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Folks on the southwestern side of the Twin Cities have a lake nearby that's touted as one of the best multi-species fishing lakes in the metro area. Prior Lake is actually two lakes separated by a channel: Lower Lake on the northeast corner and Upper Lake on the southwest.
Lest you think the same misdirected soul who named St. Paul streets also came up with this arrangement, the reasoning stems from the fact that the watershed flow is from the southwest to the northeast.
Lower Lake holds the better supply of fish and has clearer water and more prominent big-fish structure such as deep weedlines, rock piles, islands, points, bays, deep-water breaks and sunken islands.
Largemouth Bass is the most popular species on this lake and tournaments are held here regularly. Those anglers know that in these tournaments you need to pull in a four-pound plus average just to rank.
The best early summer locations are the points, the outside weedlines, the sunken islands and the docks next to deeper weeds. On Lower Lake, the best areas are just west of Candy Cove, the first Bay east of Sand Point Beach, Frost Point, around the islands, and the sunken islands marked with buoys.
Nick Pushcar, a staffer at Prior Lake Bait and Tackle, suggests using a tube jig on the deep weedlines. Or try skipping a dark green plastic frog across the top of the weeds. Another popular lure is a white 3/8-oz Chatterbait, which combines the action of the crankbait, spinnerbait and jig all into one lure.
Walleyes are stocked annually in Prior but are not quite as plentiful as largemouth bass; however, you can still find them this time of the year with a bit of work. Try a chartreuse or orange jig and leech and work the rocky areas in the 18- to 22-foot depth between Sand Point and Martinson Island. Morning and evening will be more productive.
Northern Pike are more plentiful and larger than they were in previous years and over half are over 28 inches. Koep's Bay is a good all-season location.
There are two good boat accesses, one on each lake, but come early; they can get pretty crowded on weekends. There is also a nice beach and picnic area on the north side of Lower Lake. When you're hungry, motor over to Captain Jack's Restaurant on the southeast side of Upper Lake.
Enjoy the good fishing on Prior Lake.
Sybil Smith is the author of the
Twin Cities Fishing Guide, Brainerd-Mille Lacs Fishing Guide and the
Twin Cities Shore Fishing Map (East and West).