Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love fishing Lake Mille Lacs. In my opinion it is one of the best walleye fisheries in the country and it is close enough to access it on a more regular basis. As a bass fisherman, Mille Lacs is where I cut my teeth and learned to enjoy walleye fishing, most notably anchoring on a piece of structure and fishing lit bobbers while the sun goes down. It is an amazing feeling to be 7-10 miles out on the middle of a lake like that. When we were back in MN visiting over Father’s Day I was pretty pumped to get to Mille Lacs, as it turns out I was maybe a little too pumped!
My father in law, Dan and brother in law, Bjorn and I made plans to hit Mille Lacs on Saturday but after the weather looked a little stormy and the winds were strong we decided to wait until Sunday when things looked better. So Sunday comes along and I am of course watching the weather all day. We have family over during the afternoon with plans to get on the water for the evening bite. On Mille Lacs the most important thing to consider is the wind, out on a big lake like that a little bit of wind can cause big problems. As I watched the weather there definitely were some storms around with the greatest threat of storms coming later into the overnight and the winds looked relatively calm around the lake.
As we dropped the boat in on Sunday evening, the lake was clearing out and we did get some strange looks as we motored past the parade of boats coming in, we soon found out why. As we drove out of the bay we were in onto the main lake the waves grew to the point where we were fighting 4-5 foot waves. My father in law has a nice deep boat and we were getting tossed around pretty good and of course quite wet from the spray off the waves. Our target was 7 Mile Flat, which true to it’s name is 7 miles out on the lake. When we got there we were the only boat that we could see, pretty crazy for a busy lake like Mille Lacs. We got rigged up in the big water and started to do some fishing. After about 20 minutes it became clear that boat control was a major issue and we weren’t fishing effectively. I also checked the radar to find a cluster of tornado warned storms just off to our west. So in defeat we headed in.
As we were fishing I was still pretty perplexed as to what was going on weather wise. Even while on the water the wind sensors around the lake were reading sustained winds of 5-7 mph, which shouldn’t have been an issue. Then I figured out what was going on. As we went out on the lake there was a large cluster of storms to the north of the lake, the storms were moving away from the lake and shouldn’t have affected us. They did however affect the wind as we were caught in the inflow field from those storms. The storms were drawing in warm, moist air from the south right over the lake. As I looked at a few more sensors I noticed that while the sustained winds were very light many of them were showing wind gusts over 20 mph.
It ended up being a wild trip on the lake, but never did I feel like we weren’t safe. Although, I did feel some sea sickness. I of course wish that we could have caught a few fish and had better conditions on the water, but sometimes being outdoors becomes more about the adventure. As men I think it is important to get out of the domesticated world and feel your heart beat in your chest and fight the elements. It also reminded me how powerful weather can be, and how important is to always be prepared for the worst!