Fishing Elbow Lake, Cook, MN

fishing elbow lake

Fishing Elbow Lake, Cook, MN

This article has everything you need to know to get started fishing on Elbow Lake. From DNR reports to my own notes from 25 years of fishing this lake. Enjoy!

fishing elbow lake

Ahhh, Minnesota fishing. It’s one of Minnesota’s greatest pastimes. Often overlooked for Lake Vermilion, Elbow Lake can be a fisherman’s best friend. Here’s what you need to know: If you are looking for a boating guide including where to launch, rent boats, or general lake information, check out this article “Boating Elbow Lake”.

Notes on the Species in Elbow Lake

Walleye – Walleye are probably the most prized fish in the state. Their hard white meat is almost a delicacy. Elbow Lake is stocked with Walleye by the DNR. In the spring, you can find them in shallow waters near beaches and feeding off of run off form a couple of the streams that come into the lake. Shallow bays are your friend in May and early June. Then, as the water warms up, they will school on reefs. One is located at the base of the North Arm, the other is right in the middle between the two major bays of the lake and the islands. They are easily found by a depth finder. Throughout the summer, you can catch them as they come to the beaches to feed. Preferred bait on Elbow: Leeches

Image from Google Maps. The areas indicated "reef" are the two major reefs on Elbow Lake.
Image from Google Maps. The areas indicated “reef” are the two major reefs on Elbow Lake.

Smallmouth Bass – This is one of the best small mouth bass lakes I have ever fished. They are everywhere. Fish any shoreline and you will find them. Preferred bait on Elbow Lake: Leeches or tackle.

Sunfish – While the quantities of sunfish are small, the size is huge. Shallow bays with weeds are best to find these guys. You will also find perch and smallmouth while fishing for sunnies. Preferred tackle on Elbow Lake: Leeches and worms or fly fishing.

Northern Pike – There is a healthy northern population as well. Northern Pike are actually very good to eat. Plus, with their size each fish goes a long way. Last summer my boys caught these two Northern Pike off our dock. Preferred bait on Elbow Lake: Tackle

Crappie – One of the most aggressive panfish and prized for its meat and fight, the crappie is always a fun fish. Crappies generally prefer minnows to leeches, however we catch them with leeches on Elbow. You will find them schooled around structure just off deep water or suspended over the reefs.

Why Fish Elbow Lake?

Because we are a bit off of the beaten path the pressure on the lake is very small. Compared to Lake Vermilion, our fishing is as good or better. But on Vermilion you have to deal with multiple boats on reefs, much more boat traffic cruising around, and slot limits. Who want’s to deal with that?!

Want to Vacation on Elbow Lake?

If you would like to stay on Elbow Lake, call me! I’m Chris, 651-492-7092 or check out our page at

Quick Notes on Fishing Elbow Lake:

Just a quick note too … make sure you check out the current DNR regs for fishing rules. This article was written in 2016 and is current for that year but rules can change from time to time. So make sure you pick up your free MN fishing guide when you get your license!!!!

One last quick note!!!! – I get asked “Where can I get a fishing license?” all the time. If you don’t have one and you are already at Elbow Lake. The easiest thing to do is to call the DNR. THEY DO SELL YOU A FISHING LICENSE BY PHONE. (read about it here: Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased nationwide by credit card by calling 1-888-MN-LICEN (665-4236). They only charge $2.75 but it saves you a trip into town.

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About Chris 759 Articles
Chris Ashbach is one of the founders of Dan330. Chris is a pilot and avid outdoorsman who loves fishing, hunting, camping, and exploring. He loves taking kids (especially his own) on trips to share his passion of the outdoors. Chris is also a gardener, volunteers at Let's Go Fishing, and teaches Sunday school. Chris holds a MA in Organizational Leadership and is faculty at a local university in Minnesota; teaching undergraduate business classes.