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.  

Bays are the key to finding bass on Leech. Some of the best being the far end of Sucker Bay, Waboose bay, Federal Dam area, as well as Headquarters and Boy bay.
Vegetation is key to catching bass on Leech.  Leech has a lot of natural wild rice and most of the aforementioned bays have wild rice. Bass love to live and ambush prey in the wild rice beds on Leech.  Early on, the rice lays flat and can be fished with a variety of soft plastics, once the rice starts to “matt” or lay over, a topwater frog or Northland Jawbreaker spoon is one of the best and most exciting ways to catch Leech Lake bass.  There is no question as to when the bite occurs with these top water baits.  Heavy gear is a must for leech lake fishing with heavy action 6-8’ rods being the norm loaded with 40-60lb braided line to haul the big ones out of the rice.  When a bass does hit on topwater, pause for a second and set the hook. If you miss one be sure to have a throwback rod ready with a Texas rigged soft plastic bait ready to throw back into the boil area where the fish initially tried to eat the bait. Many times you will miss the bass on the top water and catch them on the throwback lure.

In addition to the Rice, Reeds, Cattails and Floating bogs or “Cut Banks" hold Leech lake bass throughout the summer.  Use Reed Runner or Terminator spinnerbaits to pull these big ones out of heavy cover.  

Leech Lake bass provide a great alternative to walleye, pike or Muskie fishing and the action is great with a chance at a true North country bucket mouth.

Smallmouth to make you smile!
Tim Hanske, Leisure Outdoor Adventures

Living in the Brainerd lakes area, we are fortunate to have the ability to drive to some of the best fishing destinations in the state.  At the top of this list is Mille Lacs Lake.  Mille Lacs is a short 30 minute drive and for smallmouth bass aficionados like myself, definitely worth the time. The smallmouth fishery on Mille Lacs is considered one of the best in the country for both the sheer number of fish and the giants it holds.  Seeing fish that are 20 inches is not uncommon!  Mille Lacs smallmouth can be targeted using many different techniques and, due to the size of the lake provides ample fishing spots.
These beautiful brown bass typically relate to the rocky regions of the lake. The habitat near these rocks provide an array of food offerings and will hold fish year round. Some of my best smallmouth spots have some of the same features, and the first being shallow rocks, with access to deeper areas. The shallow rocks provide some of the warmest water in the lake, and that equals happy bass. The fish that relate to these structures will move depending on the day, wind, and light conditions. Most days the smallmouth will be actively feeding between three and ten feet of water.  However it is always smart to try different depths until a pattern can be established.  
I like to have different bait for every fisherman to enable to cover multiple depths. The old stand by, go-to lure to catch these Mille Lacs smallmouth has been tube baits.  Tubes are easy to fish, they are not very snaggy, and they cast well in the wind.  When fishing tubes, it helps to fish the bait with the rod tip moving.  Adding this action can make your day much more fun because it will trigger more bites. Along with tubes, I will make sure to have someone casting crankbaits.  These can trigger reaction bites, even when the fishing is tough.  Sometimes a straight cranked hardbait is best, and sometimes a jerk and pause method gets the bites.  Trial and error is pretty important, but I have seen the twitching action work most days.  One trick that I have learned is to cast at the shallow spot of the reef, but also cast parallel to the breakline as well.
Mille Lacs Lake has some of the greatest fishing in Minnesota and the smallmouth bass that swim in her waters are amazing. These bass grow big and fat and there are plenty of them!. They provide anglers with tons of fun. If you are a first time fisher person looking to catch bass on Mille Lacs, look at a map and look for the rocky reefs.  Most days, you will not be disappointed!  

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