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I lived in Minnesota from 1986-1993, and 20 years ago I fished Mille Lacs. It was then and probably still is Minnesota's most popular fishing lake, and best known walleye fishery in a state known for walleye fisheries- all 10,000 of them For Minnesotans it is a year-round recreation destination, and ice fishing houses number in the thousands during the winter. It is a prime spawning grounds for walleye as billions of walleye eggs and fry are produced every year.

Mille Lacs is located just an hour-and-a-half to two hours from Minneapolis-St. Paul. It is approximately 132,000 acres and covers 207 square miles, Minnesota’s second-largest inland lake after Red Lake. Although large, the maximum depth is only 42 feet. Deeper rock reefs, shallow reefs, milfoil, islands, weed lines, points, and mudflats are all available for anglers to fish. Shallow reef fishing exists on all sides of the lake. Deeper water angling takes place on the southern

deep gravel and rocks as well as on dozens of mud flats in the north half of the lake. Shoreline break fishing on varied bottom occurs all around the lake. The weed line is at nine to twelve feet. The lake has walleye, northern pike, musky, jumbo perch, smallmouth, largemouth, black crappie, burbot, and tullibee. For the final MLF event of the year, smallmouth are expected to be the main focus on the many rocky reefs covered with zebra mussels. Traditional smallmouth techniques- drop shot, ned rig, swim jigs and tubes- will be put to the test.

Archaeologists indicate that the area around the lake is one of the earliest known sites of human settlement in Minnesota. The Rum River drains from Mille Lacs into the Mississippi River at present-day Anoka north of the Twin Cities. The Lakota considered it a Spiritual/Mystic Lake. To the Ojibwe (Chippewa), it was simply the lake is known as Great Big Lake, and portions of the Ojibwe Indian Reservation border the lake.

Although still a premier walleye lake, since my time there, bass have become a big time fishery, producing trophy-sized members of every species that swim in its expansive waters and attracting premier events such as Major League Fishing's Bass Pro Tour Stage Seven September 10-15.. Smallmouth are the dominant big bass here, but largemouth could be in play with the Bass Pro Tour format. It is expected that the bass will be transitioning throughout the lake from shallow to mid-depth, and deeper. The popularity of the lake and the proximity to the Twin Cities has placed a lot of fishing pressure on the lake, and could play into fishing being a little more difficult.


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