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Bemidji named among top 9 fall fishing destinations in the US

Bemidji was recently recognized on a national level as one of the country's top nine fall fishing destinations. But as a town known for its serene outdoor attractions and over 400 lakes within 25 miles, this may not come as a huge surprise.

An angler casts where the Mississippi River meets Lake Bemidji at dawn during Minnesota’s fishing opener in 2018.
An angler casts where the Mississippi River meets Lake Bemidji at dawn during Minnesota’s fishing opener in 2018.
Pioneer file photo
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BEMIDJI — Bemidji was recently recognized on a national level as one of the country's top nine fall fishing destinations. But as a town known for its serene outdoor attractions and over 400 lakes within 25 miles, this may not come as a huge surprise.

FishingBooker, one of the largest online platforms for booking fishing trips, has compiled a list of the best fall fishing destinations in the country in 2022. They pick locations based on a slew of things such as general population, variety of species in the area and of course, the overall fishing experience — Bemidji checked all of the boxes.

In a nutshell, the locations on the list are chosen based on local recommendations and known reputations for excellent fall fishing action.

“We try to make sure that we include locations with special events like fishing tournaments as well as places that are great for fishing, but often get overlooked due to other activities being more popular in the area,” Fishing Booker’s public relations and outreach specialist Mina Marinkovic said. “Additionally, we try to consider different locations every time in order to help the location get great coverage and help people find something new and interesting every time.”

She also mentioned the quality campsites for families and solo anglers, a wide variety of lakes in the area to choose from and the year-round freshwater fishing were all reasons Bemidji was on their radar this year.

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Brady Laudon, a longtime angler in the area along with working as the assistant director with Visit Bemidji, is helping put the town and its fishing on the map. From filming weekly fishing reports with Dish Beardsley Fishing Guide Service to showcasing Bemidji’s resources through photography and videography — Laudon may have had something to do with the town's national recognition.

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Brady Laudon is a longtime angler in the area along with working as the assistant director for Visit Bemidji.
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“I think a lot of people don’t know about our fishing, but with the use of those fishing reports that Dick and I put together (might have helped, but) I'm guessing that's not the only reason why it happened,” Laudon said. “Going out and being able to experience the outdoors is my church and I've definitely been trying to talk about Bemidji and its fishing as much as I possibly can. We have so much to offer, but fishing, that's what I live for.”

Hailing from Bagley, Minn., Laudon has been fishing in Bemidji his whole life. As a fishing guide and leader for Bemidji’s tourism, he has also developed a weekly fishing report podcast, luring nearly 15,000 weekly viewers along with his commercial drone pilot license to showcase the area.

“It's really exciting,” Laudon said regarding Bemidji’s national recognition. “This will really put us on the map.”

With his job at Visit Bemidji, Laudon has the opportunity to connect with tourists from all across the world. A lot of them are unfamiliar with the serenity of the Northwoods, but quickly come to love the beautiful lakes and wildlife it has to offer once they witness it firsthand.

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“I've talked to the tourists that come to Bemidji and they're just blown away by how beautiful it is. Being able to see the eagles, the loons and the serenity we have here,” Laudon said. “People come here who’ve never experienced things like this in their life, they've never even caught any kind of fish before. Then we take them out and they catch 100 bass in a day and they’ll remember Bemidji for the rest of their life.”

Fall fishing scene

According to Laudon, Bemidji’s fishing comes to life in the fall. When the water temperatures drop, the fish become extremely active as they gear up for the winter. The end of September to the middle of October is prime-time for northern Minnesota fishing. He said people usually would only catch a few fish in a day whereas now, they would have the chance of catching hundreds just because of the season change.

“Bemidji comes alive in regards to fishing in fall. It's a fun time of year here and the fishing is on fire,” Laudon said. “Those fish are going to be extremely hungry and they're going to want to eat anything they see. Typically people are using jigs, minnows and live bait this time of year.”

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Not many can say they live in a city with over 400 lakes within a 25-mile radius, making it a year-round destination for fishing walleye, bass, muskie, perch, crappie, pike, panfish and trout. Among the top-producing lakes are the Bemidji "Deadly Dozen," including Lake Andrusia, Lake Irving, Kitchi, Big Wolf, Cass, Big Turtle and Turtle River Lakes, Lake Plantagenet, Lake Winnibigoshish, Big Lake, Three Island Lake and Lake Bemidji.

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Anglers await the 7 a.m. start of the 21st annual Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic fishing tournament on June 11, 2022, along the Lake Bemidji waterfront.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Although the coronavirus pandemic postponed a wide range of popular fishing trips to Lake of the Woods due to the borders into Canada being closed, Laudon said anglers would travel to Bemidji instead, bringing more to experience the town's fishing scene than in the past.

“With COVID-19, there were a lot of people not able to get up to Canada so they traveled to Bemidji to fish because this was as far up north as they could get,” he explained. “Bemidji got discovered during that time and it’s been a unique thing to see in the last few years.”

Laudon said he expects to see a lot more anglers coming back rather than making the trip all the way up to Canada — a few are already trying to book trips for years to come.

“(Anglers) tell me all the time they would have never come to Bemidji if the borders weren’t closed, now they’re going to be coming every year,” he added with a laugh. “We're incredibly lucky to live in northern Minnesota.”

Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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