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Minnesota Fishing Reports
Articles : Hardbaits Pound Mille Lacs Jumbos by Dan Johnson
Posted by LSF on Dec 22, 2009 (1884 reads) News by the same author

Reports of big walleye catches on swimming hardbaits like the new Lindy Darter are pouring in from across the Ice Belt, but the lures are deadly for other quarry as well, including sag-bellied jumbo perch.

Case in point: On Saturday, Dec. 19, I joined fishing guide Chris Meyer on Minnesota’s famed Mille Lacs Lake for an early-ice perch expedition. We targeted rocky structures along the big lake’s eastern shoreline, driving ATVs out of the Mac’s Twin Bay landing.
Lindy Darter
After finding no fish in 12-foot depths, we hit jumbo gold in 19 to 20 feet of water off the edge of a hump. Our sonar screens lit up as hungry fish rose to attack our descending baits. Not surprisingly, a variety of hardwater stalwarts took perch, including the Lindy Rattl’n Flyer Spoon and Techni-Glo Frostee Jigging Spoon, but I also wanted to give the new Darter a fair shake. And it was a hit.

All sizes of perch were present, and bigger baits yielded the largest fish. I tied on a 1 1/3-inch bluegill pattern Darter, and was quickly met with interest from the fish community below. Interestingly, while I used an aggressive lift-drop jigging cadence to maximize the bait’s rattles and darting action, Meyer took his share of jumbos on Darters using a side-to-side shaking presentation. “Move the rodtip a foot or so left and right, occasionally adding very subtle lifts,” he explained. He also opted for a larger Darter, choosing the next size up—a 1 ¾-inch bait. “Shiner and Perch were my top patterns,” he noted.

We also put another new lure through its paces: the Lindy Slick Jig. A runaway hit at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show and hard to keep stocked on store shelves, the nose-weighted jig produced solid hits when tipped with whole minnows. Slick Jigs produce a range of motions depending on how much action you impart with the rodtip, and where you position the knot on the line tie. Meyer cinched the knot all the way back and pounded the jighead on bottom. “It looked like a feeding minnow pecking at the bottom, and the perch raced down to hammer it,” he said, based on observations using an underwater camera to monitor fish behavior.

At the end of the day, our catch proved the power of swimming hardbaits like Lindy’s new Darters as multi-species weapons worthy of any ice angler’s arsenal, and Slick Jig trials revealed why this unusual jig design is gaining favor with icemen everywhere.

Chris Meyer may be reached at

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