Saturday found me waking up early to drive to Mille Lacs. I launched the boat at Isle amid spitting rain and a freshening breeze and idled out to the nearest reed patch to flip and wait for Nick to join me.
I rigged up a D Bomb and started down the edge of the reeds. I paused for raingear. Fifty yards down the line and I hadn’t had a bite. I’d expected to have a limit. Finally I hooked up, the fish managed to get tangled in something I couldn’t immediately pull it out of, I eased in, let her swim a bit, pulled again, and flipped her into the boat. One measly 2-11 was not what I had in mind, if the reeds had been on like they were when I fished them last year out of my kayak (I know, crazy to expect something like that to hold up) I’d have caught a whole bunch. I moved to some nearby docks and struck out there. Then I headed back to the launch for Nick and a few minutes in the dry truck.
Once I had Nick in tow it was time to hit up the smallmouth. I chose a bank I hadn’t fished before that was shallow and near a point and Nick landed one on his second cast with a hair jig. Then I put a little dinker in the boat on a scrounger. We fished the point with nothing to show for it and then worked our way down the calm side of the bank and blanked.
We continued our lack of success by fishing a few windy spots and then a nice shallow largemouth area and mostly striking out. I gave up on trying new things and opted to head to old faithful – a little point with some prime sand and rock that has held fish since early May. It still held fish. Nick picked up a few on his magic hair jig and I landed a few and lost a few on a drop-shot.
We moved to a nearby bank with the rock and sand and reed mix that I’ve come to love on Mille Lacs. It is unlike almost anything I’ve seen before (though there is an area just like it a tick below the Rouses Point Bridge on Champlain). That said, I’ve come to love it because it seems to be a neat combination of semi-heavy cover and smallmouth. It held up just fine this time – we steadily hooked and landed fish as we worked our way down the bank.
The only real frustration in a somewhat slow day was how good it could have been. I was throwing a 6-inch Roboworm on a 1/0 Roboworm hook just as I usually do. That combo never loses fish. If you get a good hookset that fish is yours. ‘Twas not the case this time. I suspect that I had a slight error in my presentation, be it color or size, that combined with the postspawn blues had the fish getting the bait on the far extremity of their lips and pulling off during the battle. Next time I get up there I’ll come prepared with a little more variety and see if I can’t get them dialed in. Of course, next time I get up there I’ll be fishing offshore and it should be full on summer. Just typing that gets my juices flowing, there’s nothing like summertime smallmouth.