Pelican Lake, located in Orr, MN is, another one of the many magnificent bodies of water that make up the gateway to Voyageurs National Park and Northeastern Minnesota. With just under 12,000 acres of accessible water, 54 islands and an average depth of 13.5’, fishing on Pelican Lake is easy, productive and naturally breathtaking.
After the hay day of natural white pine forests were felled, floated and shipped to mills all over the country, Orr, which was located on the main railroad line between Duluth and International Falls, turned to tourism and fishing for its next great legacy. Resorts and businesses began settling in and as visitors started discovering the incredible fishing and outdoor opportunities that the area offered, everlasting traditions were created.
On the top of the list of reasons to visit Pelican Lake in Orr, MN is the fishing. Known mostly for its legendary pan fishing, bluegills and crappies, Pelican Lake is also proven to be an incredible habitat for northern pike, walleye and large and smallmouth bass. With an average depth just below 14 ft, Pelican Lakes’ huge expanse of weed beds, rock piles, trenches and sand bars create endless fishing hot spots.
Typically, crappie, pike and walleye kick the season off by being the first species to spawn as the water begins warming up around the end of May. Walleyes can be found by trolling sunken sand bars and flatter open areas along with northern pike using spinners, spoons and lindy rigs with leeches or night crawlers. Crappies are found spawning on the many rock piles around the lake and can be caught in the hundreds with just a bobber and minnow. Black crappies put up a great fight and have a healthy average size around 10.5 inches. There is a slot limit on Northern Pike from 24-36” and no slot limit on walleyes.
Once summer begins and the water temperature steadies in the upper 60’s and low 70’s the bass and bluegills become incredibly active. Mid to late June can be the absolute best time to fish Pelican Lake and Northern Minnesota, and the thrill of finding a patch of bluegill spawning beds or trophy large or smallmouth bass can be an unbelievable experience. Although the legendary Pelican Lake bluegill has decreased a bit in size, the population is still incredibly healthy and catching a basket or limit is still very likely. There is a slot on both large and smallmouth bass from 14-20” with the average size bass between 14 and 16”.
Fishing for all species steadies from early July to late August as the lake sees a reduced amount of fishing pressure with warmer water and increased recreation. Mornings and evenings are best for bass and pan fish while walleyes and pike are found more prevalent during the day. Live bait works great all season as leeches, night crawlers, crappie and suckers minnows are most popular. Popular imitation baits include spinners, spoons, road runners, Senko rubber worms, beetle spins and top water lures.
In addition to fishing Pelican Lake, the Orr area also offers a great variety of other outdoor experiences. With seemingly unending forests and waterways the abundance of wildlife in Northern MN can be overwhelming. Have your cameras and binoculars handy as black bear, wolves, fox, otters, beavers, eagles, osprey, hawks, pelicans, loons, swans and other waterfowl often appear on and off the lake.
If at any point your wildlife experience is lacking, take a trip just down the road to the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary where the American Bear Association has preserved a unique situation where black bears can safely be viewed in their natural habitat. Towards the end of August, as many as 100 black bears can be seen naturally roaming the property with no fences cages or trainers.
If you’re choosing the Orr Pelican Lake area for your next fishing/outdoor vacation you should have no trouble finding a memorable experience. From camping fireside in a tent under the stars to lounging on the beach or by the pool while staying in a lakeside cabin, Pelican Lake has all the best ways of getting up North and getting outdoors.