters.
Please note that the bag limits and/or special regulations may be revised at any time and without notice by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources! ALWAYS check the website for updates and changes before a fishing trip!
Where Can You Buy a Fishing License for Leech Lake?
If you want to ice fish on Leech Lake, all you need is a Minnesota state fishing license. It can be bought conveniently online via the Minnesota DNR website here.
Please note that all resident and non-resident Minnesota fishing licenses are valid from March 1 through February 28 of the following year.
RELATED ARTICLE: Valuable Tips for Ice FIshing on Mille Lacs Lake
How Thick Is the Ice on Leech Lake?
During the high season, from December through January, the ice on Leech Lake is typically between 12 and 18 inches in the bay areas and between 8 and 12 inches in the main lake areas.
But as a few inches of snow on top of the ice sheet are relatively common here, ice thickness can vary slightly, depending on the area you’re fishing in.
Please make sure to always check the latest ice fishing reports and ice thickness before heading out on the lake!
You can check the latest ice reports for Leech Lake here:
PRO TIP: If there aren’t any recent updates to be found online, please make sure always to contact a fishing charter, lodge, or bait shop to get the latest information on ice conditions and safety!
Best Leech Lake Ice Fishing Forum
The Facebook group Leech Lake Reel Ice Fishing Report has more than 6-000 members who share their latest reports, catches, pictures, tips, and tricks for ice fishing on Leech Lake.
This is a very friendly, open, and helpful online community with a lot of activity throughout the winter season.
So if you want to get some hot tips from local anglers, read about the latest ice fishing reports on Leech, or just want to connect with other ice anglers, go check out the Leech Lake Ice Fishing Report on Facebook!
Disclaimer: Strike&Catch assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the presented information for Leech Lake. The information contained in this article is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness.
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Featured image courtesy of Shawn Cheng