Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Walleyes are biting on Mille Lacs!

15 inch Mille Lacs Walleye
Saturday morning I got a text from my friend Mark Applen asking if I was going to Mille Lacs.  I told him I was interested in fishing the flats so he said pick him up at 11:00AM.  It was a perfect excuse to leave.  It was about zero out and we knew it would be cold however I wanted to move around a little so we decided that we could both base ourselves out of my larger Clam insulated portable.  It's not that portable however I do have a trailer that makes it easy to load and unload so I hooked it up, loaded my auger, heater, propane tank, poles and Vexilar and picked up Mark.  Our first stop was Bill's to pick up minnows and get the latest information.  Our plan was to head over to Hunter's point Resort where they have a road plowed out to the flats, then find Sliver Flat, set up on the top (it's a very small flat) then fish the edges both the top edge and bottom edge.  Years ago I used to go out of Liberty Beach Resort, they would have a road out to 3 mile reef then extend it northwest right to Sliver Flat, you could turn south to 9 mile or turn north to Boot Flat.   I always like Sliver Flat however, there I go, fishing memories again!  Anyway, I forgot my trusted Lowrance HDS 9 Chart/sonar unit as it has the most accurate map and Sliver is funny, small and narrow.  I had the Navionics app on my phone and unfortunately it shows sliver as a round structure, not exactly correct.  Well, Mark had his handheld GPS but it had the Navionics map so we had a difficult time pinpointing the accurate depth.. As well there was a portable parked right on top of the flat and he had tip ups scattered up and down the top.  We ended up fishing the south edge and had to encroach on him only because he pretty much hogged the whole flat.  If I would have had my Lowrance Map with is based on the Lakemaster data, we probably could have successfully fished the north side but there was little I could do.  Either way we set up and Mark immediately caught a 15 inch walleye. Unfortunately Mille Lacs has a restricted harvest and one is only allowed a single fish that has to measure between 19 and 21 inches, not impossible but damn difficult at best.  To be frank, the tribal harvest and subsequent restrictions have really screwed up the lake. It is full of 13 to 15 inch walleyes and reports of 50 fish per day
Another small Walleye.
catches are not uncommon but you can't keep anything. People forget that mIlle Lacs was often called the "Dead Sea" or a current well deserved name "Home of the quarter pounder!" I had a blast as it's been a long time since I ice fished Mille Lacs, maybe a year ago.  I had fish constantly on my Vexilar and ended up with 7 walleyes in that 13 to 15 inch range.  In addition I lost a couple and had 2 really big ones on.  The story on Mille Lacs is the light bite so I switched to a Hawger Spoon with a single hook, my go to perch bait.  While sitting there talking to Mark all of a sudden a fish slammed my bait and the fight was on.  It had the classic walleye head shake and about halfway she came off.  Uffda!!! that was a nice fish and of course to speculate, maybe in that 24 - 28 inch range, I guess I'll never know.  The action was fast with some fish hitting the bait sand some just floating up to look at it and going back down. Either way it was enough to keep your interest as the ones that hit were aggressive and the one that just looked at it took some more finessing.  I sure would have liked to see those larger fish but maybe next week.  I definitely was cold out and for sure I will not forget my GPS mapping system next time. It's pretty accurate and is a big help to find that out of the way point of edge that can hold fish!

It's been pretty incredible what we have been paying for gas these days.  Never getting used to the $3.80/gallon price, on the other extreme I filled up on the way home (Saturday) in Princeton for $1.39/gallon.  25 gallons was $35.00.   Amazing. It's interesting that the pundits are saying that these low gas prices are not helping the economy, I guess everyone is used to paying high prices, go figure!  Anyway I am sure that places like Costco and Sam's club are 10 to 15 cents cheaper than this and I suspect it won't last long so stock up!  I have a 51 gallon tank in my boat so it would be nice if this stayed around the same price for at least 6 months.  I only would love to see the lower gas prices override the ethanol mandates but that's a whole nother discussion. My neighbor and friend, "Buck a Gallon Pete" says that we should see it go up and like clockwork it went up by $0.30 on Tuesday.  It would be nice to be able to stock up but that is somewhat impractical.  I am going to try to get back up to Mille Lacs this weekend and maybe even take a day off and help Bill do some pre-fishing next week for his clients.  The ice was not very thick for this time of year and with the forecast in the 50's for this Friday, it feels like ice out could be pretty early this year.  With MN fishing opener on the latest day possible, May 14th, it could be very good, especially if the water temperatures get into the high 50's, low 60's.  Time will tell, that's for sure.  With the mild weather I have been working on my boat and in addition to the new Ezee Steps on my trailer, Mark from Ezze Steps made me a special step to replace the one that was on my RangerTrail, ,mounted to the winch post.  It makes it much easier to climb in and out of the boat and when I get some more time I'll post a picture.


Anonymous said...

Hey there, Dave! It was nice to meet you out on Mille Lacs last weekend. I'll check in for some future reports. Hope you're able to get out again soon!


David Grant said...

Sounds like fun, wish I could've gone out sometime this winter. Hopefully soon.