Brad Laabs: Here's where the fish are hiding right now

The recent bass tournament on Big Toad Lake had the winners weighing in a five-fish limit that tipped the scales at 17.5 pounds!

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs
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This last week has challenged fishermen with high winds, rain, and being held off the water by thunderstorms and lighting.

Those who have been able to take advantage of the breaks in the weather, and fish in spite of the discomfort the wind can create, have been rewarded with solid action for all species. Walleyes have been taking minnows, leeches and crawlers in 16-24 feet of water on live bait rigs or spinners/slow death rigs.

The jig rap bite is also heating up for those deeper fish. Jigs and minnows-plastics are still producing fish in shallow weeds, as are slip bobbers-leeches in cabbage weeds when the wind is sweeping into those areas.

Shoreline areas that extend into the main lake, tapering points, and mid-lake structure have all been holding fish. Moving .4 to .8 miles mph with live bait rigs and .8 to 1.2 mph with spinners/slow death rigs has been best.

Big crappies have been feeding on the edges of the larger flats on many area lakes in the 9-13 foot water.


Light jigs (1/16 ounce and 1/8/ ounce) tipped with twister tails and/or minnows moving .8 to 1.1 mph have been producing. You will also get the smorgasbord bite with this approach that can include big sunfish, northern pike, largemouth bass, and the occasional walleye.

Musky anglers are casting and burning a variety of spinner-type baits over submergent weeds for many follows and some hook-ups.

Casting in the heavy wind that we have had to contend with makes this presentation challenging at times, as bows in the line impair good hook sets.

Big and Little Detroit, Pelican, and Sallie continue to get the most musky attention. Occasional musky are also getting caught in Melissa now. Beers Lake also has quality musky and musky reports have also been reported on both the Pine lakes by anglers fishing for other species. Northern are feeding aggressively along outside edges of weed lines, but some of the bigger northern are holding in the deeper, cooler water with water temps in the low 70s now.

Big Floyd, Melissa, both Longs, McDonald, Toad, and Cotton lakes continue to be consistent largemouth bass producers. The recent bass tournament on Big Toad Lake had the winners weighing in a five-fish limit that tipped the scales at 17.5 pounds! Combinations of casting crank baits, spinners, and fishing Texas-rigged worms produced tournament catches. Most tournament activity is done in the area now until the start of fall, but lakes are extremely active on weekends with anglers, jet skiers, ski boats, wakeboard boats, and pontoons. Be considerate at landings and on the water as we share these lakes.

The large shallow basin lakes like Tamarack, Height of Land, Shell, and Rock consistently produce large sunfish in good numbers. Many of the smaller shallower lakes in the area have been producing well, but are protected secrets by many of the pan fish specialists. Take a risk and go exploring for your own gem spot. Then keep it quiet.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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