|"The Bait Shop"|
...(2-4) February. The unofficial start to "contest season". A chance for the "oldest man and woman", the "person who traveled the farthest", the "youngest" and a bevy of other seemingly goofy qualifications to win a 6-pack of Hamm's and an oil change uptown. That was then. Today these modern events can host thousands of "wishermen" wishing and hoping for a chance at a new ATV, wheelhouse or a signed Kouba print. Better? Maybe, but you can't argue with the success of the modern-day ice fishing derby. Some still host a few hundred, others thousands of folks determined to claim their spot in ice fishing history. No matter the format, the modern-day ice fishing contest is a great way to spend an afternoon with your neighbors and fishing buddies. Who knows... that 4 pound pout you threw back last weekend could be worth a brand new hover-board this weekend!
The bite on Mille Lacs is similar to what we saw last week - the walleye bite continues to be good, with most of the fish ranging from 12 to 15 inches. We see the bulk of these fish on the mud flats toward the northwest quadrant of the lake. Rattle spoons and flutter-style spoons tipped with a piece of a minnow have been good for your jig line, while a glow Gem-n-Eye with a whole shiner has been best under your tip-up/ rattle wheel. Much of the perch action is on the south east end. You'll find much of the perch bite in 18-25 feet. Heavy jigs fished VERY near the bottom have produced most of the bigger perch. Fatheads and waxies are the top baits. Northern pike are most active on Wahkon and Cove Bay. Stick to 9-12 feet with sucker minnows.
...(1-28) We received about 7 inches of snow at the beginning of the week. Much of that snow has either blown away or compacted, depending on the area. Road travel is good, as most of the resorts have their roads in place now. Off-road can be challenging, depending on the area. Understand that a couple of warm days WILL NOT melt all of the ice on Mille Lacs making the lake unfishable.
The walleye bite continues to be good, with most of the fish ranging from 12 to 15 inches. Look at 28-32 feet during the daytime and 22-25 feet at sunrise and sunset. Flutter-style spoons tipped with a piece of a minnow have been good for your jig line, while a glow Demon or Moon Glow with a whole shiner has been best under your tip-up/ rattle wheel. Much of the perch action is on the south end from Otto's Point over to Hawkbill Point. Many of the perch are rock-oriented and 16-24 feet has been the target depth. Heavy jigs fished VERY near the bottom have produced most of the bigger perch. Northern pike are most active on Wahkon and Cove Bay. Stick to 9-12 feet with sucker minnows.
GLIFWC (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission) announced Tuesday that the total harvest allocation (tribal and state anglers) for Mille Lacs lake will be 40,000 pounds (again). There was no indication yet as to how the allocation would be divided between tribal and state anglers. Last year, State anglers were allowed 28,600 pounds.
Bass season open through February 28, 2016. Combined possession limit is six, with only one Smallmouth Bass over 18".
If you didn't read this last fall, it deserves your attention this week. Here a link to the DNR'S Hooked on Mille Lacs fall newsletter. You can check out some of the results of the 2014 fall netting survey. Of particular interest is the summary on page 4: "There is nothing in this data that suggests tribal fishing is affecting reproduction". If you're left with a shred of doubt after this compelling analysis, PLEASE contact the Aitkin Fisheries Office of the Minnesota DNR.