Lake Mille Lacs
Lake Mille Lacs (also called Mille Lacs Lake or Mille Lacs) is Minnesota’s second-largest lake. Spanning over 132,000 surface acres, it is slightly more than 200 square miles. The maximum depth is 42 feet, while much of the main lake falls into the 20 to 38 foot depth ranges. With over 80 miles of shoreline, the lake is so wide, most days you cannot see land on the other side.
The southern portion of Mille Lacs offers gravel and rock bars while the north half of the lake contains most of the lake’s mud flats. All sides of the lake offer some shallow reef-top fishing. Deep-water angling takes place on the southern deep gravel and rocks as well as on dozens of mud flats in the north half of the lake. Shoreline break fishing on varied bottom types occurs all around the lake. The weed line is at 9 to 10 feet.
Mille Lacs Lake offers the angler acres of multi-species action in a genuine “big lake” setting. Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie, Jumbo Perch, Small & Large Mouth Bass and Tullibee share the limelight at Minnesota’s most popular fishing lake – on open water and on ice.
A main reason for the health of the Mille Lacs fishery is an abundant supply of forage. Tiny young-of-the-year perch are a favorite food for walleye, which also prey on spottail shiners, darters, troutperch, and the young of tullibee. Larger walleyes may gorge on adult perch or tullibee. Mille Lacs muskies are known for their exceptional growth rates and chunkiness.
Lake Mille Lacs freezes “all the way”, a complete ice over, with ice reaching thicknesses of 2 to 4 feet. In most years anglers can find safe walkout ice by early December. Large fish houses (rentals and private) and vehicles driving on plowed resort lake roads are nearly always at full activity by late December, with the ice fishing houses on the lake numbering in the thousands during the winter! Walleyes, perch and tullibee are the most sought-after species in winter, while some anglers pursue trophy northern pike in the shallows and a few ice anglers pursue crappies in the bay areas.
The name of Mille Lacs is French for “one thousand lakes”; the ‘s’ in ‘Lacs’ is pronounced when referring to the lake in English. In the Ojibwe language the lake is called Misi-zaaga’igan (“grand lake”). Archaeologists indicate that it is one of the earliest known sites of human settlement in the state of Minnesota. The Rum River drains from Lake Mille Lacs into the Mississippi River to the south in Anoka. Father Hennepin State Park, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, and portions of the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation lie along the lake.
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