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Opening Night Tactics


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All right, you did it this time! I don't think I will be able to sleep now, and if I do, I'll dream of a white/pearl bead sitting right above a chartruse hook that's holding a nice fat leech! Thanks for the sleepless nights!

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It’s opening night on Mille Lacs, you have the motor tuned, the boat is ready, new line on the reels, lot’s of live bait and the adrenaline is pumping. The boats in the water and you talk strategy over with your fishing companion. Do we troll? Do we bobber fish? Do we drift? Do we find the biggest group of boats and see what they are doing? Having a few options is always best and it’s always best to venture out and find a group of fish all to your own. Many times, anglers will want to run to the biggest group of boats they can find and assume that’s were the hot bite is. When areas of fish are pressured heavily, it can turn them off and push them off the structure they were relating to. You then find yourself thinking they must not be biting and you have wasted valuable fishing time.

There are some basic tips that you can use for opening night success. A lot of anglers have “proven areas” they like to fish every opening night. Sometimes they produce, sometimes they don’t. Weather and baitfish will play a big factor on fish location. Many anglers firmly believe they have to fish the north end sand to catch any fish. The north end sand can be a great producer on opening weekend, but can also be very crowded. A hot bite can take place anywhere on the big lake at anytime. Having a good lake map and a variety of tactics will increase your odds in contacting fish.

Generally the bite will be close to shore and can be shallow depending on weather. I like to start my opening night presentation by trolling crank baits along the shallow shorelines or shallow rock points if the wind allows me to do so. I like to start with a #11 Original Rapala in the Perch or Vampire pattern or the Millennium Stick minnow in the Clown pattern. I will troll these baits along the shorelines in 10 feet of water or less. These baits will be long-lined with the aid of the Precision Troller book to see how much line is need to get out to get the bait where I want it. Sometimes I only want the bait to run a foot to two feet under the surface if I see fish riding high on my finder. Other times if I’m marking fish hugging bottom, I want to run the bait 1 to 2 feet off the bottom. A good line-counter reel let’s me make accurate changes that I need to make to make it as easy as possible to get the bait in front of the fish. The key to trolling these baits on opening night is to start very slow. I work these baits along at 1mph or less and then snap my rod tip forward in short bursts every 10 feet or so. Trolling cranks can be very effective on opening night regardless of water temps. Some of my best bites on crank baits have come when water temps were 43 degrees or less.

If the wind is gusting or sweeping across any shallow rock piles on Mille Lacs on opening night, I want to make sure I have a few bobber rods ready to go. I look for rock piles that are getting banged on by wind that are next to shore. Rocky points are also a good place to bobber fish. I like to anchor up on the wind side of the reef and let my bait move up the edge or drift across the reef. Bobbers rigged with a 1/32 oz jig head or a plain #8 or #6 hook tipped with a spot tail shiner minnow or leech will produce. Always use caution if the lake gets too windy.

These are some basic tips to follow if your one of the many anglers what will be heading to Mille Lacs for opening night. Good luck and see ya at the access.


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Mille Lacs Guide Service
651-271-5459
www.millelacsguideservice.com

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Nice article Derek(but lets not let the cat out of the bag on the vampire color!) Been doing much fishing? I have been doing some at pool 4, but have been busy. I will be back on Sunday for more and then it is off to the western basin all next week chasing some sumo pigs. See Ya

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Was up on Sat moving my RV and deck. Lake looked sloppy. Everything is wet. I have alot of work to do from now til opener. I'm hoping to get it all done so I can get a crack at some spring Perch.

------------------
Mille Lacs Guide Service
651-271-5459
www.millelacsguideservice.com

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Derek, do you think that the bite will come around this spring/summer, or will it remain somewhat slow? Thanks!

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I think we should still see a decent bite even with all the bait in the water. Looking at past data that I have kept,even in high bait fish years, we always see a good spring bite. We may not catch 50-70 fish in a day, but catching 10-15 nice fish should still be the norm.We have to remember we got spoiled last year. One good thing this year is we will probably see the regular nice fat walleye.

------------------
Mille Lacs Guide Service
651-271-5459
www.millelacsguideservice.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Derek
Where do you have your camper at. I am sticking mine at Millacs Island near Wahkon. I have always fished the east and north sides. Looking for some new areas closer to the campground. I dont think it will be anything like last year. But still worth the trip.

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Derek,

Enjoyed reading your opening day tactics. I am new to this forum and am looking forward to reading more posts. I was curious as to the depth you would fish with your bobbers on opening night. I read 10 feet with the cranks but was curious about your bobber depth. Appreciate any feedback

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Welcome STILLNOFISH: I fish the edges of the rocks and gravel. Where ever that may be is the depth I will place my corks. Sometimes it may be the tip of the point. Other times right on top of the reef. For instance, on opening night starting out that late in the evening, if there is some wind, I will fish the tops of the reef which could be 6-12 feet depending on what reef i'm fishing.
Hope this helps

------------------
Mille Lacs Guide Service
651-271-5459
www.millelacsguideservice.com

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • mtheis
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    • PSU
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    • smurfy
      i'm just kidding about Leech.........i've never met the guy personally yet but been on the forums long enough with him to know he's a pretty good egg!!!!!👍👍
    • smurfy
      be careful what you wish for Kettle!!!!!!!!!!🤣🤣   i almost called you the week prior to memorial weekend!!!!!!!!!👍 if everything works out i'll be headed back up the monday after tomorrow but will be with a buddy........we will eventually fish together.......i hope!!!!!!!! then i might even catch a walleye!!!!!!!!🙄
    • StateofHockey
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    • leech~~
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    • Roseypike19
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    • Kettle
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    • StateofHockey
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    • leech~~
      Lol, if they had enough enforcement in the first place. They may catch them the rest of the season without the tag!  
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