Fishing Report

Fishing Report:

Lake Vermilion Fishing

Report: Sept. 20, 2022Hello from beautiful Lake Vermilion!

The leaves are starting to change, the water temp is in the mid 60’s, and it is a wonderful time to be in God’s country. 

Walleye fishing has been good throughout the lake with many different patterns producing.  Jigs, slip bobbers and trolling have continued to be the ticket.  While deep jig and minnow fishing has also entered the picture.  When the deep jigging bite begins to happen, it tells us the Summer/Fall transition is upon us.  Some fish are still in their “Summer spots” and some have moved to Fall locations.  One day this week we caught walleye in 12 feet with slip bobbers and half a crawler and the next day with quarter ounce jigs with minnows in 35 F.O.W.  By Fall spots we mean, rock-clay, sand transitions in anywhere from 25-42 F.O.W.  They are there to feast on mayfly larvae and bloodworms.  Because there are also bait fish in the area, the best way to catch these walleyes is with a quarter-or 3/8th oz. jig head and a minnow.  My best colors lately are, hot pink and chartreuse. The deep jigging will only get better, and it is a fun way to fish. Remember, “the tug is the drug”!

When I mentioned Summer/Fall transition, I didn’t mean the dreaded “Fall Turnover”! Some lakes in Summer will stratify into two layers separated by the thermocline.  The upper layer is oxygenated, the lower is not.  Fish cannot live in the lower level.  As the upper level begins to cool in the Fall, (mid 50’s is my understanding), cool water being heavier than warm causes the levels to flip or turnover.  As described by all the old fishing textbooks, (I’m aging myself) the turnover is followed by 7-10 days of poor fishing.  Fortunately for us, Lake Vermilion does not turnover! Many years ago, I had assumed Lake Vermilion stratified and would turnover in the Fall but got suspicious when I would see people catching walleye in the deepest hole on the West End with surface temps in the mid 60’s.  They were fishing in 48 feet of water and if our lake stratified there would be no oxygen at that level.  I had a chat with our Vermilion large lake specialist and he confirmed my suspicions that indeed Vermilion does not turnover.  He explained that because Vermilion has large bays and moderate max depth (30-50 F.O.W.) the wind helps keep all depths oxygenated.  Please don’t sweat the turnover and as always, look for reasons the fish are biting because they are always biting somewhere!

Hope that helps.

Take care,

Tim “Buck” Lescarbeau




Report – Sept. 7, 2022

Hello from beautiful Lake Vermilion!

Recent visitors have been treated to spectacular views of late summer Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)!  Water temps have started to cool (68 surface temp).  The leaves are hinting that Fall would soon be upon us! It’s the time of year that I have the truck heat on in the a.m. and the A.C. on for the trip home.

While hints of the Fall are in the air, the walleye bite throughout the lake has remained very much late summer like.  Main basin trolling methods, such as lead core and bottom bouncers have worked best, followed by rock-sand transitions at the 12–14-foot levels.  As mentioned in an earlier report, lead core line fishing is not my favorite way to fish but at this time of year, it can really be effective.

Lead core line consists of ten different colors of 30’ each.  As a rule, each color trolled at between 2.2-2.5 m.p.h. your crank bait will run 5-7 ft. below surface.  Everyone’s symptom is a little different but what I like to do is run a15 ft. 10 lb. mono leader in front of 18 lb. lead core line.  We don’t zero out our line counter reel until the mono lead core knot reaches the last eyelet of our trolling rod.  Best crankbaits have been numbers, 5,6, and 7, smash shads and flicker shads, fire tiger and promiscuous perch being the best colors.  

As mentioned above rock-sand transitions have also been working for walleye in the 12-14 ft. range.  What I do when I am entering or exiting any rock reef is to keep my eye on my electronics. When we go over fish, I will drop a waypoint, circle around, put the boat on spotlock, and pitch 8th oz. jigs and a half a crawler.  You can also get these fish with a slip bobber, but jigging is my favorite way to fish!

Lake wide the Smallmouth are still feasting on the 8-12 ft. rock piles with rusty crayfish being the hot item on the menu!  We continue to catch them on slip bobbers with an 8th oz. jig head while fishing for walleye.  For the traditionalist, any crawdad-colored tube, Ned rig or drop shot is sure to get whacked!  

Hope that helps, “The tug is the drug”!

Tim “Buck” Lescarbeau

Report- Aug 23, 2022

Hello from beautiful Lake Vermilion!

Throughout the lake this past week, the best and most consistent bite is lead core line trolling.  While this is not my favorite way to fish, at this time of year lead core can really produce. In lead core and other main basin trolling methods, the fish kind of hook themselves.  You don’t get to feel that subtle tug-tug of the classic walleye bite that we all crave. A recent client upon catching a nice walleye looked at me with wild and enthusiastic eyes and said, “The tug is the drug”!  That is a great line and I plan on borrowing/stealing it soon!  It only takes one or two times coming into a corporate shore lunch deal while competing with several other guides and being out fished by a method (lead core) that you are not familiar with, you say to yourself, “OK, I better learn this stuff”!  

This time of year, some walleyes seem to leave traditional structures such as rock piles and sand flats.  They are spread out over main basin (soft bottom) areas.  They are there for food of course and the menu includes, mayfly larvae, bloodworms, and other mud born delicacies. The best way to cover ground in these situations is…trolling.  Lead core involves x-amount of line out, trolled at y-amount of speed which should = crankbait running one foot off the bottom.  While trolling might seem like a great time to eat your lunch outlook on your phone, it is quite a bit more involved than it looks.  You continually need to monitor your rod tip, if your crank bait is too low and ticking bottom, you won’t catch fish.  On the flipside, if it is too high, you also will not catch fish.  Trolled at 2 miles per hour, for every 30 feet of lead core that you have out will cause your crank bait to run 5-7 feet below the surface.  Get your system dialed in and you will have great action!!

It was great to see the participants in the Minnesota State High School Bass Championship on Lake Vermilion on Sunday 8-21st.  What a great opportunity for these young people!  I wish these teams were around when I was in High School, and I hope they continue to expand into the future.  There were 88 teams, there were 535 bass caught, 7 large mouth and 528 small mouth in this 8 hour event.  The top team’s best 7 fish = 30.6 pounds for a 4 ½ pound average.  The biggest bass went 5.95 pounds, great results for any lake. I’m not sure what methods they were using, but what has given me success is, tubes, drop shots and senkos.  My best location for bass continues to be on 8-12 foot rock piles. 

Hope that helps!

Tim “Buck” Lescarbeau

Week of Aug. 19, 2022

Greetings from beautiful Lake Vermilion! Early fall is one of my favorite seasons to fish out grand lake. All species of fish that call Vermilion home are now packing on the pounds for the upcoming winter. Let’s jump right in to what’s working and help you have a successful fishing trip. 

Walleyes – Water temperatures have been fluctuating over the past week. Main basins are anywhere from 71-75 degrees. Several storm fronts have moved trough the area dropping anywhere from 1-3 inches of rain recently. These rain events and cool nights will have an effect on current and future surface temperatures. Trolling crankbaits such as Shad Raps, Flicker Shads, and Salmo Hornets in depths ranging from 18 to 28 feet of water has been very effective. Trolling speeds should be 1.8-3mph. Some schools of walleyes are still focused on mid lake points and rock piles. These fish can be caught using lindy rigs tipped with leeches or crawlers and even jigs with half a crawler. 

Muskies – Musky fishing has remained average to good over the past two weeks. I can’t stress the importance of forward facing sonar when targeting Lake Vermilion muskies enough. Cruising the open water at 3.5-4mph and marking muskies on forward facing sonar is one of the best ways to catch a fish of your dreams. These suspended monsters love biting Beavers, Swim baits and Royal Orbas. Work these aforementioned lures with sharp erratic retreives. It’s still possible to encounter muskies on shallow rock reefs or even shallow sand. Bucktails and slow moving surface baits are extremely effective in this scenario. 

Bass – Smallmouth bass can be found in numbers on rock piles in the 8-12 foot range andclose to shorelines but not connected to said shorelines. These areas provide smallmouth bass with the necessary structure and forage they seek this time of year. Targeting these bass with drop shot rigs and Ned rigs is the ticket right now. Senkos on the drop shot rigs and Ned worms on the ned rigs are the bait of choice. 

In conclusion early fall is the fisherman’s choice time to be on the water. Soon the leaves will be changing and the fishing will continue to stay hot! As always be mobile and cover water for your best opportunities. 

Matt Snyder


Please refer to the MN DNR Fishing Regulations for a full set of rules and regulations for Lake Vermilion and the surrounding area.1

Lake Vermilion Big Fish Report

All fish were released unless designated by an asterisk (*).

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