“Hooked on Fishing” is on the road again this week. The family and I are vacationing on one of the ten most beautiful lakes in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior: Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. This is the fourth largest lake in Minnesota; it is 42 miles long and has 365 islands and more than 1,200 miles of shoreline.

The reason I love this lake however is the wide variety of fish available: muskie, northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill. The lake is well-known for its walleye fishery and its smallmouth bass, but in the last few years the word has been spreading among fishermen that the lake holds some of the best muskie fishing in Minnesota.

A typical day’s fishing for me begins with an early morning run for smallmouth and northern pike. Both species like to prowl the shorelines for food in the early morning light. In particular, the rocky shorelines harbor smallmouth in 4′-15′ of water. The weedy shoreline is the place to find the northerns, as they search for bluegill and perch for their food. Then it’s back in for breakfast and some reorganization on the boat for the afternoon fishing.

After lunch it’s time for us all to go out for bluegill and crappie, locating large weed beds in 5′-10′ of water. We fish with slip floats and small jigs tipped with wax worms, small leeches or a piece of night-crawler. The best tactic is to cast to pockets on the weeds and then try and get the fish out of the thick weeds as quickly as possible. Fighting a three-quareter-pound bluegill in heavy weeds is no fun. Get them into open water as soon as possible. Yesterday afternoon, in a matter of two hours, we caught more than 100 bluegills and kept the largest 25 for dinner. After dinner is time to fish for walleyes. Most evenings I go out around 7 and come in by 9:30. This week has been a great week, catching some very nice large walleyes between 21″ and 25″ in length, but it has not been so good for catching the smaller (14″-16″) eating-sized ones. I hope to correct that before we leave next weekend.

Well, back to vacationing, we’ll bring you a final report on Lake Vermilion when I get back. Until then, keep a tight line.

— Dick