I’m surprised by how many people are confused by the word “Midwest.” If you are not from the Midwest, then you likely won’t be able to answer this question, This article is for all who may wonder why we live here, and why you should visit.
These are the states that make up the Midwest.
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
North and South Dakota
I live in Minnesota, and I thought we had a lot of lakes, but I have to admit, the Dakotas aren’t far behind. Many of their lakes were created by receding glaciers at the end of the last ice age, which made numerous and closely spaced lakes. Even though the lakes are numerous, many are small, shallow, and may not contain any fish. That’s why it’s best to stick to the larger bodies of water. The Missouri river divides the two states into east and west sections. The Missouri (also known as the Muddy Mo) is the lifeblood of the Dakotas and provides world class fishing. It has several distinct reservoirs, such as Lake Oahe, and Lake Sakakawea. If you want to get some fly fishing in, just head to the Black Hills, where you will find some of the best small stream fly fishing in the country, along with some striking scenery. The Dakotas generally get overlooked as a vacation hot spot, but sportsmen know all it has to offer. It is sparsely populated with very few large cities, which provides plenty of outdoor space for outdoorsmen to enjoy.
There may not be as many lakes in Nebraska compared to the other states in the Midwest, but here are four that ranked in the countries top 100 list.
Lake McConaughy: It’s Nebraska’s largest lake, with many miles of shoreline wand white sandy beaches, it has plenty opportunities for fishing. It is a family friendly lake, and arguably the best fishery for Walleye and White Bass. Check this place out if you happen to be on the western side of the state.
Harlan County Reservoir: This is another large body of water, similar to Lake McConaughy. It has a good population of Bass and Catfish. It also offers good Crappie fishing off the docks and marinas. Look for this lake if your on the south central side.
Lake Wanahoo: This lake is easy to get to with it’s close proximity to Lincoln and Omaha. It’s a family friendly lake that has lots of Bass, Bluegills and Crappies, and a good number of piers to fish off of. It is a state recreation area, so bring your camper and have a picnic while you’re there!
Two Rivers State Recreation Area: This area is also close to Lincoln and Omaha, nestled close to the Platte River. This too is a great place for a family vacation. Its lake is stocked with nice sized trout. You can plan on doing some camping and swimming while staying here.
This state is better known for it’s hunting than its fishing, but Kansas has excellent fishing for crappies, catfish, wipers and smallmouth bass. Kansas has plenty of reserviors, but no place in the state has bigger, meaner fish than the Kansas River. If you want to catch some giants, this is the place for you! Here are some examples of some monster fish that have already been caught. A 123-pound flathead from Elk City Reservoir has been the world record for nearly 20 years. A 144-pound paddlefish, caught from a small lake in Atchison, has held the state and world record since 2004. The state’s record of 102.8 pounds for blue catfish is one of the highest in the nation.
In the land of 10,000 lakes, you can fish all year and never hit the same lake twice! This is where I currently live, and I never have to drive far to go fishing. We have a variety of fish, and everyone has their favorite they like to chase after. Some of the top gamefish sought after are, Walleye, Muskie, Northern Pike and Bass. There are plenty of panfish too, which the kids love because they are always biting. It does get cold here, but that’s when the fishing really heats up! Places like Lake Mille Lacs practically turns into a city with thousands of ice houses. There are plowed roads with road signs and maps to follow. If you want to get away from it all, you can head up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, where you can paddle for miles and do some primitive camping on the shoreline of this pristine wilderness.
There is much debate and competition over the fact that Wisconsin has more lakes than Minnesota. I guess it comes down to, “what defines a lake.” Even though I live in Minnesota now, WI is my home state, so I might be a little biased when it comes to rating the fishing. With all the great inland lakes put aside, how can you beat the fact that WI is bordered by Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. You can fish for panfish on a small lake one day, and the next, be on a great lake fishing for salmon and trout. There are plenty of lakes for everyone, so it’s easy to find a lake without a lot of fishing pressure. It’s hard to beat a day on the lake here, watching the sun set behind a tree lined lakeshore, glowing a brilliant red and orange. I highly recommend it. When it comes to the Friday night fish fry, Wisconsin has got you all beat! Sure, other states usually have a Friday fish fry during lent, but WI has one every Friday of the year at nearly every restaurant in the state, from your back woods dive bar, to your upscale city eateries. I wouldn’t feel right ending this without saying, “Go Packers!”
Just like Wisconsin and Minnesota, Iowa is also bordered by the Mississippi river. This is Iowa’s best fishery with an abundance of fish and a variety of species, like walleye, northern, bass, panfish, and catfish. The western border is defined by the Missouri river which has excellent walleye fishing. If you would rather fish in a lake, pond, or reservoir, Iowa has thousands of them, which are stocked and managed by the DNR.
Missouri offers some of the best honey holes in the country when it comes to fishing. People around these parts are usually targeting bass or catfish, despite the over 200 species that swim in their waters. Just don’t get caught noodling for catfish in this state. Even though it is legal in many other southern states, Missouri said “no to noodling.” If you are unfamiliar with this practice, let me explain it. This is the method of reaching underwater into natural cavities formed in riverbanks or by tree roots, logs, or rocks and capturing a catfish by hand. When the catfish bites onto the hand, the noodler pulls the fish off the nest and out of the water. If you have ever flown over this state, there is a body of water that is hard to miss, called Lake of the Ozarks. While many fishermen that come to the Lake of the Ozarks are tournament anglers that are serious about their bass fishing, the lake also offers the perfect opportunity for the recreational angler who wants a fun, memorable and relaxing time catching fish.
Illinois stretches 390 miles from North to South, so the type of fishing can vary throughout the state. If you live near the Northern end, it gets cold enough that ice fishing is an option in the winter. Just make sure you got at least 4 inches of ice before wandering out onto the lake. On the southern end, you have a group of large lakes which provide a wealth of fishing opportunities.
Rend Lake, being the largest, is known as a premiere Crappie Lake.
Crab Orchard Lake has all the fish: largemouths, crappies, catfish, and most varieties of panfish. It also holds a large population of white bass.
Kinkaid Lake , a body of water 2,750 acres in size which holds bass and crappies, but also has the added bonus of being a first-class lake for muskies.
Cedar Lake is 1,750 acres of sheer beauty and wilderness. This underfished lake is in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest.
Murphysboro is a 144-acre lake that is often overlooked. This is a kid friendly water in that they host large quantities of panfish, including some decent-sized crappies.
The state of Indiana offers a variety of fishing, ranging from fishing the big waters of Lake Michigan for monster salmon and trout, to fishing small ponds and streams for panfish. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is on the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Indiana. It has a string of sandy beaches, and trails through dunes, marshland, and jack pine forests. Visitors can enjoy the lakefront and beach, trails through the dunes, fishing pier and the restored 900 ft. breakwater. For inland trout fishing, Indiana has a trout stocking program for 17 lakes. Approximately 24,000 trout are stocked in lakes in 14 counties, ranging from Clark County in the south to Lake County in the north. The trout are 9 inches long. These fish are meant to be caught and taken home, so don’t feel bad about keeping a few. If you know where to look, Indiana has some great river fishing too. Getting to these rivers can be a challenge, but that’s what makes them so good! Here are five rivers you need to try.
- Brookville Tailwater
- Eel River
- Sugar Creek
- Trail Creek
- Tippecanoe River
Michigan is surrounded by all four great lakes, which makes it the state with the most shoreline behind Alaska. If you’re wondering about the 5th great lake, well that is up for debate. Since Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron are connected by the Straits of Mackinac, which is 5 miles wide, scientifically it can be considered the same body of water. There are also more than 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan and, according to the Michigan Historical Center, one is never more than six miles from an inland lake or more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes. Michigan is unique because it is split into two sections. Most people probably picture the lower peninsula when they think of Michigan, but if you really want to get away from it all, the upper peninsula is where its at. The people who live in the UP call themselves “Yoopers.” If you go to the UP, you might stumble on some words and pronunciations you’ve never heard before. Strong Finnish and Scandinavian roots in the region have affected the language. Jeff Daniels made a film in 2001 called “Escanaba in da Moonlight.” If you want to get a sense of what life is like in the UP, I recommend this movie.
Anglers who fish in Ohio have more than 50,000 lakes and small ponds to choose from, and species that vary from crappie, catfish, and northern pike to the prized walleye and perch of Lake Erie. This may seem like a lot of lakes, but keep in mind, only 2,200 of them are over 5 acres. There are also 7,000 miles of rivers, like the Ohio river, which is one of the best places to fish in the state. The most popular species to fish for in the Ohio River are sauger and walleye; hybrid striped bass; smallmouth bass; largemouth bass; and channel, flathead, and blue catfish. There seems to be some controversy in Ohio about which lakes are natural. Some information stated that Ohio had no natural lakes. Due to the numerous requests received concerning natural lakes in Ohio, the Department of Natural Resources came up with criteria that defines a natural lake. They determined that there are 110 natural lake sin Ohio.