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Troy Smutka

Mille Lacs Lake Fishing Reports by Great Day on the Water Guide Service

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Troy Smutka

6/29/15     Fished the big pond three days this weekend. Guided for smallies on Thursday, prefished walleyes on Friday, and then fished the Full Throttle Walleye Tournament on Saturday. Smallies were touchy on Thursday, staring at topwater baits, following crankbaits, and picking up and spitting out tubes. Jerkbaits, especially the Shadow Rap, triggered and hooked the most fish. At least our fish were big ones. Found walleyes in good numbers in two spots on Friday, and dialed in the right technique after trying several. Power corked on Saturday with leeches under the slip float. Light winds allowed us to use the Terrova to cover an expanse of 34 foot deep basin several hundred yards from a mud flat. One eye on the float, and one on the Humminbird. If we saw fish on the sonar or got bit, we hit the spot lock on the Terrova remote and sat on the fish and let the leeches do their thing to trigger negative to neutral fish with high skies, flat calm, and a high and still rising barometer. Much like ice fishing--caught several fish by moving the bait right below the transducers to a fish visible, and then watched the fish come up off the bottom and the float go down. Our biggest five weighed 24.39 pounds (Catch-Measure-Photo-Release tournament) which was good for 4th place. We caught fish from 9 to 27.5 inches, and a lot of them. Two good year classes of 9-11 inchers and 12-14 inchers are present, so the future looks bright on Mille Lacs. Good luck, and I will see you out there somewhere.

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Troy Smutka

7/12/15     Hit the big pond this weekend--no guiding or tournament, just some time out with Dad. We struggled out in the basin by the mud flats. Couldn't keep 10 to 14 inchers off our lines long enough to catch bigger ones. Caught small eyes on crankbaits on leadcore and on leeches. One jumbo perch also. Moved shallower day two and caught lots of walleyes from 16.5 to 18.75 inches on 12 to 14 foot rocks. Leeches under a slip bobber (power corking a couple reefs) caught the eyes including a 27 incher and some big bonus smallies. Walleyes of all sizes in the lake, but three strong year classes of walleyes between 9 and 18.5 inches have announced their presence so far this season. The future looks bright for walleyes as well as trophy smallies. Good luck, and I will see you out there somewhere.

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Avid Angler

I have heard multiple reports of lots of small fish coming up in the lake, but all you hear or read in the paper is that the lake is a mess and there is no walleyes left!!

What gives???

Does the DNR really know what is going on??

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BringAnExtension

I think the problem is with the way the reporting occurs today.  We live in a world where scare tactics and worst case scenario headlines are what drives the content of the 6 o'clock news and the local fish wrapper.

So, when the DNR reports that they are shutting down walleye fishing because the quota has been met, the reporters all flock to the loudest pissed off resort owner and get their interview. 

Never mind that the quota was set with helping the lake recover and that fishing has been better than expected this year.  Those facts don't make their stories interesting.

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walleyepro13

bringanextension

your about as cluless as GOV.DATON and our Worthless DNR Commishner T.L. that need to be OUSTED!!! We need someone for the people and resource not paid off by the indians and the casino(rights) money we gave them for what happenend over 100+ years ago!!!

our abundance of 11-15" walleyes now is due promenitely due to 2 years of late ice out and no netting in the spawning period !!!!!

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aanderud

Walleyepro, which 2 years had late ice out and no netting?  2014 and 2015?  

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walleyepro13

2013 and 2014

i've been fishn Mille Lacs for 40 years mostly on the north end out of Barnacles. In our resort tournament last year 20 plus teams and zero walleyes weighed in, this year they tried different format you could have 2 of each - eyes,muskies,northerns,bass, and jumbos. only 3 teams signed up there for cancelled! IT"S SADD !!!

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Tom Sawyer

Walleyepro, which 2 years had late ice out and no netting?  2014 and 2015?  

 

2013 and 2014

 

Late ice outs only delayed the nets, lessened the amount of them, and their success rates, but never prevented them.

Great report Smuts!

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ANYFISH2

Sorry smuts for helping  derail your thread I am done after this.

11-15" inch walleyes are 3-5 years old.  So, they were hatched/produced between 2010 and 2012. So I see no correlation in your thought.  I hope the past few years have produced good year classes, we may not know all that much for anot her year or two.

WE can destroy a population in short order but we can not bring it back as fast.

If the DNR listened exclusively  to locals and business owners this lake would be worse off now than it is.  They have never been in favor of anything that might cut into their bottom line, they still would want to have a six fish limit.  That would help right?

ThE treaty rights may have brought forth the slots that may have led to this, but is not the only reason for the status of the lake.  Take it away, lake still struggles in current state.  Keep it and the lake will still recover.

Edited by ANYFISH2

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Kyhl

I posted a similar response to a similar post in the outdoor Mn Talk forum and it is fitting here as well.

 

From a 2013 survey, a 3 year old ML walleye is 13-15" long, shorter than your suggestion. A 4 year old ML walleye is generally 15-16" long. I know I'm not catching or hearing of people catching an abundance of 15-16" fish. There are 10-13" fish everywhere that I have fished this year.  Boated a couple fat 13" fish trolling yesterday in 12 FOW.

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/aitkin/mille-lacs-creel.pdf Page 26.

I would accept that the abundance of 12-14" walleyes in ML are less than 3 years old, maybe 2-3 yrs. Most likely not 4 years old.

At 1 year they between 9-10 inches. I am seening a lot of 10-13" eyes. Those could be in the wheelhouse of 1.5 years old and from the suggested year class of the original post.

And for history sake, I said (on this forum, formally HSO) they should have shut it down last spring.  If they had, we would almost be back to fishing normally today.  Instead they are stretching out the pain over a number of years and they still have no clue what they are doing.

Edited by Kyhl

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mwal

The whole crash of Mille Lacs was predicted by MR Sternberg.  HE stood by his conclusions the DNR didn't or wouldn't listen so He took an early retirement and got out of the DNR. The slot limits created to keep the harvest a x amount of lbs a number which was arbitrarily decided upon only  lowered the lbs of fish harvested. They in no way shape or form were there to create a balanced fishery. If you do your research like the Canadians did on slots. They found out the fish at least in their waters that had the highest spawning success were the 18 to 21 inch females. So they protected them. As they are the prime breeders. Do bigger females have more eggs  yes do more of them hatch and grow to maturity in the wild no. At DNR hatcheries yes the big girls eggs hatch but that is a controlled environment so they target big fish for milking the eggs. Think of it this way  Do women of 18 to 35 years old have more children than the 60 plus crowd. Now if at Mille lacs Sternberg said if you do this you are killing the prime breeders exclusively and completely protecting the big fish. Now the avg fisherman thinks protecting the big one is the right thing to do lets put slots everywhere. Well pretty soon you have a lake of giant walleye and while we are at it lets protect the pike and put a whole bunch of muskie in as well. Now years later Gee where are the perch? I don't know. you get the picture. The lake has become so heavily weighted towards large walleye that they have eaten up the prey and resorted to cannibalism to live. Other documented studies have all shown this is what walleyes do. This is what Sternberg predicted excepted it is worse than his predictions. It's not smallies eating walleye every study shows they don't eat walleye their own studies show it. Pike do eat some. Muskies we don't know because they are sacred and they will not discuss it. In any case the problem is  according to them we have walleyes hatch and they all disappear before the 2nd to 3rd year. When they are the perfect small perch size that walleyes eat. SURPRISING. They need to thin the bigger fish and come to a better agreement with the Bands. Or we can just walk away from this as the biggest case of fisheries mismanagement of all times. Also we need to reevaluate slots look to Winni leech and Vermillion walleye size increasing perch disappearing. Sound like the same blackhole.  IMHO

MWal

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ANYFISH2

Your absolutely right Smuts!  I am sure we all could sit down and find we are more alike than different.  We all love the lake and want to see it recover sooner than later.

Has the the shallow wind blown rock bite started?  I know now most early August has been great to us up shallow in years past.

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Troy Smutka

Anyfish2,

     Heading up later this week and then will post a report on what we find. Last time up our best fishing for anything bigger than 14 inches was rocks in the 8 to 12 foot range (see post a ways above). We did see crayfish on the rocks shallow enough to see in the clear water. Will start on the shallow to mid-depth rocks and see if the bite is on--usually happens in late July to mid August depending on water temps.

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Kyhl

Thanks for the info Smuts.  I will probably return to trolling that 12-15' range again on Friday.  What is funny is that Sunday I started with a perch color rap after removing a red crayfish rattle rap that was on the line.  I think the crayfish rattle rap will be tied on again Friday.

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BringAnExtension

Smuts -

Sorry that my post contributed to hijacking your thread.  Keep the fishing reports coming!

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rascal23

smuts, 

Thanks for the info. I was wondering what you could tell about the crayfish molt. Any idea how long it lasts and how it varies around the lake? How many times a year?  We'll be up Mon. - Wed. to fish smallies  and spend lots of $$ on food ,gas and lodging.

Thanks again,    

rascal

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Troy Smutka

rascal23,

     Just got back from Mille Lacs. Crayfish are all over the shallow and mid-depth rocks. Usually starts the end of July or beginning of August depending on water temps, and can last a few weeks. Check out the following post for a detailed report from this weekend, and good luck with the smallies.

8/2/15     Hit the shallow and mid-depth rocks on the big pond this weekend with the crayfish bite on. Battled strong NW winds Saturday, and strong winds from a few directions around showers Sunday morning. Best action was on leeches under slip floats (power corking) on a rock reef in about 11-14 feet of water, with the bait about 2 feet up. Caught walleyes from 16 to 20.75 inches, including a couple of slots. Also caught some nice smallies and some jumbo perch. Many of the fish were spitting up crayfish pieces in the water and in the boat, and I had to clean pieces out of the livewell from the two slots we kept and ate Saturday night. Often we catch fish casting crankbaits, jerkbaits, and Rippin' Raps or trolling #5 Shad Raps and Jointed Shad Raps in six to nine foot rocks during this time, but I think the weather had the fish just a little deeper and less active, thus the bobber bite. Even if walleyes close, the shallow to mid-depth rocks will have jumbo perch, pike, and smallies on them the next couple weeks so take advantage of the opportunity. Good luck, and I will see you out there somewhere.

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rascal23

Back from Mille lacs and honestly it was tough. Fished all day Tues. out of Garrison off pike point, mostly  6-11 fow and got a 16" on a green tube. That was it for a long time. Tried the reeds to the south then moved the next point south and back to Pike point fishing everything from cranks to drop shot, tubes, pitbosses, beaver-tail plastics and straight tail worms on jigs and t-rigged. Nothing. Mid afternoon we moved out to Garrison reef and after trying a number of spots, finally found some biters on a small hump that broke sharp from 6ft to 9ft where my buddy hooked up on 8 - 10 fish, biggest being 20" but most small all on a 5" green pumpkin trick worm on 1/16 oz jig.

   Wed. we fished Isle to Big point, fishing all the usual spots. Finally I hooked up on couple on a deep hump off doe island - 13 fow on a jig/craw. Fished a bunch more spots - nothing. Towards evening I got a couple next to doe island on a 4" dinger . One was a 19 +".  Tough couple of days, but no better place in MN to catch your best smallie, and i'll take that over numbers.   In hindsight, we maybe should have spent more time deeper, but we thought the nice weather would have brought them shallow.

  Something of note -  No fish had sores on there heads, and I caught a crawdad on a plastic and it was bright red-orange, if that means anything.

   Also, Lots of people on the lake, fishing, tubeing, cruising around and launches were running all day. Get out there and fish. I'll be back.

  rascal

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Juan Grande

Nice report rascal.  Contrary to popular belief, the smallies don't jump in the boat some days, you really have to work for them.

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rascal23

No doubt.  I'ld like to fish with all the guy's who say they're so easy to catch so they can show me what I'm doing wrong.

  A couple other things I noticed on this trip was how incredibly FAT all the fish were - some of the 14-16" fish were obese.   Another thing was how low the clarity was. Maybe it was our timing around an algea bloom, but I've never seen it less clear. I thought the mussels were supposed to really clear the water.

 

    rascal

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Juan Grande

If it was really windy, that stirs up the bottom and cuts down on clarity a lot.  

I think the crayfish molted recently so the smallies have probably been gorging on them. 

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Troy Smutka

8/17/15     On Mille Lacs this weekend for the first time since the walleye closure. A little light on boats, but saw several launches out that were full--that was good to see. We targeted rocks from 8 to 12 feet deep again, and caught smallies, walleyes, perch, and pike. Nothing big, but good numbers. Smallies ranged mostly from 15 to 17 inches, with a couple bigger and a couple smaller. Walleyes ranged from 12 to 20 inches. Pike went from 19 to 26 inches, and most of the perch were under nine inches, unfortunately. We usually catch larger perch on the shallow rocks this time of year, but not many this weekend. Caught most fish casting and trolling crankbaits, and casting Rippin' Raps in 8 to 10 feet. Tried 12-13 feet with leeches under bobbers for a while looking for some larger smallies or perch, but still just caught mid-sized smallies and eyes, so switched back to artificials. Don't give up on the lake--smallies are biting on the rocks and there are some walleyes, pike, and perch there for bonus fish. If you catch any eyes, please be careful and get them right back in the water--avoid netting them if you can and don't take time with photos. Launches are doing trips on the shallow rocks. Good luck, and I will see you out there somewhere.

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Troy Smutka

9/2/15     Got up to the big pond for the last time this open water season this past weekend. Caught a lot of smallmouth in the 14-17 inch range and several walleyes in the same size range on rocks in 8-12 feet of water on the SE corner. Rippin' Raps and Shad Raps were the most consistent baits, though we tried a little of everything. Nothing big, but lots of action. No pics--wanted to get everything back in the water as quick as possible. My boat heads down the road with its new owner on Saturday, so this will be my last open water fishing report of 2015. Football and hunting will take up my time in the fall. Check the waterfowl hunting reports this fall for our hunting reports, and I will be back on this forum as well as Hutchinson and the Metro with ice fishing reports once the water firms up. Pick up a new boat in the spring and will be back with open water fishing reports then. Good luck this fall, and I will see you out there somewhere.

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ANYFISH2

Thanks for all the reports and info, smuts.

Goodluck with your endeavors this fall, will be looking forward to your hardwater reports!

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mwal

Troy

Thanks for all your informative reports!!1

 

Mwal

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Troy Smutka

5/22/16     First time on the big pond fishing blind in the MTT tournament this Saturday. My brother and I caught fish, but none very big so finished near the middle of the pack. Figures, got my Dad out on Sunday for a couple hours before heading south for a graduation party and in two hours we boated a 28.5 and two 23.5 inchers! One of the same spots as the day before, but a little more wind made the difference. Caught our fish both days power bobbin' with leeches on rocks from ten to fifteen feet deep. Tried shallower--no go--not enough wind. Saw plenty of fish on the mud, but also an insect hatch and perch and tulibees all over the sonar so the deep mud bite was tough. Back up in two weeks for another MTT tournament. Good luck, and I will see you out there somewhere.

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Kettle

I can second the hatch, there were a lot of dead bugs on the surface and a lot of mayflies I noticed flying around.  Surface temp was 63, ran out to the flats and the fish where there just didn't want to bite.  Tried everything I could!  Next week should be great, I thought it was awesome the amount of people out walleye fishing!  I only saw three fish boated all by a kid about 6 years old, how it should be!  I did see some football sized smallies just off shore

 

Kettle

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Troy Smutka

6/7/16     Fished the MTT again on Saturday, this time with my Dad filling in for my brother, and then fun fished a couple hours Sunday morning before heading to Motley for the Lund Boats catalog photo shoot. My Dad and I had a five fish weight (Catch, Measure, Photo, Release) of 24.05 pounds for the tournament. Respectable, but the winners averaged 7.5 pounds per fish with 37.55 pounds. Fish from 13 to 29 inches were caught, and lots of them. My Dad and I boated about 30 during the tournament. The lakes walleye fishery seems to be a bit stronger than is being advertised. Sunday morning my Dad and I, recreational fishing, boated eight and missed three in about three hours. They went from 15 to 27 inches. We were power bobbin with leeches on rocks in 10 to 14 feet of water both days (either foggy, raining, windy, or a combination much of the time both days had fish active shallow). Good luck, and I will see you out there somewhere.

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Daze Off

Coming up Saturday for smallies - best bet for locations - north/south, east/west? Initial plan is southwest....

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      Thanks for the update Muskies. Making preparations to head north in 3 weeks. We are so looking forward to cooler weather and the song of the loon. Love those pictures, keep them coming. Cheers and good fishing !! 
    • rayguy
      Was up this past week and fishing was really slow.  Trolled deep from Big Island to Foleys and back with one Northern the results.  Really was not a whole lot suspended in the 50+ water. There is no way to fish middle Whitefish on the weekend.  Every pontoon in the world now ties up around the sand dune island and the boat traffic is unreal.  Looks like Minnatonka ,  not a good thing. Did get a few small walleyes on leeches early morning , nothing to brag about.  Keep a eye out ,   lots of crazies out there.  Think the Sheriff needs to hit the lake for a few days to settle the Windsor crowd down a little.  
    • ozzie
      Anyone use the access at Trout Lake on the Whitefish Chain?  If so have you had issues with turning around in the parking lot due to the inspector parking in the no parking zone that is marked off with yellow lines?  I get into arguments every time I am at that access because the inspector feels they have the right to park in an area that is not to be parked in.  It is becoming annoyingly fun for me to get on them and educate them on where to not park!  This has to be one of the worst accesses in the state when it comes to traffic, space, and inspectors.  Many times they have an inspector there that will give you a 15 minute lecture on invasives even though you have heard his speech before!!!  Power trip and then some!!!!  I respect most inspectors I come into contact with, but WOW are some just go a little overboard on their inspection.  I have to laugh my ass off when the inspector runs us over about water in our livewell (talking about drops of water around the drain ring) saying we could get fined $800 if we leave the access like that, yet what do the inspectors say to the wake boat that pumped in 1000 gallons of water into it and most certainly cannot dispel all the water and an inspector cannot see!!  Not sure what it is about this particular access but I have had the worst experiences there and do not have similar experiences elsewhere, so I just had to ask if other see this too.
    • delcecchi
      How does the old song go.... I got those BWCA Blues They got us fishing from Canoes  And all the good spots are upwind.... yodelaye hooo  
    • h8go4s
      This map shows fishing piers in Otter Tail County: https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/water_access/counties/ottertail.pdf
    • PRO-V
      How about the Eagles club. Pickled Loon got slapped twice for Covid violations and a relative working there caught it.
    • Raven77
      Appears they are done...
    • papadarv
      When was the last time you heard anyone rant and rave about Eurasian Water Milfoil? Introduced to MN in 1987 and through the 90’s, we complained, complained, blamed the DNR, cried that this invasive weed was going to kill off many fish because the invasive plant overtook native vegetation. DNR, lake associations and others monitored lake assesses for years to prevent transfer to no avail. Were creatures of habit and don’t like change. And NO Eurasians Water Milfoil did not kill off all the fish, as lots of fish still are caught along the much easier defined weed lines. Of the 388 DNR reported infested lakes only 20 new lakes were added in the last year and ½ and no longer seen to be an issue. Now we have a Zebra Mussel invasion, introduced to MN in 1995 with the same, rant & rave as was with the EW Milfoil, fostered by the DNR and news media with all the negative effects. They will eat all the Zooplankton fish food, large attachments to solid objects, sharp shells on bottom cutting swimmers feet etc. What we hear little about Zebras each adult filters 1 quart of water daily eating algae, a single cell plant Phytoplankton, including the toxic Blue-Green algae which for years been known to kill fish, dogs and humans. A female can produce a million eggs annually so the spread in infested lakes is rapid. Within a couple years the green, brown lakes are clear promoting vegetation growth to deeper water providing more cover for smaller fish. It ticks us fishing people off because our fishing techniques used for the last 50 years no longer work as fish feeding habits change. For us avid fishing people we will learn the new fish feeding habits on infested lakes rather quickly while occasional fishers may never learn new techniques which will increase fish population. While Zebras filter vast amount of algae they secrete a highly nutrient feces on the lake bottom providing a smorgasbord for bottom feeders including many of the minnows and other bait we use. After 4 to 5 years a large number of zebra die as their algae food supply is depleted. Hang in there, 465 bodies of MN waters already infected with Zebras with70 in 2019/2020. Infestation will continue as most boat access will not be monitored and the vast majority of boaters could care less about prevention. Another infestation will most likely happen and we will no longer focus on Zebras. Just a thought. The first excel file is the DNR link to all infestations. Second file Eurasian milfoil and Zebra lakes   https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/invasives/infested-waters.xlsx   Zebra-Eurasion infested.xlsx  
    • tacklejunkie
      I’ve been actually catching more walleyes out there than I can ever recall. I wonder if maybe the dredging might have something to do with it   I just might slip in a few trolling rods with crawler harnesses in my ride locker next time and if the lake trout aren’t biting I may just sort of slip right into the Wisconsin entry and might just happen to drop some crawler harnesses
    • Pat McGraw
      BirchPtMike, The correct response to jtschwinn97 would have been "yes, totally fished out. spread the word." 😄JK I love the honest supportive feedback this group can be counted on for. Good luck and safe boating from Breezy Point in Frazer Bay.
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