Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Minnesota Pro Tip of the Week: Gotta move with the bait for Mille Lacs smallies

By Brad Hawthorne

Even with things slowing down, 20-smallmouth days are still possible on Mille Lacs for those that can stay with the smallmouth as the day progresses. This time of the year, the fish move so much because they have so many food sources available to them.

Right now I have been starting my mornings on the shallow rock reefs, where a Bagley B1 Squarebill crank will give us about an hour of good fishing action. The bass are there because so are young perch and tullibees. As the sun pops up, those baitfish will be gone.

I then move out to the 8 to 10 foot depths to keep on the fish. Here the bass are largely cruising around, some relating to large boulders. You will find a lot of fish around large areas of rock. I call it crayfish rock.

The fishing action typically drops off by about 50% after noon, when I focus on big boulders. The bite picks back up in the shallows in the evenings.

You might have to grind out these 20-fish days, but where else are you going to go with that type of action and have a good shot at a six-pounder?

Hawthorne operates Hawthorne’s Guide Service on Mille Lacs. He’s a multi-species guide for walleye, smallies and panfish. Check out his website at or reach him at 651-271-8600.

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