Sunday, May 27, 2012

Brainerd Lakes Area Fishing Smorgasboard

The last two times I have been out with fellow LOA guide, Jason Freed, we have opted to stay closer to home and see what's shakin' on Gull Lake.  Friday night, May 25th, it was Checkered Flag redtails that were shakin from the multitude of fish that they were seeing!  Taking advantage of the strong winds that had been prevalent, we hit some points and the fish were rockin!  Some places, it was just northerns or rock bass (aka Gull lake smallies!), but the fish were biting.  When we found the Gull Lakes Walleyes, they were liking the redtails; they pounded 'em and they were feisty!  One key for us was that we knew the lake would be crowded, and it was, so we had re-explored some of our favorite spots using our Contour Elite software.  Utilizing this, we could see other boats on the same structure, but given the wind, we found little nooks where we figured would collect more fish and they did!

Today, May 27th, our original plan was to hit fabled Mille Lacs, but given that Gull was so good Friday, we opted for this.  Again, Gull Lake did not disapoint.  Brainerd Lakes Area panfish guru, Pablo Manecke hopped in the boat today as well.  As a guide, there are a number of things that go through your mind, even when fishing with friends, chief among them is to find fish!  10 minutes into this trip, we had a 22 incher thanks to Freed and then a 25 incher that gave Pablo all he could handle.  Not sure why walleyes get a bad rap as non-fighters, but this one was ticked and he let us all know it with his fight.  No match for the braided line and Jason Mitchell rods, we landed it, took some photos and let her go.

The Brainerd Lakes Area bite is heating up, call 1-855-LOA-HOOK to get in on the action!


Jim Ernster

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Leech Lake Fishing Guide Report

Patty with a nice Leech Lake Walleye
Hey guys I hope that everyone has had the chance to put a bend in that fishing rod that has been sitting in your garage just waiting to get put to use.  The L.O.A. Fishing Guide Team has been busy fishing on Leech Lake, Lake Mille Lacs, Gull Lake, and all the other lake in the Brainerd Area.

Fishing on Leech is a bite different then the past few seasons as with our warm spring it seems like the fish have been scattered from 4 feet of water to 12 feet.  In most cases fish where the fish are going as you will have fresh fish moving to those areas by the day and in some instances the hour.  The fish are doing just that, movin' and so you should follow.  The fish we had caught in 4 feet have now moved out to the deeper edges being the 10 to 12 feet of water.  The water temps on the main lake are anywhere from 57 to 62 degrees.  The walleyes seem to be reacting to faster moving baits.  Try and vary your speed from .8 to 1.5 mph to see what they want.  The jig and shiner combo has been my main stay but we did catch a few fish on crawlers and leeches the past few days.
Bonus Leech Lake Jumbo Perch

Our efforts have been focused on the flats which can be very intimidating but with good electronics search out the balls of bait fish.  We have simply been driving and looking.  Once we locate the bait the walleyes have been very close along with some super jumbo perch and lots of pike to keep us busy.

I use a Jason Mitchell Elite Series 6'6" medium action fishing rod which is perfect for the jig presentation.  You can find them here Reeds Sporting Goods Link.

I had the pleasure to spend a couple of days this week with Richard and Patty.  This was their first fishing trip to Leech Lake.  Getting a chance to meet two wonderful people, catch a bunch of fish, and plain and simple have fun is what being a fishing guide is all about.

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

Book a Guided Fishing Trip with Leisure Outdoor Adventures Fishing Team at  We are providing guided fishing trips on many lakes including the Brainerd Lakes Area, Gull Lake, Whitefish Chain, North Long, Pelican along with the Leech Lake Area.

Call 855-LOA-HOOK to book your guided fishing trip.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fly Fishing Sunfish and Crappies in the Brainerd Lakes Area

Josh with a 12 inch sunfish
The subject of Fly fishing around the Brainerd Lakes Area is not a common topic.  However, I grew up catching sunfish off our dock using a fly rod.  Between my whole family I couldn't even count how many different fly rods we own, ranging from 2wt-12wt.  I have been fortunate to experience fly fishing all over the country, and I have had some absolutely incredible fishing.  When people ask me what my favorite fish to catch on the fly is, I typically don't list just one species.  I will rattle off tarpon, small mouth bass, giant Alaskan rainbows, and sunfish...wait sunfish???  Let me give an example as to why they always make the list.  

Walleye season is open, and I get a text message including a picture from my brother that says "it is flat calm."    “Flat calm”,  referring to the lake, and implying that it is perfect for fly fishing.  30 minutes later Josh and I have a plan to catch some feisty fish on the fly.  We don't need minnows or worms. All we need is a couple 3 wt fly rods, some small nymphs, and a couple cold beers.  We walk down to the boat, knowing that we are in for a blast.  Catching fish is the main goal, but I also look forward to spending time with my brother, who is going to school in Chicago.  Spending time in the boat with Josh is not as common as it used to be, so we intend to make the best of it.  

I hardly get the trolling motor in the water and Josh says "I got one!"  I turn around to seem him hoisting a 10 inch bull sunfish out of the water.  I told him he was cheating and that one didn't count because I hadn't even got my rod yet!  I jumped up, fired the first cast to the shoreline, gave it a few twitches, and BOOM!  Fish on!  My 3 wt rod struggled against the feisty bull sunfish that had eaten my fly.  I reached down and  grabbed another sunfish flirting with the 10 inch mark.  I looked at Josh and we both had giant smiles. 

Normally, whenever Josh and I go fishing we keep track of number of fish caught, and make it a little competition.  This was not even possible!!  Some people say "they were biting every cast," but sometimes that would be 20 minutes in between catches.  We were casting, catching, and releasing fish as fast as we could.  Josh mentioned that he didn't even have time to drink his beer, which is typically a bad thing, but when fishing,  that is a good thing!  

Now I have caught many 6 foot tarpon, 20 inch small mouth bass, 28 inch steelhead, and many other large fish on the fly before.  So many people assume that a 9-12 inch sunfish wouldn't even be a fun target.  Not true!  When using the appropriate rod (Josh and I use a 3 wt fly rod), these sunfish pull like the above mentioned titans of the fly fishing world.  Once hooked, a sunfish will desperately dart and dive, using its dinner plate shaped body to avoid capture.  The best part about fishing for these little bruisers is that they are typically easy to catch! 

Once the sun hit the trees, the sunfish slowly decided to quite biting, or we realistically could have given most of them sore lips.  Whatever the case, Josh and I sat down and reflected on the epic fishing adventure we just got to experience together.  Josh and I couldn't get over how hard these little fish fight, and how willing they are to bite.  To me any fish that gives me the opportunity to make a memory with my little brother, and have an incredible time doing it, is worth making the "favorite" list every time!

Have fun on the water! Capt. Tim Hanske

Friday, May 18, 2012

Leech Lake Fishing Guide Walleye Report

The 2012 Minnesota Fishing Opener was a memorable one for me.  This was the first year my Father didn't get to join me in the boat.  All though I know he was there in spirit with each hook set and high five we shared in the boat.

My brother, Joe, and I decided to fish Leech Lake.  With great excitement we set the alarm for early morning.  We were greeted with a chilly morning and a beautiful sunrise as we idled out on the water.  Our plan was to stay away from the large groups of boats and find fish where we could fish in stealth mode for these shallow water walleyes.  As every opener its starts with searching, fishing fast in attempt to locate a pattern and we did just that.  We fished three or four spots only picking up a couple of walleyes which was not up to our standards.  We decided to search out some shallow water cabbage areas and from previous years I knew right where to find some.  We pulled up using our MinnKota Trolling Motors and made an attempt not to spook the fish that were sitting in 4 to 6 feet of water.  Pitching a 1/8th once jig and shiner was the presentation of choice and it worked.  With hook set after hook set Leech Lake showed us its true colors and we had found a pattern.  With limits of walleyes and a mix of photo fish it was time to head in and have a fish fry with the rest of the Leisure Outdoor Fishing Guide Team at the Walker City Park.

After talking with many anglers it sounded like the bite on the traditional opener spots wasn't going strong.  For example the Pine Point, Duck Point, Goose Flats ect but you many ask why.  I don't think it's because the fish weren't there but with a combination of hundreds of boats, shallow water, and not much wind makes it tough to get on a school of feeding fish as the fish tend to get  scattered with all of the commotion.  Wind is a key element to spots like those.  Cabbage walleyes seem to be less effected by no wind so keep that in mind while out fishing.  We also found some super jumbo perch mixed in with the walleyes so that is always a bonus! 

Other areas on Leech like 5 mile, Sugar, and Battle points seem to also produce more fish.  I think that's because of the west wind we had.  Still a jig and shiner seemed to be the common producer.  I also heard of guys catching fish trolling cranks at night.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the 2012 MN Fishing Opener with family and friends!

Thanks to my brother Joe for spending a special day with me!

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

Book a Guided Fishing Trip with Leisure Outdoor Adventures Fishing Team at  We are providing guided fishing trips on many lakes including the Brainerd Lakes Area, Gull Lake, Whitefish Chain, North Long, Pelican along with the Leech Lake Area.

Call 855-LOA-HOOK to book your guided fishing trip. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Minnesota Fishing Opener 2012

This year the L.O.A. Fishing Guide Team has expanded from Leech Lake to fishing on Gull Lake and the Brainerd Lakes Area along with the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, Pelican Lake, Lake Mille Lacs and also on the Cass Lake Chain.

L.O.A. Fishing Guide Team provides top fishing professionals for each of those area.  Our guide shop in Walker, MN is still located next the Chase on the Lake.  We also have guide shops in the Brainerd Lakes Area located at Checkered Flag Bait Shop on Hwy 371, on Lake Mille Lacs we are located at Tutts Bait in Garrison. 

Make sure to sign up for the Leisure Outdoor Newsletter for awesome fishing tips, videos, and product highlights.  We will also be giving online discounts for those who sign up.  Sign Up by Clicking Here.

Read what the Leisure Outdoor Fishing Guide Team has to say about the 2012 Minnesota Fishing Opener.  Click Here

Good luck to all you anglers and be safe on the water.

"Get Hooked and Make a Memory"

Jeff "Breezer" Andersen

Book a trip with Leisure Outdoor Adventures Fishing Team at  We are providing guided fishing trips on many lakes including the Brainerd Lakes Area, Gull Lake, Whitefish Chain, North Long, Pelican along with the Leech Lake Area.

Call 855-LOA-HOOK to book your guided fishing trip.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gull Lake Fishing Guide Goes to Florida Fly Fishing Tarpon

Dr. Steve Hanske bowing to the Silver King
Capt. Tim Hanske fighting a feisty Tarpon
For years, spring has meant many things to me.  For the last 13 years, it has meant heading to Florida, armed with a fly rod and a chance to spend time with my father.  In 13 years, I did miss ONE year, due to the birth of my first child.  Other than my little bundle of joy named Gus, Dad and I have been keeping our tradition alive.  
Most years we head down to Florida and it is sunny, dry, warm, with light winds, perfect weather to hook a Tarpon on the fly.  However, Mother Nature had a different plan this year.  To the surprise of all the “old timers” in the Florida guiding business, we got stuck with a tropical depression in late April…virtually unheard of.  

We have always trusted our leader, historian, friend, and most of all awesome guide; Capt. Skip Nielsen!  The first day started off just like any other day of fishing, Skip took us to a spot that had been producing Tarpon.  Two hours passed and Capt. Skip used his unbelievable knowledge/instinct to run out to the most popular fly-fishing spots in the world, named The Pocket.  Capt. Skip is a role model for me, because he truly understands the fish he chases, and his knowledge of the Key’s could not be captured in a book; it really is a privilege to be able to fish in his presence.    

Anyways, there I stood, gleaming into the harsh glare of a semi cloudy day, looking into the same water that past fly-fishing greats have fished many years ago.  To make the situation even better, I was fishing with-in 50 yards of a cross that has had the ashes of many incredible fly-fishing pioneers spread amongst it.  The history, feeling, and just being able to get a chance to throw the fly in this special spot gave me Goosebumps! 

Capt. Skip is an absolute amazing guide, over the years he has done everything possible to catch us a Tarpon.  He is a true master, and a wealth of knowledge that is only learned “by doing”.   With that said, today I was the first one to see the string of Tarpon, and before I could say a word, my fly was heading towards the pod.  In some aspects I got lucky, but I was trying to miss the lead fish, and happened to place my fly gently on the back of the lead Tarpon.  I stripped my fly twice, and then a 75 lb male attacked my fly, and the fish went nuts!

After a classic Florida Keys battle, with a very spunky Tarpon that deiced to jump around 15 times, I felt a very odd sense of completion and I felt something more.  In my “Father Son” fishing trips to Florida, I have caught Tarpon on live mullet, dead mullet, crab, dead bait, fly dredging, and any other way possible.  However, this Tarpon was special; I caught it sight fishing in a very historical fly fishing spot.  I felt a sense of connection with the past greats, even though I’m from Minnesota; I had Goosebumps for an hour after the catch.  I can only thank two people; my father Steve and Capt. Skip for the awesome opportunity to be part of the awesome sensation.  Fishing is in my blood, it is something I can’t please. 

Captain Tim Hanske 
Leisure Outdoor Adventure Fishing Guide

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Brainerd Lakes Fishing Guide Slab Crappie Report

This week I was able to get out in the boat and chase some slab crappies.  There are so many great lakes to fish in the Brainerd area that it can be like picking a needle out of a hay stack at times.  Instead I chose to pick one of my favorite lakes, that typically doesn't heat up until later in the spring when water temps reach 55-60 degrees.  The theme to this report is simply dealing with "mother nature".  Thursday was an awesome day to be outside, I was met with high skies and calm waters.  Crappies love a little ripple on the water or waves.  I was still able to locate some fish and put some in the boat.  The key was to be as stealth as possible.  By the end of the day, I was sight fishing them in 4-5 ft of water and waiting to set the hook when I saw the plastic disappear.  I left the day optimistic because I had found a really nice school of fish that were going to turn on with the right conditions.  I was able to get back out today, mother nature provided me with cloudy skies and a nice little wind and within minutes we were putting crappies in the boat.  It was non stop action for awhile and then she threw us a curveball.  The wind died down and the crappies went silent again.  Instead of getting frustrated and being stubborn using the same presentation, we changed things up.  What was working for us was a small light bite bobber, green or pink 1/32oz jig, and either a green or white plastic body.  Often times in shallow water and calm conditions the splash of the bobber hitting the water can spook fish, so we took out another rod rigged with just a jig and plastic and began searching for crappies.  The key was using our polarized sun glasses and using a longer rod.  I found that using my Jason Mitchell 7' medium light rod was great for dropping the jig into the different weed pockets.   once we found a school of fish, we could cast to them and work the bait slowly back, literally teasing the crappies with the plastic, and often times it was too much to resist.  We found a new school of fish in 6-8ft of water, scattered in clumps of cabbage, and they were big ones, with the biggest of the day was just shy of 14".  The key was finding ways to get the crappies to react with their natural aggression bite, which at times meant a snap of the jig or others times a slight lift and fall.  Either way, mother nature could have frustrated me to the point of being stubborn and trying to gut things out with what I was doing, but instead I decided to change things up, adapt, and find an alternative way to put fish in the boat.

Going to be a great week, get the rods rigged up, reels spooled, and the boat ready for Walleye Opener!  Simply one of the best times of the year!