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My wife and I have just returned home from a fantastic 2 week trip to Lake Vermilion. As usual, we stayed on the east end. The only negative of the entire trip was the enormous quantities of mosquitoes this year. Obviously, mosquitoes are synonymous with wet conditions and one of the local TV stations reported that Lake Vermilion came up 18" between the opener and the first week in June.

Weather-wise, we dealt with wind and rain the first week and sun and breeze the second.

We generally get out on the lake by 7-8am and never stay out past 1pm. We fished from Moose Island to Armstrong Bay and found our "best" fishing on mid-lake reefs and humps. Our most productive spots involved adjacent deep water up to 40+ft. I like to cruise around the structure and check for outside or inside turns that falls off fast into the deep water. I always check for fish on the sonar but some of the "best" structure doesn't show any. When the bite is good, the active feeders move out onto the flatter areas. We found all of our fish between 25ft and 32ft. Some of our best areas was directly adjacent to 23ft that dropped rapidly into those depths. At times we found them on larger flats that topped at 27ft out of 35-40ft of water.

We slowwwwwwwww back trolled leeches straight down with 1oz bottom bouncers and plain red Gamakatsu size8 hooks. The smaller sized hook doesn't snag up very often. Early on in the trip, I accidentally discovered that "short" leaders worked wayyyyyyy better. Actually, 3ft was great and even shorter worked fine. I generally start with 4-5ft leaders and laziness after cutting the line on deep hooked fish allowed us to discover that shorter was better. We used leeches exclusively and bigger was better.

22% of all the fish we caught were "slot" fish. We had days where slot fish made up almost 50% of the catch. One particular morning, the first 3 fish measured 24.5",23",22", and we caught 3 additional between 17" and 20" that same morning. The bulk of the "eaters" were 14"-16" and all of the fish were in great shape. The only "dink" walleyes we caught were off the dock during the first week.

I was an opponent of the "slot". I have changed my thinking to believe that Lake Vermilion has the potential to be a "real" trophy walleye lake because of the slot. I also agree with the 4 fish limit. It takes 3-15" to 16" walleye to feed my wife and myself. That leaves 5 walleyes in our limit that we don't "need" to have a meal. If the majority of the fishermen take only what they "need" to eat on a day-to-day basis, there's going to be lots of big walleyes for catch and release trophy fishing in a few years.

We will return in August as usual. Good luck to everyone in the meantime.

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Great report....can't wait to get up there and do some searching myself...It's going to be a long 2 weeks..

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    • Rick
      Try cross-country skiing, fat biking and more
      Winter may have gotten off to an especially cold start in 2018, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy what’s left of it. For an introduction to snow sports, stop by the annual Winter Trails Day extravaganza at Fort Snelling State Park on Saturday, Jan. 20, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Adults and kids can try cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, fat biking, ice fishing, quinzee (snow shelter) building and archery. Other activities will include ice harvesting, storytelling and an ice globe demonstration. Guided nature hikes will also take place every half hour, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Between activities, visitors can enjoy hot cocoa around a crackling bonfire. Activities will be set up near the beach area. “Winter Trails Day is about helping people warm up to winter,” said Kelli Bruns, park manager at Fort Snelling State Park. “The cold weather months are more fun when you find an activity you can enjoy alone or with others.” This year, for the first time, sign-language interpreters will be on hand to help make the day’s activities more accessible to those with hearing disabilities. Stop by the registration tent for more information. Winter Trails Day is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, retail co-op REI, the U.S. Forest Service and Mississippi Park Connection. Use of skis, snowshoes, fat bikes and other equipment will be free, but a vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas ($7 for a one-day permit or $35 for a year-round permit). Save time, get vehicle permit in advance
      Although permits are available at the park, people attending Winter Trails Day can avoid waiting in line by getting their permit in advance. Visit, log in (or create an account), click on “entry permit,” select a duration of “one-day” ($7) or “year-round” ($35), and continue as directed. You’ll receive an email with a permit that can be printed and displayed in your vehicle during your visit. For more information, call the park at 612-725-2724 or visit the Fort Snelling State Park Web page at Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
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