With the crazy weather that was plaguing Minnesota during our trip, our equipment took a beating. Most nights, we had to pull out all of our jigs to prevent rust and set up our shacks so that they could dry out and not just be a block of ice on the porch. At times our cabin was quite stuffed. Fortunately, the pellet stove kept the front end of our house at a comfortable 82!
Finding fish on Mille Lacs wasn’t a problem. It was the catching that has us stumped. We spent a great deal of time just trying to put some fish on the ice so we could get a pattern of what they were feeding on. After 6 days on the ice, we finally found a jig/plastic combo that worked somewhat consistently. We ran a white Clam Pro Tackle “Epoxy Drop” with a pinched off tail of a motor oil “Stoni” from Maki Plastics. While this caught some fish it certainly wouldn’t catch them all. They were beyond picky. Many fish would come in, put the jig right on their eye, and then swim along with it touching the entire length of their body. It was frustrating beyond belief! While out there we thought of several factors of why the fish were so hard to catch. The obvious factors were the severe cold temperatures, full moon, and decaying weeds. Another factor that seemed to frustrate us more than anything were the abundance of tiny yellow perch.
One afternoon while we were attempting to catch some fish, we set up a few tip ups for pike. Shortly after getting them out the first flag popped. About a minute later, Andy pulled a nice pike through the hole. Because of the freezing cold and wind, we didn’t measure it but we figured it was in the high 30″s around 12 pounds. During our stay, we saw numerous pike of trophy size both looking down the hole sight fishing and on the camera.
Having an underwater camera was a huge factor in locating effective patches of weeds and fish. While cabbage was abundant, it seemed that the crappie and bluegills were more loyal towards the sparse patches of dense milfoil.