If you're a fisherman without a boat, if you just like to dabble in the activity or you want to get some kids out fishing, there are some great shore fishing spots on and around the Whitefish Chain where you can enjoy the beauty of the area and cast out a line. Many of these accesses also tend to stay free of ice later in the season due to moving water.
Army Corps of Engineers Cross Lake Recreation Area
Right in the town of Crosslake is the iconic dam, located at the Army Corps of Engineers Cross Lake Recreation Area. Here you'll find lots of amenities: a playground, swimming beach, bathrooms (though some are seasonal) and more. There's also lots of public shoreline.
The Recreation Area is unique because it has places to fish both on the lake side and the river side of the dam. The river side is handicap-accessible, making it our recommended spot for those with mobility issues or special needs. (Drive beyond the two main parking lots to the handicap spaces closer to the dock on the river.) This spot is popular when fishing opener happens before ice-out, because the river never totally freezes due to the water movement from the dam.
On the other side of the dam, perhaps only 100 yards away, is a fishing dock on the lake, also near the dam. You can fish here or walk north through the campground, where there are several places to access the shore and cast out a line.
Whitefish Chain Lake Accesses
North of Crosslake is the Big Trout Lake access, which is an easy access to find right off County Road 66 on the west side. This access has a swimming beach, boat launch and picnic table or two.
There are also many other lake accesses where one could cast out a line. The Minnesota DNR Recreation Compass shows the public accesses on the lake- simply zoom in on the Whitefish Chain. There are accesses on Clamshell Lake, Lower Hay, Upper Whitefish and more. Some of these may freeze up with ice-in earlier than others. Big Trout is a large, deep lake that tends to be one of the last to freeze over.
Breezy Point Fishing Boardwalk
South of the Whitefish Chain is Pelican Lake, and on a channel from Pelican, the city of Breezy Point maintains a fishing pier that's popular with locals. You'll find it on Breezy Point Drive near the west side of Pelican Lake.
If you want to fish moving water, there are several places to check out. Downriver from the Whitefish Chain on County Road 36 is the stairstep canoe access for the Pine River. This is a scenic spot on the river that's generally rarely-used. (Google Maps location here.)
Another place to check out is the Rock Dam, which is responsible for keeping water in Big Pine Lake. This rock dam is a little off the beaten path. Follow Big Pine Trail from County Road 66 and, when it seems you've reached the end of the road, stay left (the "no trespassing" signs apply to the road that veers right). After a short distance you'll see a road that forks to the right and goes up a hill. This road will take you to the rock dam. (Google Maps location here.) Vehicles with good clearance are recommended as the hill is steep and at times has been rutted.
All of these spots are fun places to access the water of the Whitefish Chain and the surrounding areas. Though we can't guarantee you a fish, we can guarantee that you'll get to see some of the area's beautiful scenery. Cast out a line, you never know what you might pull in.