Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scouting For This Weekend

Tom's 27 3/4" Walleye on an X-Rap
 My brother Steve is one of my best friends.  About 45 years ago our Dad would have begged to differ as we had our share of scuffles growing up together.  I remember one incident in particular, as we were pushing each other around on the stairs he took a swing at me.  That day I was faster than him and when I ducked his fist continued all the way through the sheet rock.  I knew we were in trouble, however it was apparent that he would take the brunt of it, I mean really, it was his fist that put the hole in the wall.  The years have added civility to our relationship as we have been to Alaska together, ice fishing at Lake of the Woods, is a seasoned member of Team Walleye, and the occasional trip to Mille Lacs.  Steve has recently changed jobs and the company owners love to fish.  When the subject of Mille Lacs came up he said that his brother Dave fishes it all the time, which evolved into let's go and this weekend it's show time!  Steve, his son Kevin, and 6 others are meeting me on Friday as we try to put some fish in the boat. September can be an interesting time of year to fish Mille Lacs.  My strategies have changed through the years as long line and lead line trolling have become an important technique to catching walleyes.  The walleyes have been hit pretty hard this year as well, things have changed regarding fish location in September and October.  It was a given that starting about the first of August the big fish would move back on the reefs to take advantage of the forage found there.  My only mounted walleye came off 3 mile reef on August 12, 1988 in 5 feet of water, right at dusk.  There were years where I could show up on a reef, cast shallow running lures like Rouges or Husky Jerks and catch 10 - 15 walleyes in that half hour before sunset to dark time period with a few in that 28 inch class.  The last 4 - 5 years this pattern has definitely changed.  Myself and a few others who have taken advantage of this now

My First walleye of the night
 rare bite believe that the recent change in smallmouth regulations which only allow one fish over 21 inches have affected the shallow negatively (for walleyes).  We theorize that the smallmouth populations have exploded and have taken over the shallow rock reefs making it almost impossible for a walleye to find anything to eat there.  Certainly there has been a movement to deeper water and maybe it was already there, we just didn't know.  All I can say is things have changed.  So in light of my task, neighbor Tom Olson and I went up Saturday afternoon to do some pre fishing.  Launching out of Cove Bay, the plan was to fish the deep water for a few hours, hit the shallow rock points before settling into that "potential" shallow water crankbait bite at dusk.  Well the deep trolling simply burned gasoline and the shallow rock point proved little to build my confidence.  On to Anderson's Reef where I have had success before but it's been hit or miss.  Tom likes to cast for muskies so he casted a large #13 jointed X-Rap while I pitched for walleyes.  About the time I lamented the lack of fish on the reef a dandy 27  3/4 inch walleye grabbed his muskie lure.  Not that walleyes don't hit large baits but it is a good example of "big fish eat big baits". 

19 inch walleye on a #5 Hot Steel Shad Rap
 With the sun setting we changed to long line trolling shad raps and rouges at the edge of the reef.  I have a milk run that goes from the south tip of Anderson's, up along the west side and over to a little known hump and back.  Much of this water is 10 feet and word was that this depth was putting out fish.  My favorite color shad rap has been Hot Steel as it's been a great lure both for shallow water and deep lead lining.  15 minutes into the troll I hooked my first walleye, about 13 inches and came out of the 10 feet depth.  My next fish was a 12 inch smallmouth and was followed up with a 14 inch smallie.  As a side comment, I'd love to keep a few of them.  Smallmouth bass out of Mille Lacs are as good deep fried as any walleye can be.  Swinging around the hump something more substantial hit the lure and we landed this 19 inch walleye, interesting..............maybe the reef bite might materialize this year.   In the next 30 minutes I got another smallmouth and an 18 inch walleye before darkness settled in and the bite went dead.  After a half hour of trolling with nothing to show it was time to head in.  We ended the night with 4 walleyes including the nice 27 3/4 incher, 4 smallies, not bad for a short time fishing.  It goes back to what I had stated earlier, often the bite this time of year is in that last 2 hours of fishing and it was no different this time.  This is why I am never much in a hurry to leave for Mille Lacs in September.   A comment on the drive back to Cove Landing.  There is a very shallow rock reef that lies across the entrance to Cove Bay.  In recent years it has been marked with red and green navigational buoys however I have it marked in detail on my GPS as they will eventually remove the buoys for the winterbefore open water fishing ends.  At night I simply follow my route with out incident.  For some reason this year they decided to add additional buoys and extend them out further from the reef.  The route I have on the GPS now has a red buoy smack in the middle of my marked entrance.  It's a reminder that you can never trust the exact placement of the buoys on Mille Lacs and if I had remembered my spotlight, things would have been better.  I didn't hit it thank God!!

I look forward to fishing this weekend however the wind cast has both Friday and Saturday at 20 mph from the Northwest.  It will definitely change our strategy of where to fish and of course help cool the water down.  The surface temp was still 68 on Saturday but I expect it to have dropped under 60.  With air temps in the 50's predicted, its interesting when the water is warmer than the air.  We are due for our first frost soon and it should put an end to canning tomatoes, finally!  In Chicago next week for the exciting Coil Winding Show as I have a reservation with a good supplier at Gibson's Steak House on Wednesday.  It's quite an experience if you haven't been there.


Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

Anderson's Reef? I haven't fished that end of the lake so I'm wondering if that's on a map. It's probably next to Dave's Point! Hahahaha.


Dave Anderson said...

Damn, could you have at least kept that Alaskan weather there for 1 more week!