Pulling up to a boat landing and looking at the license plates will forever be an interest of mine. As many of you now know, Mille Lacs Lake is one of the best smallmouth lakes in the country if not the best.
Mille Lacs has and will have people traveling from hundreds of miles away. Missouri, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, the word is truly out about this fishery after the Bassmasters tournaments. What people don’t know is how tough the bite can be and how different smallmouth verse largemouth feeding patterns are. Combine that with super clear water and a crazy amount of pressure, these brown fish have learned a thing or two quick.
In years past, I’ve learned that the smallmouth up on Mille Lacs are some spooky fish. Nothing is more frustrating or intriguing than watching a 5+ pound smallmouth noses your bait or follow it to the boat and swim off.
Time and time again, my fishing partner and I would have smallies and WALLEYE follow up to the boat and not commit, leaving us flabbergasted. We quickly realized that we were using the wrong color after observing huge balls of bait in the water.
Some bait was greenish, either perch or walleye fry while some were shad/minnows with tons of silver and blue. While studying these pods, some of the bait couldn’t handle the increase in water temp that was happening (or other reasons) and were dying, causing a flicker like action.
So, we opted for jerk baits that mimicked that and started to hook into a couple. After finding what I call a “wolf pack”, we parked on these fish and casted as far as we could to not spook them. Every time a fish followed our baits back to the boat or we put one in the boat, we would have to back off the school quite a way and give em’ a break.
I was throwing a jerk bait in a perch color while my partner was throwing one in more of a shad color. Both did well, but we did find that a shallower running bait was producing more bites. These fish were posted up in 2-4 ft of water with the temperature starting at 58 degrees in the morning (7AM) and by the afternoon (11:30AM) was almost 61 degrees.
The smallmouth is getting ready to make their beds, we found a couple that looked like the early stages but didn’t focus on beds, rather looked for pre-spawn fish swimming in the shallows. Found a couple good ones, but I’m very excited to get after the fishing once the spawn starts.
Fish care is everything when catching big fish, we control the future fishing population (well kind of) hint, hint. Take a quick picture or get a video of releasing the fish but do it right. These smallmouth need all the help they can get to keep this world class fishery kicking out 7+ pound smallmouth.