Mille Lacs is one of the most storied fisheries in the country. It is a 132,000 acre, natural lake. There are roughly a dozen small creeks flowing into Mille Lacs and one small river (Rum River) that flows out of it. Mille Lacs north half consists of rock and sand structure along the shoreline. Off-shore, are the famed Mille Lacs "mud flats" and vast open basin area. The south half of the lake consists of many shallow rock reefs and deep gravel structure. There are weedy bays all around the lake. Mille Lacs is wide open, measuring 20 miles from the town of Garrison on the northwest corner of the lake to the town of Isle on the lake's southeast corner. There are only 9 small islands. The lake's average depth is 24' and it's maximum depth is just 40'. Mille Lacs historic fishery goes back to the day's of wooden launches towing small row boats out to spots where families dressed in their Sunday-best could catch their limit of walleyes after driving their Model T's up to the lake..
Nowadays, Mille Lacs has been the center of much attention. Politics, fisheries biology management, invasive species, climate change, technology and social-media have all impacted Mille Lacs. The water is clearer than ever, the smallmouth bass population has exploded, and the walleye fishing is as good as it has ever been in recent history!
Walleyes are the most numerous species in Mille Lacs and are historically the most targeted species. Mille Lacs walleyes vary in size depending on the time of year and where you are fishing. Generally, Mille Lacs walleyes run big in size. It is not uncommon to catch many fish in the 23-27" range during any month of the open water season.
Mille Lacs walleyes feed primarily on perch, shiners, tullibees (ciscoe) and crayfish, depending on time of year and location.
Smallmouth Bass have exploded in population over the last 20 years in Mille Lacs, a long-time slot protecting large bass has created a trophy fishery that is now considered one of the best in the country. The many rock reefs all around the lake provide prime habitat and large numbers of crayfish for these bass. Primetime for catching consistent big bass is June and then again in the fall starting in Sept.
Mille Lacs also has one of the best trophy Muskie fisheries in the country. There have been several catch and release Muskies caught in the last few years that would have arguably been the new MN state record had they been officially weighed.
We typically start out the season using jigs/minnow and jig/plastics when fish are on the shallow, shoreline structure. This is a fun time of the year to fish as the species can be mixed at times. We are usually in anywhere from 6' to 21' of water depending on weather. Structure might be rocks, sand or even weeds. This pattern will last until around early June. While there is some overlap and not all fish do the same thing at the same time, we do generally switch to fishing the deeper "mud flats" and gravel bars in June. Presentations include Live-bait rigging with leeches, crawlers and minnows and trolling bottom-bouncer/spinners.
As summer progresses, many of the larger walleyes will move out into the structureless basin areas by later in July. To target these fish, we are trolling leadcore line with crankbaits. This time of the year also sees a good bite on the shallow and mid-depth structures again using slip-bobbers, spinners and even trolling crankbaits.