Some lakes produce giant bass. Others, giant walleyes. And still others pump out jaw-dropping muskies. But not many produce all three. And there may not be another lake on the planet that does it like MilleLacsLake in Minnesota. For the third time in my life, my dad and I ventured north to Viking land to fish the mini ocean. And for the third time in my life, I left with pictures of giants.
Walmart FLW Walleye Tour Presented by Berkley pro Paul Meleen had invited me to come fish with him for the chance to “catch a 6-pound smallie and a 50-inch muskie in the same trip.” Would you believe it, we came very close. And that’s despite Mother Nature toying with us. Instead of giving us the traditional 90-degree dog days of August, we woke up to 43 degrees the second morning. You read that correctly, 43 frigid degrees! Oh, and 30 mph winds on top of that. Thanks nature …
Dressed in more layers than we thought would be necessary, we started off for muskies, but quickly changed to chasing smallies. Mille Lacs’ reefs and shallow flats are loaded with plump smallmouths that can’t resist a snap-jigged Zoom Fluke on a 1/8-ounce jighead. However, the wind made casting an issue. Mille Lacs is around 20 miles long and 15 miles wide. So when the wind gusts, like it was during our trip, the lake’s surface turns into a mountain range. Obviously, boat control gets tough in those conditions. No joke, my body was still going up and down days after our trip.
However, Meleen decided that instead of fighting the waves, he’d let them help us. Setting the boat up in front of the reef or flat, Meleen positioned the boat parallel to the waves and let them drift the boat over the structure, controlling the boat with bursts from the trolling motor. When the drift was over, he then pointed the boat into the waves and, holding the rods in our hands in order to snap the jigs, we trolled back to the front of the structure.
It was simple fishing, and it was incredibly effective. All told, we put roughly 20 smallies in the boat in a couple of hours. Better yet, my dad and I each caught our personal bests as we both caught fish more than 5 pounds.
Part one of Meleen’s goal was almost accomplished. Now we just needed part two: the 50-incher.
After the waves got too strong and we decided to make a run across the lake to protected waters, a run that could basically turns bones into bruised calcium, we went about fishing a shallow reef we had tried earlier in the day for smallmouths. Problem was, just like earlier that day, the smallies weren’t home.
So as we rounded the back tip and prepared to make a move to another spot, I picked up my muskie rod, which had one of my homemade topwater lures on it, and started making casts toward the reef. One cast. Two cast. Three cast. BAM! Forty-eight inches of muskie drilled the lure, and after an all-too-eventful net job, Paul’s goal was complete, at least in my book.
The scary thing is, this is what the lake can produce during a down year and bad conditions. I can’t wait to hit it again when it’s running on all cylinders.