Fun Fishing at Mille Lacs

Water Body

One of the words that hasn’t been used frequently enough to describe walleye fishing on Mille Lacs over the past few years is “fun”.  Well let be the first to tell you if you like catching fish the fun is back!

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First 2016 Mille Lacs Eye

I’ve been able to make two quick trips to Mille Lacs so far this year and I can’t wait to get back! Between myself and the couple friends who joined me we’ve put well over 100 walleyes on the ice.

Early ice conditions that hampered getting out are mostly gone and resorts have their houses out now as well as roads for full sized vehicles, but it certainly hasn’t slowed the fishing.   If you’ve ever wanted the perfect opportunity to teach someone (son/daughter/spouse) about walleye fishing now is the perfect time to head to Mille Lacs.

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During my first trip in early January we were limited to near shore fishing but found that even shallow during mid-day the walleyes, perch, and northerns were very aggressive.  The most prevalent fish are coming from the 2012 & 2013 year classes which are now between 12-16.5″, but we also found several fish into the 17-20″ range as well as missing a few opportunities at “picture” fish.

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My second trip was just this past weekend and we were able to make it out to the mud finding very similar results with an aggressive bite going on even during bright sunny conditions mid-day.  VMC Rattle spoons were my hot bait, not as much because the fish preferred them over other offerings, but rather that they allowed us to get baits back down quickly when fish would come through and having a heavier bait helped during high winds that we were dealing with.  Again most of the fish were in the 12-16″ range but did find fish into the low 20’s.  I also lost a giant in the hole when it got stuck in the wet cement-like snowy slush that with the high winds would fill every hole almost instantly after drilling.

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Not only are the walleyes on fire right now but there have also been some very promising reports of jumbo perch showing up on the North end sand so there’s also opportunities for those who need to come home with fish for the pan. (Check out Big Gill’s pic in the picture gallery)

The excellent fishing wasn’t the only highlight of my trip as I was also VERY impressed with some of the new gear that I’ve been trying this year.  With the wind filling my LX-7 with snow I put it away for a while and switched over to the LX-5i that I bought as a back-up and I was not disappointed.  The flat screen made it very easy to read even with a combination of blowing snow and bright sun.  I also am quickly becoming a huge fan of replacing the hooks on my spoons with the new VMC glow resin trebles. In the past if a fish hits and didn’t get hooked I could feel that the minnow head was gone I’ve always had to reel up and re-bait, thus frequently losing the opportunity for that fish to hit a second time. However, with the glow trebles I’ve found the extra color on the hook let’s me leave it down and still get a second bite.  Most impressive though was my TUCR Commander… Wow is this a fun rod!  Even though I lost my big fish at the hole I don’t think the rod could have performed any more perfectly on a large walleye and not only that, but it is still light enough to be just as fun with the 12″ fish.  Also impressive was how well my Striker Predator Suit handled not only the wind but me going elbow deep trying to grab the big fish came unpinned at the hole. I couldn’t believe that the stretchy wrist material that keeps the wind out on my jacket also completely kept my sweatshirt arm dry and even with a several mile ATV trip home I didn’t get cold at all.

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If you’re looking for a fun trip with lot’s of action don’t forget Mille Lacs.  Do the lake!



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  1. Awesome! Thanks for sharing! I had another buddy share a very similar report. It is great to hear positive news about my favorite lake!

  2. I would be curious to know how man of these big numbers catches are many of the same fish biting over and over or actually.

    The DNR knows based on their own hands in experience ( that have NOT made public), that in recent open water BIG bites, the SAME fish bit multiple times in an hour let alone the same day on a hook and line–thus the creel survey numbers /reports like this one are NOT accurate. I for one, did some tagging of fish in recent years both open water and through the ice and found the same fish to often bite on or lines at least 3-5 times an hour..

    My point is, when forage is low, is the “bite” giving anglers/the DNR a false sense of how many fish are there? In other words, what is the ACTUAL harvest vs. the “count” of the times an angler reeled in a fish? The answer would hugely change the harvest numbers used on the quota system!!

    The DNR reps will NOT answer me on this….anyone else ask them–say the so called “advisory” group in public?

  3. Thanks for the input Steve. I agree that during the hot bite a few years ago for larder fish we definitely did catch the same fish a few times if sitting still and that’s probably happening with some of these smaller ones as well to some extent if fishing in a permanent house in the same location.

    I have to say that the likelihood of the fish ice caught this year being the same ones is low because we never stopped moving for either of our trips. We ice trolled on 8 flats this past weekend and hit several of my early season spots on the first trip and have seen the same results everywhere.

    I definitely wouldn’t be encouraging people to come up if I thought it would harm the fishery but I am comfortable the the 2012-2013 year classes are still in good shape and they don’t appear to be starving either.


  4. Nice report Will. I’ll be heading up tomorrow for a run & gun effort. Any advice on positioning on/off flats and color of jigging spoons?


  5. Apologize for the late response Hedder as I was actually up at Mille Lacs taking my 2 1/2 year old out for his 1st ice fishing trip; hopefully you were able to get on some fish.

    Nothing to complex about what we had going as we did our best on the tops of the flats during the morning/evening and on the bottom edge or even off the flat a bit during mid-day. It seemed that the best producing locations were finding small features on the larger flats.

  6. Thomas, the perch that we are getting up on the NE corner of the lake are mostly 10-12.5″ but I’ve talked to a couple guys who found them up to 13.5″. They are pretty spread out though with people can be fishing only a few hundred feet away from one another and experience very different results.


  7. Hey will, any suggestions on what area or resort I should think about using to get out to some good flats? I’m taking a buddy up there who really deserves to get on some fish this weekend. Any info is greatly appreciated!

  8. I took Will’s advice last weekend and took my 10YO daughter up to the pond to catch all these Walleyes he was bragging about. She had a blast and caught a ton of fish. They were all in the 13-17″ range and went back. Good news is that it was a great experience for her and she learned how to fish with a Marcum flasher for the first time. Bad news is i had to order a second flasher as she now refuses to fish without one!

    Thanks for the great article Will!

  9. Thanks Rick! Glad to see you’re teaching your daughter the right way to fish… with a Marcum!


    My favorite resort to head out of if I’m fishing the flats is the Red Door. It is a much shorter drive to get out to the mud (with either an ATV or full size vehicle) and they do an excellent job of keeping roads maintained to multiple flats.


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