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Lake of the week - Pelican Lake

Pelican Lake, at 8,253 acres, is one of the largest and most popular lakes in the Brainerd area. Pelican has both great recreational and fishing opportunities. The sand bottom and great water clarity make this a great option for families who are looking to spend the day on the water. Gooseberry Island offers the perfect spot for both a shore lunch, siesta, after a fine morning of fishing or boating.


Panfish can be found in all of Pelican’s prominent bays such as Jones, Nelson, or Halverson Bay. Weed edges are where they will be hiding on bright clear days, generally around 5 to 6 feet of water. A simple bobber and hook tipped with a night crawler, angle worm, or panfish leech will be enough finesse to entice these fish into biting. Bluegills and pumpkinseeds are what will make up the bulk of your catch but there is a chance at an occasional crappie. Crappie are present in Pelican but prove very challenging to locate in the summer months.  

Northern pike

Northern pike has a solid presence in the Pelican Lake system. Typically you will find them around 15 feet of water throughout the summer months. If you want to target northern the most effective method will be to troll. Tie up a red eye wiggler or a husky jerk and commit to covering water. To find quality Northern, you will have sift through your fair share of hammer handles, but quality pike do exist on Pelican to be sure.  Additionally, a lot of guys will catch plenty of pike while walleye fishing using standard live bait rigs.


If bass are what you are after on Pelican, look to the pencils scattered around the lake that can stretch out to as deep as 12-15 feet of water. Now bass fishing purist will not like to hear this, but a very effective way to catch Pelican lake bass is to use live bait. Heresy to some, but catching is better than casting. When you find good pencil reeds (it never hurts to have rocks close by either), have a slip bobber rigged up with a 1/0 hook to handle a lite pike or sucker minnow. Keep it up off the bottom, set the depth at approximately 10’ and get ready for the action. The bass on pelican are numerous and there is a tremendous population of quality bass as well.


Pelican has above average water clarity and this will play into how you should target walleyes during the summer months. Thirty feet of water or even deeper will not be uncommon depths for walleyes to lurk, especially on bright summer days. Live bait rigging is standard operating procedure on Pelican with the redtail chub being the most popular bait. Crawlers and leeches can both be used also and should not be overlooked. Spinners rigs trolled behind bottom bouncers will also take walleye during the summer months. When trolling, make note of the fact that the weedline on Pelican can extend out to 16-20 feet of water.  Finding this outside edge will make your trolling presentation effective as you try to tempt walleyes from their weedy lairs.   

Pelican is a great summer option in the Brainerd lakes area for both fishing and boating. While it does have its fair share of recreational traffic it will be less than other lakes in the Brainerd area. If you are looking to combine fishing, boating, swimming and a picnic there is no place better than Pelican Lake.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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