Fishing in Otter Tail Lakes Country

By Ross Hagemeister,

Summer has arrived in Otter Tail Lakes Country. Not just because it says “July” on top of the calendar, but because the lakes are also in perfect summer form.

The sunfish have finally completed their spawn, so predator species (game fish) like walleye, large mouth bass, and northern pike are once again mingling with the weed lines—both shallow and deep.  For the past week or so, finding walleye on “edges” on Otter Tail County lakes, that support large panfish populations, were difficult to find. Now that the blue gill have finished spawning and have begun setting up in their summer patterns, the larger species can be found in deeper zones.  When walleye establish patterns in deep water (deeper than 10 feet), anglers can use their electronics to locate the fish. 

Also, if the water on a given lake is clear, it’s very beneficial to have the walleye in deeper water because they’ll be more likely to feed during the daytime—another benefit if you don’t care to night fish. Sadly, but not too uncommon, crappie had a confusing spring and some crappie (depending on the lake), bypassed their spawn and held their eggs. Our inconsistent spring temps proved bad timing for appropriate preferred (needed) spawning temps—so crappie lingered in their pre spawn areas for a long time, and some never spawned. If you catch and clean a crappie this summer with spawn in it’s belly, that’s why. For now, crappie have established summer patterns. You can find them by cruising/trolling weed tops near deep water edges with small crank baits, spinners, Beetle Spins, or a variety of other trolling lures. Once you catch a crappie, stop and cast with 1/16 oz jigs tipped with Gulp or twister tails. 

July is a great time of the year to catch walleye.  Most presentations work, so anglers can’t go wrong, and theirs a lake in Otter Tail County, that will suite everybody’s style—you just have to look around. Bring leeches and crawlers, jigs, bottom bouncers, Lindy Rigs, a handful of crank baits, and even a slip bobber rod. They’ll all work—just pick the one your best at.  Bass are setting into their summer patterns as well. Catch them on top water lures, spinner baits, Texas or Carolina rigged worms and slugs, wacky worms, or live bait if you’d like (largemouth love a leech, and small mouth love a minnow). Fish docks, rocks, pencil reeds, flats, islands or go deep— bass are doing it all. 

Good luck fishing this week in Otter Tail Lakes Country. Be sure and clean drain and dry your watercraft when you’re traveling this week. Help prevent the spread of AIS.    

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