Mille Lacs is often considered Minnesota's most popular fishing lake due to its size and the variety of fish it contains. It is over 130,000 acres of surface area with depths that reach 40 feet, but average 20 to 30 feet. The lake is home to hundreds of resorts and rental cabins with many providing rental boats and guide services.
Fishing is at its best during low light periods during the morning right after sunrise and in the evening just before dark. On Mille Lacs, as on most large lakes, it is easy to see where the fish are biting by watching for boats converging on one area during the peak times. Anglers usually have a tough time finding fish during midday hours because the lake is so large and diverse, but modern electronics such as GPS maps and fish finders will help. During the day many anglers will troll the open areas such as the mud flats in the north central portion of the lake to cover a large area.
Mille Lacs Lake has a very diverse bottom structure varying between different locations in the lake. The northern half of the lake consists of mostly flat bottom while the lower half is a more rocky gravel bottom with varying elevations. Near the shore you will find mostly 2 to 10 foot depths with a good amount of weeds, which are a prime spot for perch during the day and walleye during the early morning and late evening periods. Anglers can also expect to pick up a random crappie, smallmouth or even musky in these shallow weedy areas. Fish finders are recommended for finding structure in the open lake, and it is recommended to fish the open areas during midday hours as fish seek the shelter of deep water when not feeding. Targeting bottom structure or slopes is recommended as they are the most likely place to hold fish.
Mille Lacs, as with any large freshwater lake, is best to fish in the spring spawning season and also late summer through fall. Due to its northern location, the spring through fall seasons are much shorter than most U.S. locations. Target shallow areas in spring and late fall as the fish will find these areas the warmest and feed on the bait fish. Fish also usually will make their spawning beds near shore making it the perfect location for springtime. During the spring and fall season fish tend to stay in the shallower areas for longer periods giving anglers more time to target them.