Walleye season may be closed on Minnesota’s mighty Mille Lacs Lake, but there are plenty of other reasons for anglers to visit the lake.

 

Jumbo yellow perch and toothy northern pike are still on the menu, but right now Lindy guide and Mille Lacs guru Mike Christensen says the lake’s world-class population of hard-fighting smallmouth bass tops the fishing report.

“Bass fishing has been good on rocky structure in anywhere from six to 18 feet of water,” he said.

The windward side of points and reefs are hot zones when the wind blows, while deeper humps adjacent to these sweet spots are better on calm days. To target these late-summer bronzebacks, Christensen takes a page from his. walleye playbook.

“I use the exact same slip-bobber rig I do for walleyes,” he said.

The setup consists of a size XXL Thill Pro Series Slip Float in windy weather, or a Thill Wobble Bobber in calm conditions. In either scenario, he uses 8-pound mono mainline, with a bobber stop, bead, float and swivel, followed by a four-foot length of the same line, tipped with a 1/32-ounce Lindy Jig

“Brown and orange are hot jig colors, and I like to tip with either a whole nightcrawler or a leech,” he added.

Christensen notes that walleyes are common incidental catches.

“You have to release them right away, but they’re still fun to catch,” he said.

On the yellow perch front, anglers trolling size 3 Lindy River Rockers over the main-lake basin have been picking up a few fish, but Christensen says few anglers are targeting them right now.

“Perch should be heading for shallower water soon,” he said.

Water temperatures in the mid- to upper 40s typically signal great perch fishing around near-shore weedbeds. Christensen reported the water temp hit 61 degrees this morning.

“It’s coming down, but the shallow perch bite typically doesn’t heat up until late September and October,” he said.

As for pike, trolling large River Rockers is producing fish in weedy bays and around the weedbeds on the north end of the lake, he says, offering anglers a great shot at northerns of eater- and trophy-size proportions.