Bass fishing on Mille Lacs is more difficult than it was a year ago, partly because the walleyes are biting so well, professional bass angler Seth Feider said Tuesday after spending more than a week on the lake.
Gov. Mark Dayton and outdoors storyteller Ron Schara provided a case in point Saturday during a 90-minute outing with Feider to celebrate opening day of Minnesota’s bass season.
“Going out bassin’ wit da gubnah and Ron!’’ Feider wrote on his Facebook page that day.
Feider said the governor hooked a big walleye while trolling a fluffy-feathered marabou jig for bass. Estimated to weigh between 4 and 5 pounds, the fish was one of three walleye and two bass caught and released by the trio while they were followed by camera crews and two county sheriff boats.
“The walleyes are biting so good up there right now, it’s hard to keep them off your line,’’ said Feider, a Bassmaster Elite Series touring pro.
Feider, who grew up in Bloomington, wowed the professional fishing world last fall by whipping all competitors in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Mille Lacs. He’s in good position to return to the tournament, scheduled for Sept. 14-17. To qualify, he needs to rank in the league’s top 50 anglers. With half a season to go, he ranks 20th.
Feider said there were lots of fishing boats on Mille Lacs during the week leading up to the bass opener. Many were there to capitalize on the hot walleye bite, while others showed up for catch-and-release smallmouth fishing, he said. Feider is among the anglers who believe Mille Lacs should stick to catch-and-release for bass throughout the season.
“People are keeping bass because they can’t keep walleyes,’’ he said. “Bass fishing definitely has been tougher this year.’’
This year’s fishing regulations on Mille Lacs allow anglers to keep a combined limit of three largemouth bass or smallmouth bass. All bass 17-21 inches in length must be immediately released, and only one keeper can be longer than 21 inches.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is aware that some bass anglers prefer a season-long, catch-and-release restriction to protect the abundance and size of the fish. State fisheries chief Don Pereira has said the DNR is cautious with its management of Mille Lacs bass, “while also recognizing that some anglers may expect the occasional fish dinner.’’
Mike Kurre, state record fish program coordinator for the DNR, said his office has signed off on four records this year while being swamped with submissions.
“This is by far the wildest, craziest spring we’ve ever had,’’ Kurre said Tuesday.
The four newest record-holders are Matthew Williams for a 4-pound, 7-ounce golden redhorse; Tim Deiman and Mark Minnick each with lake sturgeons caught-and-released that were 70 inches in length and Cayden Humacher for a 5-pound, 4-ounce shortnosed gar.
There are 62 recognized species in the state record book and two kinds of records: One for catching and keeping the biggest fish in each species based on certified weight; and the other for the length of a caught-and-released muskie, lake sturgeon or flathead catfish.