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2020 Crane Lake - Lake Kabetogama-Namakan Lake Fishing Reports

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In a word: BAD. We fished from Cuculus and Pine Island to the end of Lost Bay and Foot Island and all the bays, sloughs, reefs and islands in between. We used leaches, worms, spinners, spoons, slip bobbers, bottom bouncers, and jigs. We caught a few pike and small mouth and one sauger. No walleyes. We were camping so the lack of battery recharging limited our trolling and positioning. Almost all of the time, say 99%, the depth finder was bare of any fish indication at any depth. We didn't fish with minnows, but we saw a lot of boats killing minnows without catching any fish whatsoever. I hope you guys have better luck.

But at least watching the Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Pelicans, and assorted birds were fun and the scenery was great.

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Spot on Satchmo...biggest variable is the changing weather this time of year.  Cold nights, warm days change those water temps enough to push bait fish around.  Wind and consistent wind in the same di

Been on Kab since Saturday and have been doing good on slot fish, not great on keepers though. There sure is a healthy class of 21 to 24 inchers in this lake. Minnows have been out fishing leeches or

Hey dan, hope your trip was good....we had 4 seasons in 5 days ! Think we saw you motor by in the houseboat through grassy towing a few boats behind. Must have been you...no one else except one boat

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Mike, limited trolling and positioning I think might have been your issue. Walleyes are relating to mid reef structures right now and if you don't stay on the breaks you usually don't stay on fish. I have had guests this past week do well on mid reef structures. Fishing mainly 28-34 ft off mid lake humps or fishing the mud flats (mayflies starting to show up). Long lindy rigs with leeches or crawlers have produce nice keeper size fish in the 15-16 inch range. Better luck next time. Might have to bring a few extra batteries next time or stay at a resort with electric at the docks.

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One of my buddies just returned on Saturday, same story.

All of our hot spots were dead. I'm glad I was not able to make it this year. I went to Leech instead smile

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Amature Hour

What are the places to start looking for walleyes? The mid lake humps or on shore line breaks and around the islands?

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I/we fished last week. I didn't fish real hard as we have a 3yo in the boat with us. We started each day about 9:00 and finished about 1:00-1:30 with about an hour up on shore doing a picnic lunch.

So, with my wife (not fishing much because of the 3yo) and I in the boat each day, we had a couple days where we only caught 7-10 fish.

However, we also had 3 days where during that short timeframe we caught 24, 25, and 27 fish respectivly.

All fish were caught between 30' & 40' on jigs and minnows. The biggest was not all that large at 25", but we had numerous fish that were too big along with some 12" stuff. We ate a large meal of fish and still caught a nice limit for later "shore lunches" !

Fish had really started to move into larger schools and summer patterns. The fish in the livewell were spitting up LOTS of mayfly larve.

The hatch may already be happing as I write this, but fishing was average to good. smile

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AH, you did a good job of answering your own question. All the places you mention are areas to concentrate on.

Water temps are moving into the 70's, with the may flies going full bore, sometimes the windblown soft bottom bays, or shorelines might see more action.


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Been here at Crane Lake all week. Weather is sunny and warm (lo 80's). Fish are biting, but you have to work for them a little bit. Good results in the Vermilion River on Crane trolling Little Joes with a leech. Mosquitoes arrive about 9:45 p.m. nightly, and they bite hard. Sand Point was good for crappies especially in Brown's Bay around soft bottom and weeds. Use a minnow and a bobber. Area around marker 22 was good for walleye and northern trolling crankbaits. Also got a few walleyes on Namakan on the backside of Hammer Bay. Very windy, but we were casting crankbaits at the rocky shores and had some good results. Even if the other fish are slow, you can always find a bass on just about anything, rubber worms and crankbaits are especially good. Good luck and have fun!


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Our group consisted of 23 people, wives, kids, etc. Majority used gold spinners tipped with minnows.Caught lots of walleyes in the 19"-24" range.Largest was 4.4lbs.Enough keepers for shore lunch.I caught several walleyes & saugers on the Rapala Deep tail dancer TDD09,clown flash.Caught Smallmouth on a buzzbait (white).Smallmouth bite was great in the rocks.Used Rapala Xrap XRD10 (clown)also for Northerns.Largest Northern was 29". Caught trolling a regular Rapala in gold. We only fished the Western areas.Bite seemed to be about a week or two late.Grassy areas were still not thick enough to hold many fish. Great week.

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Well JAK, we did in fact observe a boat that accurately positioned themselves over a couple of humps in front of our campsite. One day, they caught a half a dozen, the largest 17 in. This was before 8:00AM, however, and they got nothing later, so it's quite different from your experience. When we drifted over the humps, we occasionally saw one fish but caught nothing.

What part of the lake were you on?

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We fished mid lake (east to west).

We also fished both reefs and breaklines. We found that when we marked fish at 30', then you needed to be at 30' in order to catch fish. If you were at 36'-38' then you would not. Likewise when the fish were at 36' you needed to be at 36' to catch them. Of course there is always a foot or two varience as the fish move up and down the break.

Sorry that you did not have better catching, but we all know that any day of "fishing" still beats work! smile

BTW, I also use a lot of boat control to position myself over the fish I'm marking.

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Jim, how are the wife and kiddo doing? We are all good and Julie has plenty of Jam for ya grin I hope to get up there alot this fall but this summer is full of neck and back surguries for Julie cry Hope all is well...and keep the honey holes quiet winkwinkgrin ......Carmon....

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They are both doing well. Got some good pictures of Colten holding and releasing fish during this last trip. We got a couple of him holding a 20" fish all by himself. He is really enjoying 'helping to reel in and release" fish. smile

No real honey holes, just look for fish until I find them.

Great to hear about the jam, but real sorry to hear about the sugery. frown

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Hi guys, My family and I spent two weeks from the 13th thru the 26th fishing and did rather well in 20' or less in the late afternoon to evening fishing wind swept shores in Kab and Namakan on just jig and crawlers and an occasional leach my 8 years old would catch swimming by the boat. I own property so I spent most of my mornings replacing the roof on my garage and would wait till 2-4 o'clock to head out and come in around 8-10 o'clock. In fact our best fishing was in the weeds in 8-10 FOW, color did not seem to matter, but my wife's blue twister tales seem to be hot. Got alot of walleye 18"-24" and did get our limit of keepers for 4 people if you count the sauger, about 6 I'd say, never caught that many sauger in one trip before, and their size was 15" to 18". Fished Cemetary and inlet area to Gold Portage River on Kab and no further than Junction Bay on Namakan. Smallies were spawning, and we saw plenty of action with them, mostly catch and release as I am a fan of catching, but not eating them. I was mostly surprised of the inactivity of Northern only and hand ful and nothing of size.

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I saw the ebels houseboat, I thought they were just sitting there hanging out. Didnt see any distress flag or a call for help. Must have seen it early on as there were no boats there helping them out yet.

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Walleye Rueben

Just got back from a few days in Voyageurs Park. We got up Wed afternoon, put on 25 miles looking for a campsite (we started in Lost Bay and ended up in Blind Pig Channel area). We finally got fishing Thursday morning. We caught most of our Walleye in 12-20 feet, on bottom bouncers with leeches. Ended up with 12 keepers (13"-17"), with just a many bigger and smaller released. Our biggest was 23". Friday was tough fishing, but great for swimming. Very calm and hot. The wind finally came up a little in the evening and we caught a few. Ended up with 4 keepers. Saturday was rainy and windy. We pounded the Walleye and SM Bass on a windblown reef...we caught most of our fish in 7-11 feet. More trouble finding keepers, ending up with only 7. Got blown back to our camp about 6:00pm (low batteries and @30mph wind).

Sunday was really fun. We broke down camp in the rain and busted waves into the strong wind for 16 miles back across Namakan to the Ash River Visitor landing.

We had a great trip. I've never been to that part of the park before, but really like it. Will definitely go back there again.

Final Tally: 3 guys & 5 kids (kids didn't fish much) - 3 days fishing - 4-5 hrs each day

Walleye: @50-60 caught - 23 keepers - biggest 23 1/2"

SM Bass: @20-30 caught - 3(19") & 1 (19 1/2")

We only caught 1 fish in deeper that 30ft and most of our fish were caught in less than 16ft.

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Fishing has been fairly slow during the hot days last week. The fish have still been coming from all different depths. I have found some of the bigger ones in 11 to 18 ft and most of the keepers have been from anywhere from 15 to 38 depending on what time of day. I have had my best fishing from 8 to 10 in the morning and at night from about an hour before dark until right after sunset. Leeches have been best and the longer the leader the better and have put the anchor down and fished bobbers becasue if you are not right on the spot right now you're not getting them. I only fished a little this weekend due to the weather but i did get fish in 8 ft in the wind but darn was it windy. I bet some of those waves were 5ft plus and the fish were right in them with a couple bonus smallies mixed in. I have tried a little pike fishing and not finding anything to spectacular but i pulled a 35 incher on a leech fishing wallyes in 30 ft of water. Have'nt tried crappie fishing but have heard from a couple locals that the females are moving out already. It sounds like the weather will be decent for the 4th though so I'm crossing my fingers because i'm going back thursday.

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My group of four guys headquartered at Pine Point on Crane Lake for our third visit to the area. We primarily targeted smallmouths and were aptly rewarded with 250+ fish in five days from Namakan, Mukooda, Little Vermillion and the Loon River. We caught fish right on the bank to out in eight to 10 feet of water.

We boated 16 smallies that measured 18 to 19 1/2 inches, but the topwater bite wasn't nearly as good as last June when we did equally well with spawning fish. The fish appeared to be done spawning this year, and we fished in water from 68 to 74 degrees. Soft plastics were a much better option, including tubes, craw bugs and jerkbaits.

We caught a few bass on hard jerkbaits (X-Raps) and spinnerbaits too. For topwater action we used Skitter Pops and Skitter Walks.

We also caught pike to 33 inches, rock bass to 10 1/2 inches, lots of crappies to 13 inches and a couple eater saugers. We didn't spend much time at all on walleyes...maybe two hours.

Rock was a huge key for us (except on Mukooda), specifically the bowling ball sized down to river rock size. We quickly learned shear rock faces or dirt/sand banks were a waste of time. We keyed on spots that had the rock on the shoreline and extended out a ways, whether we fished mainland, islands, reefs or river bank.

On Mukooda we took fish from the rocky south and southwest shoreline area, and in the reeds. We had a good topwater bite in the early morning, but when we went back in the evening, it was pretty much a soft plastic bite in the same areas.

The weather was really too good. After some rain and clouds the first day and a half, it was pretty much sunny and warm making the fishing tough in the clear waters of Namakan and Mukooda. During our first run up to Namakan, it was absolutely flat calm most of the day. I'm guessing that's pretty rare on that big body of water.

Obviously, we can't complain about the weather given the terrific action we had on smallmouths. Hard to head home after a week like that. Best of luck to those of you yet to make your trip to the Northwoods.

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Over the past ten days the mayflies have let us know they enjoy sacrificing themselves to walleyes. Apparently there weren’t enough to go around, so anglers still had some success.

Many folks still fishing shallow water, less than 10’ using small jigs or pitching artificials. This shallow bite is very effective in the evenings. Surprisingly a good percentage of the catch are keepers, along with of course, many fun to catch big fish.

Anglers are for the most part fishing with slip sinkers or bottom bouncers using crawlers and leeches as the number one bait choice. Colored spinners good on bright days and plain rig on overcast skies.

Now that the mayfly hatch appears to be over, depths of 18’ – 28’ should be good to straddle with the current conditions and water temperatures.

The pike bite is increasing everyday, spoons, jerk baits and big spinners garner the most action. Find pike now in the weedy bays and shorelines where they are seeking bait fish.

Bass fishermen are in their glory, shorelines and rock piles are holding bass. They may still be chasing mayflies, but now bait fish and crayfish are favored.

Plastics and shallow running artificials should prove to be successful, nearly all shorelines hold some of these predators.

A reminder to Kabetogama anglers, now that Sturgeon are being caught on an occasional basis, including a 55” this last week, remember there is no open season for them on Kabetogama, and they must be released immediately.

Summer’s here and we expect fishing to hold up. As of now choose whatever bait choice, including artificials, you prefer and are proficient with and head out to the lake.

Best tip of all is to use the wind to your advantage, windblown bays, shores and reef edges is where your odds increase.

Have a Safe and Happy Fourth,

Ellen & Phil Hart

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Walleye Rueben

Sooooo, I gotta ask. Did the cooler fit? gringrin

I ended up not taking the big cooler. Good thing. We ended up with a 1-locker site and might have had problems getting the big cooler and 2 food tubs in it. We had 1 50qt extreme cooler & 1 48qt Coleman. I suppose the 100qt might fit, but I didn't want to risk it. Also, would have been difficult lifting out of the boat with the tricky footing we had at our campsite.


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Just got back from a few days in Voyageurs Park. We got up Wed afternoon, Sunday was really fun. We broke down camp in the rain and busted waves into the strong wind for 16 miles back across Namakan to the Ash River Visitor landing.

We had a great trip. I've never been to that part of the park before, but really like it. Will definitely go back there again.

We were up the same time. We left the Ash River Landing about noon on Wed and after checking every site on the west side of Namakan we finally found an empty one on Sexton Is. We might have crossed paths a few times. We were in a newer blue Crestliner with a Merc motor and a windshield.

We fished for Smallies the entire time, but did manage to catch a few small walleyes by accident. We had the best luck for bass with white unweighted jerk shads, texas rigged. Tube jigs worked good also. The topwaters weren't as productive for us this year.

The weather was perfect until Sat. and of course our camp was on the windy side of the island. I didn't sleep at all Sat night because I thought the tent poles were going to break, or that the boat was going to break free from the dock and get pounded into the rocks. Loading the boat on Sunday while it bounced up and down was a joy.

I did manage to reduce the length of my skeg by a few inches on a huge submerged rock that was unmarked and in about 15' of water, south of Namakan Is. I guess it could have been worse though.

Overall it was a great trip and I cant wait to go back again next year. This was our third year.


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As the lake turns from windy to calm, so does the fish bite. The lake is slowly warming up after a cold windy week, and the mayflies have blown away.

Anglers report doing well with both minnows and leeches--jigging or using slip-sinker rigs seem to be the most favorable presentations.

Typical depth for slip-sinker rigs is running between 18 – 24’; jig and minnow is running mostly deeper, 25 –35’.

Windblown shorelines favor rigs and artificial lures where as reef edges favor jig and minnow.

Crawler action expected to intensify as the water warms up. Present temps as of Sunday show daytime surface temperatures of 69 –71 degrees.

For walleyes, structured shorelines with gradual break-lines are the most easily fished, and depth patterns are easily followed.

Northern pike are showing up on weed edges at 6 –15’ depths. Cast spoons or jerk baits to the weeds for a deadly strike.

Smallmouth are popping up around rock faced shorelines and rock piles, surface down to about 12 feet should be successful.

This coming week, water temps should enter the 70’s and stay. Crawlers should become solid bait choice; the length of snell may have to be adjusted to present your bait in the strike zone.

Don’t be afraid to try a spinner from time to time--that should be a standard as well—as the water warms.

Your most valuable aid this time of year is the wind and a good map that shows contours and structure.

See you soon,

Phil and Ellen Hart

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We had a very pleasant week of nice "Up North" weather for folks--day-time 70 degrees and night-time in the 40's. The below average temperatures have resulted in cool lake temperatures, which in turn has stretched out the Mayfly hatch and kept active fish in shallower waters than expected.

Walleye action is noted in primarily two depth ranges, evening 6 - 12' and day-time depths at 20 - 28'.

Anglers reported that leeches got the nod as the best consistent bait to offer followed by minnows. Slip-sinker rig presentations were having the most success over this past week.

Crawler action should happen if the lake gets into the 70 degree range and stays there for a spell, until then other methods are favored.

Windblown shorelines that hold emerging Mayflies and bait fish are tops. Popular spots such as Harris, Ram, Sugarbush and the Martin Islands are a few of many good locations.

The walleye aren't the only fish chasing mayfly larva so be prepared to catch smallmouth and northern pike on your venture.

East Kabetogama is seeing the deeper waters work--the 20 - 28' range along Green, Larkin and Round Bear islands have kicked out many nice multi-specie fish. The deeper water ranges at times favor the jig and minnow approach.

The crappie action has quieted down significantly, and I hope this means that pike action will heat up. Once the Mayfly hatch is completed expect northern pike to go on a feeding frenzy of sorts which will favor the pike enthusiasts that love to throw stick baits.

Casting artificials on shorelines, and of course trolling shorelines, at 15 - 18' will produce fish-- again all species. The best is yet to come!

See you soon,

Ellen & Phil Hart

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I just got home today and have been back at the lake since july 2. The strech of weather has been about as good as it gets. Fishing has been hit or miss. I've had a bunch of my friends up so I have been fishing a lot. The best fishing still seems to be in 28 to 35 ft and the larger fish have now moved in there with the smaller ones. We have caught a few on minnows and crawlers but leeches still are the way to go and they Have seemed to want it plain with no spinner and bite pretty lite. I would have to believe that the mayflies are about finally done. They usually hatch for a week with a couple of peak nights but they have been hatching on and off for about 2 weeks but with the amount of skeletons that were in the water yesterday they have to be about gone. Hopefully they are becasue i think that they have something to do with the inconsistent bite. Sunday morning 2 of us caught 31 walleyes between about 9 am and noon and yesterday morning it was 5 in the same spot and the same amount of time. Steen checked me yesterday and i did'nt even have anything for him to measure. Measure them close, he's been out there a lot.

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Thanks for all the reports guys!

I'm headed up tomorrow morning. I have one question. Are there really Bluegills in Sand Point. DNR says there is and I want to know if you guys ever find them up there?

Thanks guys!

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I don't know about Sandpoint but I have never seen one come out of Kab, Namakan or Rainy. I would try Pelican by Orr if you really like chasing gills becasue if there are there cant be enough to put in the effort.

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Got home late last night after being there since last thursday. Fishing has been really good again. My buddy and i went through over a half pound of leeches this weekend. The nice thing is we never had to go very far to find fish. We caught fish anywhere from 16 to 35 ft with most of them found right about 30 other than sunday we found them shallow in the wind. Morning was also the best between 10 and noon. We had no problem getting in limits and plenty to eat every day and got enough saugers to each bring 6 totoal home. I'll try to get a hold of my buddy's camera and post some pics before I head back friday because we also got some real hawgs. Several fish in the 23 to 25 inch range with one almost 27.

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Tried Crane in the AM (HUGE mistake), left there and got on the water at Kab at about 11:45am.

Now, I have only fished Kab for walleyes in the fall, and just last year only. But I did do fantastic and I just went to a few of those spots I had marked on the GPS from then.

IT WAS HAMMERTIME out there! We were pulling fish out everywhere we went. Leeches and crawlers with either red hooks and red beads or red hooks and chartreuse beads. After 4pm the leech bite slowed and they were hitting crawlers hard. Switched to a chartreuse spinner at like 6pm and they were hitting that too. I didnt think the fishing was that good this time of year on kab...I only went here cause it was too windy to fish Rainy.

We fished by a few islands and seemed to catch them anywhere from 14ft to 34 feet. Seems like all the bigger stuff we caught was in 18 feet or less on top of reefs.

I marked a few reefs last year that are not on GPS or hard map and we killed the fish on em, PLUS didnt have to share the spot with anyone else.

I think me and my 11 year old caught about 50 fish. Lots of small ones and a few bigger ones. Had 7 fish in the livewell, pretty early in the day.

we were using 3/4 oz no snag sinkers. 3 foot leaders. #4 red gama hooks. trolled slow and fast. My kid was pulling his line up when he was using leeches and the walleyes were hitting it on the way up.





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    • lakesareaoutdoors
      By lakesareaoutdoors
      Coho Salmon are unlike any fish I've ever targeted. There's not a ton of opportunities to catch these fish through the ice, so to be able to do that makes it that much cooler. Went went out on Lake Superior near Duluth, MN. This was on Sunday. Such a cool experience! 
  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • gimruis
      When the resource gets depleted and there aren't anything left but stunted panfish in our lakes, the anglers responsible for this will start barking at the DNR, claiming that they didn't do enough or barking that the muskie or catfish ate all of them.  When in reality, the only people to blame are standing in the mirror.  Just a matter of time...
    • ozzie
      I have kids.  I take them fishing and taught them that the point is to enjoy your surrounding and the time had rather than the meal that could be.  I rarely, maybe once every couple years do I keep a meal of sunnies, and as for crappies I will keep a meal occasionally, but when I do I do not keep anything over 12.5" and try to stay between 10-12.5"  all over and under go back to keep growing.  I certainly am glad they are regulating panfish more but I wish they would have placed a slot on bigger sunfish and crappies...something like 1 over 9" on sunfish and 1 over 13" for crappies.  Just a thought.
    • Hookmaster
      From Vados Bait's website for waxworms:   Check and remove any dead every other day at a minimum. We recommend storing your waxies at about 43-49 degrees. When fishing try to keep them about the same temp and out of the direct sun light.   For Eurolarva/spikes/maggots: Very easy to keep. Refrigerate at about 33-35 degrees. In general this might be a little cooler than most people keep their home refrigerator so you may want to use another refrigerator that you can dial down a little colder. Check the bait every two to three days, pick out and throw away any dead.
    • rschmidty
      Royal Dutchman just went live on FB like 15 minutes ago at what appears to be the Pelland or maybe it was Coot's? They were 9 miles west of IF's. Open water extends west. Not sure how far though. Looks like small boats could be pushed out.  
    • Wanderer
      Don’t let them freeze.  Easier said than done.
    • Wanderer
      Now remember, you said I could give you a hard time! 😉   So much of the pressure these days is recreational, not subsistence.  I’m gonna assume most consider their catch a bonus or treat rather than a need these days.  Most spend more money to catch their own than it would cost to buy it.  Again, most...   Done keeping at 5 doesn’t mean they have to be done catching. 🙂
    • eyeguy 54
      The group released about 150 so far 😁🐟🐟
    • ozzie
      well i finally pulled the trigger and found a strikemaster lite flight 8" and will paired it with a milwaukee fuel m18 2804.  the set up came with 2 5amp batteries so hope that gets me what i need!  going to get out tomorrow and rip this around the lake and hopefully make swiss cheese of it!
    • Fishing DA Range and nort
      so much for feeding the family, you all seem to be in the boat of just keep a few.   Well i got 6 kids who gotta eat to.   So if I'm by myself, you can bet its in the pail if I can legally keep.   Give me a hard time if you want i dont care i follow the laws/rules/slots.   After talking to a DNR fishery personnel, a 28" walleye most likely not even spawning anymore, but the 22-26 inch ones are supporting the fishery, so releasing the giants only helps 1 fish.   Much less if i have kids with, try telling a 5 or 7 year old you have to throw that back, specially sunnies.   5 sunfish is ridiculous, let the kids go on the dock of some lakes and then tell them 10 minutes later, you are done because you got 5, time to play xbox.   No wonder less people are fishing, i used to go mil lacs once a year, but cant even justify the cost of fuel if you cant keep a fish.   But keep increasing the license cost, more regulations its confusing and makes me wonder if its worth it.     
    • rundrave
      I buy the big butter dish sized containers every year full of waxies. The one I have now I bought in December and I am  still using the same waxies out of that same purchase. The only thing I can think of is the little small plastic containers are too air tight and they die?   The butter dish I have has several holes poked in the lid so maybe they can breath better in that dish and end up lasting longer? I get a few that went bad on me but for the most part the entire container is still usable. Its a much  better deal to buy in bulk and use them the entire year than buy the little containers each trip.
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