Month – March 2013

Mille Lacs Smallmouth, Walleye Regulation Changes

Earlier this week the Minnesota DNR announced regulation changes to Mille Lacs Lake. The greatly anticipated changes aim to help the struggling population of walleye, specifically targeting smaller fish.

The new regulations call for release of all walleye under 18 inches and greater than 20 inches, with the exception of one fish over 28″. The smallmouth slot limit has practically been eliminated, requiring the release of all bass between 17″ and 20″ with one over 20″ and a bag limit of six. The DNR also reduced the pike slot limit to all fish 33″ to 40″ must be released with one over 40″. The pike possession limit is three fish.

From a news release on the DNR website:

“We want Mille Lacs to continue to be a world-class walleye fishing destination,” said Dirk Peterson, Department of Natural Resources fisheries chief. “Currently, the size and structure of the walleye population isn’t where we want it. We are committed to remedying the situation as quickly as possible through regulations that are designed to increase survival of the lake’s younger and smaller walleye.”

“The smallmouth bass and northern pike regulations are designed to protect smaller walleye until we have better information on what these predator species are eating,” said Peterson. “We’ll be starting a predator diet study this spring. Meanwhile, the regulations will allow anglers some additional non-walleye harvest opportunities while also retaining solid numbers of trophy-sized fish.”

Here is a link to the current Mille Lacs fishing regulations page on the DNR website. The DNR also posted an updated version of the 2013-14 fishing regulations.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts the lake, and how anglers react to the changes. It seems like the majority of guys are okay with the tight slot if it means better walleye fishing in the future. Feel free to comment and share your opinion.

DISCLAIMER: The regulations outlined on this page are a summary, and not the precise regulations. Always check with the DNR’s fishing regulations before hitting the water, as they sometimes change.

Favorite Panfish Flies: Part One: Streamers

Part one of Noah’s three-part series on panfish flies.

Small panfish will take almost every thing that moves and is colorful, but if you want to catch slabs consistently you have to fish flies that are designed for panfish. Big panfish eat meat, and streamers are a great way to catch slabs consistently. These five patterns are all fantastic streamers for panfish, producing in every environment. They are also pretty quick and easy to tie. They are overall great flies. Enjoy!

Pink Punch

If I had to pick one fly for my panfish box this would definitely be the one. I created this great warmwater fly in August of 2012 and have fished it in small streams,  lakes, and quarries.  Fishing for greenies, sunnies, ‘gills, crappie, and perch, I’ve never found a spot where it would not produce. Here’s the recipe:

Thread: Pink or Black 6/o
Hook: # 12
Bead: Silver Conehead
Tail: Pink Marabou or pseudo marabou
Body: Fluorescent Hot Pink UV Ice Dub
Collar/veil: Fluorescent Hot Pink UV Ice Dub (touch dub it to get a nice scruffy collar)
noah's favorite streamer for big panfish

Pink Punch

Nice crappie that slammed the Punch

This is a great fly and my absolute favorite to fish.

 

Noah’s Minnow

The Noah’s Minnow is a great fly for panfish, bass, and even trout, and definitely one of my favorites. It is especially good for wary fish in clear water.

Thread: Any color of 6/o
Hook: # 12
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Tail: Marabou, crystal flash (opt.)
Body: Wrapped marabou same color as tail

Olive with some Krystal Flash in the tail. This is also a great little streamer for trout (Conner caught his biggest brookie on one of these, a fourteen incher in northern MN).

 
 

Flash Bugger

The flash bugger is a good fly for aggressive panfish, and in stained water conditions. You can tie them in many different colors to match your fishing conditions.

Hook: #12
Thread: 6/0 any color
Bead: 1/8″ copper
Tail: 1 generous plume of marabou (any color)
Body: Eztaz (any color)
 

My favorite Flash Buggers

 DNA Mini Clouser

The DNA Mini Clouser is a great fly for big bull bluegills, and especially crappies. Big panfish eat meat, and the profile and shine of the DNA Frosty Fish Fiber looks almost exactly like a small minnow. They’ve got cool transparency and look really nice in the water.

Thread: Black 6/o UNI
Hook: #8-12 wet fly
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Over wing: Chartreuse DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on bottom of shank
Under wing: White DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on top of shank
 
 

These are all great flies for panfish, and quick and easy to tie.

Redear(?) that slammed a #4 Meat Whistle tied on a saltwater hook! Slab panfish want meat, and streamers are a great way to consistently hook the big ones.

Tight Lines,

Noah

 

New fly tying area, and a few ice flies out the door

Our new fly tying area has been finished for a while, but I thought I would post a few pictures anyway. I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s a great little spot to tie up some flies with lots of room for storage…definitely better than my cluttered desk :)

Slab Spikes out the door to a fellow ice angler

On the ice fishing side of things, Slab Spikes are now available on the storefront (if you haven’t already, check out the store for hand-tied flies and ice flies). The Spikes have been great this year, and tight lining has become my favorite way to chase panfish through the ice. Try changing things up for finicky mid-winter panfish and tie up a few ice flies. The panfish will start to move shallow pretty quickly and the bite should really heat up!

Tight Lines,

Conner

Slabs

When the bite is on, night fishing for crappies can be some of the most fun you can have on the ice. Big schools of fish will roam the flats, eager to feed in the low light. Grandpa joined us for a night of chasing crappies on a local Minnesota lake that we never fished before. We set up on a little “bump” over 20 feet of water, and the sonar marked fish right away suspending eight feet off the bottom. The night started slow, but quickly turned into a successful trip. Grandpa landed the first fish, a solid 9″ papermouth. He definitely had the hot jig of the night, landing six slab crappies in the ten inch range in an hour, the largest pushing 11 inches. All came on a small pink horizontal tungsten jig tipped with a waxie. Oddly, the rest of us didn’t even get a bite fishing other colors and sizes at the same depth sitting only two feet away. I’ve had similar experiences in the past with crappies at night. For whatever reason, the fish will key in on small pink jigs and they will outfish any other color or size.

11 inches of slab crappie

Tight lines,

Conner

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