Water Temp.-64-66 degrees
Conditions” P/C Sky-5-10MPH Winds out of the SE
Let me first start of by saying, “Mille Lacs Lake is ALIVE and well.” While you may not be able to keep any walleye’s, there are plenty out there to provide rod bending action. Trophy Smallmouth action since Opening Weekend has been nothing short of phenomenal. During our outing we honestly lost track of how many walleye’s we landed (40+ is being conservative. Including 1 tagged fish). The walleye’s were stacked on a windblown rocky point. While we didn’t target Smallmouth for a long period of time, we managed to boat 18-20 of those as well. Several of these were mixed with the walleye’s we caught. Others were on beds on the opposite end of the lake. I managed to land a 21 ¼” GIANT, which was our biggest of the day. This was my personal biggest Smallie in quite some time.
My fishing partner Erik Quanrud and I were on a test mission for Northland Tackle this past Wednesday. With a front forecast to approach in the late evening, and day of stable weather I had a hunch it would be the perfect storm for a HOT bite. We tried out Northland Tackle’s Impulse Crawlers & #5 Baitfish Spinners. That’s right. NO livebait!
We tested a NEW crankbait for another company that has yet to hit the market with success as well (but, we can’t elaborate on that….yet). Let’s just say, a known Bass company quite possibly has a walleye style crankbait that could be a game changer in the works.
Erik and I started our search on a windblown point on famed Mille Lacs with a two style approach. He long lined a Rapala Husky Jerk in clown color 65’-85’ behind the boat. I did the same only with a hand tied Northland Tackle #5 baitfish spinner in rainbow and a 3/16oz bullet sinker. In the early morning the fish wanted the Husky Jerk, and I even switched to pulling one in the Helsinki Shad color for a while. Then, they switched to wanting spinner rigs. Our key was to get our presentation back behind the boat a ways so as not to spook these shallow water fish. We tried to maintain a trolling speed between 1.5mph to 2.2mph into the wind. Coming back with the wind we were anywhere from 2.0mph to as fast as 2.5mph, with me kicking the motor in and out of gear. This is where we let out more line to accommodate for the speed we were traveling. Often, a sudden change of speed triggered our strikes. We started working 8’ to 9’ rocks, as the morning progressed the fish slid out to 9’ to 10’ rocks with some cabbage weeds mixed in. Finally, they moved even deeper to that 10’ to 14’ rock/weed edge. A couple times, just for a change of pace we drifted back in casting plastics. Erik worked a shaky-head jig with a Northland Impulse crawler and I tossed a B’Fishin Tackle PulseR in oyster shell on a 3/16oz jig head. There were a couple of inside turns we discovered while trolling that went in a lot closer to shore we focused on for this particular adjustment to our technique.
The Northland Tackle spinner rigs we used I hand tie myself. I often like doing this because I can make them any length I want (typically from 3’ to 7’). Another thing I like is that with the components Northland Tackle offer’s I can present specific color schemes to match the lakes forage. On Mille Lacs on this day, I went with a #5 rainbow spinner and blue/glo white beads to imitate the lakes tullibee and shiner population. For this particular application, I used 54” of #10 mono to tie my spinner rig and attached it to my main line with a small ant swivel. The larger #5 blade provides a bit of lift and a lot of vibration. Tipped with the Northland Tackle Impulse crawler sealed the deal. These little scented delights are perfect for spinner rigs. No messing around with live bait. No wondering if you still have bait on if you happen to miss a fish.
When we did target Smallmouth Bass we used a variety of lures. I caught several on Northland Tackle’s dip-stick rigged wacky style. I caught a couple using a drop shot. Here I used Northland Tackle Impulse crawler on bedding fish. And we both caught fish on Erik’s hand tied hair jigs.
Mille Lacs Lake is alive and well folks! Our walleye’s ranged from 13” to 26” with a number of them being over the 20” mark. Our Smallmouth ranged from 16” to 21 ¼” on this day. Several of these were over the 20” mark. This is a World Class fishery.
For those that say, you can’t keep any walleye why even go to Mille Lacs. I often reply, “I’d rather have a steak anyway!” If you want to get on a fantastic bite with your friends and family, CPR (Catch-Photo-Release) some GIANT fish Mille Lacs will not disappoint.
Tip: When trolling, remember the saying; “Better too high than too low, Better too fast than too slow.”