Dennis Anderson: Rigging two ways for Mille Lacs

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 8, 2012 - 1:03 AM

Two basic methods will put mille lacs smallmouth bass and walleyes on the end of your line on the same day.

hide

Fishing a plastic worm “wacky’’ style can put Mille Lacs smallmouth bass in the boat. Retrieve it slowly, lifting and dropping the worm so that the ends flutter.

Photo: Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

ON LAKE MILLE LACS — Scorching as it is was on July 4th -- 100 degrees or thereabouts by midafternoon -- this big lake seemed hotter still, offering up walleyes and smallmouth bass to anglers willing to brave the relentless heat and sun.

So good was the action that fireworks festooning against black skies Wednesday evening throughout central Minnesota withered by comparison.

Which underscores just how big a deal fishing on Mille Lacs is this summer.

And how unusual.

Because only a relative handful of lakes in this state or any other can cough up so regularly oversized specimens of these two species on the same day to the same anglers with only minor changes in rigging, technique and position.

But on Mille Lacs this summer, catches of this type are common, satisfying anglers no end.

With one caveat:

Anglers who want fish to eat can be frustrated, unless they're willing to eat bass (or northerns). Because eating-size Mille Lacs walleyes that are legal to keep -- those less than 17 inches long -- are relatively rare.

Yet few dedicated Mille Lacs anglers are staying away from the lake because they're likely to catch too many monster walleyes. Big fish are their own attraction, whether they're destined for a frying pan or not.

Instead, the lake's siren call is most often resisted this year by the same anglers who resist it every year:

Those who fear the lake's size.

And those who don't know how to fish it.

The second hang-up is related to the first, because large lakes demand more and better navigation and angling skills than do small lakes.

And at some 20 miles across, Mille Lacs is a large lake.

But assuming on a given day that the big lake is flat enough, an angler's boat is big enough and/or that people venturing onto it aren't devoid entirely of common sense, fear in this case isn't a rational response.

Wanting to catch big fish is.

How to do it?

Here are two basic rigging methods that will put Mille Lacs bass and walleyes on the end of your line on the same day.

Walleyes

Fishing walleyes with slip bobbers is easy. Not as easy as fishing with a jig, perhaps. But easy.

On Mille Lacs, slip bobbers are perhaps the most common walleye fishing method, followed closely by "rigging,'' or using long-leader (as lengthy as 9 or even 10 feet) Lindy-style sliding-sinker live-bait rigs.

By comparison, slip bobber fishing requires less finesse -- another word for experience or skill -- and fewer boat control skills.

Begin by stopping at most any bait or sporting goods shop and purchasing slip bobber components -- preferably, if you're new to this, as a package.

Read the package directions. You'll see that some form of bobber "stop'' -- usually colored string -- is included in the kit, wrapped around a very small plastic tube. Also included will be a bobber and, usually, a bead. (You'll want to buy quantities of beads and bobber stops as you gain experience because they're easily lost.)

You'll also need small jigs of various colors in sizes ranging from 1/32-ounce to, say, 1/8-ounce (generally, the smaller the better). Also, purchase some split-shot sinkers of various sizes.

Where to fish slip bobbers on Mille Lacs? Until you gain experience, the best answer is: where everyone else fishes. Even follow the big communal fishing launches to their favorite haunts, if you like. On the north end, these destinations will include mud flats, or underwater humps or plateaus, while in the south, underwater rock piles often are prime walleye hot spots.

Either way, don't leave shore without a good map that shows the lake bottom and/or a GPS unit.

Arriving at your destination, rig the bobber and other components as directed on the package. Then toss out your baited jig and watch the bobber afloat on the lake surface, waiting for a fish to pull it underwater.

If you don't catch anything within 15 minutes or so, alter your depth, jig size, bait and/or location.

But not to worry: On Mille Lacs this year, particularly in evening and early morning, you'll catch walleyes.

Smallmouth bass

Seeking Mille Lacs smallmouths, you want to fish just about anywhere there are rocks. This might be a shoreline, hump or dropoff.

Look particularly for reefs or other depth demarcations noted by buoys.

Then tie a 2/0 Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap or similar hook to the line of the same spinning rod you used for walleyes.

Now thread the hook through the middle of a Berkley Heavy Weight 5-inch sinkworm, so that the worm is perpendicular to the hook -- its ends fluttering as you lift and drop your rod tip. (Other plastic worms, including Senkos, also work.)

Cast the rig a good distance from your boat, toward your chosen rocky shallows. Retrieve the bait slowly, lifting and dropping your rod as you do, while "shaking'' the tip on the down stroke, causing the bait to flutter as it falls.

Beware a vicious strike. Or a tap.

In either case, set your hook hard and enjoy the aerial acrobatics of one of the world's feistiest fish.

And enjoy also Mille Lacs, a lake like few others.

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 10/20/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close