Spending your summer in search of the elusive small mouth bass? Look no further.
While Lake Mille Lacs may be best known for its walleyes, experts say the bass bite is just as good, if not better.
“I’ve been all the way down to Kentucky bass fishing,” said avid bass fisherman Jamie Davis. “I’ve bass fished a thousand lakes and I have not fished a better one than Mille Lacs. It is that good.”
Davis, who lives in Hutchinson, has been visiting Lake Mille Lacs since he was a kid, more than 25 years ago, and it’s been only recently that he’s noticed many anglers transition from walleye to bass fishing.
Stiff regulations on walleye limits may be a contributing factor, and this year the DNR relaxed bass regulations, including starting the season two weeks earlier to coincide with the lake’s walleye opener on May 10. The smallmouth slot was also loosened, allowing anglers to keep six fish, with one over 18 inches.
A DNR angler survey conducted early in the season revealed smallmouth catch rates were noticeably up on Lake Mille Lacs as well.
“Word started getting out that you could go on Mille Lacs and catch 20 quality size fish in an outing,” said Eric Jensen, DNR large lake specialist. “That’s when Mille Lacs began garnering national attention for its smallmouth fishing.”
For Terry McQuoid, long-time Mille Lacs fisherman and resort owner, it’s all about the thrill of the catch.
“Bass are just so much fun to catch. They’re fighting and jumping out of the water,” he said. “It’s a blast.”
According to Mike Verdeja, a fishing guide for McQuoid’s Inn, late July into August is a prime time to fish for bass on Lake Mille Lacs. Verdeja said he expects bass to be in the shallows where there’s a rocky lake bottom.
“I’ve seen 100 fish in the boat in one trip,” he said of one of the fishing launches he’s guided. “Around here 18- to 22-inch smallies are normal.”
And there are still plenty of walleye, pike and muskies to go around as well.
“There’s always something to be caught,” Verdeja said. “Lake Mille Lacs is a trophy fishery, no matter what species you’re after.”
• Lake Mille Lacs is a 132,516-acre lake offering world-class fishing and year-round outdoor adventure for the entire family. For more information on fishing, lodging or things to do around the lake, visit millelacs.com.
– Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council release