Duluth’s Temporary City on Ice

Each winter a temporary city arises in full view of Duluth’s docks and downtown. This city is different because it is built on ice instead of on ground. Each winter a large number of ice fishermen and ice houses appear on Duluth’s harbor.

“There are days when there are 100’s of people out there,” said Connor at Marine General. ” We see quite a few of those fishermen in the shop. It is the best walleye fishing near Duluth without trying to go too far.”

There are usually two different neighborhoods in this city. The one is next to Sky Harbor Airport and the other is not far, by the Park Point boat launch. Though the boat launch was mostly built to launch boats, during the winter the parking lot is often fuller than in the summer. In some ways it is like a little festival out there, with people going by that aren’t even there to fish. You may see people skating when the ice is smooth enough, riding fat tire bikes on the ice, or even ice boating.

This is a good place for beginners to fish. While some newbies may be afraid to fish someplace where they are all alone, here there are always lots of people around, to help if you get in trouble. Also, the patterns of the fish here take some of the mystery out of the sport.

“It doesn’t matter too much where you fish,” said Connor. “The fish go everywhere.”

The fishing goes all the way to the end of walleye fishing on the last day of February though you will need a license even if you’re only out there for one day. The fishing is usually better earlier in the season. Connor says that guidelines usually call for eating one meal a month of fish out of the harbor due to mercury concerns. Of course, you can catch and release.


If you decide to keep your fish you can cook it back in your kitchen at Beacon Pointe. Even if you have never ice fished before people at Marine General can help get you started and get you out on the (now frozen) water.

“You just need a walleye ice rod, like a 28 inch medium,” said Connor. “It doesn’t have to be a fancy rod because you may run into some bigger fish. You need a little bit bigger tackle so you know you are fishing right under your hole and not having bait blown around a lot. Most people are just grabbing chub minnows. ”

You may choose to just sit on a chair, but if you really like fishing you could buy a shelter of

your own. This will make it more enjoyable during those slow times, when you can still enjoy the view of the ice and Duluth’s downtown. Marine General has a variety of shelters to choose from.

“We have a lot of shelters here, pretty much $200 on up and you can get a real nice fishing shelter,” said Connor.

After you are done with fishing you can go enjoy some food at nearby Canal Park. You don’t even have to fish at all when you visit this winter city. You can just watch the people and see if you can hear any good fishing stories. You also can walk on the ice in the little cove. Here the ice often freezes all the way to the bottom. This leads to distorted and interesting view of the bottom through all this thick ice.

This is part of the fun of being in the Northland in the winter. We have outdoor activities that sound fanciful and made up to those who live in warmer parts of the country, and you can experience them for yourself.