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August ‘Eyes of Mille Lacs
by Ron Anlauf
August eyes Mille Lacs anglers have had plenty to smile about this season. From opening day the walleyes have been consistently giving it up for those working the right places at the right time. Unlike the last couple of years; catching fish hasn’t been much of a problem and has included plenty of those that are outside the range of the protected slot. If the good news isn’t good enough don’t worry, there’s more. Like anywhere else, Mille Lacs goes through seasonal changes. These changes can bring major shifts in walleye location and attitude. The big lake is going through one of those changes right now, and you better adjust if you want to stay on the fish. In a typical year early August can make for pretty tough walleye fishing. It’s a time when young of the year perch reach a desirable size, and can show up in masse. With all of that bait it can be difficult to get a walleyes attention. It’s also a time when walleyes are in transition and they can be spread out. You can still find a few fish on the mud flats, the deep gravel humps, as well as on many of the shallow rocky reefs and bars.

Ron with a nice Summer Walleye

Ron with a nice summer walleye


One of the main ingredients to a good walleye bite is large concentrations of fish. When they’re spread out it’s easy to completely miss the action. If you’re working a limited amount of fish the bite can be very short lived. Even when your on the mother load only a small number will be actively feeding at any given time and why a concentration is the key to consistent action. By the end of the month, many of the deep fish make their way back to the rocks and join up with those that have been shallow all season long. As more and more fish start to show up the fishing keeps getting better and better, and can make for the most intense bite of the entire year. One of the keys to a good late summer shallow bite is water clarity, or lack thereof. On Mille Lacs as well as most of our fertile lakes throughout Minnesota, summer can bring dreaded algae blooms that cloud up water and turn it green. While it might not be pretty, dark water helps to bring fish shallow and can keep them there where they can be easily found and caught. Wind is a necessary ingredient to triggering a good daytime bite in shallow water. With out a little wind you might as well fish for something else like smallmouth bass or muskies. If you have the wind you should try to use it to your advantage. To get the most out of the situation you’d be wise to follow the wind and spend your time in areas that have the benefit of the heaviest waves.

Waves crashing into rocks helps to get the whole thing started as they can create current, current that will flush out bait hiding in the cracks and crevices where they become easy targets for ‘eyes on the prowl. Rocks in the four to ten foot range are what you’re looking for and most of the good spots have buoys on them, or at least close to them. The major rock reefs and bars will be marked and they can all produce fish on any given day. Some of the better secret spots are small rock piles and knobs that are close to the marked structures. To find them you have to be willing to waste a little time looking for the unknown. By taking a trip out off of the marked structure and keeping an eye on your electronics you’ll find some of the areas that only a handful know about. A flasher type depth finder like the Marcum LX-3 can be invaluable as it provides instant information and will show the bottom, how hard it is, and the presence of fish. To work rocks it’s hard to beat live bait suspended beneath a slip bobber. Once you find that little secret rock pile you’ll want to drop a marker on the spot and anchor upwind. By anchoring a short cast away, you can strain an area with the slip bobber by drifting the bait back across the top, reeling it up, and repeating the process until your comfortable that you have thoroughly worked an area. So many times it’s one tiny little area that most of the fish come from, and if you’re not thorough you might miss it. Leeches and night crawlers are the top producers for late summer rock hopping. Leeches should be hooked through the sucker, and crawlers should be hooked one time through the middle of the bait. And instead of a plain hook you may want to try a small jig head like a Northland Doodle Bug. The Doodle Bug is designed for ice fishing but is an excellent choice for working below a bobber and will result in more fish hooked. The jig head gives your offering some color as well as holding the bait down in the fish zone. When walleyes are on the rocks they can hold pretty tight and it pays to keep your bait close to the bottom. In fact when the wind is really howling you’ll catch more fish by setting the float so the jig just barely drags the bottom. Doing so will keep the bait in the “zone” longer, and will get the walleyes holding in the deep cracks and crevices. This method will cost you some jigs, but it can pay big dividends. The other top late summer pattern is trolling crank baits like a Grappler Shad over the shallow rocky reefs, bars, and shorelines. Even when fish load up on the spot on the spot there will still be some that remain spread out, and yet are very catch-able. Trolling gives you the ability to cover some water and can get your bait in front of as many fish as possible. Although trolling crankbaits can be produce all day long, Look for the bite to intensify right before dark. See you on the rocks

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