Monday, October 5, 2015

Picking through the pencil reeds!

A bite that recently emerged on Leech lake has been the pencil reed bite.  By recently, I don’t mean it was just discovered, rather the baitfish moved in there and the walleye and perch have followed.  Too many the idea of fishing here, especially for crappies, is nothing new.   However, it is worth looking at for a fall tactic.  Walleyes and Jumbo perch are in here gorging as the temps start to drop. Take advantage and enjoy a great mixed bag fun!

Reeds, like any area with structure, need a little help.  On Leech, wind is king and provides a lot of help to enhance any structure, including pencil reed areas.  If I know that baitfish have been using these areas, I am going to look first for those in the wind driven areas.  The wind will also help concentrate that ball of baitfish so when I find the areas where walleyes are feasting, it should be game on!

When in search mode, I am going to start with jigs, moving rather quickly as I search for fish.; ⅛ stand up jig or an ⅛ long shank Kenkatch jig are my go to jigs. I will be looking to make casts to open pockets within the reed areas.  If I don’t find them there I will begin probing  the weed edges. Rainbows and fatheads are all the a person needs in the fall.  If, somehow, you could find leeches, try those to tempt finicky walleyes or perch into biting.  

Another technique that is overlooked come fall is slip bobbering.  Slip bobbers and pencil were made for each other.  Slip bobbers allow tremendous precision when making casts and keep the bait above debris, often dead pencil reeds.  When shifting to bobbers, you may find it helpful to back off a bit and make longer casts to avoid spooking the fish.  Rainbows and fatheads are still the bait of choice, but also try tail hooking the minnow to create a little more fish attracting struggle.  

In the fall, most boats will be probing the depths, fishing steep breaks in search walleyes.  And, while 
they will find some for sure, they will not find the mixed bags of jumbos and walleyes that you will by picking through the pencil reeds!      

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Mighty Mississippi

The Mighty Mississippi
By Mike Raetz

The Mississippi River, to most, is a very intimidating body of water.  However, what most don't realize is it can be some of the best fishing around, especially when lakes prove tough.  At your fingertips, you have endless miles of great fishing opportunities and a chance to catch a fish of a lifetime. When fishing a river there are 2 main things to look for that will increase your chances for a wonderful day on the water. First and foremost look for slack water. Slack water is a break in the current where an object blocks the flow and slows down a small area to almost no moving water.  These areas will hold fish looking to ambush prey swimming by, particularly brown bass. The next is structure, IE mats of weeds, rock piles and brush. Rocks are a primary area that draw smallmouth to feed on crayfish and small bugs.

Equipment used on the river is very similar to your tackle you would use on any lake. But for your rod and reel set-up a little more bulk is a good idea. Using braided line is better to keep  line from fraying as that will happen given the debris and rocks prevalent in a river. I like to use 15lb all the way to 65lb braided line but a happy medium is to use 25lb test line. For baits it is really pretty simple and don’t over think it. Any weedless style skirted jig with a craw style trailer or topwater frog will do the trick. The weedless style jigs are going to help you get through the rocks and wood without getting hung up so easily. Topwater frogs or perhaps a popper lure are very popular for pulling over thick sets of lily pads and mats of weeds where these fish will go on the warm days looking for shade. Dark colors are best for crawfish trailers and other finesse baits because the clarity is poor. When using a darker bait, choose one with a glitter flake in the lure will allow the fish to see it from farther away giving you the best chance at a bite.

Take these tips and hit the river for some outstanding fishing!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Leech Lake Fishing Report

Leech Lake Fishing Report

Well things are changing all over the lake with bugs still hatching, water temps in the mid  to low 70s,
and tons of perch and minnows swimming throughout the lake.  With all of this, we have found a mixture of results with some days being excellent fishing and other days it being what I call the “walleye grind” on the lake.

The Main Lake Rocks are still producing fish.  Having a staggered bug hatch has helped keep this bite active.  The morning seems to be the best time to be fishing the rocks.  Pulling spinners is the best method and mixing up blade colors has been key.  Dialing in the color with the speed and you will set up a trolling program that will put fish in the boat.  With walleyes actively feeding and moving around, spinners are the ticket in covering water and finding the active schools of fish.  We have found that 1mph to 1.4mph has been the ticket in 16-20ft of water on sunny calm days and 11-14ft of water on windy days.  Annex, Submarine Island, Red Rocks, Pelican Reef, Mokey, Huddles, and West Bar have all produced fish this past week.   If spinners aren’t working, slow down by blowing up a crawler and using a lindy rig to work through the schools of fish.  

Wind Blown points are still producing fish if you get a steady wind from the same direction for a couple
days in a row.  Depending on the conditions, you will need to cover the water column.  On a good windy day, fish are still being caught in 6-8 feet of water pulling lindy rigs with crawlers or leeches.  Stoney, Little Stoney, and Ottertail have all been good.  On calmer days, look to fish the steeper breaks in 14-18ft of water.

Walker and Agency Bays are producing some fish on humps and shoreline breaks.  14-25ft of water has been the ticket pulling lindy rigs with crawlers or sucker minnows have all produced fish.  Also slip bobbering fish in and around cabbage beds or weed edges with a lively leech is also producing fish.  

Continue to be versatile and try fishing new water when you are out there.  Getting away from the fishing pressure like always is a major key to success.

Tight Lines

Leisure Outdoor Adventures

More Pics from the last couple of weeks

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Muskie Madness!

                                             Leech Lake            

Oh the Summer Peak Period (Water temps reach mid 70s) is one of the best times of years to put those fish with the biggest teeth in the net!  With the warmer water temps the muskie's metabolism also rises which means they have to feed more often to sustain a diet.  That means fish are active more times throughout the day giving you, the angler, more chances at casting your lure past the top of the line predator.

If you have read anything about chasing muskies in Minnesota Leech Lake is always one that is on top of the list.  There is hundreds upon thousands of spots to fish.  The first thing I always track as a fishing guide on the lake is the bite in the weeds or rocks going?  If the weed bite is strong there are many great long shoreline stretches to focus on.  I spend hours searching on flat calm sunny days looking for fresh cabbage growth.  I mark them out by utilizing my GPS on my Lowrance.  I literally know exactly where my lure is landing with each cast.  If the rocks are hot I will then focus on the main lake rock points and mid lake structure.  Doing the same on calm days I have had these spots marked out for years and unlike the weedgrowth they don't change from year to year.

My go to lure in the summer months is a bucktail.  Last season with no doubt, especially on calm days, we caught way more muskies on smaller bucktails, like my favorite, the Bigtooth Tackle JUICE Mini.  If the wind is rockin we sometimes would up the blade size to the JUICE Mag 8 or 10.  I have two favorite colors the "Halo" and "Honey Bear" color.  They are as natural of a color as it gets.  

One other tip is that we caught several fish, even in flat calm days, during the middle of the day last year.  I think with the given pressure during key times, like sunrise and sunset, fish would get pushed off of the community spots.  Stick with it and keep casting to good spots!  
Love the chase,
Jeff Andersen
                                                                  Mille Lacs Lake
As our summer water temps begin to increase, so does the activity and feeding of the Mille Lacs muskies.  Following the spawn, many of the larger fish in Mille Lacs move out over open water to begin recuperating and feeding.  Due to the vastness and bowl like features of Mille Lacs, these fish become challenging to target and effectively fish.  However, once the waters move into the low to upper 70 degree mark, many of these fish will often begin to show up on predictable weed and rock areas throughout the lake.  Identify the thickest patches and beds of cabbage and other weeds and you can bet there are muskies nearby.  Rocks can also be effective on Mille Lacs throughout the summer months and should not be overlooked.  These areas are often most productive immediately following or during a consistent wind which may move bait up onto the structure.  Focus on identifying the highest “crown” on the reef and start there.
Summer time muskie fishing on Mille Lacs allows anglers to use a variety of presentations but undoubtedly one of the most effective and exciting is topwater.  Walk the dog and prop style baits are great choices.  The other top producers are always in- line spinners in a variety of blade sizes.  Painted blades appear to outproduce metallic blades on cloudy days but experimenting is always required.  Other daytime favorites include rubber baits such as Bulldawgs as well as jerk and crank baits.  These baits all appear to increase dramatically in effectiveness when they are fished in a fashion where they make contact with the structure.  Mille Lacs lake muskies are notorious for pulling a Houdini act during much of the day, making the saying, “The night time is the right time,”  even more true.  Large in-line spinners and slow moving topwaters are always top choices for night bites.  Mille Lacs Lake offers some of the greatest trophy class fish found throughout MN and the entire country.  Take the time to learn a specific section or area of the lake and your rewards might be huge.
Go find your trophy!
Jim Kath

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bass Bonanza!

Bucketmouths on Leech Lake
John Janousek

Leech Lake is one of Minnesota’s best largemouth bass lakes.  Leech has long been known to hold large numbers as well as trophy sized largemouth bass.
Fishing for Bass on leech is a bit different than many other lakes or regions.  Leech lake bass live in shallow water period!  Occasionally some bass will be caught in deeper water but most bass on Leech are caught in less than 4 feet of water.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Just Another Awesome Week on Leech Lake

Just Another Awesome Week on Leech Lake

The Brian Cook Group with Guides Toby Kvalevog, Jason Freed, and Perry Good.  Special Thanks to NWT Pro Perry Good for letting us partake in this awesome weekend with this incredible group of guys.

Eric Holst and His Son with an awesome morning

Thing have changed since the Opener and Mother Nature has had a lot to do with that. 
What we found this weekend was water temps had dropped in throughout the lake anywhere from 3-6 degrees due to the cold weather and rain we had last week.  That played a role in the fishing this past weekend, but the name of the game was to adjust your game plan and get away from what may be the “traditional” early season walleye patterns. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Leech Lake Walleye Fishing Opener Smack Down

My Office for the Season.  Lund - Mercury
The Minnesota fishing opener has come and gone and did not disappoint!  The Leisure Outdoor Fishing Guide Team spent the weekend on Leech Lake and Mille Lacs.  This is the time of season to get in on the best walleye bite of the season!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Out of The Box For Opener...

 OPENER IS HERE!!!! Well almost, only a week away.  However, I guarantee every fisherman/gal is especially jacked this year!  A normal ice out pattern, that has been preceded by 2 nuclear winters, allowed the anticipation to build for weeks and are we ready! Boat is rigged, rods are rigged, cooler is packed, just one more week of work before you head to your favorite opening lake. 

Now for the potential, and I stress, potential bad news...We share this glorious world with Mother Nature and, from time to time, she likes to let us know who is in charge.  We know what weather we want, partly cloudy, Northwest wind blowing at 10-15 MPH, high 50's maybe 60's.  But, what if opening day brings a massive cold front, after a week of 60's, opening day high 42 degrees.  Or perhaps it is a blue bird, no wind, no clouds, high in the 60's, but no sign of the walleye chop that will provoke those finicky walleyes to be in a feeding mood.  No matter, there are fish to be caught and you will be out there.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Springtime is finally here and the ice fishing season is over for me.  My Clam fish shack is packed away until next year and my Vexilar is getting ready to be mounted on the boat.   Yes, the ice is still fishable and fish can still be caught, but I couldn’t get the visions of hooking up with a Lake Superior steelhead out of my mind. 

This occasion was special, because I had put the annual journey with my father aside for a few years.  Working many jobs, earning a new graduate degree, and helping my amazing wife raise our young family has taken priority. 
Dad with a steelhead around 28 inches

However, this year I was lucky enough to sneak away for the 2015 Wisconsin inland trout opener with my old man.  This year was important because he had some health issues in the spring of 2014 that limited his passion for these chrome missiles.  Needless to say, it was more about the father son outing than just going out to catch fish! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Early Season River Strategies

Early Season River Strategies

By Dusty Minke and Leisure Outdoor Adventures

Tis the season for open water, especially on our border water rivers where the laws allow walleye fishing throughout the year and extended periods into the spring! While mother nature is loosening her grip on the North, most lakes are still covered with many inches of ice.  Looking for an open water fix, take time to check out the river options that exist in Minnesota.  From the Rainy River that separates us from Canada to the Mississippi and St Croix rivers, that prevent Packers fans from invading, there are plenty of options.  Read on to get some great advice from Kruger Farms Pro Dusty Minke for some timely early season tactics.

My favorite tactic for early river fishing is vertical jigging live bait and plastics from Rainy River to St. Croix / Mississippi  and also the St. Louis River in Duluth.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

3/21/15 Fishing Memoirs

To say that being an avid fisherman in Minnesota requires patience may be a bit of an understatement. Living in the land of 10,000 lakes certainly has its benefits, but our seasonal patterns can make things challenging to say the least. Ironically some of the best fishing occurs when getting on the water is the most challenging.

Exhibit A:
Spring fishing in MN.
After 60-70 deg temperatures a week ago, many of our southern and western lakes have lost most of their vehicle travel potential. Cracks and ridges on many of the bigger lakes become impassable and navigation in general becomes less than ideal. Yet hundreds of fisherman push on. Yearning to catch some of the biggest fish of the year via tip ups on Lake Of The Woods, giant crappie on Red, or Jumbo perch on Lake Winni or Leech Lake.  The persistence will be rewarded for those who do their homework.

We forget that along with more than 10,000 lakes we also have some tremendous river fishing. Rivers are opening with lightening speed across the state, and border water rivers remain open to fishing. The Red River, Rainy River, and Mississippi River all provide tremendous opportunities this time of year. In pool 4 of the Mississippi, the opportunity is available 24/7, 12 months a year. Catching our first open water fish in Minnesota after grueling months of sub zero temperatures is nothing less a revitalizing breath of fresh air.

Because of the seasonal habits of a walleye, this time of year has them hungry and fattening up for the spawn that is soon to come. The biggest fish of the entire season are usually caught this time of the year. As with ice fishing, usually easier said than done.

Access to a boat, or at least one that that is not winterized this time of year, is about as easy as finding a launch site without a 30 minute waiting line. Not very common. And if you are that lucky, a few hours travel to get there may be in order. The rivers themselves usually are not the most gracious of hosts this time of year. Their rising muddy waters, increased flows, and constant debris fields can make for difficult fishing conditions. Yet anglers emerge, hook sets occur, and fish of a lifetime are photographed and released.

The Report:

Mississippi River  

Headed back down to the Mississippi River Pool 2 Saturday with good friend and fellow teacher Jeremiah Piepkorn, and one of his friends from New Zealand, Dean Kelley.
The report from the week was that the flow had increased from 9 days prior and the water had dirtied. How much was yet to be seen. A steady back flow (current) at the Hidden Valley boat ramp dictated that indeed the flow was up. Water was somewhat colored, but the fact that I could still see my boots while wading out to the boat was a promising sign of things to come.

First we headed south to the area that was so good to us the previous week. Upon arrival, there were several boats already making the 1/4 mile drift throughout the area. No rods bending, No nets moving, and definitely no flashes flashing.  Not the story I had sold to my team of fishing partners on the way down. As most do, we dug into the tackle boxes, then deeper, and deeper until the white flag came out and with tails tucked we ventured north to the Dam. Being that this would only be my second time on the river here, there was zero confidence in being able to find a spot up there that would salvage the day.
At the dam, boats were scattered. Some in the current and some out of it. All were sheltered nicely from the wind and the giant concrete wall blocking the NW wind. We decided to start up at the lock and make our way back toward the current.
By no means do I consider myself to be a river rat, but I've fished enough rivers and learned enough to know that current seams are where the action is at. It's a fine line of precision fishing for sure. It was here that we found our spot.
Below the dam we found a slack water area below the lock and to the west of a sand bar / island. An obvious fishing spot that was a stopping grounds for over a dozen anglers. A few fish were boated sporadically, but no single boat more than the next. Fellow angler Tim (willow cat) Chick taught me years ago the importance of using the right size weight in the river. Allowing the current to sweep your offering at just the right speed is the absolute most important element of river fishing once you've located them. Today, it was a 1/8th oz Gold jig tipped with a rainbow minnow. With the boat being held just inside the current seam, the presentation was to pitch the jig out into the river current and allow the jig to sweep down current and below the boat while maintaining a tight line. The first decent fish of the day was caught at about 2pm. This technique yielded over 20 some fish in just a few hours. Many fish in the 20 inch class with a couple close to 24. No giants, but tons of fun NO DOUBT.
It really is about getting bit this time of year. Mother Nature has a tendency to make it challenging on us, but with common sense and a little intestinal fortitude, the die hard anglers of spring will be rewarded.

Lake of the Woods
Pike fisherman are having success. Tip up fishing with Big Tooth Tackle quick strike rigs are icing several fish in the 38-44 inch range. Lake access remains stable this week with falling temps but main lake ridges and cracks need to be traversed with extreme caution. Look for the shallow bays with feeder creeks to continue to get better into last ice.
Ben Olson with an impressive LOTW Pike caught this week

Rainy River
Anglers are getting small boats onto the river that can be pulled over shore ice. Clementson Resort is reporting that the County may clear the Birchdale access on Monday, allowing for bigger boat travel. Anglers who have made it out are reporting a good bite, several keepable fish, and some bigger fish, but not the numbers that will show up soon. With the lack of snow and runoff this year, the Rainy bite should be a good one and last the entire season.
Birchdale Access Photo via

Toby Kvalevog is a long time fishing guide and tournament angler in MN. For more information about booking a guided fishing trip with Toby or another member or the LOA Pro Team, visit Leisure Outdoor Adventures website or call 855-LOA HOOK.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Early open water opportunities are here now and walleyes are biting.


River fishing is open and the walleye are biting. The action should continue to get better over the next several weeks. The Mississippi river to the south and Rainy river to the north are VERY popular stops. Both rivers have OPEN walleye fishing seasons right now. The Mississippi river below the St. Croix doesn't close to walleye fishing as its because its considered "Border Waters", where all of our inland lakes are currently closed. This makes for fantastic fishing as the water warms. With our early warm up and lack of snow, these rivers will open early and should stay at moderate to low flow, which should result in an extended spring fishing season unless mother nature drops a bunch of precipitation on us.

I just made a run south over the weekend while making stops on Pool 2 and 5, as well as checking out the various accesses on Pool 4. The water temps were 34-37 degrees and the fish cooperated but were definitely in a neutral mood for most of the weekend. The best bite for sure happened Friday morning when I made a stop on Pool 2, very near downtown St Paul. Here, I met up with Brian Berle of Whitecap Splash Guards, and good friend and master angler Brian Morris. Brian and Brian both know their way around the river within the BIG CITY limits.The report was good from earlier in the week and the excitement levels were through the roof. I couldn't wait to get on the water and and get my first opportunity to get a hook set in Lund.  Brian's recap of the day pretty much NAILS it!

Brian Morris -

The sights and smells of spring are best experienced next to or on a river, preferably a river with pre-spawn walleyes occupying the areas near our jigs.  Always amazing to me is the quality of fish located in such an urban environment, success story for catch and release.  After learning that Toby was making the trip out of the North woods, and into the concrete jungle for his first March experience on this stretch of river, I had that honored feeling of being there with him.  The man at the tiller I had not met before, but was equally qualified on this pool as myself.  I knew that before catching the first fish, I knew that by watching his actions while graphing spots I have caught giants on in the past, while making the run to where we both knew it was going to happen.  Let us just say the team had been assembled in last minute fashion, but confidence was high.  Arriving at the area where fish are staging up and seeing them on the electronics, it was crystal clear they were in a good mood.  Many fish were called out before actually eating our jigs.  We had a very respectable average size fish for the day with many 23-24” walleyes.  Brian Berle put himself on a classic 27” pre-spawn beauty, after I went back to back on 5 pounders, and Toby was on a steady grind of 24-26” fish, all in the first 2 hours.  I have fished this stretch of river for many years. It is one of those highly volatile areas involving swift current, high water, excessive debris and city style angling pressure.  Some years by the time we can get a boat in, the river is 24 hours from blowing its banks and is actually quite dangerous.  Thankfully, we do not have that situation this year and the fishing was nice and relaxing.  Always a great day to meet a new friend, share the great river with an old friend and catch a pile of hard hitting/strong river walleye.  Starting the season on a perfect scenario and now it’s time to ride the madness of Spring addictions!!

 Mississippi River Pool 2 and 5a  Fishing Report:

Jigs and fathead minnows produced fish throughout the river system . Dragging or holding jigs just off the bottom while drifting with the current at .7mph worked well with bright colors. With clear water conditions and low flow, keeping the jigs away from the boat boosted our success. 1/8th oz jigs in 13-17ft worked well on Pool 2, while 1/4 oz seemed to be better in pool 5a where fish were scattered in depths between 22-25ft on the edges of the River Channel outside the Wing Dams.

Snap jigging up river provided action when the bite slowed. 3/8ths oz Ken Katch Long Shank jig with an extra wide gap allows for better hook ups
when snap jigging. The longer shank will let you hook your bait out the gill and up through the       belly pinning the minnow on the jig with plenty of barb left out the back. Without a doubt, one of the biggest factors in finding fish on the rivers this year will be finding fresh fish that aren't pressured. Popular areas below the dams are obvious fish spots that hold fish, but these are also the areas that draw the most pressure. Try fishing at low light or at night to get a leg up on all of the competition. With the clear waters, this will continue to be a fantastic time to be on the water. 

Mississippi Pool 4 and Lake Pepin

Pool 4 is by far the busiest of the open water pools. As of today, there were several accesses open in this pool. Colvill Park and Everts Resort landings are open. Colvill Park on the South End of Redwing has two accesses and lots of parking.
Fishing reports were that fishing during the daylight hours was pretty slow over the weekend. Lots of boats on the water. Those who stayed late (after dark) had the best luck. Bigger fish are being caught on sand and clam beds after dark with a dragging jig being the best technique.

Click on the above link for the daily fishing and access report from Clementson Resort.

The river is currently open 8 miles from Birchdale access. In two-three days we will start to see smaller boats being launched over the shore ice. Hopefully in a week or two the counties will have some of the accesses cleared for larger boats.
-Clemenetson Resort

Spring river fishing is a great opportunity to get on the water for some world class walleye fishing. Some of the biggest walleyes of the year will be caught during these times. The big girls really put the feedbag on before spawn. It's very important that we use great care when handling these special fish. Make sure to leave the fish in the water as much as possible. Have your camera ready before bringing the fish out of the water. 
By all means take a few home for dinner if allowed by law, but be selective please.

Good Luck and Be Safe and Patient on the water. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Fishing Report

Leech Lake Fishing Report

Well with some warmer and more stable weather the bite was great this past weekend on Leech Lake, with reports of walleyes, perch, and pike all being caught throughout the lake.  Many of our renters this weekend shared successful reports catching both perch, pike, tullibees, and walleyes in Walker Bay where our houses are rented.   For example Adam Broderick and his group of buddies had a stellar three days in our rentals catching jumbo perch, pike, and eater walleyes.  Check out a couple of the pictures! 

For walleyes, Walker Bay, Stony Point, and the South end of the Main Lake reefs by Trappers Landing all produced a mix of both slot fish and keepers for the frying pan.  In Walker Bay, working shoreline breaks has been the best bite with some days being better than others but as a whole shoreline breaks have out produced humps in regards to quality fish, maybe not necessarily numbers.  The low light bites in the AM and PM have definitely still been the best windows for action.  Look to 15-25 ft of water and places where there are inside turns or flats for ambush locations for these walleyes.  Glow jigging spoons and jigs are still out producing more than anything else.  The South end of the Main Lake is still producing bigger slot fish and some keepers, in 17-25ft of water.  Depending on conditions, fishing off the edges of the reefs during the day seems to produce better than on top or on the edges and bigger profile lures and minnows seems to be the ticket of late.  Have also heard some mixed reports off of some of the Points on the East end of the lake such as Battle and Diamond. 

The Perch bite has also begun to pick up on parts of the lake.  10-15ft of water where you can find sand, gravel, or weed lines has been good, but also deeper mud basins found on the Main Lake are also producing some decent action.  Still a lot of sorting to be had, but we had fisherman who reported some Leech Lake Jumbos up to 13” this past weekend.  Be ready because they will come through in waves! 

Pike are also going strong, especially on the Main Lake in Uran and Millers Bays as well as on the Reefs.  Tip Ups with sucker minnows is a great way to target them and can be a fun way to get the kids involved as well. 

Only a few weeks left of game fish season so get out and enjoy the ice and put a few fish on top of the ice!

Call us for the up to date report or any of your ice house rental needs, we still have openings for February.

Leisure Outdoor Adventures