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Crane Lake Fishing Report


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I am fishing Crane Lake from June 28th to July 4th. I am driving to Minnesota from New York (19 hours) this Friday with 9 guys. We are staying at Pine Point Lodge. We are used to fishing for Big Pike and Walleye in Northern Quebec over the last 15 years. We wanted to go to Minnesota for a long time and this year is the year. We also wanted a lake that included smallmouth.

Can anyone give me a report on the state of the fishing in Crane Lake? Also, can you make suggestions on what strategies work best for you for Pike and Bass? Lastly, can you give some specific spots we might start fishing when we arrive?

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I don't know much about Crane, but I've never heard anything bad about it. You can take the narrows into the rest of the park. It's an easy 5 to 20 minute run to Sand point and Namakin. Sand point has good pike. It's been a couple of weeks since I was up there so whether the pike are up shallow or not you'll have to figure out through trial and error. Namakin has a good population of smallmouth. I've been taking trips up there for smalley's for about ten years and Namakin is where I've spent most of my time. Just Look for the larger bays with islands attached or near by. These kind of spots are all over the park. Most of the locals will tell you that the best fishing is on Rainey Lake, But that's a pretty long hall for a days fishing if your staying on Crane and you would need to take the truck portage. I spend my time down on Sand/Nam and Kab and have never been dissapointed. I know some guys don't like to, but if your coming all the way from NY, you're already making a pretty substantial investment. It would probably be worth your time and money to get a guide for a day, just to kind of show you the ropes and the area, then go it alone from there. This is my favorite area to visit in the whole country. Bring your camera, a good map and your gps. If your not fermiliar with the area, it's real easy to get lost and there's rocks and boulders everywhere that can ruin a vacation in a heart beat. Good luck and have fun.

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Thanks Gutz. We were thinking about getting a guide on day 1 so they could show us around. Great advise...I appreciate it.

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I just got back yesterday. Another awesome trip! We put in on Crane and went up thru Sand Point and camped on East Namakan for 5 days. We only fished on East Namakan and mostly for Smallmouth. I was told that they were getting some walleyes in the narrows going into Namakan. We had good luck for smallies with topwaters, tube jigs, and wacky worms. The smallmouth fishing should still be very good when you arrive. You should be able to catch plenty of Pike in the shallow weedy bays on Namakan.

Sorry I don't have much info for Crane or Sand Point but Namakan isn't much farther depending on the size of boat that you will be in and the scenery on Namakan, with all of the islands and bays, etc., well lets just say its a Smallmouth fishermans dream.

Nels

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The good news is, you've done one thing right in choosing Pine Pt. You wont be sorry, Jeff and Cathy run a great place and I'm sure Jeff will help you with some tips to put you on the fish.

Enjoy your trip,

Stizo

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I want to thank all of the real Minnesota Fisherman who took the time to respond and help us out. I truly do appreciate it. It always amazes me the fisherman that are willing to help out a bunch of strangers and give up their spots and techniques in order to provide us with a successful experience. Good luck to everyone this season and I look forward to speaking with some of you privately in the next few days. Thanks again.

[Note from admin: edited. Please read forum policy before posting again. Thank yu.]

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Cranny, Let me see if I can help you out a little with Sandpoint/ east end Namakan. I have been going up and camping the park for the past 5 years. I have always managed to boat plenty of northerns. Summertime like this, I would troll sharp drops with crankbaits. You'll usually pick up a few smallies and walleyes as well. If its late summer and temps are high, I would troll three way rigs deep (25-40 fow) with stick baits. Also give any humps or rockpiles you can find a pass with the cranks or pitch a few jigs.

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Cranny,

I've fished Crane Lake for a week almost every one of my 36 years. You'll catch a good amount of fish, but probably won't break any records for numbers or size. However, the beauty and the wildlife evens it all out, in my opinion.

The mouth of the gorge (right near Pine Point) always holds some fish early in the season ... keep an eye on the fish finder -- a zillion rocks the further in you go.

Most points and rocky shorelines hold smallmouth. Smaller spinnerbaits -- we use Beetle Spins -- work really well. Black grub with two yellow stripes, white with a red dot have always been good.

The Loon River (off of Sand Point) makes a great day trip -- troll and cast the river up to 56 Rapids for walleye, Northerns, crappie and smallmouth.

If you don't mind a short portage and spending the day in a small aluminum boat, rent one from Pine Point and portage in your trolling motor into Mukood (off of Sand Point) for all the largemouth you can catch. Work the weedlines on the far shore and you'll boat a bunch of them. I'll be up there in August though, so leave us a few big ones!

Heads up piloting through the "pinch" in between Crane Lake (King William) Narrows and Sand Point. I'd just be re-stating what's already been dicussed a lot here to say more ... your hosts at Pine Point will likely give you the scoop, or you could do a search on this forum for several discussions ...

Hope you enjoy your stay! Crane Lake is my favorite place. I'll bet you come back.

Regards,

Lazy Ike

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Thanks for the feedback Lazy Ike. Good luck in August. I plan on posting a full report when we get back from Crane Lake. I'll let you know how your spots panned out.

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Thank you to whoever removed my negative post and any others that were not appropriate. I was actually embarrassed to have it on the site.

I have mostly positive responses and again I thank all of you for sharing your experiences and methods. Good luck to all.

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Ummmm . . . . me thinks abunch of us have been sent to the corner for a few minutes of "time out". Even got the right "bully" this time . . .

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Granny, my nephew has worked for Jeff and Cathy for four years now and he is probably as dialed in as anybody, he loves fishing for big pike but he also excels in smallies and walleyes, his name is Jordan. Good Luck and enjoy the scenery.

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Kurt-- Thanks for the info on Jordan. I will seek him out as soon as I get there. I would love to hook into a monster Pike in Minnesota. 2 days before we leave. I can't wait...these are the longest days of the year right now.

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Hi, we are newbies to this network from the Iowa shores of the Mississippi. Since we can't get our boat into the flooding, nasty Mississippi, we came to Crane Lake for the first time this week. Although we are not staying at Pine Point, we boat by it daily and it looks really nice...we are considering it for next year!

As far as the fishing goes, we are catching fish. The weather has been sunny and great, which usually means bad fishing. We are catching northerns in the shallows, and they are hitting top-water baits in Sand Point Lake at the ends of the bays. Be sure to go into the bay where the Vermillion River dumps in to the lake, which is about a 90 second trip from your resort. We have caught several nice walleye back there trolling leeches and rapalas. We have also hit some decent smallmouth bass, but no crappies or panfish.

Be sure to get any supplies you need by the time you get to Virginia or Cook (on U.S. 53), as the nearest grocery is in Orr, and that's 30 miles away. There's a couple of places in Crane Lake that sell supplies, but you will pay out the wazoo for them. Also, the mosquitos and gnats have been out at night, so have lots of Off and Cutter's!!! Good luck and catch some fish.

Dave and Kathie G

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Thanks for the info regarding the supplies and stores. That will be invaluable. I was planning on buy a lot of things right in Crane Lake when we arrived. I will change my plans.

Thanks again.

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Just back from Crane June 21-26, my second visit to the area. First trip was last year at the same time. Stayed at Pine Point both times, and I feel it would be hard to find better accommodations and hospitality in the area.

I've talked to Jordan at PP about fishing many times, and he definitely knows what he's talking about. When he's not working he's usually fishing, sometimes with customers. That keeps him in touch with what's going on with the fish.

We (party of four) hammered bass during our stay, mostly smallmouths. I'm sure we caught 200+, including eight smallies measuring 18 inches or better. The biggest two hit 19 inches.

The smallies were spawning and in the shoreline cover at the start of the week in the flowage waters we fished (Crane, Sand Point/Grassy Bay, Namakan). Slow tapering banks were best. By Thursday the fish had moved off a little bit, at least in Grassy, but we were still catching them.

Ninety percent of our smallies were caught on top, specifically on a Skitter Pop. The others, including half the big ones, took a 4-inch tube on a jig head. The tube was sometimes effective as a follow-up to a missed blow-up on top, or just fishing it as a primary presentation.

Mukooda Lake was simply amazing again. We had a 90-fish day there with two of us fishing in the morning and the other two in the afternoon. Two of our big smallies came from there, along with a 20-inch largemouth bass. Again, Skitter Pops were hot for smallies and largemouth and incredibly fun. We hooked probably one in three strikes on top.

Smallmouth nests were all over the the shallow sandy flats in Mukooda. Fewer in rocky flats too. We didn't sight fish for the big ones though. Just flailed away with Skitter Pops and had a blast. The two biggest smallies were 18 and 19 inches.

Walleyes were slow for us, but I think we're still figuring things out. We jigged breaklines in 10 to 15 feet of water, primarily on Crane, and we caught several eaters but nothing in the slot or larger. My hunch is we needed to fish shallower in the emerging weeds, as a small mayfly hatch appeared to be getting underway.

Overall another fantastic trip. We're penciled in for next June!

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Cranny,

I'm looking forward to your scouting report!

Ike

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey folks...sorry for the late reply. We had 9 guys at Pine Point Lodge for the week of 6/28 to 7/4. We tend to target big pike and this time of year with the higher water temps made it a little difficult. The biggest one we caught was 35", we lost a bigger one, and had an even bigger one follow to the boat. I wasn't involved in any of these. Jordan and Kyle at Pine point were a huge help in where to target big pike. Unfortunately things just didn't pan out.

The walleye fishing which a few of our guys enjoy started out slow but picked up as the week went on. I think our biggest was 26". We kept only enough to eat for our fish fry. It was tough with that slot limit.

Smallmouth was very spotty. It looked like we got there a week late. Bass had moved off there beds and were in the first stages of post-spawn. We got a few 19"ers during the week but we really didn't catch anylarge numbers of smallmouth.

After 3 days in camp I decided to target largemouth. I began by hitting the entrance to Stagae (Sp?) Bay. I caught 25 in the morning between 6am and 9:30am. I went back in the afternoon and caught a few more. The biggest out of Stagae was only 17". The next 2 days I spent in Lake David on the Candian side. I had two career days. In two days I probably caught 60-70 largemouth. Most of them being between 17-20 inches. I probably caught6-7 18 inchers, 2-3 18.5 inchers, 2 19 inchers. Allof the rest were 17 inch fish (very healthy) with a few 16 inchers sprinkled in. All of these were caught on senkos and chigger craws (most senkos) at the very end of the lake. There are 4-5 bays that were absolutely loaded with big largemouth. Although I didn't catch any 20 inchers there were 2 pulled out of there.

The last day we fished Swanson's Bay. 2 20 inch largemouth, two 19 inch smallmouth, and a number upper 24-28 inch pike. Overall we loved Pine Point and the area was just beautiful. I would say the fishing was average while were there but we didn't know the lake as well as you guys do. I think we would be a little more successful next year if we chose a better week and used the knowledge we have now. I highly recommend anyone who enjoys largemouth fishing visit the very back of Lake David on the Canadian side.

Anyway...thanks to all of you who responded to my earlier posts and good luck the rest of the season.

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How where you fishing the senkos? And what colors where good if you don't mind. Love those smallies!!!!

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I was fishing the senkos with no weight with a 2/0 hook hooked weedless. I let fall slow and most of the strikes came when it reached bottom. One pull through some weeds and let it sink again. This is the approach I used when I was fishing first foot of the weed growth. The chigger craws were hooked the same way but I had a 1/4-3/8 ounce bullet weight screwed into the top. I used this method when a was casting deeper into the cattails. I also used it when I was fishing the islands with dropoffs in Lake David. Similar to fishing a tube down the drop off. I picked most of my smallies on the islands in Lake David using this method. My buddy caught a few using a tube but the chigger craw was much more effective. If you go to the far back right part of Lake David you will pick a lot of smallmouth off an island that is kind of connected to the mainland by a shallow portion of the bay with good weed growth in between. I picked up 5-6 smallmouth off of this one tiny little piece of land. If you are planning on going to Lake David you can give me a call. If interested let me know on here and I will e-mail you my number.

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Cranny--one thing that you should have tried was jigging for Lk Trout in David. It has good numbers w/ decent sized fish.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Wanderer
      You could do Isanti to St. Francis also.  About mid way is Anderson Park that has a small sandy access.  Anderson Park to St. Francis had fewer but some bigger fish while Isanti to Anderson Park had better numbers and not as many big fish.   All upstream from Isanti to the access on Hwy 95 can be hit or miss but if you hit it, it can be good.   Up to 16’s is fairly common bit there are enough 16-20’s to not be shocked if you get one or more.   I’d never admit to this while I lived there. 😉
    • Kettle
      Some pressure but nothing like lake fishing 
    • Kayak1310
      Hey thanks guys, I appreciate your input. It sounds like this float might be best to put off a year when the water is up a little higher. I'll check the gage next summer and see how it looks. I was hoping to get into some 18 to 20" fish (aren't we all), so maybe they will have moved back in there by then.   Does the stretch south of St. Francis get very much pressure on it? I'll have to give it a look.    
    • Kettle
      Little more narrow up there, if I were to do it, I'd float St Francis to Andover. Shallow yes but it's a good stretch to fish
    • gimruis
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    • JBMasterAngler
      Water is really low. It’s definitely doable, but there will be a lot of spots you’ll have to get out and pull. Fallen trees in low water might be your biggest obstacle. Should be plenty of smallies to catch. They’ll be concentrated in any deep pools you come across.
    • gimruis
      Lol he broke a muskie drought that had started in 2006.  16 years without a legal muskie!
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      Not too long ago, I found synthesis paper topics here. I may be exaggerating, but this is one of the best topic ideas sites I have found in the last few years.
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