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wannabe mn icer

Bemidji or Brainerd

28 posts in this topic

Hello fellow icefishers, I need some input on this one. Please help. I'm 3 weeks out from retirement and plan on moving to either the bemidji area or the brainerd area. I'm wondering which area has the better icefishing and open water fishing(walleye,perch, northerns). Also, which area offers a better quality of life (crime, part time jobs, homes ,etc.). Any input, especially about icefishing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Are you married? You may think about Brain-died, since there is so much more shopping! crazy Also there are a ton of good lakes around the area. wink

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Bemiji will be quiter than brainerd with less crime. more shopping in brainerd along with more people and tourist. Myself i would go with bemiji

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Kev, me too, but that was why the wife Q's. Sometimes it's better to get half of what you want with them, then none at all! cry

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Hiya wannabe,

I live in Brainerd and I can't say enough good things about the area. I moved here about 6 years ago from the cities and I'm so glad I did. There are so many outstanding fishing lakes within a stone's throw that it's not even funny. Some can get pretty busy especially during the tourist invasion during the summer, but there are plenty of other fishing options available.

Plus, there's some of the finest golfing in the state in Brainerd as well. And, as mentioned by others, some decent shopping as well.

4 lane highway gets you all the way from Minneapolis/St. Paul should you need to get down there for whatever reason. Plus St. Cloud is halfway between if you don't want to go all the way to the cities.

There are a bunch of nice restaurants to check out as well.

By no means am I bad-mouthing Bemidji. I really haven't spent much time up there so I can't give you an informed opinion. I will leave that to others.

I enjoy Brainerd for all of it's fishing, both hard and soft water. I enjoy the golf. I even enjoy the summer invasion from time to time as well. If you liked to snowmobile, there are trails galore. The grouse hunting and deer hunting is mighty fine as well.

If you're moving to Bemidji for the Curling, I understand a couple rinks are in the works out at the Fair Grounds. Bonspiels can't be too far off the radar.

Anyway... it's a tough choice. I chose Brainerd because of a job and I haven't regretted my decision to move North for one second.

I wish you luck!

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I live just outside of Bemidji and I like it here, I also like Brainerd but I feel Brainerd has much more of a touristy feel to it. I would say your money will buy you a lot more house in the Bemidji area.

Brainerd is more like the city's, trying to be a up north small town and Bemidji is a small town trying to act like a big city. For a example if you dive around Brainerd you will see a lot of log sided building with the river rock and in Bemidji you will find some, but for the most part we have concrete buildings that look like they should be in St. Cloud.

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Consider also the health care in the area. At retirement you might be pretty healthy, but a few years down the line you might frequent parking ticket at the local hospital wink

Anyway, I know Brainerd has a new cardiology wing, and pretty decent hospitals. My wife works in med field, so we might try to relocate to Crosslake, and she could work in Brainerd or Crosby (good med center there too).

Not sure about Bemidji, but I know you can be not too far from Brainerd and be out in the sticks, but in Bemidji you are farther out in the sticks. Which both have their pluses and minues.

But Congrats on the retirement! Enjoy it wherever you go!

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Thanks to everyone for the information. it's a tough choice, but I think that I'll win no matter where we end up. Please keep the information coming.

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Wan, good luck finding a good place to live in MN. There's a lot of nice towns here. You know "Minnesota nice" grin So how was the Ice fishing in PA if any? Leech~~

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Hey Leech, thanks for the reply. I don't think that I can go wrong with moving to MN. Ice fishing in PA is TERRIBLE. Very few decent lakes, few fish, little or no ice. Last 3 years we had 2-3 weeks of 4in? ice. Couldn't even stand close to your family or friends or it would start moving. I have to drive 5 hrs to get to a Walleye lake and all the panfish get slammed. Guys keep 4-5 in. perch out here. I can't wait to get on the ice out there, I have ALOT to learn but at least the lakes and the fish are there. I plan on being out there by mid to late november. Thanks for the reply.

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After going to college in Bemidji for 5 years not to long ago, and camping around Brainerd when I was a kid with the family, and growing up near St. Cloud for 20 some years I can help ya out. I would say both are very viable options as for retiring, even though both towns continue to keep changing. I can break it down throughly for ya.... I guess the way I look at it is what do you want out of each place, and like someone state if your married and shopping is a big deal and convinence (like so much suburb/city life) is to her then Brainerd is the better option if you need to way her opinion into the decision. As Brainerd has alot more to offer as stores is closer to st. cloud or the cities, which are the main retail store areas of the state. While as Bemidji has a decent mall and some stores, you might need to travel to st. cloud or duluth to get better options.

Healthcare as was stated in a previous post should be considered as to you don't want to drive to far, and I would say either city offers the best here. Brainerd has a pretty good hospital, but again the St. Cloud hospital is just an hour drive and is the main facility for central Minnesota. While Bemidji just added on to their regional hospital and is the "main" or best healthcare facility in northwestern Minnesota. So I would say each facility is comparable to each other.

As was said before by JSK, Bemidji is more a big town in a desolate area (even though it has changed alot and grown since I was a freshman at BSU back in 2002), and Brainerd well I should say Baxter is more a Twin Cities suburb located around a lot of lakes. It was not like this, and use to be more a small resort city but Brainerd/Baxter really changed and is pretty much a home away from home for the cabin/tourists come summer with all the amendities it has to offer, but still giving a northwoods feeling once outside of the city limits. But I can tell Bemidji is slowly changing this way as the new event center/BSU hockey arena is going up near the Hampton Inn, talk of a Menards coming, and a supposidly new mall to be built just off of 71 and Hwy 2, along with all the new homes being built in the out skirts of Bemidji, so its changing as well.

Now crime is another story, neither town is like chicago or Minneapolis persay, but I would say Bemidji has a hire crime rate than Brainerd, just because of its location of 3 Native reservations close by, and Brainerd really has no reservations unless you include Mille Lacas band. Not being racist but that is a factor, along with drugs (meth), and the poverty levels, which Id say beltrami county (Bemidji's county) has a higher poverty rate than Crow Wing (Brainerd's county). But really there is no need to worry if you just go about your business, respect people (especially the locals of each town) and treat everyone the same. I find that some non-locals..either out of state or from the cities or southern Minnesota can be disrespectful to the people who live & work in these 2 areas and that causes alot of friction and dislikeness between each other, hence why nicknames like citidiots, tree huggers, swampies, FIBs, concrete jungle, etc come about. So like I said and will renforce just be respectful, courtious, honest, open/friendly, and you will be fine. Well I should say don't be to open when talking fishing spots especially if fellow angler friends showed you those spots, you can end some good friendships that way.

Now to the topic you want to hear about is the ice fishing/openerwater fishing options. Honestly both areas have alot of lakes and options to fish it really depends on species you like to chase, and if you own a boat what size it is as that can relate to what size of lakes you can fish..grant it you can fish any lake on a calm day in a 12 foot boat but Bemidji area always has some sort of wind it seems in spring or fall and summer you get more calm days. Saying that I am not much of a summer fisherman as it seems like the lakes are the busiest at this time of year so I spend more time fishing in a boat or canoe in spring or fall, while ice fishing as well. I guess I can break it down to you like this....

During the winter I would say both areas get hit about the same amount of fishing pressure, which is ok because there are so many lakes that its not like everyone congregates to one lake (, unless its just a really hot bite and someone opened their mouth. Well I take that back, it seems like lake Bemidji has the whole town move out there when winter comes with all the shacks, being that its so close to town, and Brainerd has Gull Lake, which is another city, but each lake is so big that it can handle the pressure. As far as species being a real debate for you, if you like to fish walleyes, both area's have great fisheries within minutes of each other (there isn't a shortage of eyes in both areas). Same can be said for bass (mainly largemouth, but a few smallies can be had), northern, and panfish, both areas are very comparable. As far as muskie fishing Bemidji tops Brainerd for sure, because most brainerd muskie chasers drive to Lake Alec or Mille Lacs or up to Leech, where as in Bemidji you have lake Bemdiji, Cass, Winnie, and Leech all within a 45 minute drive. I guess that is a factor too as Bemidji is really centralized when it comes to getting on the big lakes in Minnesota, as Red, Leech, Winnie are all within an hour drive, and Lake of The Woods is just over a 90 minute drive. Where as folks from the cities have a 3-5 hour drive to these lakes, and more often settle on just going to Mille Lacs cuz its closer. All those lakes are great walleye factories, along with perch, northerns, and muskie (cept Red). So that can be a factor for you as well. Hunting thats a whole other topic but alot of great opportunties in both areas, and both areas hold a great deal of public land which is awesome, as I never really knew there was such a thing while growing up around St. Cloud in farm country where everything is private, and no tresspassing/no hunting signs plaque every fence line it seems, but I can see why as alot of people just don't care and go onto everyone else's land without asking.

If it was up to me in a heartbeat I'd retire around Bemidji someplace but I am biased as to I went to college there not to long ago and the memories and friendships I developed over the years and the love I have for the area is still close to me. I would love to live there but there are no jobs for a college grad, and shouldn't have to settle working for Walmart either. But I'll stay in positive mind & attitude and I will get there someday. Hope this helps ya Wannabe, I sure wish I was at retiring age especially in this economy, cuz all I'd do is fish! Good Luck to you & your move, and maybe I'll see ya on the lakes as I fish all over so ya never know!

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Bluegill 1510- WOW THANKS for all the valuable insight. I really appreciate that You took the time to share so much information. I'm am leaning toward the Bemidji area but have a few concerns which you mentioned in your post. Time will time where we end up. I might be going to hell in a bucket but at least I'm enjoying the ride. Thanks again to all that posted. If I can't trust an icefishermen, who can I trust. Unless, of course,it's about the number and size of the fish caught.

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Not a problem more than welcome to help, I guess its the Minnesota Nice in me! Plus its a rainy day here, can't paint outside in the rain or hang bow stands safely, so what better than to help a guy out. If you got any other concerns just post I can read and get back to you. Both areas are very unique in their own ways so its what you and your family wants out of each area and fits well for you as a home and not so much a huge transition or shell shocker when you do move coming from PA. Never been that far east just to Wisconsin if that counts! I really can't imagine living anywhere else like rural Minnesota with the passion of hunting or fishing and the opportunities of both that we have here compared to other states. Unless you start to include canada in the topic then thats a whole other opportunity right there.

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I've lived in Brd for my whole life, 35 years, and it just keeps getting more busy every year, seems like everyone from the big city wants to retire up here and it gets more and more crowded every year, it's the Mpls playground. There's no doubt that in Bemidji it will be quieter and more layed back, plus you're quite a bit closer to LOW.

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Bemidji less people more fish the pressure of people is lees than the brainerd area. If your looking for peace of mind Bemidji is it. to Brainerd has got that hustle-bustle feeling to it that I'm not fond of but I have caught a lot of fish in the Brainerd area.

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Not sure if you have time to do this,or if its in the budget, but maybe visit each city for a few days? Check everything out to get a feel for what they are and how they differ.

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Dilly & Elwood I agree that Brainerd has gotten alot busier, but wasn't it in the 90s when it was not so busy and just a smiple town? I guess with the new events center going up in Bemidji and the continued growth, I can see Bemidji turning into Brainerd sadly. Thats exactly what the locals around Bemidji do not want is it turning into another Brainerd, at least the ones i've talked to. Its a crazy ripple effect I've noticed, people from the cities move up to st. cloud or brainerd, the people where im from around st. cloud get upset cuz its getting to crowded so they move farther north towards grand rapids or bemidji...people north of highway 2 get upset cuz its getting crowded they move to the falls or baudette, pretty soon canada will be northern Minnesota lol!

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Bluegill, well Daa! Who the heck really wants to live in the cities! frown I grew up in South MPLS and can't wait until I can move up right next to you and retire!!! lol. grin

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Bluegill, well Daa! Who the heck really wants to live in the cities! frown I grew up in South MPLS and can't wait until I can move up right next to you and retire!!! lol. grin

Hehe, yep, same here. Grew up an East Sider (always will be!) and moved north to WBL. Now inching towards another move north to Crosslake. I'm am one of those you northerner's hate wink j/k, I love the local people up there, and am respectful, not the money throwing type.... cause I don't got me none wink hehe

Wannabee, you will like it here, wherever you end up. Also don't be afraid to look at areas in between two larger cities/towns.

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I'd spend some time staying at resorts in both areas. Try out the fishing, check out the town, check the vibe of the people, etc. Based on which one you go with after that, I'd then rent a house for at least 6 months at that location to further get a feel for it. If you really are from PA and have little experience with either of these areas, you need to spend the time checking both out before you go through the expense and hassle of settling.

As others have said, it really depends on how close you want to be to the Twin Cities and what size of a town you want to live in. I personally don't think I'd want to live full-time around Brainerd. It's grown so much and feels just like a suburb of the Twin Cities to me. I don't want to see a Best Buy, Kohls, etc when I'm up at the lake. I don't want to deal with stop lights. That's what the big city is for. That's why I wouldn't want to have a cabin there. But if this is your full-time home, it might be nice to have more of the city amenities nearby. And for yourself or your wife, there are benefits to being near a college with the concerts and events they can offer.

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Your situtuation is one I wished I had. It's kind of like having two good quarterbacks, but I'm a Viking fan... I wouldn't know anything about that.

BlueGill's post is perfect. I grew up in Bemidji and he is very accurate.

If you are serious about Bemidji, please e-mail me at kwiggy@yahoo.com I can tell you anything you would like to know. Plus, my mom is selling her home on Lake Plantagenet (8 miles south of Bemidji). The buyer gets all hotspots with sale!

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Thats fine by me Leech, I'll be otta here....lol really who does want to live down there in the cities? Its not that bad driving down for a twins game or to see family on weekends but man on Sunday evenings that I-94 parking lot looks like alotta fun to sit in :-) I dont know how you guys do it but hats off to ya guys who grew up or live down there!

Queenswake, couldnt agree more..Brainerd/Baxter is just to bland and just like St. Cloud.

Kwiggy, lucky you got grow up in the area that you did. Remember that lake still has public accesses so you can still fish your "hot spots", but if your offering them I'll take a few im kidding! Didnt fish that lake much when I went to college up there, but yeah its definitely another option to choose from....to many lakes not enough time!

merkman, Rapids is ok, I'd never been there till a few years ago when I was going to school in Bemidji, and I wasn't to impressed with the town, just like another Brainerd in my opinion but thats just me. I'd rather live near Bigfork/Effie anyways haha

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