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Weekend bite on Mille Lacs was light

The one that got away became the one that we caught, all in a matter of two minutes Saturday night on Mille Lacs.

Just after midnight, the beautiful sound of a rattle wheel awoke my wife and me. My wife jumped out of bed and set the hook. There was nothing on the other end of the line. It was gone.

The missed opportunity was especially sad, as we had nothing but two perch to show for our 36 hours on the ice. Our chance at something good had come and gone.

Or so we thought.

As I was rebaiting the lure, another rattle wheel went off.

Again, my wife sprang to action. She got the hook set, then pulled the line up hand over hand. When she screamed from the pain of the line burning through her fingers, I knew we had something worthwhile. Moments later, the head of a walleye surfaced through the hole. Just as its head emerged, though, the hook came out of the fish's mouth.

We weren't about to let opportunity slip through our hands two times in a row.

I jumped to the floor, reached down into the water and did my best to prevent the golden eye from slipping back into the water. About a minute later, I emerged victorious. The 19-inch walleye had cut my hands in several places, but that seemed a small price to pay. We finally had our walleye, and that gave the whole trip a different outlook in our eyes.

It was another 45 minutes before the adrenaline wore off and we were able to fall asleep.

Turns out, that was our last opportunity at making a big catch. The rest of the night was quiet, and the morning bite was dead.

All told, we spent 44 hours with lines in the water and we caught four fish: a 12-inch perch, an 8-inch perch, a 4-inch perch and the 19-inch walleye. It certainly wasn't a lot of activity, but we weren't the only ones on the ice having trouble landing fish.

A friend fishing in another area caught a pair of walleyes in the 17- to 19-inch range on the lake over the weekend. When he relayed the story to one of the bait shop owners, the guy there said: "That's as good a report as I've heard all year."

I saw reports of great catches, but those were made by guys who were mobile. If you plan to go and plan to drill a lot of holes, make sure you've got a good auger with sharp blades. You'll know what I mean when you see how thick the ice is.


We rented a sleeper shack from Appeldoorn's Sunset Bay on the east side of the lake. It was a nice, clean shack with four comfortable beds and plenty of heat. The house was warm upon our arrival, and the holes were pre-drilled for us.

By the time we left on Sunday morning, the wind had picked up from the north and the small road that led to our shack was drifted over. I made a quick call to Paul at Appeldoorn's and within 20 minutes, we were plowed out and pulled out.

The walleye was caught on a plain red hook with a fathead minnow. Our cabin was over about 15 feet of water on the rocks.

The two nice perch were caught on small green Gem-N-Eyes with fathead minnows.