But every angler knows, it’s not just about being at the “right” body of water.
Here are some tips to ensure you have the best opportunity for catching those smallies!
UNDERSTAND THE LAKE
One of the best features of Mille Lacs is its size. With more than 200 square miles of water, the lake offers a variety of habitat for a variety of fish species and the room for you to fish without feeling overcrowded. However, that size also means you have to pay attention.
Unlike a small lake, Mille Lacs’ diversity of terrain means the smallmouth bass you’re looking for will not be in every spot all the time. Are you heading to deep, open water? Shallow water with muddy terrain? Lake edges? The answer to where to head depends on the season.
Smallie Season on Mille Lacs
Slamming Bass shared a great look at smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Mille Lacs according to different seasons on our big lake. Understanding these times of the year can help you pinpoint where and how to fish for smallies on your trip.
Because of the size of Mille Lacs and corresponding weather conditions, Pre-Spawn to Post-Spawn season for smallmouth bass may overlap in early spring; May to June. During this time, smallies can be found at depths of 1 to 10 feet where they prefer to spawn.
June to August, you’ll find smallies and other lake fish gathering where the dead insects begin dropping to the surface during “bug hatches” for various lake insects. These annual insect cycles provide a valuable food source on the lake and the fish make use of the opportunity.
Later in the summer, smallies will feed on molting crawfish which may come in to as shallow as 2-3 foot depths.
Then, as the temperatures begin to cool in the Fall, you’ll be likely to find smallmouth bass near weedy edges with depths of 3-10 feet. At this time of year, smallmouth bass follow their prey, yellow perch and other small fish, to the lake edges. You can follow the fish migration to those edges for more successful smallmouth fishing on Lake Mille Lacs.
Now that you know where to look on Mille Lacs for the smallmouth bass, you need to choose the best gear for the catch.
Good lure and bait choices on the lake include crankbaits, tube jigs, spinnerbaits, swim baits, chatter baits, finesse worms and jig n worms. Depending on the season and fish behavior, you’ll want to evaluate your approach and bait choice.
For example, dragging tubes can be especially useful in late summer when smallies feed on molting crawfish.
And, when taking advantage of “bug hatch” feeding, you may want to slow down and be patient to match the smallies’ feeding preference at the time.
Another tip for smallmouth fishing on Lake Mille Lacs comes from fishing guide Tony Roach “…Lake Mille Lacs is really clear, so natural patterns tend to work best. I throw a lot of smoke colors, green pumpkin and watermelon with red flakes. Those produce results day after day on Mille Lacs. I tend to steer away from white or any of the brighter colors for my plastics. Whether it’s tubes, swimbaits, drop-shot worms, wacky worms, creature baits, you name it—stick with the natural colors.”
Fishing on Lake Mille Lacs is a great choice and you’re sure to be pleased by the healthy smallmouth bass populations. And, with the size and clarity of the lake, you’re sure to find more than just smallies.
So, stock the tacklebox and choose the right dates for your fishing vacation while the lake is waiting and the fish are biting!