Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brainerd / Mille Lacs / Leech Lake Area Fishing Report

Not sure if it's late summer or early fall, but I know one thing, THE BIG GIRLS ARE BITING! Check out these Giants!!!

Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby KvalevogDick Caught this 29" Walleye with Guide Toby Kvalevog on the Whitefish Chain near Brainerd MN

Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby Kvalevog
In the past week 3 walleyes pushing the 30". Here's a Leech Lake giant caught by Leisure Outdoor Adventure guest Tim Chick.

Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby KvalevogTom Frisch Caught his biggest Fish, a 37" Pike, in the LOA boat on Leech Lake

Fishing in central Minnesota is as good as it gets! The fish are behaving like they're suppose to right now. Fish of all species can be found on or near the steep edges closest to deep water. Wind blowing in is nice, but not necessary. These fish were all holding on edges close to water deeper than 50 feet. They're chasing cisco and whitefish. For many of these giants, we are using Red Tails and Creek Chubs in the 4-8" range. There is no place better for fresh bait than SW bait shop here in the Brainerd area. Rigging these large minnows are fun because you know that it takes a special fish to eat such a bait.
Because you never know what kind of toothy critter might be looking for a mid day snack, it's important to use the right equipment. I like to use the 7" medium light action Jason Mitchell spinning rod for live bait rigging. This rod has the perfect action for big runs that trophy fish make at the side of the boat, but still has the sensativity to feel the lightest bites. A 12lb Fluorocarbon leader material will hold up to most fish if you have a good drag system. I like to keep them light, so that my clients can reel the entire time they're fighting their fish. This eliminates the chance of slack in the line which is every anglers worse nightmare.

Here is a snap shot of what's going on in the lakes that we've been on lately:

Gull Lake:
Fish are outside the weed edges in 14-20 ft of water. Look for windy shore line points such as Holman's PT, Stone Boat House, Floans PT, Clumps, and Bow Tie Bars

Whitefish: Walleye, Pike and Bass are holding in the 18-24 ft edges on The three fingers area of upper whitefish. The main lake humps are also holding fish in the same depth ranges.

Mille Lacs: Walleye and Small mouth are starting to show up on the deeper edges of the rocks. These fish can be caught trolling or with bobbers. The mud flats are also producing walleyes on the deep edged to off of the flats. Trolling perch colored glass shads produced several nice fish in the past week.

Leech Lake: Walleyes on Leech Lake and Walker Bay are being caught with live bait and trolling crank baits. Troll the 14-18 ft edges of the main lake structure with natural patterns. Regardless of depth, keep the baits in the upper 10ft of the water column on most days in the main lake. Long lines work well for this pattern. The fish in Walker bay can be found on the deep humps scattered across the bay. Red tails on rigs, or jigs with rainbow minnows are putting many keeper sized fish in the boat.

And the CATCH OF THE YEAR GOES TO?????????????

Bob Kuschel!!
Congratulations to both Bob and Guide Jeff Andersen for this MONSTER 55" Musky caught this week.
Leech Lake, Whitefish, Mille Lacs, Gull lake Fishing Report by Toby Kvalevog

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leech Lake Monster Muskies

Catching a monster musky, one goal that is on many anglers bucket list, but not something that will always gets the check mark.  So I got the call from Scott who said he was planning a trip to the Leech Lake area with his family and that he wanted to fish muskies with his son George (14 years old) and possibly do some walleye fishing with his daughter Lauren (11 years old).  Momma was going to do some relaxing!  We set them up at Chase on the Lake. (click here to view).

I met both Scott and George early in the AM on the first day as our plan was to fish Leech Lake.  As a fishing guide it's my role to find out their skill level and adapt from there.  In conversation Scott mentioned that he had been fishing Lake of the Woods for several years with his son George and they have caught muskies up there.  Sweet!  I knew they would be ready to put in a good shift of fishing to try and boat these goofy muskies.  

This is where I will let George take the story from here.

"The Fish of a Lifetime"
Written by George:

Before we made our trip to Leech Lake, I was scanning through the pages of a book of famous quotes by athletes. One that particularly caught my eye was a quote by a cornerback on the Pittsburgh Steelers that said, "You only get a once in a lifetime chance so many times" That's what we were up here for, the chance to catch a muskie, an accomplishment some anglers never get, let alone the chance of hooking into a 50" muskie.

We started off the first day a little slow. We met our guide, Jeff Andersen, at the docks at The Chase on the Lake.  We fished for about an hour with not one follow. We pulled up to a new spot and had a fish that barely bumped Jeff's buck tail, a hot follow on a fish that turned away on the figure eight and was never to be seen again. We fished 3 or 4 spots proved to be slow, with only 1 follow, but on the bright side the weather was clearing up and was very soon warm and sunny. Good for us, but not for the fishing. We pulled up to a rock ledge that went on for hundreds of yards. Jeff told us that this was a very good spot to catch a mid-sized muskie.  We casted for about 1 minute and soon enough a fish shot up out of the deep and engulfed Jeff's buck tail right next to the boat. He quickly handed the pole to me and the fight was on, I fought the muskie for a few minutes and brought the fish to the boat. What a good fight! First fish of the trip and my biggest to date!  We netted the fish, but one problem; the fish was hooked very deep and it was bleeding a little. After a few minutes of trying to get the hook out, Jeff finally got it and we got some good pictures with the fish. He gently worked the fish back and forth to get water going through the gills. To our surprise the fish darted back into the deep and swam away.

On the first day we also caught a hard-fighting 32" northern pike while fishing for muskies and had another big fish follow. We later fished for Walleye for about half an hour and caught one walleye and three perch.

The second day was going to be very windy, so we decided to try a nearby smaller muskie lake. Jeff had advised that we might see a few more fish there. The fishing was once again slow early. We fished 4 or 5 spots and only had 1 follow.  That all changed when we pulled out in front of some reeds and cabbage along the shoreline of an island.  We casted and casted, and to be honest my hand was getting sore, and I was getting a little bored. Then I heard Jeff tell my dad he had a follow, and I looked over a sure enough there was a good-sized muskie following my Dad's copartner, called a Pacemaker. The fish was ready to eat, but unfortunately after 3 or 4 figure eights the fish turned away. Bummer! About 3 minutes later, I was looking at my buck tail, which I was casting, and out of the corner of my eye, I watched Jeff get ready to cast and quickly stop the cast and start to figure eight. I was a little confused until I saw an enormous, fish sluggishly following the lure and then as quick as it came, disappeared. Jeff told us to reel up, and that we were going to make another pass through the area to pick up those fish. We made a pass with no signs of the giant. Jeff said we better wait 10 minutes or so and try one more time. We casted and casted, a little bummed out that neither fish showed up again! Then Jeff switched lures from a buck tail to a huge rubber bait with a big tail. The lure was enormous. After a few casts with that he pulled it out and looked ready to cast the other way, but instead casted it to the same spot. Thank God he did! A few cranks in he set the hook. "George, George, this is a big fish, be ready." I fought the fish with all my strength and effort. I was grunting as I was trying to prevent the fish from going under the boat. We fought the behemoth for 5 minutes until it finally surfaced. Everyone was shocked, Jeff netted it and pulled it out of the water. I was speechless!  I had never seen a fish that big! I was shocked. Barely any words could come from my mouth. We took a few pictures and let it go. It swam away slowly, with its enormous back sticking out of the water and finally disappeared into the deep waters. High Fives were given all around! My new shirt and shorts were drenched in fish slime and my arms were ready to fall off! The fish was incredible! A 51", 34 pound muskie! A once in a lifetime fish! Just what we came here in hopes of doing, but we still had 1 1/2 days left.

We returned to the lodge, where we fooled my mom and sister that it was just a small muskie, but we had some cool pictures of it. Boy were they surprised!!! Neither had ever seen a fish that big! My sister, Lauren who was new to fishing and 11 years old, had decided to try fishing for a little bit, and Jeff took us to a little area where we caught 7 Northern Pike all about 2 feet long and a few perch! Lauren caught her biggest fish so far, in a 23" pike! Everyone of us had fun battling the feisty northerns. What a day!

The 3rd day was tough, very tough we fished all of 8 hours and not one fish! That's muskie fishing though!  A few northern were brought to the boat, and I did catch a 8" Rock Bass on my 8" Buck tail! Jeff recommended we stop at Dairy Queen on the way back, and boy did that Nutter Butter Blizzard taste good after 8 hours of casting!

So we were down to a half day of fishing left before we had to go home. We fished walleyes for 4 hours and we all had a blast. We had caught probably 10 walleyes including two 17" fish and a 22" and a 24" walleye. Dad, Lauren, and I each caught big walleyes and we were having tons of fun. We were down to the last 5 minutes of fishing before 11:30 am. We brought out the rally caps and prayed for luck! Jeff hooked a big walleye that we unfortunately lost at the boat and another one that Lauren missed at the hook set. With 2 minutes left I was working my Jig N' Rap as hard as I could. I slowly let it down and all of a sudden, WHAM! I hooked into something, something big. The fish stayed down a long time, we all thought that it was a really big walleye. I fought the fish with all my strength, but it stayed down. After 5 minutes of it staying down, it finally made a run, ZING! The fish took off. By then we knew it was no walleye, I saw the enormous head of a Muskie charging towards the surface 30 feet out from the boat. Then it made a spectacular leap out of the water, every inch of the fish was 2 feet out of the water! Snap. I reeled and no Muskie on the end! Bummer! We all just looked at each other talking about how amazing that leap was and hooking a muskie while walleye fishing with 8 pound test! Where were you yesterday when we had 80 pound test?!

Well, what a fabulous way to end the trip of a lifetime!

Thank You Jeff for the incredible experiences, and fish of a lifetime.

George, 14
Lauren, 11

Thank you Scott, George and Lauren!  What an amazing memory!

A story and a photo that will never be forgotten by George and his Dad is what makes my job rewarding.  

Just a little bit about the fish we caught:
The first fish was caught on a Blue Fox Twin Turbo 10 blades.  This bait is made right but you have to be willing to put the work in as the blades are heavy and move a ton of water.  Bottom line is they catch fish!  Speed was the name of the game here as it seems the fish are just following slower retrieves.  Get that thing rocking if you are having follows give the one two crank and burn those arms and you will soon convert those follows to bites.  On the second fish, the big one, we landed was a fish that many anglers would have passed by.  As George mentioned we had this fish follow off a steep edge.  In most cases once you move a fish on a piece of structure the fish will eventually move back to that same piece of structure, but in some cases they stay out off the edge as this fish did.  We made a few passes and the fish didn't follow or show itself.  A perfect scenario to work a large soft pastic bait like the Storm ThunderBeast Click Here to see the lure.   Again, as George mentioned, I made several cast to the same location the fish came from but out off the edge.  Pretty much where the boat had just traveled.  Making several cast to the same location over and over and just as I was about to give up I made one more.  That was all the fish could handle!  

Musky fishing is all about ups and downs as I have written in the past.  The quote George mentioned, "You only get a once in a lifetime chance so many times" is spot on when coming to musky fishing.  When you get that "chance" you better be ready and sometimes an angler does everything right and that "chance" still slips away.  Guess what!  Keep casting my friends.....

"Get Hooked and Make a Memory"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen 

Here are the photos from the trip...  (Click on image for larger view)



Friday, August 5, 2011

Leech Lake "Fish of a life time."

Fishing tales are full of surprises and disappointments. They are all part of fishing, and for many, what makes it fun. This story is about a young man who started a morning somewhat reluctant to fish, but ended up with the fish of a lifetime.

Kevin signed up for a fishing trip with Leisure Outdoor Adventures. He would be taking his two boys out on the water for a late summer bonding experience before it was time to head back to school. Tyler and Tristan are two typical teenage boys. Somewhat hesitant about waking up before noon on summer vacation. Little did they know that this time, it would be worth their effort.

After a brief discussion of what the "bite" has been like on Leech, we decided to spend the day trying to catch a few walleyes for a fish fry back at the 502 restaurant. The first spot of the morning produced only 1 small keeper, but plenty perch to practice the art of live bait rigging for the day. Off to spot #2!

It wasn't long after marking a school of Walleyes on the Lowrance that we had our first bite. Tyler was the lucky angler. To the side of the boat came a nice fat 16" walleye that let go just out of reach of the landing net. A little disappointment and a great opportunity for us to learn. "Keep the lines tight at all times boys. These fish won't have a chance if the lines are tight." Big hook sets and excess rod movements may have their place in deep sea fishing, but for walleyes and live bait rigging, tight lines will do. "Rod tip up and reel, that's all we need to do."

The lack of action on spot number 2 was taking a toll on Tristan (15 yrs old). While lying down on the front of the boat with a towel over his eyes to block the sun, Tristan was about to be awakened by the sound of a monster fish flying out of the water like a Whale only feet from the boat. The loud splash and commotion had our attention. "What was that?" I asked. Only seconds later the huge fish surfaced again, tail walking across the water now 30 ft from Tristan's side of the boat for all to see. I had seen this one time earlier in my guiding career on Gull lake when one of my guests had hooked a big pike. "I think that fish has someones minnow!" I screamed in excitement. "Does anyone have a bite?" Tristan, now well awake watching the show, exclaimed that yes, he had a little tap and had let the line go. "I think that is your fish," I said. "Everyone else better reel up. I think Tristan has a huge pike on".

I have found that we can catch most of our pike that bite without a leader if the angler can manage to not horse them, and forget about setting the hook. "Tristan," I said, "If you want to catch this fish, you're going to have to be calm, and pay attention to every thing I say. The key to catch this fish is going to be for you to let the rod and reel do its' job. All I need you to do is keep your rod tip up and reel. When the fish pulls hard, just let her go. When she slows reel again, but never let it get any slack in the line. Keep the line tight and rod tip up." Kevin asked if there was anything he could do to help, and I said I don't think so. Just give us the room we need to work this fish. It might take a while.

With his rod tip up, Tristan began to reel as fast as he could to pick up all of the slack line up that the monster fish had taken. "I think he's gone" he said. "Just keep reeling Tristan, rod tip up." The rod began to bend and the fish was there. ZIIIIIIIIIIIING ! "This is a big fish Tristan," I said. "You are going to catch em, no worries, just remember rod tip up!" After about a minute, we had a glimpse of our big fish. It was a Musky, the fish of a 1,000 casts. ZIIIIIIIIIIIING! Back to the bottom she went and the task was about to start all over. Tristan was a little nervous but very good about following directions and this fish was cooperating. Again Tristan got her to the side of the boat, but she was a little green. "I don't think she is quite ready yet," I said. ZIIIIIIIIIING back to the bottom again. "This experience is what we all dream about Tristan, you are doing fine. You are going to catch this fish". The look on his face was a little doubtful. With a little coaching and a fantastic job of listening Tristan brought her to boat side just long enough for me to put her in the net. "YES!!!!" I said, while giving Tristan a big HIGH FIVE! You might have just caught your biggest fish of your life, said Kevin.

After a few pictures with partner Jeff "Breezer" Andersen, we released her back to the water. Best estimates were that this fish was somewhere in the mid 40's. Not the biggest Musky but an absolute giant for the average angler and one that this 15 yr old will never forget, as well as his guide for the day!

"Tight lines everyone!"


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gull Lake Fishing Guide

I had the pleasure to share the boat with the Skopec Crew again and what a blast!  We fished Gull Lake in the Brainerd Lakes Area and this trip was what being a fishing guide is all about.  We caught endless amounts of bass and pike throughout the day and ended the trip with a monster pike!  I will let the photos of my fishing friends speak for themselves.  Let me tell you these four can fish with the best of them....

Thanks team Iowa for a great memory!

"Get Hooked and Make a Memory"
Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

(Click on photo for larger view)