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Brad Laabs: Walleye fishing is hot on Lake Mille Lacs

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs
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The big news of the last week is that the walleye angling has been restarted by the DNR on Mille Lacs Lake.

It was closed all of July, and restarted as of the First of August. It is still catch and release only, but at least you can target walleyes now!

The word from those that have already been back to the big lake is that the bite for big fish is on! Many anglers are getting fish off the mud flats rigging leeches and crawlers. Some are getting fish on slip bobbers on rock piles, deep gravel beds on the south end of the lake, and on mid-lake mud.

Bouncers and spinners are also taking fish on the gravel beds and mudflats as well. Many trophy sized fish are getting caught trolling the open basin with crankbaits. Anglers trolling for the deep basin fish are using either lead line, snap weights, or deep diving crank baits on no stretch lines.

Night fishing is still banned on the lake, so there will be no moonlight trolling for September and October full moons there. Late night slip bobber fishing used to also be very popular all summer long no matter what moon phase we were in, but you can no longer participate in that fishing on the lake now as well.


The other extremely hot bite lake right now for trophy sized walleyes is Lake of the Woods. Many fish per day from 26-30 (and even some 31-32) inches are getting caught (by law you can keep one over 28 inches as a trophy if desired, but most sportsmen are taking pictures and returning the fish).

The most productive way for catching the big fish on LOW now is trolling crank baits over the 32-36 foot basin areas. Fish are also located in the deeper water off the edges of rock reefs on the lake.

Many of the launch services are trolling with down riggers, but some are still drifting with spinners or anchoring and jigging the basin and catching eating sized fish, as well as the slot fish from 19.5 inches to 28 inches.

Trolling lead line and crank baits, snap weights and crank baits or spinners, or long lining deep diving crank baits has been the most productive for the big fish.

A Warrior Boat annual invitational tournament will be held this Saturday and will likely set a new winning weight record. It is a catch, photo, record, and release tournament, so they can count their biggest six fish no matter what size. In the past few years it takes a 26 inch average to get into the top ten.

This big fish trolling bite will last into September, so it is not too late to plan a trip and get in on this incredible bite and action.

Locally, most anglers are enjoying a little relief from the hot weather and high humidity. Water temps have dropped to the mid to high 70 degree range. We should not see any more 80 or over degree water now as we get later into our summer. The nights have been cool and the daytime highs have been more pleasant. Fish activity for all species has continued through the heat, and should remain fairly stable until we get to the transition time in September that is typical for us. Mornings and evenings have been very pleasant for fishing and enjoying time on the water. Take advantage of the comfortable weather we should have for the next 3-4 weeks. Remember to clean, drain, and dry after every trip.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)


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