Fly Fishing for Walleye in Minnesota

by | Jun 10, 2020 | fly fishing for walleye | 2 comments

fish-MinnesotaI managed a good night of sleep on the east banks of Lake Mille Lacs here in Minnesota.  I’m here for a college gathering with good pals that I’ve been friends with now for over 30 years.  We chased fish together all over northern Wisconsin and Minnesota back in the 80’s.  It’s a wonder any of us graduated.  But we did.  And most of us ended up alright too.


Lake-Mille-LacsWe do these reunions about every three years.  This time our host is Mike Neumann and we are staying at his two cottages on Mille Lacs.  Mike and I arrived last night and fished today while the rest of the crew strolled in this afternoon and a couple others come tomorrow.


Mille-LacsMike and I woke to rough conditions.  We had a steady wind at 18 mph.  It was a little unnerving when we meandered down the dock to make a plan.  Waves were crashing.  But the wind was from the northwest so Mike took us up to the Red Door launch on the northwest side of the lake.  We had some shelter but it wasn’t anything great.


Mike-NeumannLake Mille Lacs has great fishing for walleye, pike, musky and smallmouth bass.  Though Mike has lived here for his entire life, he’s never caught a walleye on the fly.  Let me mention however, Mike has been dabbling with the fly only for about 5 years and its been all trout and smallmouth bass.  So our theme of this week is to catch walleyes on the fly.


walleyeCatching walleye on the fly comes down to a few key things.  First you find them.  They’re usually 10-20 feet down along rocky ledges and reefs.  If you know the lake and have a good map you can find the spots.  Mike has excellent fish finders on his boat.  Next you need to get the fly down to them.  I use a 6-weight rod and a Scientific Anglers WF6S Sonar line and a heavy Clouser or jig fly.  To help get even deeper my leader is a level 10 foot piece of 0X Fluorocarbon.


fly-fishingThere were a few other boats on the lake.  Normally Mille Lacs is crowded but not with this hectic wind.  It took Mike and I a good hour to get sorted to handle the wind with the trolling motor and to get the hang of feeding the flies down deep.  Once we were there though we found bottom and Mike shook off our skunk with a nice quarter sized snail – ha!


Mike-Neumann-WalleyeThe snail was a true sign however that Mikes Clouser was presenting along bottom.  Sure enough, it was only a few minutes after that he had his first walleye on the fly.  The first was small but before I could my phone camera away he landed another and his second one was this nice 18 incher.


It was like we hit the lottery from thereafter.  Once we had the trolling motor right and got the rhythm to feed our rigs down to the bottom we started catching fish.  I think the other thing that helped was the way we were stripping.  Today the best strips were long and slow along with slight up and down motion with the rod tip – basically like jigging.


walleye-fliesWe caught about a dozen walleyes throughout the day.  The wind never subsided but in the afternoon the sun came out.  We eased our way over some weed beds and I tossed a pike/musky rig with a big streamer tied to wire.  Nothing chased so while we were there we decided to toss the Clouser’s without wire.  You know it, I hooked a pike in an instant.


Jeff-Currier-pikeNormally with all the teeth of a pike and a mere 0X Flouro as a leader, the pike will bite you off quick.  But not this first pike nor a second that I caught later in the day.  Despite good fights with jumps and plenty of head shakes, I landed them both.  This says a ton for the Scientific Anglers Flouro.  The stuff is superb!


What wasn’t good however was the fact that we didn’t have an important pike fishing tool – jaw spreaders to help with fly removal.  Despite having my longnose pliers, I still got my thumb in the way of a tooth.  Its been awhile since I had my blood pouring all over from a fish.  I guess I deserve it every once in a while.


pike-teethBy 6 PM some of the guys were settled into Mike’s camp so we headed in early.  They all felt it was too windy to come out so they kicked back and played bean bag and drank beer all afternoon.  Andy Thompson went as far as to bring along his custom barbeque and about 20lbs of ribs.  To say we set down for an evening feast is an understatement.


MinnesotaIts great to be here in Minnesota with some of my best friends.  We don’t get to see each other that often but we’re like brothers.  And I think my brothers are all about to do more fly fishing then they’re used to.


walleye-fly-fishingIt’s time for bed and miraculously its only midnight.  I suspect we’re getting old.  But we’re smart enough to know there’s more fish to be caught in the morning.  Stay tuned. . . . . .


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Phil

    Thanks Jeff ! I grew up in Minnesota and know that Mille Lacs is often a challenging place to fish. i am glad that you were able to catch walleyes on flies. Were there any big mayflies hatching ?

    The wind can make casting a fly safely difficult if those in the boat are not skilled casters or there are more than three fishing.

    i am looking forward to an updated report.

  2. Jeff

    HI Phil,

    Thanks for following the blog! The mayflies were just starting. I’ll bet the smallie fishing gets unreal!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!