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Was recently camping in aforementioned park, on Bensen Lake (supposedly a trout lake stocked by DNR).  It is also near the Baptism River; more specifically, the east branch of the Baptism River.  I and my fiance fished in both of these to no luck.  I'm thinking that it was too late in the summer to catch anything, but was wondering two things. 1 - what is the status of trout in Bensen Lake? We asked a DNR employee who was at the park one night about it and he had no clue about the fish in the lake.  It looked promising, I saw many small bait fish and possibly trout fry (although I heard they do not reproduce naturally there), the structure was good, and its fairly deep, but not one single nibble.  2 - I presume the trout come up the Baptism River to the east branch (we fished on it from the road under a bridge) to spawn in the spring and then go back to the main lake, so after spawn there are no large/catchable trout in the east branch? we had nibbles, saw plenty of crayfish (of the invasive kind as I also heard there is an invasive species of crayfish), again saw bait fish and trout fry, but I never did get a good look at the fish to see what they were and they were too small to take anything.  I am hoping to expand my knowledge of the area and migration patterns of trout and fish for trout here one day, as this is going to be a spot I return to in the coming years.  I know a lot about fishing in the Detroit Lakes area as that is where I am from, but have no experience with North Shore fishing.  Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

Splake in Benson.

Edited by Bigfatbert
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There are no rainbow trout in that stretch of the Baptism River, or the Manitou River for that matter. So there won’t be any spring spawning fish (except minnows). There might be a few brook trout, but you’ll be catching more chubs than anything.


Benson Lake is stocked every year with Splake. In all my experience fishing for splake, fall is best time to catch them.

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Manitou River in the park has lots of brookies, chuck any bushy dry fly in the pools in the park and you’ll catch them, most are very small, but they can be fun on super light tackle.  Haven’t fished benson but supposedly is stocked with splake.  A canoe or float tube would be helpful to fish it....

jb is right though, there are no spawning runs on the manitou, there’s a huge falls at the lake barring fish passage.  And the baptism spawning area is about a 1/2 mi of the main river down by the mouth till the waterfall.  East branch of baptism has trout.  The deeper stretches you pass on the way to Manitou park are supposed to be good, I haven’t caught much there, but again, a canoe would be helpful.

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Poacher's pariah

The E branch is for the most part too warm to support trout. There are a few browns to be had, but the river(actually more of a slough) runs too shallow along #7 so it warms up rapidly. The Manitou, along with its tributaries, can be dynamite for nice brookies, but you'll need to get off the beaten path. Try them following a rain and during lowlight.

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As mentioned, there are no lake trout above the falls of either the Baptism or Manitou.  Like most north shore rivers, both branches of the Baptism gets too warm by midsummer to support trout but you can find them in feeders or hanging around what few springs and seeps there are.  Earlier in the spring, the DNR would plant browns by the Finland and Eckbeck campgrounds -- not sure if they still practice that -- but they browns would move in search of colder water as things warm up or get caught out by campers.  Manitou has some nice brook trout, but spring and early fall are generally the best times to find them unless you're fishing farther up in George Crosby Manitou SP.  


A stream thermometer is your best friend -- if water temps are approaching 70 degrees, keep moving.

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