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Muskie Fishing -> General Discussion -> Brainerd, MN - Looking for info
|Message Subject: Brainerd, MN - Looking for info
Location: Madison, WI
A friend and I are taking a 2-day road trip to Brainerd later this week, as it’s a place that I’ve always wanted to explore.
I’m thinking about retiring (or semi-retiring) sometime within the next 5 years, and I’ve always wanted to spend my retirement years in a place that had plenty of local fishing opportunities, and is still reasonably close to International Falls, so that I can more easily take multiple yearly fishing trips to NW Ontario.
So Brainerd is definitely near the top of my list for places that I want to check out.
Having never been there before, can somebody point out some “must see” destinations that we should check out.
Any great restaurants for a Friday fish fry?
Any lakes / boat landings we should take a look at? (Note: I won’t be bringing any fishing equipment along, but just want to do some sight seeing and get a general feel for the place).
Any tourist attractions I should check out?
Any great bait and tackle shops I should visit?
For those who currently reside in the Brainerd area, any pros or cons that you can share?
Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
“Jackpot” John Schroeder
|I don't live there, but my in-laws do. My wife grew up there.
I could live there, and there's a reasonable chance I may retire in that area (which won't be for another 20 years). I will say that there isn't a lot of muskie fishing in the area though. Mille Lacs is half an hour to the east, but its very hard to catch muskies there now and its a massive lake that gets rough. There are a lot of other fishing opportunities in the immediate area though for walleye, bass, and panfish.
I don't know if you're a golfer or not but there are world class courses around.
Tourist attractions, I can't help you on that. Paul Bunyan Land is just outside of town but its kind of lame.
Location: Walker, MN
|I live an hour north of Brainerd, it's honestly too busy for me in Brainerd Lol. Most lakes are highly recreational but I guess it depends on what you are used to. Twin Cities folks own a lot of cabins in the Brainerd area, and buzz up a lot of weekends. Of course they have better hospitals, more restaurants and shopping etc.
Less busy but with fewer amenities, take a look at the Leech Lake, Cass Lake and Winnibigoshish "triangle". There's a lot good fishing here. Roughly half of Leech Lake shoreline will never be developed because it's Chippewa National forest...even more on Winnie. Again, it all depends on what's important to you.
Full Stringer Bait and Tackle in Longville, Swanson's in Hackensack and Reed's in Walker are some of my favorite bait and tackle shops.
The headwaters of the Mississippi in Itasca State Park is a fun visit. Make sure to wade across (It's only inches deep most of the time).
As mentioned, there are great golf courses around Brainerd if you enjoy that.
Casinos near Mille Lacs, Leech and Cass
There is a couple hundred miles of paved bike trails in Crow Wing and Cass counties. A lot of snowmobile trails too.
|Ditto. Hour north a great move.
Location: In the slop!
|Have to agree, Walker area gets my vote!
Location: Madison, WI
|Thanks for the replies, guys!
As far as Walker, yes I've been there. We took a fishing trip there in 2020 when the Canadian border was closed. Fished Tenmile Lake and some of the other lakes in the Walker, Park Rapids, and Hackensack areas (it was primarily a walleye fishing trip). I thought the area was incredibly beautiful, and not all that crowded (considering that the Canadian border was closed that particular summer).
The Walker area is definitely in my "top 5" list of places that I'm considering.
The one major concern I have with respect to Walker (and Ely, MN for that matter as well) is that it might be just a bit too small / potentially too remote.
Given my family's heart health history (and after having a heart attack myself 12 years ago), I think I'm looking for a place that would have more immediate access to good hospitals / health care options. And that's one reason why I may lean a little bit more toward Brainerd.
Brainerd seems small enough (15,000 people) that you could still avoid the big city traffic jams and crime, but not so small that you're stranded in the middle of nowhere if medical help is needed.
So if I knew I could get medical care and decent places to shop for necessities, I think Walker or Ely would be super high on my priority list.
But Brainerd might provide a better overall mix of the criteria that are important to me.
I think I'll have a better feel for the place after Friday, because we're leaving first thing tomorrow morning.
Thanks again, guys!
If anybody else wants to chime in, please feel free to do so. Thanks!
"Jackpot" John Schroeder
|Brainerd is one of the few places in Minnesota I've never been. My Mom is from Deer River so we fished all over that area and one year we fished on Leach and stayed close to Walker. (Lots of shops and good eating places in Walker)
|North of 8
|Concern about medical care is a very important part of looking at where one retires. When I lived and worked in the U.P., folks would retire to these beautiful places in the woods but as they aged, they had to face the reality that you need more medical care as you get older. And it is not just health issues. Accidents happen. Before I retired, the guy that lived next door to where we now have our retirement home had a stroke. Through sheer luck, I found him and got him to the ER, 4 miles away. They said another hour, or less, and he would have had permanent paralysis.
Location: Elk River, Minnesota
If Walker is a touch too far away from Medical Facilities, I'd say head just a little further north and consider Bemidji. the Hospital is right there, and Muskie Wise, you have plenty of lakes to consider that are within an hour's drive. Bemidji, Big, Cass, Plantagenet, Elk, and Mantrap all come to mind with Leech and Winnie not far away as well
As far as places to enjoy, lots of bike trails, the casino up the road on the reservation, multiple places to eat along with retail stores like home depot and yes...Walmart.
AND...with being in Bemidji you are on a really nice pathway to hit the Canadian border multiple times and even if you choose...day trips.
Just a few thoughts...
|Medical care is way better than it was a generation ago, but you still have to be careful. When my grandpa was terminally ill he had to go from Eagle River down to Marshfield for treatment (back in the 80's) also during the 70's a relative got a bad cut on his hand (fishing knife) and had to go down to Marshfield also. Now there are more thigs at Howard Young in Minocqua.
Location: Chisholm, MN
|There is absolutely no good healthcare north of the Twin Cities. If you have anything serious to worry about, this is not the place to be.
Location: Athens, Ohio
|West Virginia is nice abt any time of the year. Most snows melt in a day or so any more. m
|My part of SD is great. Tremendous fishing although on weekends we get the Minnesotans and Iowegians clogging our boat ramps nowadays.
As to healthcare,we have 3 local veterinarians that are great. Heck i have one on speedial 24/7.
|There are good muskie opportunities near Brainerd. Gull Lake is a new developing fishery. Mille Lacs is tough but a trophy fishery for sure. Alexander and Shamineau have been managed for muskies since 1988. Cedar Lake near Aitkin is good. And the Mississippi River runs right through town and can be good. Roosevelt isn't terribly far away either and neither are Walker area lakes. IMO Brainerd is a very decent muskie area and within an hour's drive to a lot of good fishing. Not to mention it is a great multi species fishing area. The Lindners operate out of that area for a reason.
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