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Rivercirrosis

My advice: Forget Mille Lacs, go to Ash River + a Fishing Report

18 posts in this topic

With the Mille Lacs slot very tight now, it's a good time to try something new perhaps. Our family fished the East side of Kab and the West side of Namakan 6-30 to 7-7. Why all this talk on this site about staying at the Kab resorts? I think the best place to stay is in the Ash River. You can always get out to fish regardless of wind direction or intensity. Not so if there's a nasty N or NW wind at a Kab resort. Very East side of Kab and West side of Namakan are wind protected, even in a storm. We like Sunset Resort. Nice and quiet. Cute, Quaint cabins are clean and well maintained (wife likes that). Prices are the best around. No bar, so no drunks making noise at night. Bars and restaurants are walking distance away though, so you can grab a cold one and BS with the other fisherman. We did great fishing. Lindy rigging in 8-17 feet against windblown shorelines or mouths of shallow weedy bays will always out produce the "deep" bite - in my (25 years of KabNam) experience. Crawlers were better than leeches for us. Didn't try minnows cuz crawlers always work. Get a Hotspots map of Kab and fish the west side of Namakan the same way. 8-12 hours of wind into a spot will do the trick. If the wind isn't blowing, don't bother to fish the spot. Try Nebraska Bay, Blind Ash, Kohler Bay, Moose Bay, Junction Bay. All within a short ride from Ash River. Namakan has the best scenery of any lake in Minnesota. Be careful of the Canadian border though as it is patrolled by the mounties more than ever. You'll need to check-in at a customs office or have a "remote border crossing permit" to be over in Canada. Also be familiar with Voyageurs National Park rules (no big deal).

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I have to second this post. Our family has had a place on the Canadian side of Namakan for 30+ years and this is the best fishing season I have seen in several years. We leave from the Ash River and I would also recommend staying there as well. Lots of very nice resorts and especially nice people that are more than willing to assist you in finding fish.

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Rivercirrosis:

Interesting report you provided, as I have always wanted to fish this part of your state. My concern has always been that the families boat is just a 16' with 25hp.

As you mentioned about the area being somewhat protected from winds. Maybe, going out from this area is a safer way to go? Can I ask approx. miles to Namakan from Sunset Resort? Since I'm using a smaller boat, gas supply is a major concern.

Sounds like you and your family had a great time! I just might plan this area next year for our trip now. Thanks for the tip!! cool.gif

Also, where could one find on the net a good map of this area of ash river, east Kab. and western Nam.?

Thanks in advance.

Farmer

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Fishingfarmer: A Fishing HotSpots map of Kab will give you the information on fishing you want, plus the map has the extreme west end of Namakan on it. Further you should have no problem fishing out of the Ash River.

From the Sunset Resort to the end of the No Wake Zone down river is 8-10+ minutes. Pay attention to the channel markers and stay between them or you could very possibly have a lousy, lousy trip. At the end of the No Wake Zone you can power up and 5-6 minutes later you should be at the mouth of the Ash River as it empties into the eastern end of Kab.

I have fished with a friend who has a 14ft Lund with a 20hp Jonhson and have fished from Lost Bay on Kab to Junction Bay on Namakan without any fuel problems.

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We used to run out of the Ash River with a 14' and 25 hp motor. No problem getting out to Gold/Fox area on Namakan and back on a tank though we always carried a spare 2.5 gallon can of go-juice just in case.

Sunset is a very nice resort, a bit more family oriented and quieter than the others on the Ash River.

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Thanks for the nice report Rivercirrosis. Sounds like we should have hired you for a guide! We found fishing to be very slow because of the mayfly hatch during the period you describe. Sounds like you were in a better location. Hoping for better luck next year. - JD

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16 foot boats were the norm coming out of Ash River until only recently. From 1996 to last year my fishing was done out of a 17 foot Crestliner Fish Hawk with a 60 HP. It was considered by most locals as a BIG boat in 1996 - so no worries with a 16'/25 HP. The only limiting wind is a strong W or NW blow. It comes down Kab and right at the mouth of the Ash River Narrows. Just turn right (East) and go fish the very east side of Kab or the West side of Namakan. Lots of protected water. Coming from East to Ash River narrows will only be rough for exactly 1/2 mile from a pinch-point to the narrows. You'd have to work pretty hard to use 12 gallons of gas in a 25 HP motor in a day. Bring 12 gallons though as 6 is too close to call. It is 12 miles from Sunset to Kab/Namakan split (Foote Island). Don't know where to buy maps on the internet. All the resorts and bait shops up there have paper roll-up maps though. Maybe Sunset will mail some to you for a slight charge + the cost of the map. Oh, and buy your bait from Cold Springs store on the up on highway 53 about 3 miles south of the Ash River trail. This guy is the the local bait wholesaler and so is well stocked with everything, and it's fresh. He sells nightcrawlers by the 100 for about $14. Get refills from the resort if you run low.

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In my experience, the mayfly hatch doesn't severely impact the bite up there. I've had fantastic fishing while watching larvae emerge and fly off and carcasses were all over. I've also had poor fishing in the same conditions. I think it's all about catching the fish while they're feeding, where they're feeding. Deep fish are likely resting (neutral) with a belly full of Mayfly and won't eat. So, go catch them where they're on a feeding frenzy - in the shallower water. Do the "milk-run" until you find a spot where they're feeding. 1, 2, or 3 from a few spots makes a nice catch in a few hours. Every walleye eats twice a day - right?

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Just got in and had a chance to read all the advice.

Thanks alot guys, this sounds like a place we want to check out next year. We like the idea of the resort being a little more "mellow" so to speak. Nothing wrong with a cold one or two, but some tend to not no when to stop. With family along this resort sounds like a better fit.

Will look into finding a map of the general area, so we can plan for next year. Being new to the area will probably not venture to far from the mouth the first year. Unless we hear of a bite going strong a little farther away.

Thanks again for the tips on bait, distances, wind and etc. Very valuable info for a first timer thinking of going some place new.

Farmer

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I would highly recommend the Sunset Resort. We've been staying there for years. The Sunset has new owners, they took ownership this past April and interestingly enough they are from Iowa, but I don't recall which part of the state. Real nice folks. (They sold the cattle farm)

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To all, first of all thanks for all the positive remarks about are area, Mille Lacs being a huge body of open water, versus VNP with shorelines in sight at all times abundant with wildlife.

Secondly, as moderator for this site, I recommend all the lakes in the park, including Crane. Each lake basically offers somthing different, the depths are drastically different, meaning water temperatures between the lakes vary, especially in the Spring. This can change the fishing patterns greatly. Growth rates of the fish spieces differs between the lakes, and habitat varies as well.

So much for the lakes, I could go on.

As for resorts, Ash River has several fine resorts, pick one, some have lodges, some don't, some offer more services that others don't and etc. Look at their websites to choose what suits you, prices vary greatly, depending on what you are looking for. The www.ashriver.com website lists the resorts and houseboat availability.

The main Kabetogama area has a website www.kabetogama.com that offers up 20 resorts, some have facilites that others don't, some are small resorts, and some are larger complexes, once again prices and accomdations vary greatly.

Lots of campsites on this West end as there are campsites on Namakan.

Crane Lake has several resorts, and a houseboat operation that offers again, many ammenities not found on the other lakes. Crane is a sea plane base and offers a customs clearing facility.

All in all, VNP and Crane Lake have lots to offer, visit the websites and choose your liking, some families like different offerings than a bunch of hard core fisherman, just as those used to the BWCAW may want an area with a little more solitude. Good luck to all, VNP is one of the most scenic areas in the country, and fishing is a wonderful bonus. guts

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I just booked @ sunset for late July, first time so glad to hear the good report. Would you recommend the same spots mentioned for the late July bite?

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I've only fished late July a few times. Same spots should work. I tended to fish Namakan more than Kab then because it's a deeper basin (60 - 100'+) than Kab (35'). No scientific proof to back it up though. I've caught fish in both. If it were me though I'd hit all the spots on the way east staying west of a line from Johnson Bay on the north to Junction Bay on the south. No real reason to go any farther East than that IMHO. Generally fishing gets tougher as you get towards August - at least how I fished. Maybe try jigging or slip bobbering the few reefs near deep water? Let us all know how you do! I'd think about fishing early and late to stay out of the typically hot weather and when walleyes are usually on the bite. Above, Guts brings up the other possibilties in the area too, and that's good. I liked the Crane area too, but didn't fish it much. I'm not "dissin" the other lakes or resorts, I just wanted to post what works for me cuz not many people think it through for a totally satifying experience (price, wind, quality level, etc). I've stayed at all the Ash River resorts and they all do a fine job. We all like to stay at Sunset lately though because there just wasn't the 4 wheeler traffic or bar issues. My wife and kids would stay at most of them (not so with some of the places on Mille Lacs by the way). Not dissin the ML resorts here either, just being honest.

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Good post, your liking a particular resort for a particular reason is great and one of the nice features about the area is the varried array of resorts on different lakes offering different ammenities. You are right on about August fishing, thanks guts

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Thanks for the great tips...any advice on a good area (sandy bottom) to pull lead core in 30-35'???

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I fished Kab this past weekend and found fish in 33-35' of water on the reef straight north of Sphunge Island and between Sugarbush and the Kab vistors center. Sorry I can't be more specific as I don't have my map with me right now and mostly used GPS coords anyway. I had three young boys in the boat and slip bobbered but I saw plenty of people trolling the reef, not sure if they used lead core. We marked a ton of fish though and if not for the lighting and wind that moved in I think we would have caught a bunch, as it was we caught three in 20 minutes.

Also, for the sunset bite we moved into 12' of water in the bay in front of Red Pine and Lakeview resort and caught fish. We could have landed our bobbers on the resort docks we were so close! Anyway, best I can offer, I can give more specifics if needed later on.

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I've tried lead-core trolling just one time - in Junction Bay - with no success. Maybe it was me being a rookie. I tried it because I've seen suspended fish when cruising through. I've heard of people doing well trolling Shad Raps there in previous years. Try it there, and let us know how you did. Perhaps try Hoist Bay and Kohler Bay too. Lost Bay in Kab could be fun to try also, at the very NE end.

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Just had to jump in here. I too have been coming to the Ash River for years and read this forum lots but have never posted! Just left last week; fished some; played lots. Wanted to say that we stay at Ash Trail Lodge and it is typically very quiet and peaceful as the cabins are spaced out away from the bar. We love that the resort is off the road (all the cabins are!!) and each cabin has its own private dock. We do not mind the ride up the river to Sullivan Bay at all... it only takes 12 or so minutes! Big deal our family says as the private cabin like atmosphere and dock are well worth it and the owners are great to us. We like stopping along the way back at the other resorts too. We compared pricing this year and Ash Trail is right in range with the other ones for what you get and the quality of its amenities. Just had to jump in here after years of reading all the wonderful posts!

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