Side view of youth fishing near flowered vegetation

The refuge is located along a 39-mile stretch of the Minnesota River from Fort Snelling to Jordan. Major species include northern pike and carp. 

Important Information

Be sure you are also familiar with Refuge regulations when you plan your visit to go fishing. 

  • Refuge lands are open from 5:00 am - 10:00 pm, 7 days a week. Overnight use is prohibited.
  • Minnesota Valley NWR prohibits the use of all watercraft, to include motorized (gas or electric) and non-motorized (canoe, kayak, SUP, cataraft, etc.), on any Refuge lakes, ponds, wetlands, and streams. Boats are allowed in the main channel of the Minnesota River only, with the following exception:
    • We allow non-motorized boats in areas open to waterfowl hunting during the waterfowl hunting seasons only. Visit our Hunting page for more information.
  • Fishing is allowed on all Refuge lakes, ponds, and streams unless posted. Fishing is prohibited in Ike’s Creek in Bloomington from its source to Long Meadow Lake. Fishing is limited to designated points along the shore of Black Dog Lake. 
  • Ice fishing is allowed on all Refuge lakes and ponds unless posted. Ice fishing and access to the frozen surface of Black Dog Lake is prohibited. Abandoning, discarding or otherwise leaving any personal property is prohibited. All property brought onto a Refuge must be removed at the end of each day. This includes all common items like vehicles, boats, decoys, trail cameras, blinds, geocaching items, photography equipment (including trail cameras), portable stands, climbing equipment, ice fishing shelters, and trash.
  • Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood, or other debris is prohibited as well. Pack out all trash, and plan to clean your fish at home.
  • Bowfishing is prohibited in all waters within the city of Bloomington.

Where can I fish?

Bank fishing is allowed at most lakes, ponds, and streams within the Refuge. Be aware that watercraft (motorized and non-motorized) are prohibited on all lakes, ponds, and streams within the Refuge. Obey all closure signs. Bowfishing is prohibited on all refuge waters within the city of Bloomington. 

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge maintains public fishing docks and piers at the following locations: 

  • Bass Ponds: 2501 86th Street East, Bloomington, MN 55425
    Plan to walk approximately 1 mile from the main parking area to the fishing dock at Youth Pond.  Anglers also fish the larger Hogback Pond from shore, as well as limited shore access to Long Meadow Lake.  Species to target include sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, bullhead catfish, and carp.  Ponds in this area are stocked annually by the Minnesota DNR as part of their Fishing in the Neighborhood program. 
  • Old Cedar Avenue: 9898 Old Cedar Avenue S, Bloomington, MN 55425 
    A fishing pier is located 0.3 miles from the main parking lot, by taking the Hogback Ridge trail north-east beyond the nature play area. Species to target include sunfish, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, catfish, and carp.

Can I buy a fishing license at the refuge visitor center?

  • No, we do not sell state fishing licenses at our facilities, but you can purchase a license online from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. Minnesota’s state fishing licenses are valid March 1 though February 28 of the following year

Tips for Fishing

We offer a variety of public programs and presentations, including some opportunities to try out fishing at Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Fishing in the Neighborhood sites in the Twin Cities. You can view more information, including downloading their guide to Fishing in the Neighborhood, by visiting their website.

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is a great source for tips on how to fish. The website,, provides useful information for beginners and experts on dozens of specialized topics, including: ofrece información similar en español. 

Fish Consumption Information

Eating fish 1 to 2 times a week has health benefits for people of all ages. Fish is a great source of lean protein with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Fish are a natural source of omega - 3 fatty acids - a good kind of fat.

However, any fish (including store-bought and wild caught), could contain contaminants such as mercury or PCBs that could harm human health—especially in the development of children and fetuses.

In an effort to raise awareness about contaminants in fish and provide information on reducing exposure to contaminants, the Minnesota Department of Health has guidance available on their website. We recommend checking the guidance for specific ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers you plan to fish, as well as reviewing Minnesota Department of Health’s Safe Eating Guidelines

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