Target Species by Season from Jesse Williams...
SPRING: As soon as the ice goes off of area lakes, I start to fish crappies regularly. Serpent, Rabbit, Mission, Gull and many other smaller lakes in the area offer great bites in the spring, and I spend the time it takes to go after them and find them on a consistent basis.
Although I fish panfish year round, I find that this is a great time to search them out and find some real quality fish, in part due to walleye season being closed.
Fishing opener is a great time of year, not only due to the excitement surrounding the open season, but fish are starting to bulk up after their spring spawn and shallow water fishing is great on area walleye lakes.
Trout fishing this time of year is the best it will be due to the amount of fish in the pits at this time, and the fish are at or near the surface, slurping up whatever forage they can find. The first few weeks of the season, trout trips this time of year result in limit catches, and in fact most trips limits are in the live well and the fish are still going strong. As far as walleyes go, I spend a lot of time this time of year on lakes such as Mille Lacs, Pelican, Serpent and Rabbit. Lakes like Rabbit, Serpent and Pelican are fun because of the action. Not only will you be catching walleyes, but the northern pike and largemouth bass will keep you busy during the times that the walleyes are inactive. I also do many northern pike trips on the Mission Lakes during this time of year because of the numbers of pike we catch and the quality of fish. Great action on bigger fish for kids!
SUMMER: During this time of year, I spend a lot of time fishing bass and pike on my trips, although late-May through most of July is a great time to be fishing walleyes on Mille Lacs, and my customers catch a lot of quality fish there. 24”-28” fish are common on Mille Lacs for my customers. My bass trips take me to many lakes, but the lakes I consider myself to specialize on during the summer months are Horseshoe, Mission, Serpent, Bay and Rabbit. I also spend time on Clearwater for multi-species trips during this time frame, catching everything from largemouth bass and northern pike to walleyes and beautiful smallmouth bass. For pike, I do quite a few trips on Mission, but also a few “limited access” lakes, which offer some great action. I still do some walleye trips this time of year on Pelican, Gull, Rabbit and Serpent, but the summer months can slow down quite a bit for this species on these lakes. Crappie fishing is very good in this area during the summer months as is the bluegill action. My panfish trips usually take me to smaller lakes in the area for the best bites.
FALL: As the water temps cool just a bit, walleye action starts to pick back up. Rabbit is great this time of year, as are Pelican and Gull. I spend my fair share of free time on these lakes in the fall, and find a good bite. Bass action slows a bit in the fall, but the pike are still active and are caught on a regular basis by my customers while walleye fishing. This is also, in my opinion, the best time of year to go after a trophy pike in the mine lakes near Crosby. The trout action picks back up after its summer lull, and although the fishing is not as fast and furious as it is in the spring, we catch them regularly and the fish are bigger. My trips to the mine pits are usually morning trips, and usually involve starting for trout followed by trying for some big northern pike. My customers have caught many 12-20 lb pike during the fall on the pits.
WINTER: I spend as much or maybe more time fishing in the winter as I do in the summer. I do a lot of crappie and sunfish fishing through the ice, but do just as much walleye and pike fishing as well.
Walleyes on Rabbit, Serpent and Pelican cooperate extremely well early ice, and limits of nice eaters with a chance of a big fish are definitely not out of the question. On Pelican, I can find fish just about all-throughout the winter. Although I fish Mille Lacs throughout the winter with good results, I typically consider this as a “special trip” and my rates are somewhat higher due to extra time, driving and gear that are needed for a trip like this. Rabbit and Serpent are typically early season bites.
My crappie fishing usually takes me to smaller lakes in the area, although I do some “big fish” trips on Serpent and other bigger waters. Serpent’s crappies are big, but in the winter can be hard to find. Although I have caught many limits through the ice, a typical trip is more around 3-8 fish per person, but almost every fish is 12-16 inches. If pike are your thing, I have plenty of spots to suit your needs. “Limited access lakes” offer some great pike action and usually some bonus panfish or walleyes.
I also have some spear houses that I put out on area lakes, and the action is consistent. These houses can be placed in an area where you will see many fish with a shot at a nice fish occasionally, or can be placed in areas of less action but bigger results. We do a lot of tip-up fishing for pike, and there really isn’t any more fun that can be had than watching a flag go up with a monster on the end!
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