I had a close call with a deer on the North end of Mille Lacs lake on my way North to Grand Rapids, no harm no foul. I got to Grand Rapids a little quicker than I thought I would but that was OK as my partner Bill and some of the other guys were already out in the motel parking lot. I got my gear into Bill's boat and then spent probably an hour shooting the breeze before we left.
The access we went out of is on the NW end of the lake and we headquartered out of a public beach just North of there that is right by where the Mississippi flows into Pokegama lake. Our plan was to head up the river and try to catch some big fish, but if that wasn't working to go back down into the lake and fish cabbage.
We were boat #2 out of the gate and boat #2 heading into the river. By the time we got to the spot where you can run the river at full speed we were the #1 boat. We ran all the way past the Hwy 6 bridge to a spot Bill calls "Dogfish Corner". We started out pitching jigs and I got messed with by a small pike. I also threw some slop frogs and Zoom Horny Toads having a small pike strike on the toad. We got nothing on this spot and so we headed up river some more to another great looking area with rice, rushes, and wood, but we could not get anything. We then made our way back down the river. The story from all the river boats was slow fishing. A few guys had some small fish. We stopped at the Hwy 6 bridge and I caught a small pike there.
Bill got his first bass in some reeds on Jay Gould Lake (at least I think that is where we were). We then headed into the lake to fish weedline/weedbeds. Bill quickly landed two keepers before I got number 1 on a watermelon tube. I don't remember if I got another keeper bass on the tube before I had a pike break it off. I put on what turned out to be a grey tube, I thought these tubes were watermelon too, but it was just the green packaging. I may have got 1 more bass off of this first spot in the lake.
Next we hit some reeds and I missed a couple of hits on topwater. We then went to another cabbage weedline spot and Bill filled out his limit while I got to fish #4. It started to sprinkle while we were on this spot and it continued to lightly rain until the last half hour of the tournament. We headed in to try some slop and I got #5 on a Snagproof Bobby's Perfect frog. Next we worked some rushes and reeds and I got my limit fish on the Bobby's perfect frog.
Now with two limits in the well it was decision time and we decided that our best shot for kickers was in the river and so we made our way back there. We started working the Power Plant area and I missed a bite that I probably should have caught on the Horny Toad as that I saw the fish wake towards the bait before it hit. It could have been a dogfish though. We turned a corner and started working into the wind. After quite a while of fishing Bill landed a nice dark mid 3lb fish. A little while later he got some pike. Bill was pitching a jig into the weed edge and I was casting out the front of the boat parallel with the weed edge. A fish showed itself and so I was careful to cover the spot and I was rewarded with a 17.5" largemouth. We worked our way down the stretch several hundred more yards, then we turned around to hit it again. Now with the wind at my back I was really able to cover the water. I was distracted by a boat running the river and took my eye off the Horny Toad and I missed a hit. A little while later I got a solid strike and landed another 17.5" in largemouth. That was the last fish of the day. I think if we would have gotten another hour in the river I could have caught some more nice fish.
I ended up with my best weight of the year so far with 6 fish for 12lbs 8ozs. I tied with a guy for weight and big fish and lost the coin flip tie break, so I ended up in 15th out of 25 guys. My partner Bill was 13th with 13lbs 5 ozs. Winning weight was 20lbs 3ozs and he spent the whole day in the river and didn't catch his limit fish until the last 1/2 hour. The guy in 2nd also fished the river all day. Big fish was 5lbs 10oz and there was one other 5lber caught.
Overall I had a really enjoyable time. It was nice that the cool overcast and rain kept the horse and deer flies away, because I hear they can get quite bad in the river.