|"The Bait Shop"|
...(7-21) The bite on Mille Lacs is showing signs of change - the clouds of baitfish are showing up regularly and in some areas (particularly on some of the gravel bars and rock humps) the bite has started to toughen up. In contrast, we've had a pretty good bite on the mud this past week - crawlers/spinners, leeches on long snells and bobberin'... even during the day! The best bite remains in the evening with leeches and slip bobbers on the flats. As much as we would all like to see this bite go on forever, I'd suspect that in the next week or two things will slow down noticeably. This means that the time to fish is NOW! Some of the better flats include 7-mile, Curly's, the Boot and Blue Jug. Gold and pink have been great colors for both spinners and jigs. Smallmouth anglers have had their ups and downs. The trend has been to work the deeper rock piles with drop-shot rigs. Another "pearl" is to notice that there are good numbers of crawfish crawling on some of the shallower reefs. Deep or shallow? You decide, but mobility is your biggest asset... until you find the "mother-ship"!
Be sure to keep your crawlers and leeches cool. Pumping 75+ degree surface water will kill them just about as fast as leaving them sit in the sun. Speaking of leeches, the supply has toughened up a lot. Several years ago, I wrote an article about the lifecycle of a leech and why they get hard to come by as the summer goes on. You can find that article HERE if you would like to brush up on your "leechology".
...(7-14) Yup, it rained. We saw upwards of 8 inches from Sunday night through Tuesday morning. The north end of the lake got even more! The water level is up noticeably but not over (most of) the docks. Much of the first 1/2 mile or so of shoreline water is dirtier than it is out further. With HUGE wind on Tuesday and Wednesday we didn't see too many folks on the lake. The ones I've talked to from today so far were still on good fish.
The better bite was and continues to be on the mud flats. Some of the folks will run a leech on a VERY plain rig, others are kicking-up the speed a little with a crawler/spinner and both are getting fish. The interesting twist we're seeing is how effective the daytime deep-water bobber bite has been - while SOME OF US are too stubborn to give up on the spinners, others have pounded the fish on the deep water mud, rocks and gravel with the corks. If you're not on the fish you think you should be catching, try the daytime bobber thing. Many of the same spots that hold fish just before dark are within a few boat lengths of where these fish "hide" during the day. Some of the smallmouth action has moved deeper - while some good fish are coming from 7-14 feet, I'd go deeper before I'd go shallower.
The Minnesota DNR posted their latest creel survey for the period ending 6-30-16. In a nutshell, anglers are at about 25% of the total quota. You can see the whole report here:http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/millelacslake/creel.html
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.