The Fish of the Area

Our professional fishing guides can provide the expert assistance to come back with fish and great Gull Lake fishing memories, or venture out on your own. Cragun’s Marina has licenses, bait, tackle and all the other necessities for a great fishing experience. Below are the variety of fish our area is known for, or click to learn more on the lakes of the Brainerd Lakes Area.


walleye[1] the fishThe walleye is the most sought-after fish in Minnesota. Its thick, white fillets, handsome shape and coloring and elusive nature make it the ultimate prize among anglers. Each year, anglers in Minnesota keep roughly 3.5 million walleyes totaling 4 million pounds. The average walleye caught and kept is about 14 inches long and weighs slightly more than 1 pound. The walleye is named for its pearlescent eye, which is caused by a reflective layer of pigment that helps it see and feed at night or in murky water.

How to catch ’em
Just about anytime you fish for walleyes, you can count on the fact they will bite best on live bait: minnows, leeches or night crawlers. You just need to choose a lure or rig to put the bait in front of them, and the best things for that are jigs, live bait rigs and bobber rigs. To use a jig, just hook on the bait and lower the jig to bottom where walleyes usually are found. Then just lift and lower the jig to entice the walleyes into biting. Best jigs are pink, white, yellow or florescent green and weigh 1/16-1/4 ounces.

Where to find ’em
Gull Lake Chain, Mille Lacs Lake, Pelican Lake, Round Lake, Whitefish Chain, Leech Lake

Possession Limit: 6 – Not more than 1 walleye over 20″ may be taken daily.

Largemouth Bass

largemouth_bass[1] the fishThis is one of the scrappiest fish that swims. An increasing number of anglers throughout the state are learning that largemouth bass, with their jolting strikes and wild airborne leaps, are an exciting fish to catch. And increasingly, Minnesota is becoming nationally known for its largemouth bass.

Professional bass fishing tournaments are held on Gull Lake annually, as well as area lakes and rivers throughout the summer.

Largemouth bass look similar to their close cousin, the smallmouth. They are often found in the same waters. To tell the two apart, look at the closed mouth. If it extends back beyond the back of the eye, the fish is a largemouth. If it goes only to the middle of the eye, it’s a smallmouth

How to catch ’em
When fishing for bass, think about fishing from top to bottom. In shallow, weedy areas, use shallow running spinner baits and surface lures that stay above the weeds. If the bass are in 4-8 feet of water, use medium running crankbaits and spinner baits. If they are down deep, use heavy jigs and deep running crankbaits. Bass are tough fighters, so use good fishing gear and strong tackle.

Where to find ’em
Gull Lake Chain, Hardy Lake, Lake Hubert, North Long Lake, Bay Lake

Possession Limit: 6

Northern Pike

northern_pike[1]The voracious northern is one of the easiest fish to catch because it so willingly bites lures or bait. What’s more, northerns produce chunky white fillets that many anglers say taste as good as walleyes. Most northerns caught by fishing run 2 to 3 pounds, though trophies over 20 pounds are caught each year. A close cousin to the muskellunge, the northern pike lives in nearly all of Minnesota’s lakes and streams.

The quickest way to tell a northern pike from a muskie is to note that the northern has light markings on a dark body background, while muskies generally have dark markings on a light background. A foolproof method is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: the northern has five or fewer; the muskie has six or more. Northerns also have rounded tail fins, compared to the pointy tail fins of a muskie.

How to catch ’em
Northerns are tough, aggressive and not nearly as fussy as walleyes. So it’s often better to use lures when fishing for these toothy critters. Baits such spoons, crankbaits, big spinner baits and wooden plugs called “jerk baits” are often used. Where you decide to fish determines which lure is best. In shallow, weedy areas, spinner baits and shallow running jerk baits are best. If the pike are deeper where there aren’t many weeds, use spoons and deep running crankbaits. A tip: use a 3/8 ounce jig head and attach a long plastic worm. Toss it right in submerged weeds and hang on!

Where to find ’em
Gull Lake Chain, Lake Edward, Lower Mission Lake, North Long Lake, Whitefish Chain and Leech Lake

Possession Limit: 3 – Not more than 1 fish over 30″ may be taken daily.

Crappies & Panfish

crappie[1]Anglers love crappies. Though the walleye is the state fish, crappies, sunfish and bluegills are caught most often. Crappies bite readily and produce sweet-tasting fillets. There are actually two types of crappies: the black and the white. They are tough to tell apart. Both travel in schools and feed on small fish and aquatic insects. If you catch a crappie, it’s most likely a black crappie, which is the more widely distributed of the two species, occurring in most lakes throughout the state. The black crappie prefers deeper, cooler, clearer water than the white crappie does.

How to catch ’em
Crappies and panfish often congregate near weeds. Once you find them, you can often catch a nice mess of them. For panfish, a good old worm on a hook fished below a bobber is tough to beat. Simply cast near the weeds and let it sit. Move around until you find biting fish. Crappies sometimes like it a little deeper and prefer to feed on minnow. A bobber rig with a minnow for bait is good, as is small pink or white jig tipped with a minnow. Just cast it near the weed edges and let it settle down to the crappies and give it short jerks as you reel it in.

Where to find ’em
Gull Lake Chain, Hardy Lake, Nokay Lake, Upper Mission Lake, South Long Lake & Mississippi River

Possession Limit: Crappie – 10, Bluegill & Sunfish – 20


musky[1]The muskellunge, or muskie, is one of the largest and most elusive fish that swims in Minnesota. A muskie will eat fish and sometimes ducklings and even small muskrats. It waits in weed beds and then lunges forward, clamping its large, tooth-lined jaws onto the prey. The muskie then gulps down the stunned or dead victim head first.

Muskies are light colored and usually have dark bars running up and down their long bodies. That’s the opposite of northern pike, which have light markings on a dark body. Muskies are silver, light green, or light brown. The foolproof way to tell a muskie from a northern is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: A muskie has six or more. A northern has five or fewer.

Where to find ’em
Leech Lake, Mille Lacs Lake

Possession Limit: 1-Minimum size is 30″