The mudflats are world famous and have had much negative press the past few years. The if you did not read about it in the newspaper how bad the walleye population is and fished the lake you would never believe what you read again.
A few weeks prior Fins and I talked about hitting the “Big Pond” and chasing some walleye. We had the goal for a good time with the possibility of a 20+ inch walleye being more likely than any other area we could fish on a day trip. As often happens weather is a large factor in ice fishing we played it by ear. We made the choice to take wheelers and avoid driving our trucks out on the ice. The weather was looking good from 10-27 degrees with a cloudy afternoon so we were a go. It is never hard to wake up at 4:30 to go fishing.
With clear roads and realistic hopes, we met at the launch each of us having our own wheels we had a great couple mile ride out past the nearest mudflat where there had been much pressure already this season. Other than a little cold on the face we arrived at the flat that Fins had scoped out. Focusing on funnel areas away from the crowds Fins got drilling right away along with his buddy Rick cleaning up the holes. It took a bit of hoping around but Fins in usual fashion showed us how to land some walleyes. Morning was a good bite and we decided to change areas and have lunch.
Fins searching and leading the way.
Sometimes a long arm is needed.
A burbot cleaned for the meat and left for the scavengers.
After the move I immediately had a fish on with my dead stick hook and minnow setup but lost it up near the hole. but Rick caught a nice 23 inch Walleye making the move well worth it. Fins landed a bonus cisco as well. The spot looked promising but for me, it was a one bite location.
Moving back to our first location for the evening bite quickly paid off. All three of us landed fish quickly including another 22 inch walleye for Rick. I was a little flustered after my first fish that I could not catch anything with my hot lure of the morning a glow red flutter buckshot I took out my camera and enjoyed the views.
My only fish in hours.
Sunset approaching allowed me to capture this stunning photo that is a new favorite of my ice fishing adventures.
Fins and Rick were both at 10 walleyes each and I was at 6. We gave a time limit and I worked hard to catch my sunset 20 inch that I was hoping for. The sun set and I walked over to Fins to watch the master at work. Watching him entice a fish 4 times before finally the fish committed. It was beautiful sight until the line snapped and he lost his hot lure of the day. Walking back to my hole I see a fish down there. I picked up my rod and the fish was on. At first it was uneventful with little fight. Until close to the hole the head shake said bigger walleye! I thought I had my 20 inch fish until Fins looked at me with a half smile and said “It’s a nice one” I was happy to not have realized how nice it was. Calmly as I could I worked to guide the fish up the hole where the ice fishing master Fins landed my PB walleye at 24.5 inches. I ran over to grab my camera and got the picture I was looking for. A classic Mille Lacs sunset with the traditional fish of the lake proudly presented. It could not have been a better ending to my day.
Even though we had another 15 minutes, I watched a great friend catch two more walleyes to one-up his buddy. I believe the count was 30 walleyes on a lake that you could spend a lifetime and never icefish the whole lake. All the fish were release sizes but I think we all went home with a little victory.
The lures that produced for us were buckshot and flutter spoons tipped with a minnow head. We had 6 and 8 pound test fluorocarbon line with traditional walleye rods.
Key points were finding locations that were not pounded by others and areas that funneled the fish to a smaller location. The lake is large and a spot within the larger area made a big difference.
Point of interest to fish. A funnel area does not have to be extreme for it to funnel the fish. The subtle ones are often overlooked and less fished.
Another area to fish and search for the walleyes.
A special thanks for Fins for the knowlege and company shared on a memorable trip.