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Lake Kabetogama-"Cab-uh-toe-ga-ma" or simply "Kab"- get to know why we love this lake!

Kabetogama Lake can be accessed by the gateway communities of Kabetogama and Ash River. Kabetogama Lake is 15 miles long and 25,760 acres in size. It has 78 miles of shoreline, a maximum depth of 80 feet, and 200 islands. All of Kabetogama Lake is in the Voyageurs National Park. Established April 8th, 1975 Voyageurs was set aside to honor the beauty, history, and culture of the area, recognizing one of the premiere fur trading routes. Minnesota’s only National Park commemorates a key stretch of waterway canoed by 18th century French-Canadian Voyageurs who transported goods and furs along the international border lakes. Lake Kabetogama is a forested lake country setting born of an ancient glacier flow, edged by the great Canadian Shield.

The voyageur - a French word meaning traveler - the namesake of Voyageurs National Park - began journeying through these interconnected waterways over 250 years ago; waterways that are one of the most important segments of the fur trade route used to open the "Great Northwest".

 Kabetogama has an Ojibwe Indian name – Ga-bi'-togum-ag' za’ -ga-I-gun that translates as “the lake that lies parallel or double with another lake,” meaning Kabetogama lies parallel to Rainy Lake. French fur traders referred to Kabetogama Lake as “Travere” or “Travers” which translates as “abreast or alongside.” Kabetogama has been spelled a variety of ways through the years including Kahpetogamak and Capetogama

The heart of the area, and the community of Kabetogama is built around tourism and the area's logging industry. When the park was created, a select area was designated for "economic development" and remains private. So, you can drive to a wide variety of lodging options on the shore of Kabetogama. Go to to access lodging, rental, tour, or fishing guide options.

Wondering about camping? There is island camping and camping on the interior lakes. Remote camping is so incredible, but access is the challenge- you will need a canoe, kayak, motorboat, or "water-taxi" to access the sites in Voyageurs. Some sites have canoes to rent or many of the Resorts on Kabetogama will rent boats or canoes to visitors. More information on camping in or on the islands of Kabetogama or in Voyageurs: Link to info

To me (Wade Watson) the beauty of Kabetogama and the major lakes sharing the water around the borderland is the numerous islands and undeveloped shorelines. Tall pine and granite rocks create a stunning background for what seems like endless waterway or channels to boat through. I have kayaked and boat to nearly every corner possible, and I still light up with happiness to be on this body of water.

What the MN DNR site says:

Status of the Fishery:

Lake Kabetogama is part of the statewide Large Lake Program, an intensive fisheries management program on the 10 largest lakes in Minnesota. The Large Lake Program includes annual fish population assessments, annual water quality monitoring, and regularly scheduled creel surveys. A variety of sampling gear is used during population assessments to collect the various fish species and life stages. These gear types include gill nets, beach seines, and an electrofishing boat on Lake Kabetogama. Sampling for each gear type is conducted at the same time and place each year to determine population trends for the major species. Data is also collected on length, weight, age, and growth for each of the major species.

The Walleye gill net catch rate in 2022 was 8.3 fish/net which is a little below the long-term average for Lake Kabetogama. Walleye catch rates have generally been higher than average for Lake Kabetogama since 2015 due to good recruitment. Walleye gill net catches were at a historical low of 5.5 fish/net in 2014. The catch of Walleyes in our sampling increased in the following four surveys due to good year-classes of Walleyes from the 2015 and 2016 cohorts. The 2016 year-class contributed 11.5 percent of the Walleye catch in 2022 while the 2015 year-class added an additional 6.7 percent to the total catch. These back-to-back year-classes mark the first time Kabetogama has produced two consecutive above average year-classes since the late 1980s.

However, most of the fish from these year-classes have now grown into the protected slot range with the 2016 year-class averaging 18.7 inches and the 2015 year-class averaging 19.0 inches long in 2022. The largest contributor to the 2022 Walleye gill net catch were age-2 fish from the 2020 year-class composing 35.2 percent of the total number caught. The 2020 year-class was caught in record numbers as age-0 fish in the 2020 netting due in part to exceptional growth. They were caught in above average numbers as age-1 and age-2 fish and now appear likely to recruit to the fishery as the next strong year-class. Age-2 Walleyes ranged from 9.3 to 13.5 inches and averaged 11.4 inches long in 2022. Overall, gill netted Walleyes ranged in length from 6.3 to 25.3 inches long and had an average length of 14.4 inches. There is a special regulation for Walleye on Lake Kabetogama; an 18-26 inch protected slot, with one fish allowed over 26 inches, and a four-fish bag limit. The goal of the regulation is to keep harvest at a safe level and maintain adequate spawning stock.

Lake Kabetogama is home to a fishable Sauger population. The overall Sauger catch rate has increased in the past two surveys from a low of 2.2 per gill net in 2020. The 2022 catch rate was similar to the long-term average at 3.8 per gill net. A strong 2015 year-class led to increased catch rates from 2017-2019. The 2015 year-class (age-7) accounted for 14.7 percent of the 2022 gill net catch. This year-class ranged in length from 14.5 to 16.3 inches long. Age-2 Sauger composed the largest group making up 28.0 percent of the total catch in 2022, followed by age-5 Sauger representing 25.3 percent of the catch. The 2017 year-class (age-5) appears to be an above average year-class and ranged in length from 12.7 to 16.6 inches long with most individuals in the 13-15-inch length groups in 2022. The 2020 year-class (age-2) was also caught in above average numbers in 2022 and ranged in length from 8.1 to 11.6 inches long. Lake Kabetogama has historically produced a strong Sauger year-class every 3-5 years on average.

The 2022 gill net catch of Northern Pike was 3.9 fish/net, greater than the historic average and similar to recent years. Gill net catches of Northern Pike have historically been variable at a low level on Lake Kabetogama but appear to be on a slightly increasing trend over the past 15 years. Northern Pike grow relatively fast and reach large and even trophy sizes. Pike ranged from 18.2 to 40.6 inches in 2022 gill nets. The average length was 24.3 inches. Large Northern Pike over 40 inches are often caught in gill net surveys.

Yellow Perch numbers have increased in recent years in Lake Kabetogama. The 2022 gill net catch rate followed that trend and had the highest gill net catch rate (16.8/net) since the record high catch in 2017 (18.0/net). Record setting year-classes in 2010 and 2015 were drivers of the high catch rates in recent surveys. The 2017, 2018, and 2019 year-classes produced good numbers of Perch. In addition, an exceptional catch of age-2 Perch from the 2020 year-class contributed to driving the good overall catch rate in 2022. The 2020 year-class composed 71.0 percent of the 2022 gill net catch and ranged in size from 5.3 to 8.6 inches long, but most individuals were in the five- and six-inch length groups. The 2019 year-class added an additional 11.9 percent to the 2022 total and ranged from 7.3 to 9.9 inches long. Overall, Perch ranged from 5.2 to 13.0 inches long and averaged 7.1 inches in 2022. Yellow Perch size structure has improved over time providing more opportunity for anglers to harvest quality-sized fish.

Lake Kabetogama is home to a good Smallmouth Bass fishery both in numbers and size structure. Bass numbers have increased in our sampling gear as well as in angler catches in recent years. Smallmouth Bass over 19 inches long are regularly caught during surveys.

Lake Kabetogama is known to be infested with spiny waterfleas. Anglers and boaters should always take preventative measures to avoid moving invasive species to other lakes. For more information on invasive species and other DNR programs, go to the DNR website at

For More Information

International Falls Area Fisheries Supervisor

392 Hwy 11 E

International Falls, MN

Phone: 218-598-8190

About this information:

Information written and gathered by Wade Watson, owner and guide of Voyageurs Adventures. I have been a licensed guide on these waters for over 25 years. I began offering sea kayaking tours and rentals in 1997, purchasing some land and run down cabins. Slowly I remodeled cabins and started leading fishing trips. I am invested with my heart and sole in the Kabetogama area, I love it and love teaching people about the area's insights and beauty. I'm happy to talk more or answer any questions you may have:

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