Lake Vermilion

United States Cook, Minnesota Tower, Minnesota
Lake Vermilion
Lake Vermilion Landing View.jpg
Lake Vermilion during the day
LocationSaint Louis County, Minnesota,
United States
Coordinates47°51′28.47″N 92°17′58.60″W / 47.8579083°N 92.2996111°W / 47.8579083; -92.2996111Coordinates: 47°51′28.47″N 92°17′58.60″W / 47.8579083°N 92.2996111°W / 47.8579083; -92.2996111
Primary outflowsVermilion River
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length10.38 mi (16.70 km)
Max. width24 mi (39 km)
Surface area39,271 acres (158.9 km2)
Average depth25 ft (7.6 m)
Max. depth76 ft (23 m)
Shore length1313 mi (504 km)
Surface elevation1,358 ft (414 m)
SettlementsTower and Cook
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Vermilion is a shallow freshwater lake in northeastern Minnesota, United States. The Ojibwe originally called the lake Nee-Man-Nee, which means “the evening sun tinting the water a reddish color”.[1] French fur traders translated this to the Latin word Vermilion, which is a red pigment. Lake Vermilion is located between the towns of Tower on the east and Cook on the west, in the heart of Minnesota's Arrowhead Region at Vermilion Iron Range. The area was mined from the late 19th century until the 1960s, and the Soudan Mine operated just south of the lake.

The lake contains black crappie, bluegill, brown bullhead, largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, sunfish, rock bass, smallmouth bass, tullibee (cisco), walleye, white sucker, and yellow perch.[2] Lake Vermilion is known for its walleye and muskie fishing. In the spring of 2005, Lake Vermilion was host to the annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener Weekend. Many feel the increased population of muskies has had a detrimental effect on the walleye population, although some believe the walleye fishing when the walleye slot limit changed (18" to 26") and the bag limit was reduced (from 6 to 4) in recent years.[citation needed] However, as the population rebounded, a new special regulation for walleye came into effect in May 2017. The new regulation is a 20 to 26 inch protected slot limit, with one fish over 26 inches allowed in a four fish possession limit.[3]

The lake attracts visitors from all parts of Minnesota and the midwestern United States, who lodge at the lake's numerous resorts and hotels. Tourists are drawn by Lake Vermilion's reputation as a fishing destination, as well as its setting in the northern Minnesota wilderness. The lake is near the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

The Minnesota DNR rates Lake Vermilion as the fifth largest lake by surface area within Minnesota borders. The surface area of Lake Vermilion is 39,271 acres (158.9 km2) and has a maximum depth of 76 feet (23 m).[2] It is the southernmost section of the Canadian Shield, and contains over 365 islands.

Some fish consumption guideline restrictions have been placed on some of the lake's fish due to mercury contamination. Consumption of Northern pike and walleye over 15 inches should not exceed twice a week, however vacation fishing consumption is unlimited.[4][2]

In 2007, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced the state was negotiating the purchase from U.S. Steel of a large area of land on the southeastern shore of the lake for a proposed new Minnesota state park. The sale of the land at a cost of $18m was finalized in June 2010.[5] Lake Vermilion State Park is being developed on the easterly southern shore of the lake, and is adjacent to and to the east of Soudan Underground Mine State Park.[6]

The claim that "in the 1940s, the National Geographic Society declared Lake Vermilion one of the top ten most scenic lakes in the United States"[7] has been rebutted by a representative of the National Geographic Society.[8]

On May 13, 2014, it was announced that the 2015 Governor's Fisher Opener weekend would be held at Lake Vermilion again.


  1. ^ "VERMILION IRON JOURNAL— MAY 21, 1891".
  2. ^ a b c "Lake information report: Minnesota DNR". MN DNR. MN DNR. 2009-05-03.
  3. ^ "Fisheries Lake Surveys - Minnesota DNR". Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  4. ^ Excerpts from the Minnesota Fish Consumption Advisory, 1996 Minnesota Department of Health. "Lake Vermilion Fish Consumption Advisory". Minnesota Department of Health. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Lake Vermilion state park land deal finalized". Archived from the original on 2010-06-11.
  6. ^ Cooperative Master Plan: Lake Vermilion State Park, Soudan Underground Mine State Park, 2011–2020 Archived 2013-11-01 at the Wayback Machine, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Trails (December 2010).
  7. ^ "Lake Vermilion Website".
  8. ^ "There are no references in our files indicating that National Geographic magazine has said Lake Vermilion is one of the worlds [sic] most beautiful lakes. We are asked from time to time whether the National Geographic Society has ever rated lakes and sunsets as to beauty or towns as to climate. It has not generally been our policy to do so, since personal opinion plays so large a part in determining such things."Crain, Julie (17 May 2007). "Re: A Question from the Reference Desk at Cumberland Public Library". email. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)