Mille Lacs is Minnesota’s second largest lake and covers 132,000 acres or over 200 square miles. It is a relatively shallow lake with much of the lake ranging from 20 - 35 feet in depth.
It is a world-class fishing lake for walleye, muskie, northern pike, small mouth bass and perch with many trophies of each species caught annually. The fishing season for walleyes and northern pike runs from mid-May to the end of February. Smallmouth bass fishing opens in late May, and muskie season begins in early June.
Walleye is the most popular fish in Mille Lacs with more hours of fishing time devoted to catching them than any other species. Early in the season (mid-May to early June) most fishermen stay closer to shore and fish either the near-shore rock reefs or the famous North end sand. This is a very popular time to fish because you do not have to travel very far for great fishing and, at most times, you do not need a very large fishing boat. Popular techniques include slip sinker rigs and crank baits for trolling or slip bobber rigs when anchored.
As the season progresses, fishermen generally move deeper to the offshore gravel areas and mud flats. Power trolling with long leadered spinner rigs with bottom bouncers or slow-trolling with slip sinker rigs work well on both of these areas. A slip bobber rig fished along the deep edges or even on top also works well.
During fall, fishermen are generally moving shallower again and concentrating on slip bobbers or crank bait trolling over the shallow rock reefs and also slip sinker rig trolling on the North end sand breaks. Trolling deep running crank baits with lead core line is getting more popular during late summer and fall as well.
Mille Lacs has been rated number one smallmouth lake in the country, and has hosted two Bass Master Angler of the Year Championships. Five to seven pound smallmouth are numerous, and the action is incredible. Fishing near the many rock piles with drop shot rigs, tube jigs or crank baits will help you be successful. Successful fishing is generally fantastic all summer.
Muskie and northern pike fishing generally takes place near the cabbage areas and weedlines in and near the shallow bays on Mille Lacs. Casting a variety of baits, including jerk baits, bucktails, crank baits, and spoons are the favorite way to fish for these bruisers. Many people also troll with outriggers or trolling boards along the North end as well. Mid-summer is generally the most productive time, with a late surge in late fall before ice-up. Many people believe the next state record muskie will come from Mille Lacs in the near future.
Small-mouth bass fishing has really been picking up in recent years. Mille Lacs is managed as a trophy fishing lake for smallmouths and has a slot limit designed to protect smaller fish. The average size of these fighters has been rising accordingly. Fishing generally takes place over shallow rock reefs during mid-summer using either slip bobbers or casting crank baits or jigs.