** HLO 2015 Stories **

Christmas Weekend Dec 2015

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Happy New Year to everyone!

What a difference a week has made here in Northern Minnesota. A week ago everyone was wondering if we would be ice fishing around the Grand Rapids area before the New Year. Today, the majority of area lakes have angler traffic and most have fish houses or spear houses set on them. A week long cold front was definitely what the doctor ordered.

Smaller bodies of water that froze early December and were blanketed with snow have anywhere from 5-8 inches of ice. A lot of slush can be found on these lakes let alone most bodies of water in the area. Its going to take some time and extreme cold to freeze this slush. Reports of up to 10 inches of ice are on a few medium sized area lakes. I will not give a report for lakes like Pokegama, Trout, Sugar, etc. These lakes just froze over on Christmas. The bays might be safe to walk out on, but we will wait to give a more solid report until the ice gets better.

The HLO gang was up on Upper Red for their annual Christmas cabin trip this weekend and the bite was OK. It wasn't awesome and it wasn't bad. We all kept our 3 walleyes a piece each time out. It seems as the fish are all scattered out along the shorelines right now. We were quite mobile and never really ran into a good school of fish. You would catch one here a few there and then repeat with a move. If you stayed put in the warm house a fish or two would filter thru every half hour or so. Most reports were exactly the same. We fished out of West Winds Resort. Ice conditions varied the further out we went. A mile out, the ice was around 10 inches and two miles out, we found 6-7 inches where we fished. I know people are eager to pull out their huge wheel houses. There have been a number of houses that have broke thru the ice in the past couple days. Take the advice from the resorts and then check the ice thoroughly if you plan on pulling a big house out with your ATV. Be careful. Oh... and don't forget to bring those Reel Bait plane jane spoons to Red Lake. They were the hottest lure we used. If you seen a fish on your flasher and had a Reel Bait Tackle Company plane jane on in clown or red glow, it HAMMERED it! Good luck and Happy New Year!

Finally a word from Lake of the Woods!!!
Resorts began pulling out day houses this past weekend. The main lake has 7-10 inches of ice. Resorts are allowing ATV, snowmobile, and side by side travel. The fishing is great too in 22-26 feet of water! I believe we are heading up there this weekend. Give you a full report when we get back or a daily report on our twitter feed!
If you want to book an awesome fishing trip to Lake of the Woods, please take a peek at Slim's Resort. If you are looking for top notch walleye fishing, get ahold of Slim's. They will put you on the fish while providing you with clean comfortable cabins and great food and drink at their bar & grill. When you book let them know the Hang Loose Boys sent you!

Be safe out there anglers. Check the ice! Nothing is 100% solid right now. If you plan on big water (LOtW, Red, Winnibigoshish, Leech) call the resorts for up to date ice conditions. Listen up.

Enjoy the holidays with family and friends! Be safe in your travels too. Happy New Year to all.

Third Weekend of Dec 2015

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

What a crazy ice fishing season it has started out to be. On Dec 1st we were fishing small lakes around the Grand Rapids area with 5 inches of good hard ice. Then the temps warmed up significantly and we were greeted with a couple days of rain and then 6-9 inches of snow. Our ice conditions grew bad from what began as good. One day we have safe ice on Upper Red Lake and the next day there is open water where anglers were fishing the previous day (Dec 15).

Today, things are going thru the healing process. Our small lakes that froze in late November to early December are now in OK shape to fish again. Most smaller panfish lakes have 4 plus inches of ice. There is slush on the majority of lakes but nothing too terrible. Some anglers have started to drive ATVs out onto a few of these smaller lakes. I wouldn't encourage this. I would highly recommend checking the ice every 50 yards or so on your way out. Don't drive a wheeler until you have adequately checked your path. The ice is healing and it will get better. It's not quite safe, yet, and probably will have its sore spots for the remainder of the year. Keep that in mind...

As for the larger lakes like Pokegama and Winnibigoshish, I would say they are another week or so away from foot travel. They just started to freeze up a couple days ago.

Upper Red Lake is fishable once again after a crazy Dec 15- Dec 20th span. My advice to everyone going up from now until the New Year; CALL THE RESORTS before driving up. They have the best up to date ice reports. Most resorts are allowing ATV and snowmobile traffic, but distance away from the shoreline has been limited due to sketchy ice out further into the lake. Most report 8" of good ice out to 10 feet of water or more.

As some of you think about early ice, please take a peek at Slim's Resort on Lake of the Woods. If you are looking for awesome walleye fishing, get ahold of Slim's. They will put you on the fish while providing you with clean comfortable cabins and great food and drink at their bar & grill. When you book let them know the Hang Loose Boys sent you!

Now.... Lake of the Woods is finally in the ICE talk this week. Cooler weather has locked the big pond up. Four Mile Bay has reports of 4+ inches while the lake has 2-7 inches. Resorts have been marking trails the past couple days. It won't be long and we will see some ice fishing action in the Ice Fishing Capital of The World! Call up to the Resorts before planning a trip. Again, they are your source for the most up to date ice conditions.


Enjoy the holidays with family and friends! Be safe in your travels too. Merry Christmas to all.

Second Weekend of Dec 2015

The question of the week? "Have you guys been ice fishing and if so how much ice?" This one is tough to answer and definitely not one that I really like to answer right now. Why? Cause the ice in my opinion is not 'safe' around the Grand Rapids area. Ice conditions on each lake are totally different. The larger lakes have no signs of ice and the small lakes have sketchy ice. Are there people ice fishing? Yes! Most are fishing on very small lakes up north or on Upper Red Lake. With the weather this past week, you won't find any of us out on the small lakes around Grand Rapids. We had 4-6 inches of ice last Wednesday, but then we received an inch of rain with 40 degree temps and a couple inches of heavy snow rolled in on the weekend. Better use caution everyone.

As far as Upper Red Lake goes. We would have to say that it is a safe option for every ice angler and one of the only safe options in the state of MN as of right now. There are 5-7 inches of ice out there to about 12 feet of water. Some resorts are letting 4 wheelers out, but most are still only letting out foot traffic. The fishing isn't hot and heavy, but its good. Most are catching their limits either in the morning or afternoon hours with a few bonus picture fish in the mix. Red Lake anglers still must use caution out there as cracks and conditions change around the lake. No one should go out in heavy winds!

HLO pro Dylan Maki and friends headed to Upper Red on Saturday the 12th and reported a good bite. "We drilled a lot of holes for the day and moved around as far as our legs would carry us. We caught fish steady throughout the day, but it wasn't fast and furious like it should be this time of year. We caught some here then there then moved and found a few more. It was steady action. Jigging and deadsticks both worked well. Glow reds and pinks were the goto in 10-12 feet of water. We all kept our limit of 3 walleyes."

Be careful anglers. Cooler weather is on its way. It should make some ice around the area if the snow stays away! For now, we probably be laying low soaking up some family time as the Holidays roll in! Happy Holidays everyone!

the Crew

First Week of Dec 2015- Ice or Open Water?

Last year at this time many of you already had a couple ice fishing trips under your belt. You probably enjoyed a hard water fish fry already? Your 4 wheelers were loaded with ice fishing gear and the ice was thick enough to be as mobile as you wanted. I believe the first Hang Loose Crew fishing trip was November 19th to Upper Red Lake.

This year, 2015, is totally different. The weather is super mild here in Northern Minnesota and most lakes are wide open. The small lakes which did freeze over two weeks ago are sketchy at best. These small lakes had 4-5 inches at the beginning of the week, but temperatures in the 40s this week softened them up a bit.

Upper Red Lake reports are fishermen are walking out on the big pond with 5-6 inches of ice. Some cracks have recently opened on the south shore but resorts have bridges across these areas. Foot travel is welcome from any resort that you have been familiar with in the past. Fishing isn't hot and heavy, but it's still good. Most are keeping their limits and throwing back a few here and there. Remember the new regulations on Red: two walleye under 17 inches and one over 17 inches per person. It's going to be another week or more before we see 4 wheeler traffic out there is my guess.

Back to the Grand Rapids area. Last Tuesday before the snow, Dylan and myself ran up north to check some of our favorite back lakes. A couple lakes weren't even froze and a couple smaller ponds had 4-5 inches of good ice. Remember this was last Tuesday. We fished one of the ponds and I must say, "It was good to be back fishing". We caught around 50 crappies together with most averaging 11 inches. It was a blast. We don't usually keep any fish from this little pond, but there being a healthy year class of 11-13 inchers, we decided to keep some for the fry pan.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and thru the weekend temperatures pushed into the 40s. Most attended the St Paul Ice and Winter Sports show over the weekend. I didn't talk to anyone who tried to make it out on the water. I must assume by talking to many folks, you must be crazy to even attempt such an endeavor. My good buddy in Brainerd said even the small lakes they were ice fishing two weeks ago are wide open today.

Fishermen BE CAREFUL. Always check the ice! Cooler temps are on their way so it's probably better to wait for safe ice. It will come lets just all hold tight. I really wish my Mercury powered Lund wasn't put away in the back of my garage. I've been dreaming about those early winter Pokegama hog bellies. I bet the bite is on. Maybe I will run over and steal Topper's Lund.

Thin Ice...... Be Safe... We will be checking ice conditions on small lakes mid week! Follow us on Facebook at HangLooseOutdoors or HangLooseGuideService!

written by Brock

MN Muzz Season- Last Weekend of Nov 2015

Friday before the 2015 MN Rifle Season opened, I finally got an opportunity at a shooter buck while holding my Hoyt bow. The chance fell just short as the giant buck laid up behind a thicket of brush 25 yards out before chasing away a spike buck to never be seen again.

Here in Northern Minnesota one can hunt extremely hard on public land and on some years never lay eyes on or get the opportunity to harvest a big mature buck throughout the hunting seasons. Going into Saturday of the opening day of the MN Rifle season, I couldn’t stop thinking about that buck from the day before. I was seconds away from punching my archery tag and jumping up and down like a kid in a candy store. Now, I sat with my rifle wishing luck was on my side like the other hundreds of thousands of gun hunters doing the same thing that Saturday.

Luck didn’t follow me through rifle season. I never laid eyes on a shooter buck let alone a descent buck throughout the whole two week season. I hunted public land 100 percent of the season, seen plenty of deer, just not a good one. Sometimes it makes you wonder if rifle season is a luck of the draw type of thing when so many hunters are in the woods and so many conditions change the game. We talk about the rifle luck factor each and every year. We spend so much time scouting and hunting you would think that time would lead to success. Well it doesn’t always work that way. You all have to realize that one’s season can change in a matter of seconds and all of us here at Hang Loose Outdoors understand this. It just takes a turn of the head and that hog buck could be standing there. Some years it happens and other years we slap our tag on meat for the freezer instead of holding out for the luck factor to walk by.

My plan after rifle season was to possibly smack a doe with the bow and get the ice fishing gear ready. That was the plan.

The woods got a rest for five days before the Muzzleloader Season opened on Saturday. These five days gave the deer a little time to get back into their normal routines. Normal behavior for deer this time of year around here is finding food. Public land food usually are seedling and sapling browse. You all watch the outdoor channel and see everyone sitting in box stands over ripe turnip, radish, or corn plots. They got it made don’t they? We here in Northern Minnesota we scratch our heads when we look at the vast woods and think about a food source. Late season hunting is darn right tough. Harvesting a doe during late season can be a mission.

Colt called me Friday before Muzzleloader season and said he had found a few third year aspen clear cuts that the deer were hitting hard. He jumped a big buck in one of the cuts. He and a few of the other Hang Loose Outdoors pro staffers work in the woods every day. Their full time job is forestry so sometimes they stumble onto good things in the deer woods. I tell them they have a full time job scouting deer. It almost seems like that is the only thing they do sometimes (LOL).

Colt and I planned on hitting these cuts on Sunday evening as the wind and weather looked perfect for the two setups Colt had in mind. I debated through the weekend if I wanted to buy a muzzleloader tag or not. Should I shoot a doe with my bow? (This year you can’t tag a doe with your muzzleloader in this zone, but can do so with your bow if in a lottery doe area). What if a hog buck walks out and is out of bow range? That was an easy decision. I had a muzzleloader so I better get a muzz tag.

Colt and I headed out Sunday afternoon with the wheeler in the back of the truck along with my muzzleloader and his Hoyt bow. We drove the 4-wheeler some five miles down a logging road to these huge Blandin clear cuts. Colt pointed me in the direction to where he wanted me to set up. I didn’t ask any questions just went on his guidance. I set up where he told me to sit.

Last year I had done the same to Colt and he arrowed a mature buck that morning before rifle season. It was his turn to put me on a hog buck. That’s kind of what I thought as I set up in this spot I had never been too. It looked promising once I got everything situated bedsides the fact that I stuck out like a sore thumb on the edge of the cut. It got even more promising once the deer started trickling out. I watched a few does and some other deer I couldn’t identify browse on aspen saplings and red osier dogwood. They were putting the feed bag on. Now, I just needed a buck to come out in range.

Well, around 4:15 PM I heard some action behind me and five minutes later a buck appeared. He stepped out into the cut 110 yards away. I saw he had a rack so my decision worked its way to the trigger without any further thinking. It was a buck and I was going to take a crack at him. If you all know me, I’m not a sharp shooter by any means. A hundred yard shot with my muzz and open sights is a long one for this cat. Also, I better indicate that I didn’t sight my muzzleloader in before Colt and I took off. I worked night shifts during the weekend and barely found the time to clean it up quick and load er up before Colt picked me up. It was ‘on’ last year! (I don’t advise doing this, but I did).

I put the lead pin on the buck’s chest and slowly squeezed the trigger. When the smoke cleared my eyes protruded in every direction as I tried to see where the buck was. There it was running in the direction it was headed with a big hole behind the front shoulder. It cart wheeled a few times and the woods went silent just as it had been for that beautiful evening. I did a couple fist pumps and jumped around in my stand as the shaking stage set in. My muzz buck curse was finally over. This was my first buck with my muzz. I reloaded my gun and the question popped into my head, “How big is he”. My bucks tend to have a little ground shrinkage, but I really didn’t know how big this one was in the first place. Once I saw a rack I went into kill mode.

I couldn’t handle it anymore. I got down and slowly made it to where he had crashed. When I saw the G2 and G3 sticking out of the grass I did a little dance and looked up thanking God and thanking my Dad for the opportunity. “Dad you help me with that shot or what”, I said. I knelt down by the buck and my eyes turned circles as I noticed all the junk on his rack. I jumped up and fist pumped the sky repeatedly for what seemed like a half hour. I couldn’t believe the character of his rack. Did this really happen? I was still in my work night shift coma so my head was still foggy. I laid down and cuddled with the buck as I waited for Colt to come get me.

Colt arrived at dark with the wheeler and I told him the story. Not once did he ask how big it was. I think we were both so pumped to just have a deer on the ground. We don’t spend the time hunting together like we once did when Dad was alive. Our work schedules are different and the times we get out together just aren’t enough.

When Colt laid his peepers on the buck he jumped into the air like a ninja. I don’t think he was expecting what his eyes showed. We fist pumped, hugged, and jumped around like two little school kids for a good couple minutes. We had just put a hog on the ground. This buck is not my biggest, but it is the most unique and coolest buck I have ever shot. To do it with a muzzleloader makes it even better. The hard work and time spent in the woods had finally provided success. I was due. It had been a number of years since a mature buck lay on my end of the stick.

Thank you so much Brother! We are even until next year.

written by Brock

Last Weekend of MN Rifle- Meat or Wait?

The majority of Minnesota Zone 1 was bucks only again this year. A few lottery doe tags were given out to lucky folks. One deer was all you got to harvest be it bow, rifle, or muzzleloader. Little bucks were in danger on the last weekend of the MN Rifle Season.

Here at Hang Loose Outdoors our goal is to shoot trophies every year. We all know how hard that is to do in Northern Minnesota. Guys like us need to eat too. We are just like you. We love our venison, be it on the grill, crockpot, oven, sticks, summer sausage, tenderloins, backstraps; it don't matter. We grew up eating venison and we will continue to do so. With only one deer tag per person in the pocket, one can only hold out so long; especially with ice forming on the lakes. We love the years when we can harvest a doe with our bows then hold out for a hog buck throughout the rest of archery, rifle, and muzzleloader. With only one tag, decisions are a little tougher when it gets down towards the end of the season. No one here likes tag soup.

We took matters into our own hands and a few of the HLO members harvested smaller bucks on this last weekend. Freezer meat! And the others still have muzzleloader season coming up, which opens this Saturday Nov 28. Good luck to all heading out this weekend. Also, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

- pictured in the upper right corner of the blog
Check out this hog that Uncle Bud shot on the last half hour of the last day of the MN Rifle Season. Sometimes it pays to hold out till the last day to pull the trigger. Nice HOG Bud!!

2nd Weekend of MN Rifle 2015

Nothing explains the Second Weekend of the MN Rifle Season better than this! It's tradition to hear this one on the radio. Am I right? Rifle season is more about tradition than bagging all those big bucks. It's family, friends, stories, laughs, and good food. It's introducing our kids and youth to this great sport.




(credit lyrics- Second Week Of Deer Camp from Da Yoopers)

We hope you all had a successful second week of the MN Rifle Season!

MN Rifle Opener 2015

Another Rifle Opener has come and gone once again. This year proved to be quite a bit different than last year. Last year the ‘first rut chasing phase’ (which is the best three days of bow hunting here in MN) was in full swing the week before rifle. This year it started happening the Friday before opener. That meant opening weekend was going to see the chase phase in full swing. The time delay could possibly have something to do with the unusual warm weather we have been experiencing. Sixty degrees on Saturday, you have got to be kidding me!

Morning hunts and midday have proven to be best for buck movement, with the exception of deer movement on food plots. Year after year, the food plots keep paying off at the Maki Cabin. We figure we have close to 40 acres of food plots with different varieties of forage planted, with best choice being soy beans. With 4 hunters this weekend in Northome, we counted close to 80 deer in two days on opening weekend. Huge thank you to Brian, Kelly, and Uncle Bud for planting the plots all summer while we were out guiding and catchin hogz in the boat.

Saturday about 1:00 I decided to hit the soy bean plot to see what kind of action we had going on there. The soy beans are kind of like our preserve. We do not over hunt this plot or piece of woods. It’s too special. My beautiful girlfriend Lauren and I got up in the stand and got situated for some time before a single deer came out. Once there was one, it was like someone opened up the flood gates. The field started to light up with does everywhere. The count was at 14 when a little 6 pointer came out and began chasing all the does around. It was fun to watch him grunt up a storm and put on a little show for the does.

After about 10 minutes of that I looked to the north field edge and bam there HE was, standing with chest puffed out, head as high as it possibly could, looking at all the does. That only lasted maybe 5 seconds before his neck straightened out and his nose hit the ground. It was time to chase does. I struggled to get the window open and that made my nerves sky rocket. He stopped on the backside of the hill and all I could see was his head. I kept waiting and nervously watching him dog all the does. For some reason when he got to the top of the hill, he stopped, perfectly broadside, and WAM!!! 200 yard double lung shot DELIVERED!! After I shot, I just sat there looking at him and it felt like life was in slow motion watching him run the first 20 feet. I came back to my senses and jacked another shell in and got back on him. I could see the blood so I knew he was hit well and before he got to the edge of the field, HE WAS DOWN! I couldn’t believe it!! I was jacked up beyond belief shaking like a leaf on a tree! We waited a very anxious 10 minutes and couldn’t take it any longer. Lauren and I had to see the beast. We got up to him and I couldn’t believe it, my biggest buck ever, weighing in at 221 pounds on the Blackduck scale! Last year Uncle Bud shot a nice 12 point about a half an hour before dark in the beans. That buck came out with 18 does on the plot. It was crazy how similar our hunts were.

With a cold front rolling through this week, things should start to ramp up even more! Weekend looks to be hot again. Last year we were ice fishing Red Lake on November 22nd, which brings up another point. This year on Red lake we can keep 3 fish, 2 under 17, and one over 17 inches! Awesome! We can’t wait to put some fish on top of the hard water. Good luck to everyone going out in the woods, shoot straight and be safe! Take a kid hunting the next opportunity you have. This mild weather is the perfect time to get them in on a little deer hunting action!

written by Dylan

Halloween Weekend 2015 and Days After

I love Halloween. No! it's not the candy or the scary costumes! Nor is it the temperature change or the possibility of soon to be snow on the ground. Well, maybe that last little bit plays into the mix. It's the mark of the last week of bowhunting before the Minnesota Rifle Season begins. More record book big bucks get harvested on Halloween with a bow and arrow than on any other day of the year.

Halloween is always highlighted on my Minnesota calendar as the day when the first estrus doe usually go into heat kicking the rut into high gear. If you are a bowhunter, you have to be in the woods on Halloween and for the week leading up to the rifle opener. Your chances at shooting a mature buck with your bow is better this week than any other week of the year.

HLO members (Brock, Topps, Colt, Dylan) hit the woods hard leading right up to the rifle opener. All day sits, dark to dark, were recorded most of the week. Wednesday and Thursday were tough, due to the miserable rain and wind. Colt and Brock made it through the whole day on Wednesday, but threw the towel in on Thursday. Topper, on the other hand, didn't leave the woods on both brutal weather days. Dylan had multiple huge bucks on trail camera at his property so him and his parents put some long hours in also.

Throughout the weekend and early into the week, deer movement wasn't spectacular by any means, but we did see some deer. The warm weather had the majority of deer moving at night. Monday to Wednesday was kind of like a small buck parade. A lot of small bucks were on their feet during the morning hours just kinda cruising and scoping things out. Little bucks will usually tell you when that first hot doe has come into estrus because they will generally do backflips over an 'estrus bleat' or 'grunt' call. Only a few bucks responded lightly to these calls early in the week. No big bucks were sighted by us Saturday to Wednesday.

Topper was the only one in the woods Thursday morning and I would call him 'hardcore' or maybe just a 'nut case' for being there. The rain came down in sheets at times and the wind bucked to 30 mph. I sat in my nice cozy house and caught up on bills and so on so I could hit the woods hard Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I knew these days were gonna be the ones to write home about the rut. Sit all day days.

The rains slowed Thursday afternoon so most of us hit the stands. Some does were sighted by most and Dylan's mom, Kelly, had an encounter with the first true giant of the year. She got busted close range and then never took the long shot when he came by the second time. That's bowhunting!

Friday was a game changer from the start. The temperature finally cooled down overnight and snowflakes fell on the way into the stands. Topper reported the first action of the morning with deer running wild in his river spot. I couldn't even get settled in and the woods exploded with heavy grunts in every direction. A 'snort-n-wheeze' and then the hair stood up on my neck. I watched a giant buck slowly watch over and tend a doe 60 yards out in front of me for more than forty-five minutes. The doe slowly browsed her way into 15 yards, but the buck stayed out around 30 yards in the thicker brush never offering me a clean shot. At the mere second it looked like I was going to get a shot, a spike buck came running out of nowhere and tried to steal the big boy's doe. He spun around head down and ran 20 yards full tilt right into the spike. The spike almost toppled like a tea kettle, but regained his footing and stayed clear of the big buck and doe which now stood at about 80 yards. The spike had just ruined my chance at harvesting my biggest buck to date! C'mon man!!!

Two seconds later a third buck joined the mix and antlers banged and dirt flew for five to ten seconds. Big Boy pushed the third buck away with little energy spent. He snort-n-wheezed again the two lovers vanished to never be seen again (that day....please see him again). The two little bucks, pissed off, went around rubbing brush and trees in front of me for a good 5 minutes. They put on quite the show for me. It was one of those days where your heart sinks to your knees, but your smile stays strong. I had just witnessed Mother Nature at her finest.

The day didn't stop there. Bucks chased days through my funnel all day. Not all day, but I witnessed a couple different bucks chase does. The rut was on. Topper seen more than a dozen deer in his river spot including a healthy looking eight that just never came close enough. His action was pretty intense too. Colt didn't see a single deer in his aspen field funnel. I don't get it, but that's how it goes sometimes. Dylan and his parents seen a ton of deer, and some rut action, but no big ones. Only if we had one or two more days of this before the heavy guns came out. Last year this action intensified on Wednesday and we experienced three days with the bows in the hands. It seemed like we were only going to get one this year. Weather? Moon Phase? Night Movement?

Good luck rifle hunting tomorrow you all. Be safe and teach those kids how you were taught. Let them put a smile on your face. And let them eat a little left over Halloween candy. Those wrappers don't make that much noise!

Good Luck!!

written by Brock

4th Weekend of October 2015

Last week's blog mentioned the fact that all the HLO boys were done fishing. With the hunting season in full swing, it was time to get up in the bow stand and wait for Mr. Big Buck. Well, with the mid weeks 'latest and greatest info' from buddy, Andrew Kraft, on the bite on Lake of the Woods; Colt and Dylan decided to 'give er' one more fishing Hooray for the season. Friday night the Mercury powered Lund was headed up Hwy 46 to Baudette, MN.

Kraft, Dylan, and Colt put the smack down on the Lake of the Woods walleyes Saturday and Sunday. The biggies were tight lipped, but the eaters sized eyeballs were on a feeding frenzy all weekend. It was a great last weekend of the open water season. If you want to experience this Lake of the Woods bite before ice up or during the hard water season, get ahold of Slims Resort at (800) 243-2412...

Now..... Let the hunting season begin...

The Wolf Brothers and their boys went up to the cabin this weekend and did deer stand preparation. This was the norm for most of the HLO boys this weekend. Topper did sit in the bowstand, but didn't see much. We will be hitting it hard starting mid week. The bucks are really starting to move! Can't wait... Here we go.


3rd Weekend of October 2015

We always stress introducing kids to our great outdoors. Get them hooked on the outdoors. Take them fishing or hunting or for a four wheeler ride. The outdoors is the best learning experience and the perfect path in the right direction. With today's technologies: smartphones, computers, television, video games, etc: less kids are found outdoors. Hunting and fishing are excellent sports to get kids involved in. Let's teach our youth generation like we were taught. The outdoors is our motivation! Pass on the excitement!

The HLO gang spent the weekend outdoors: in the duck blind, bowstand, on grouse trails, and fishing on Leech Lake! The weather was cool, but beautiful. A few grouse were shot, some fish were caught, and a couple ducks hit the water hard. We all found success 'outdoors' in our own way.

Speaking of introducing kids to the outdoors, there are two boys that we would like to highlight this week. Randy Topper has hooked these two on the outdoors and they are now old enough to go out on their own fishing and hunting. Brodie and Matt are hardcore in every one of our eyes. They love the sport and have a blast pursuing their passion. Years ago, it was Randy taking them fishing and hunting. Well, this past Saturday the tides turned. Brodie and Matt took uncle Randy duck hunting.

Randy grabbed his gun, shells, and camo Saturday morning and jumped in with the boys. Did that feel awkward? You will have to ask him. This time Randy was not the guide. It wasn't his spot. Brodie and Matt did the leg work. They did the scouting. Randy just sat back until it was his turn to shoot. Success was not measured in the number of ducks that hit the water. Success was the enjoyment that these young men now could chase the sport themselves and learn on their own. Those three had a great duck hunt on Saturday morning with lots of ducks hitting the water. The three had a blast and did some fine shooting I would say. Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is Matt and Brodie with their and Randy's ducks from Saturday morning. Great job boys and good guiding....

Second Weekend of October 2015

Most of us are winterizing our boats as mid October rolls in and that cooler weather. If you are looking to service your boat before winter, get ahold of Rays Sport and Marine in Grand Rapids for all your boating needs. 1(800)223-0621 They will get your boat all fixed up so you can enjoy your fall days off.

We are turning our fishing rods in for our bows and guns as of late. Mid October means prime hunting season is here. We have been hunting grouse and ducks and will soon be spending the majority of our time chasing bucks from here on out. There is nothing like the rush of a big buck making its way down the trail as you hold that Hoyt bow tightly and the heart starts to thump..... and thump.

The fall colors here in northern Minnesota are absolutely beautiful, but they are going fast. Get out and enjoy the outdoors before the really cold weather hits. Remember to bring the kids with on your next fishing or hunting trip. Teach them our great sports just like you were taught. A few of our kids are getting to the age where they can safely shoot a shotgun with us by their sides. It is so special to see your son/daughter shoot their first grouse or just enjoy the HUNT. Pictured in the upper right corner of this blog is Jack Wolf with a beautiful Northern Minnesota ruffed grouse from the weekend. He's hooked. Let's get kids hooked on the outdoors!

Yes, some are still fishing and the bite has been good...
Look to Sand, Winnibigoshish, Little Cut Foot, Leech, the Mississippi River, and Splithand for your best area walleye and crappie bites right now! All these lakes are kicking out a mix of crappies and walleyes. Look for the walleyes on the shallow shorelines in 5-15 feet of water. The crappies should be setting up just off the shores near the deeper basins in 20 plus feet. A jig tipped with a minnow will do the trick for all species right now. The northern pike have been on the chow in or around the weeds too especially on Pokegama Lake.

Lake of the Woods has a great walleye bite taking place also. Contact Slims Resort (800) 243-2412 for more information or to book an awesome charter trip. Its pretty hard to beat the late fall walleye bite up there. The Rainy River is starting to slam too as the shiners make their way into the river. A few folks have also been boating some big sturgeon.

Follow us on Facebook for daily fishing and hunting reports. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service please give us a call today - 218-259-5447 We are booking spring and summer guided trips for 2016!

First Weekend October 2015

Ducks, Bucks, Birds, Walleyes, Wheelers, and Wonderful Colors! These are common answers when asking someone what they are pursuing or doing this time of year. It's Fall here in Northern Minnesota and there is so much to do. You can fish or hunt or take a trip around the state and soak up all the beautiful colors. Just remember to take a kid out next time and let them enjoy our great outdoors. Introduce them to hunting. Walk a trail in search of a grouse. Shoot some clay pigeons with them. Let them catch a walleye. Anything! The most memorable moments that I shared with my father took place in the fall. Get your kids or someone else's hooked on the outdoors today!

The Fall colors are 100% full here in Northern Minnesota. Get up here this weekend and soak them up. It's supposed to be a gorgeous weekend!

Like the many opportunities Minnesota offers this time of year, the HLO team found themselves all pursuing something a little different last weekend. Godfrey was in the woods chasing grouse with Christian and his dog, Jack. They had a little luck. The ruffed grouse cycle is in the bottom half of its 10 year peak, but there are still plenty of birds around for bird hunters. The population is spotty again this year. One section of land might have one bird and the adjacent section holds a dozen. You have to find where the birds want to be. It's all about locating the right habitat and the area that holds a fair number of birds. Then... make your shots count. It's hard to beat those tasty wood chickens...

Abe Wolf guided a large group on Leech Lake Friday and Saturday. The wind was bucking, but the fishing was awesome. They caught plenty of walleyes from the south end to the north end of Leech Lake. Wind blown rock points were best in 3-7 feet of water. A jig tipped with a minnow was the goto presentation. They also got into some slab crappies in the afternoons. Leech Lake is on fire right now!

Randy Topper guided on Pokegama Lake for one day. The walleyes were finicky so they turned their lines to northern pike. The big pike were slamming and it didn't take long to make everyone in the boat happy. Drags buzzed and big fish came into the boat one after another. It was a great big fish kinda day!

Colt and Dylan spent the weekend bowhunting. Although action was slow, it was great to get out in the stand again. We can't wait for the end of October when the racks start running hard. Wooooooooooo

The rest of the HLO team did everything from grouse hunt, to fix rifle stands, hang trail cameras, ride wheelers, fish, and get some much needed house work done.

The options are endless in the Fall here in Northern Minnesota. We hope you all are enjoying it. Remember to take the kids out into the outdoors this weekend. Good Luck!

written by Brock

MN Duck Opener - 4th Weekend Sept 15

Opening weekend started out with Topps and I (Dylan) doing a little scouting. The two of us took a 7 mile drive down river with the mud motor to get a feel for a new area we’ve never been to. We definitely seen a lot of birds that were traveling between lakes. We figured we would be able to run traffic and suck some of the birds down, but the spot we were looking at also held quite a few ducks and swans during our scout. We were pretty pumped for what the morning could have in store for us.

The alarm clock rang at a very early 3:00 and we fired up the Keurig and got some caffeine in our veins and soon were ready to go to battle. It took us a few hours to finally get to our spot, blind up, and set up the decoy spread. It turned out to be a very foggy morning and we observed a lot of the birds flying high to get out of the fog. Our opening morning turned from good to bad very fast. We had a few wood ducks swing in and check things out, but no takers. Our first day plan was a scratch, but that is the fun part, to figure out what we did wrong and correct it for the next trip. Duck hunting is learning from your previous day’s mistakes, especially here in Minnesota.

As we licked our wounds, we decided to change up plans on Sunday and go to old faithful that morning. Our gut instincts proved us right! You gotta love when a group decision makes a whole trip in the hunting and fishing world! Sunday morning, we watched loads of birds land in our decoys before shooting hours. When legal trigger time finally came, the barrels of the shotguns stayed hot all morning. We set up in a corner of the lake, tucked out of the wind, with plenty of thick rice. The birds didn’t want to be anywhere else but our decoy spread. We hid our faces from the sun and smiled and giggled as flock after flocked finished feet down in the decoys. We shot mostly mallards, with an additional woody, teal, and ringer. What an awesome morning we had, especially for good old Minnesota!

As we reflected on our hunt, we noted that there is a ton of rice this year making it a little bit difficult to get on the birds. They don’t have to move far from roost to feeding areas. We heard of a few folks having success, but most seemed mediocre. It’s going to only get better though as we start to get a few batches of northern birds. This week is going to start cooling down with the lows in the 30’s. We’ve got plenty of rice to support a lot more ducks.

This time of year never seizes to amaze me. After duck hunting Saturday morning, we went out and caught some eyes and after duck hunting on Sunday, we went up to the Maki Cabin and put the smack down on a few grouse! Get out and enjoy what we have in our backyard! As the first day of October rolls through this week, we will also be watching the cold fronts to see if we can intercept a shooter buck with the bows. There is just so much to do this time of year. Get out into the outdoors now and introduce a kid next time to our wonderful sports of hunting and fishing.

Written by HLO pro staffer Dylan Maki

Fishing around the Grand Rapids area has been good as of late as water temps hang in the low 60s. The walleye and panfish bite has been good on most area lakes. Look to the deeper basins and weed edges for the crappies. Walleyes have been hanging on shoreline and secondary shoreline structures in 10-20 feet of water. A jig tipped with a minnow should be your goto walleye presentation now again. Good luck and don’t hesitate to give us a call for a fishing tip or to book a late fall guided fishing trip!

Brock & Lexi Anderson- 3rd Weekend Sept 15

We celebrated the marriage of Hang Loose Outdoors co-founder, Brock Anderson, this weekend. Congrats to Brock and Lexi Anderson. Their wedding was not the typical church or outdoor wedding. It was very authentic. The two were married at the Joyce Estates north of Grand Rapids. The weather was beautiful and lots of fun times were enjoyed.

Everyone met at Brock and Lexi's around noon on Saturday. The wedding party along with close family and friends listened as Brock shouted names to who was to ride in what boat. Yes, the whole wedding was boating into the Joyce Estates. After everyone knew who's Mercury powered Lund boat they were riding in, vehicles and boats (5 Lund boats total) departed and headed north on Hwy 49 to Britton's Resort. A huge thank you to Britton's Resort for letting us use your private boat landing. If anyone is looking for a very beautiful resort family vacation, please get in touch with Kelly or Erin at Britton's Trout Lake Resort (www.brittonstroutlakeresort.com; 218-326-3333; or facebook).

All the boats were landed and we all jumped into our assigned boats. The Wolf Brothers arrived at the Joyce Estates point first and made a makeshift dock out of folding chairs so no one had to get their feet wet. They also set up all the chairs in front of the pristine Joyce Cabin (this is where the ceremony took place). Boats arrived one by one and Abe and Amos directed the boats in and helped off each individual. Things went exceptionally smooth. Thank you so much Abe and Amos for all your help! Thank you to Dylan Maki for making all the trips back and forth to the resort. Dylan put the Mercury Verado 200 to the grip several times to make sure everyone was on time to the ceremony.

The ceremony began right on time and things went short and sweet. Brock and Lexi tied the knot, the crowd roared, hugs and tears were had; and then everyone enjoyed a couple celebration beverages while soaking up the gorgeous scenery and aqua blue waters of Trout Lake. Wedding party and family pictures were taken after the ceremony. Thank you so much to Afton Snyder for the amazing pictures. I know it must of been frustrating trying to deal with this wedding party. You did great.

After the pictures, we all hopped into the Lund boats and took a victory lap around beautiful Trout Lake. Topper's boat stopped for a while and wet a line; fishing of course. Abe, Amos, and Dylan's Lund boats had a little race while Brock and Lexi just cruised along trying to stay out of the way of the crazy boat rides. It was a wonderful wedding! I don't think things could have gone any better.

Once the boats were back at Brock's house, we all headed to the Cohasset Community Center for the reception. We partied the night away with family and friends. Thank you to everyone who came! It was a blast.

Thanks to:

Our Wedding Party: Colt, Godfrey, R Topper, Neary, Kellie, Dittman, Esme, Josh
Our Parents: Diane, Francie, Lael
Angel for marrying us
Amanda the violinist for the beautiful wedding ceremony music
Tike and Vicki for the awesome food
Dylan Maki and Abe and Amos Wolf for all your help!
Bob Gibbs for the reception tunes
Everyone I missed

MWC Cass Lake Walleye Tournament

For most of the Hang Loose Outdoors crew; this past weekend was spent at beautiful Stony Point Resort on Cass Lake pre fishing for the last stop of the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit. Three HLO teams were geared up to fish the tournament. Teams of Dylan and myself, Brock and Topper, and The Wolf brothers were all ready to rock!

Dylan and I arrived to Stony Point on Friday evening greeted by torrential rains flooding the campsite. Our plan was to take it easy for a few days, enjoying a little relaxed fishing and camping before bearing down and getting serious into our pre fishing. We all had one simple goal for the weekend, catch enough fish for the annual Rays Sport and Marine family fish fry. Saturday was spent getting settled into our sites (these would be our homes for the next nine days). After our campers were hooked up and boats put into the canal, it was time to head out in search of a few walleyes for the fry.

With all of the guys bringing in fish for the fry; there was more than enough fresh fish, fried potatoes and onions, an assortment of salads, homemade mac and cheese, chips and dip; all served up buffet style at Dave Hernesman's cabin. What an excellent way to kick off the week!

As the sun came up early that next morning we started to slide into a routine that would stick with us most of the week. This routine consisted of: Wake up, eat breakfast and drink coffee, check the weather, check the weather again.. then head out to the lake. After last year, we knew Cass Lake and its surrounding waters all couldn't possibly be looked at in a weeks’ time. We made a plan to fish Cass, and Allen's Bay, possibly head into Pike as well. We knew Brock and Topper would most likely be in Pike, which is scary because Pike Bay kicks out some heavy weights!

The days passed quickly, all three teams put over 8 hours a day pre fishing leading up to the first day of the tournament. By Thursday we all had spots locked down which we would fish briefly just to make sure our fish were still there for the next day. For Dylan and I... Our fish were there, but they were lock jawed.. We didn't catch a walleye all day Thursday. This was not the kind of confidence booster we were looking for. In fact, we spent the better part of Thursday evening debating if we had to change our plan completely or not. We decided to stick to it and give er the onions. Brock and Topper would start in Pike Bay, The Wolf brothers on the big lake and Dylan and I would head north as well.

Morning came early, it was foggy out and a chill hung in the air. As boats lined up in the canal, we were informed that we were being held back due to the fog. We did not get let out of the canal till a little after 9 o'clock. Boats played it safe and cruised through the fog at less than average tournament speed. We followed the boat ahead of us most of the way across the lake until he veered off shortly before our first spot. We thru our jackets off and I got rods out of storage as Dylan cruised up and down our break line paying close attention to our Lowrance Hds12. There were fish...but few and far between.. not good.. not good at all. Would this day turn out identical to yesterday, the day we went fish less? No, it couldn't, they would have to eat today, wouldn't they? We cruised down the shore to our second spot which also proved to be empty. As we debated whether to just fish it and see if they were in there, I got a feeling. A feeling that every fisherman knows well. I couldn't tell you why but we had to go to our fourth spot, a spot we hadn't caught a fish in for three days.

We arrived at 10:15, dropped lines and BAM! First fish was in the boat in a matter of seconds. A beautiful 17 inch walleye, I netted it for Dylan and reached over to pick my rod up off the floor of the boat, to my surprise it was bent over, I set the hook and in came an 18 inch eye! The fish were crushing our baits, we had a limit of 5 walleyes in a little over 15 minutes. As we culled smaller fish for larger ones I couldn't help but start feeling that relief you feel when your card is full in a tournament. We swung the boat around and started to head back down the shore when Dylan's crawler got slammed.

His line was directly under the boat, exactly where you don't want it. Fortunately he got a good hook set into the fish and as soon as it felt the pressure from his 7'6” Thirteen Muse rod the fish tore for the deeps, peeling drag the entire way. I got that feeling deep down that it was a pike, however D assured me it was a walleye so I waited patiently with the net. To my surprise a big walleye rose to the surface from under the Lund and I quickly scooped it up with the net. We were on the board with an “over!” The fish measured 24” and would greatly help our weight. It was only 10:40 now and we had a full bag with an “over” needless to say we were feeling good. Knowing it was a solid bag but nowhere near the top, we continued to fish hard the rest of the day.

We bee bopped around to our top 5 spots, upgrading slowly until we had a 24, 18.25, 18, 18, 17.7/8 inch fish in our box. The clock rolled 4:15 and we began to make our way to weigh in with our heads held high. Our fish were put in the special yellow bags given to us by the tournament staff and we headed up to the troughs to wait our turn to weigh our catch. As our names were called a little excitement jolted through me, I had waited 364 days to get back up on that stage. The scale bounced and finally settled on 11.7 pounds of walleye. That was good enough for 9th place so far with many boats left to weigh in.

Our weight was good enough for 17th place at the end of the first day! Brock and Topper had an awesome day weighing in 14.00 pounds which put them in 5th and the Wolf's weighed in 13.08 putting them in the top 10. Brock held down third big fish for day one all the way until Amos bumped him out, out weighing Brock's 27.5 inch walleye with a 26.5 inch of his own. We were all still in the hunt to win it on day 2. This made all of us pretty jacked.

Day 2 arrived and boats were launched at 8 o'clock sharp. Knowing we would need more weight day 2 to finish higher on the leader board, we put our heads down and gave the Mercury powered Lund all she had until we arrived at our first spot. Almost instantly Dylan hooked up with another “over” a chunky 24.25 hit the net and we hooted and hollered! Two more fish came very easily, a 15.5 and 18 inch were also boxed. And then... like a light switch it was over. The fish were gone and we couldn't buy a bite. This continued for almost 4 hours. We bounced spots all over and could not get another fish in the box. I told Dylan we had to go back to our fish spot and search until we found where they had went. This took a little bit of time but we located the school and filled the box within minutes. The fish were not the quality of the ones the day before but we did weed out a few and get some respectable fish to weigh.

The rest of the day proved to be just as tough, this time we were catching fish and keeping our spirits up however, we were not able to upgrade our 15.5 inch walleye. The last hour we went on a big fish run but came up empty. We headed for weigh in at 4:10pm feeling a little bummed that we didn't find another “over” but overall happy with our performance. As we waited in line in the troughs we heard some giant weights called out on stage. I knew we wouldn't be as high in the standings as we had hoped but we stayed positive. Our names were soon called and we weighed our bag. 10.15 the scale read. That weight put us at a 2 day total of 22.06 pounds which was good enough for 13th place for the time being.

Knowing that weight wouldn't last, we made our way to the crowd to find out how the rest of the teams did. Brock and Topper had a tough day on the water, weighing only 4 small fish. The Wolf's on the other hand fished consistent and weighed in another solid total of 12.15 pounds. Teams came and left the stage and at the end of the day the Wolf's weight held strong enough to take home 5th place! Congratulations boys! Dylan and I ended up in 22nd place, I'll take it especially knowing we were only a pound away from the money! A big congrats to Sean Colter and Dave Hernesmen who took home 8th and to Dan Fuller and Chad Benson who took home 1st! Awesome fishing guys and a job well done!! Good job to all the Rapids Teams and to Stony Point for putting on a great tournament! It's always a pleasure to fish the Cabela's MWC on Cass Lake!

Written by Colt Anderson

'pictured in upper right corner of blog are Abe and Amos Wolf with their two big fish on Day 2' Congrats on 5th place boys..... Hang Loose

First Weekend of Sept 2015 - Labor Day

The whole HLO Crew was up at beautiful Cass Lake spending time with family and friends for the Labor Day weekend. They were also getting ready for a week long stay of prefishing. The Masters Walleye Circuit Cass Lake tournament was set for the following Friday and Saturday. This meant the last tournament of the year and the last camping hooray!

The weather didn't provide for the most adequately dry conditions over the weekend. At night, she rained her heart out and during the day she cleared up enough to get out on the water or play with the kids. So it could had been worse. Lots of laughs were had. Lots of good food was enjoyed and a little fishing was soaked up. It was a great weekend spent with our HLO families. We always look forward to this week up at Cass Lake!

Now it's time to bear down and get to work! We have the whole Cass Lake walleye chain in front of us. Time to fish!!

'pictured in the upper right corner of this blog is Croix and Fenn (future HLO tourney partners) getting their feet wet in some excellent walleye waters' .....

Last weekend of Aug 2015

Cool weather has been followed be some heat and humidity the past few days. Are we used to these temperature swings yet? It seems as August has been full of them. It looks to be hot for a couple days as we push into September starting tomorrow. I hate to say it.... but summer is almost over.

What's the fishing bite been like this past week around the Grand Rapids area? Well, it's been typical with the end of August. A full day of walleye fishing might be on the slower side, but multi species fishing has been good. We are finding lots of fish in the weeds, be it walleyes, pike, bass, and panfish. If you hit the weeds you will catch fish. Walleyes are still eating crawlers and leeches, but we did catch a few on jigs and minnows this week. Bring a variety of bait to the lake in the next couple weeks.

A lot of fishermen have been asking us why fishing has been so slow lately? I don't think it's been slow. If you stick to targeting walleyes all day long it might feel slow. Walleye fishing can be tough when the temperatures fluctuate and fronts keep moving in and out of the area day after day. Cold fronts don't improve fishing and we have had a few of those lately. The greatest factor that contributes to some slow walleye fishing as of late is that full moon. Lots of walleyes will grub all night long and just lay low during the day. When the moon comes back up, they are back to hunting and eating again. The night bite has been good on a number of area lakes: Wabana, Pokegama, Deer, etc. Look for the moon to go down in size and the day bite to pick up more this week.

There has been a pretty good crappie bite happening on a number of local Grand Rapids area lakes. Look to the edges of the weeds in 8-14 feet of water. A white twister tail on a 1/16 ounce Northland jig will work just great. Fan cast into the weeds and let it drop on the edges. Cover water until you catch one or two. You will be surprised that this tactic will also provide you with multi species as well. There are a lot of fish in the weeds right now on all lakes!

Look to Bowstring, Sand, Winnibigoshish, Leech, and Pokegama for your best area walleye bites! Lake of the Woods has a great walleye bite taking place right now too. Contact Slims Resort (800) 243-2412 for more information or to book an awesome charter trip. Its pretty hard to beat the late summer and fall walleye bite up there.

Follow us on Facebook for daily fishing reports. We are booking late summer and fall guided trips. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service please give us a call today - 218-259-5447

Jeremy Topper Memorial Ride- Aug 22, 2015

The Jeremy Topper Memorial Ride was held this past Saturday. The bikes were busted out and some rubber was burned in tribute to Jeremy Topper who we miss so much. The ride left Cohasset, went thru Keewatin, up Scenic 7, and around to the Gosh Dam Place on Hwy 46. They ate lunch there and returned to Cohasset just in time to beat the rain. This is an annual ride so if anyone wants to take part in it next year keep this date in mind. Miss your smile, laugh, and positive spirits man. Keep on riding up there and watching over us all. Love ya

The HLO Crew will be fishing and guiding mostly on the Cass Lake chain for the next couple weeks. The Cabelas MWC Cass Lake tourney is Sept 11th and 12th and its time to get dialed in. We will also be fishing a few evenings on Pokegama and chasing crappies on Lake X. We have a few openings in the next 2 weeks if anyone is looking for an exciting guided fishing trip with Hang Loose Guide Service. The weather looks to be turning around mid week and warming up. Lets get you on the water and have some fun. 218-259-5447

Tip of the week: Look to the weeds for the best fishing this week be it walleyes, pike, bass, or panfish. There are a lot of fish in the weeds right now. A 5 foot lindy spinner rig tipped with a half crawler or small chub minnow and trolled 1.0mph will keep the action hot. Troll the outside edges of the weeds with your electric trolling motor. Good luck!

3rd Weekend of Aug 2015

This weekend was mostly all work oriented for the HLO crew. I think a touch of the Fall weather earlier in the week sent a hunting chill down our spines. Plans were made for a weekend of food plot construction and maintenance. I believe a few deer stands were even put together. That Fall chill was followed by an intensely hot and humid weekend. Working in the plots was not fun in 90 degrees! Oh, and we did get out fishing plenty too. Guess I shouldn't have said 'mostly work' maybe a little..... 'work'...!

Crazy weather has been on top of us the past 10 days. It rains and cools down then a stretch of blistering 90 degree temps swings in for 4 days. The heat and humidity then plummets with a days notice. Now, it's 60 degrees, windy, and raining again. It feels like Fall today. This temperature and pressure change so rapidly can't be good for the fishing, right?

As most say, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. I totally agree 110 percent. Yes, fishing hasn't been great this week, but it hasn't been bad either. August is a great multi species month. If the walleyes aren't biting, there are always toothy northern pike to chase, hungry bass, and perch and panfish.

There has been a pretty good crappie bite happening on a number of local Grand Rapids area lakes. Look to the edges of the weeds in 8-14 feet of water. A white twister tail on a 1/16 ounce Northland jig will work just great. Fan cast into the weeds and let it drop on the edges. Cover water until you catch one or two. You will be surprised that this tactic will also provide you with multi species as well. There are a lot of fish in the weeds right now on all lakes!

Look to Bowstring, Sand, Winnibigoshish, Leech, and Pokegama for your best area walleye bites! Lake of the Woods has a great walleye bite taking place right now too. Contact Slims Resort (800) 243-2412 for more information or to book an awesome charter trip. Its pretty hard to beat the late summer and fall walleye bite up there.

GRAHA Walleye Shootout 2015

"Tough bite", "We're struggling", "Caught a few", "Can't figure out a pattern", "Even ran 25 miles up river"! These are just a few statements taken from anglers prefishing for the GRAHA Walleye Shootout throughout the week on beautiful Pokegama Lake. Topper and I could pretty much stick our hats under those same statements. I think pretty much everyone could besides one or two boats out of the 102 that had been prefishing leading up to Saturday, August 8th 2015.

As local guides on Pokegama Lake, we hadn't seen the bite this tough in three years. Was it the pressure, some questioned? Did the ten degree drop in water temperature turn the fish off? Are they all full from the rebounding smelt population? Are the fish super shallow or super deep? Being on the water throughout the summer and everyday the past 10 days leading up to the tournament, these questions and many more poured from our lips also. We had no idea what was going on. We fished shallow. We trolled the deeps. We used minnows, crawlers, leeches, plastics, hard baits. We tried going super fast, slow, staying vertical. It seemed as nothing really made a difference. We found some fish here and there, but nothing stayed put. There was no pattern.

We talked to 80 percent of the field and it seemed as no one had anything figured out. HLO guides Colt Anderson and Ben Olson were doing the best out of anyone we talked with and it really threw Topper and I for a loop. They would of weighed thirty plus pounds Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Were they doing anything different? No! They were fishing just like we always do; live bait rigs! Topper and I had no starting spot come Saturday, no spot 2, spot 3, or any spot. We talked about a plan, but would we follow it? Our plan was to try and get two big walleyes right away in the morning and then go fill our card (7 fish over 14 inches) with smaller walleyes in the weeds. After our card was full we would go out to our reliable big fish spots and hopefully get one more big fish bite.

Our plan started out really good when five minutes into the tournament I boated a 23.25" walleye. Big fish one was on the card. After that things got tricky. Topper and I both lost good fish and then the bite went down hill from there. The fish on the deep humps disappeared and Topper decided it was time to head to the weeds and get some fish on the card. We headed to our eater spots and pounded them with crawlers and spinners. Our seventeen and eighteen inch eaters from Thursday and Friday turned to thirteen and three-quarters (had to be 14) over night. We kept running through the 'meat run' as Topps calls it. Spot to spot we went. After about six spots, we finally wrote down our second fish, a 14.25". It was almost 1PM when Topper and I decided to head to old faithful which had been about our last spot on the 'meat run'. I told Topper to just get there and we will fish. "Lets not even cruise and check for fish", I said. Just fish!

Fish three and four were wrote down within minutes. No they weren't big, but we would take them. Fish, fish, and fish we did without another one on the card. Fish five came around 2PM and then there was a dead spell until about 2:45PM when Topper and I notched our last two onto the card. Were we pumped? We were so happy to put seven on the card. We thought this would have taken only till noon to do, but it had taken almost the whole day. We only had about 20 minutes to try for a big fish. Try we did without another bite.

We returned to Tioga Beach at 3:15PM heads kind of in a medium position, not high, but not down in the dumps either. We had a plan and actually stuck with it for once. Lots of times at tournaments, Topper and I get frustrated half way through the day, and end up kicking our plan to the curb. What happens after that is usually a whole bunch of burned gas and a lot of cuss words. We still burned quite a bit of gas on this day, but we followed our plan. We knew the bite was tough.

Boat after boat began talking after their cards were turned in. Lots of thumbs down were given out by the top anglers in the state as we passed by. Our 13.93 pounds seemed better and better with each boat we chatted with. Abe and Amos Wolf had a couple pounds. Colt and Ben had one pound (what happened to them?). Godfrey and Mama had zero. Dylan and Ethan weighed zero. The local Olson brothers had minimal weights. Colter and Herne maybe four pounds. Topper and I couldn't believe our ears. Everyone had thumbs down. We heard rumors of a couple boats with good baskets, but how many?

The intense shootout weigh in would be the only way to find out now. Topper and I waited for the call to bring the boat to the arena. A little before 5PM Topps phone rang and it was what we wanted to hear. We had made the top ten. We could pull the Lund and Mercury into the arena to our favorite tune.

Were we pumped now? Oh yeah! We didn't care if we were first or tenth. All we cared about was we had made the stage and the shootout. As committee members of the GRAHA we knew how exciting the weigh in was going to be. And exciting it was! The hair stood on my neck the whole time. Words can't even describe the atmosphere. On stage, my stool sat right next to one of the best sticks in the state. I will probably never forget these words that he said to Topps and I, "Soak this in." "If there is anything you do, just take this all in."

Like I said, I can't even describe the energy in that arena. The music was load. The crowd cheered with every fish and every team that was bumped out of the hot seat. It was awesome. In the end of the shootout, Topper and I had claimed fifth place. Not in one hundred years did I think we could get 5th place with 13.93 pounds. We did it!

Congratulations to Ethan Soland and Jake Stoll on your win. Treasure it forever! I want to take a second to talk about these two guys. Not that I personally know them, but Topper and I had the chance to meet them on the water Friday. We kind of had a meet and greet on a very small hump. The fish were loaded there and we both tried to catch the stubborn things so we were close enough to exchange words. They said their first time on the lake was Thursday. Topper did what he is good at and talked up the lake. They were from the Ottertail area and had heard about Pokegama and obviously seen pictures of what the lake can produce. After the short visit, Topper and I burned off to another spot. I'm not sure if it was me or Topper that said or maybe we just thought it, "I hope someone like those guys do good." They hear about this world class fishery and then come up here during the toughest bite ever.

So the next time I run into these guys they are sitting in their Lund boat behind the arena. Yeah! They made top 10 I thought as I walked towards them. I introduced myself again and shook their hands congratulating them on making the top 10. At this point I had no idea what they had. I think it was Stoll who said, "Yeah, we have like 28 lbs". "What?" I think I almost spit my beer all over the side of their boat. One, the way he said it and two for WOW, these guys just rocked this thing. Then one of them stated that they had heard of a 40lb bag and a couple in the mid 30s. I was in a hurry to wash down Topper's Lund/Mercury so we could look pretty for the crowd so I think I sputtered these words on my walk away, "You guys are first or second, don't believe those rumors." That's the last I talked to them. I tried to find them after they had kissed the cup, but I was unable to do so. Huge Congrats Guys!

Congrats to the top 10... Soland/ Stoll 1st place. Swenson/ Olson 2nd. Jahn/ Jahn 3rd. Wagner/ Peterick 4th. Topper/ Anderson 5th. Malsam/ Peura 6th. Rasmussen/ Fothergill 7th. Nickel/ Neururer 8th. Raap/ Sullivan 9th. Bell/ Lillimo 10th.....

Thank you so much to all the sponsors of this tournament! Without you all this couldn't be what it was. Making the top 10 was truly amazing and I will tell you first hand, this was an experience that I will never forget. I cant wait till next year.

Thanks again to all the sponsors, to AIM, all the committee members, and all the volunteers. Thank you to Sean Colter and Lindsey Topper and anyone I forgot for all your behind the scenes work on making this the best single day walleye tournament in the state!

written by Brock Anderson

First Weekend of Aug 2015 - Fishing With Vets

Fishing with Vets was held Saturday, Aug 1 on Trout Lake in Coleraine. Five guides from the Grand Rapids area donated a day of guided fishing to a handful of vets. The guides as listed were: Colt Anderson of Hang Loose Outdoors, Justin Bailey, Colby Gallagher, Andy Walsh, and Tommy Cemensky. The day was mostly sunny and calm and the fish did cooperate.

The day began at Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods in Cohasset, MN. After a quick meet and greet, the Itasca County Sheriff escorted the boats from Cohasset to Coleraine. It raised the hair up on my neck, "one guide stated at the end of the day". Five boats landed on the north end of Trout and the vets jumped in. After a few more pictures and some last minute rod rigging they all headed out after some fish. There were eater walleyes caught, big walleyes, big pike, and a bunch of smallmouth bass even before noon. At noon the boats came back in and enjoyed an awesome lunch before returning to the water for more big fish action.

The day was memorable in every aspect. The weather turned out great. The fishing was good. Stories were told and most of all everyone had a blast.

Thank you for serving our country!!! We can't wait to help out with this event again.

As we push real close to the GRAHA Walleye Shootout on August 8 on beautiful Pokegama Lake, our fishing reports will be a little limited. There are no secrets, but we should probably keep a few things on the down low. Please visit GRAHA Walleye Shootout for more information on the tournament. The day is going to be packed full of awesome daily activities followed by an intense weigh in at the IRA Civic Center and then food and live music. Hope to see you all there. The HLO boys are gonna try their best to make the top ten and pull their Lund/Mercury rigs onto stage. Thanks to all our sponsors and the sponsors for the GRAHA! Can't do what we do without you folks!

Look to Leech, Sand, Bowstring, Trout, Pokegama, Swan, Deer, Wabana, and Hill for the best area bites this week! Contact us for more information or if you are interested in a guided fishing trip!

Our buddies up at Slims Resort on Lake of the Woods have informed us of an awesome bite taking place up there right now too. Get ahold of Slims Resort -(800) 243-2412 to book an awesome guided charter fishing trip on beautiful Lake of the Woods. Slims has clean comfortable cabins, friendly service, great food n drinks at their bar and grill, and they put you on the fish! Tell them Hang Loose sent you...

Follow us on Facebook for daily fishing reports. We are booking summer and fall guided trips. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service give us a call today - 218-259-5447

4th Weekend of July 2015

Its been a busy summer of guiding as we push towards what some fishermen refer to as 'the dog days', or August. Fishing has had its good and fair days this past week. One day the walleye fishing is on the slower side and the next it's awesome. Why? Well most anglers and myself and all of us here at HLO wish we could explain this. It's fishing and it's the name of the game. We wish every client could land on the day when the fishing is great and the walleyes are chowing. This time of year has its hit and miss days as that water temp sits around 80 degrees.

The slower walleye days have not been slow by any means. The northern pike and smallmouth bass have been very active and keeping the action hot and heavy this past week as we target walleyes. Some heavy northerns pushing up to 15 pounds were caught and released by HLO guides and clients this week. We are seeing quite a few 5-10 pound pike on a given day on the water. Some huge smallies 18-20 inches have also been caught and released. Lots of pictures were snapped this past week and everyone went home with plenty of fish for the fry pan and freezer.

I know you are all like: get to the walleye side of things. Walleyes are biting and for now that's all you're getting. As we push close to the GRAHA Walleye Shootout August 8 on Pokegama Lake, we have to keep the walleye report to a minimum. I know there are no secrets, but a tournaments a tournament. Every little thing counts. We will be out guiding this week so if you see us on the water give a wave or throw a hang loose our way!

The GRAHA weigh in is going to be super intense so please stop down and check it out August 8 at the IRA Civic Center. The day is full of activities. Go to http://grahawalleyeshootout.com for a complete list of the events.

Good luck on the water and don't stop fishing just because someone says it's the 'dog days of summer'. "You can't catch walleyes right now." Trust me... Go out and prove them wrong. Fish are always biting and a slow day fishing is always better than work.

3rd Weekend of July 2015- Godfrey Wedding

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Adam Godfrey.

We celebrated Adam and Staci's wedding this weekend and it was beautiful. Everything worked out perfect! Planning an outdoor wedding and reception is risky, but this one was top notch. Great planning guys! I hope you two had a blast. It looked like everyone was...

We love you two and wish the best for your future. Good luck and enjoy the rest of your lives together.

Back to fishing for us now..... It's been good.

Congrats again.... Brock

The GRAHA Walleye Shootout is only 2 weeks away. Ooooooof

2nd Weekend of July 2015- Leech Lake AIM Tourney

The tournament season is rolling right along as mid-summer finds us scratching our heads wondering where the spring went. I can’t believe how fast the year is progressing! Only a few weeks to get dialed in on those Pokegama Lake giants. The GRAHA Walleye Shootout is coming up quick (Aug 8, 2015).

Backtracking a couple days, HLO Teams of the Wolf brothers, Randy and Colt, and Ben and I (Dylan) competed in the AIM Pro Walleye Series tournament on Leech Lake. With everyone’s busy schedules, pre fishing for the usual few days didn’t exactly happen. We roughly only pulled off 20 hours on the lake to get our fish figured out and on lockdown. In an AIM tournament, the rules are of a catch, photo, and release style. This means that we can weigh in fish that would normally be in the slot from 20-26 inches (Leech). So we put on our thinking caps and went out to the deeps of Walker Bay to find areas of bigger fish, unlike most tournaments where you also need unders, ( fish under 20 inches). While Randy and Colt went out to the big lake, the Wolf brothers and Ben and I stayed in Walker Bay, looking for 5 bigger fish to land and take pictures for the scorecard.

In a tournament like this, you have to treat it like any other day on the water and make it fun. Keeping your head in the right place is what I consider to be one of the most important aspects of the game. Ben and I somehow managed to be last boat to take off of the trickle start on Sunday morning. We pinned the Mercury all the way to our tiny rock hump that topped out in 33ft of water. I graphed a big fish, slammed the boat in reverse and hovered over the fish. Ben dropped his #7 jigging rap and the fish must have seen it coming down from the second he put it in the water. Ben felt the thump and T’ed off on a 26.5 incher within the first ten seconds of fishing! Boom! We were beyond pumped. A quick fist bump, a couple fish photos on the Judge Ruler, a quick 26.5 on the scorecard, and the fish was sent back for the next lucky angler. With our adrenaline pumping, shaking hands, we went back to jig rapping fish. I have to admit, Ben filled the scorecard all on his own. I would stop the boat on any active fish I could find (fish that were more than a foot off the bottom) and Ben would crush them. It was an excellent day to be the extreme net man!

Randy and Colt headed 15 miles as the crow flies to the big lake. Kind of a wild ride for them as the boat may have went airborne on a few rogue waves, crippling Randy like an old man momentarily. They were on big fish spots that have produced well in the past. The two re-visited these spots and also found more big fish on them. The Wolves stayed on big fish in Walker Bay all day and ground out their spots waiting for that 15 minute window for the fish to eat. It seems you could have made 30 passes through these fish and finally randomly the fish would lift off bottom and chow. You need some luck to be on the right fish when they decide to eat. A few teams in the top 10 actually only caught 5 fish all day (allowed to weigh 5 fish). We all could have used a little more luck on our side, but that’s just how it goes. This was a very tough bite as most of the teams we talked with were just hoping to have 5 fish on the scorecard.

The Wolves ended up in 21st place with 20.55lbs (3 good fish), Ben and I finished in 26th with 18.64lbs, and Topper and Anderson in 38th place with 14.68lbs. We were all one good bite away from being in the money. Congrats to Dan Swenson and Jay Braaten on their 9th place finish! It is always a blast to enter these tournaments because you learn something new every single time especially when the bite is tough! Would Ben and I of changed our game plan? Well, we will see next tourney!

Written by Dylan

pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is Ben Olson with the 26.5 incher we caught in the first seconds of the tourney!

4th of July Weekend 2015

We hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July Weekend!

July 4th is a relaxing and eventful holiday for many people and their families, and the same goes for us here at Hang Loose Outdoors. The week of the fourth was hot and humid, a perfect week to be spent on the lake whether your reason was fishing, tubing or just floating aimlessly enjoying a few cold drinks.

This week was a busy one for the HLO guides. Families were vacationing in the area and eager to put the smack down on some trophy Pokegama Lake walleyes! The big girls were a bit of a chore to get to eat, they seemed to feed in short windows at random times of the day. These larger walleyes were found 5 to 10 feet deeper than the smaller, eater walleyes which we found in large schools hanging out in the cabbage from 12-16 feet.

Our go-to presentation for the week was a crawler rigged traditionally on a 6-8 foot lindy rig and trolled from .4-.8 mph. This seemed to be the best for both eaters and the big walleyes. A lindy tipped with a leech as well as a creek chub rigged traditionally also put fish in the boat. Fish wanted little to do with a spinner tipped with a crawler and pulled 1.0mph. You would sure think spinners would be the way to go with water temps in the mid 70’s, but it wasn’t the case this past week. It’s fishing right?

Thursday of this week was one of my favorite trips to date. This trip was originally scheduled for just one person all day, however, Steve called me and asked what my views on having a young child in the boat were. He said he was debating bringing the little guy because he was worried about how he would handle fishing walleyes instead of panfish. I assured Steve that we could make it fun for his son, William.

In the morning, we met at 8 o’clock and 5 year old William was excited as ever to drop a line! We stopped on our first spot and I showed William how to open the bail and let line out until it stopped once his sinker arrived on bottom. We were sitting in 26 feet of water, away from all weeds and snags. I told William to hold on tight to the rod and any tug on the line to start reeling as fast as he could. Before I could get to the back of the boat I saw his rod bend clear over the side of the boat! I quickly reeled up mine and Steve’s rod so he could help his son hold the rod and fight the fish. The light action rod made it easier for William to fish without putting too much stress on his arms. After a few minute battle, I netted William's first fish, a fat 25.5 inch walleye! I couldn't tell who was more excited, him or Steve!

William fished like a champ for 3 more hours, catching another walleye, a 22 incher and a small mouth bass before he got tired and had to be dropped off with his mother at the landing. He made sure to brag to his dad that he had caught a bigger walleye than he had. Steve and I both got a kick out of that!

Watching William reel in his first few walleyes and seeing the utter joy on his father’s face is the moment that us guides look forward to. That moment was one of my best to dates. Knowing that you have had a positive influenced to a young child's outdoor experience is one of the greatest feelings a person can have. Being positive and letting a child fish how they want to fish is a big deal when they are young. If that child wants to drop his line to bottom just to reel it in five seconds later, that is just fine. As long as they are entertained and having fun, that's all that counts.

Hang Loose loves getting children involved in the outdoors. We strive to make each and every experience one to remember, whether it's in the boat or on the ice. Just remember, keep it simple, have fun, and everything else will happen as it happens. These experiences should be stress free and relaxing, and don't worry if they don't do everything right. They are out there to have fun and learning will come with fun! Try and get a kid in the outdoors and enjoy watching them get hooked!

written by Colt Anderson

4th Weekend of June 2015

Lake Michigan King Salmon Trip

Last week my finance, along with her Dad, aunt, two uncles, and I drove to Lake Michigan for a Salmon/Trout fishing trip. Lexi's Dad had this trip booked from the time he had left Lake Michigan last year. We departed Minnesota on Tuesday morning, fished Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning, and Thursday morning with RV Charters. I hadn't ever paid for a guided fishing trip before, but being a guide myself, I knew this was a good way to learn the lake and have a fun and relaxing time. Lexi's Dad and crew had done very well last year at this same time and with the same charter.

Tuesday afternoon led us out to 600 feet of water to chase lake trout and steelhead. With high skies and calm winds this was our best bet to catch some fish. We ended the afternoon with ten plus trout ranging from three to ten pounds. It was an OK day in my mind.

Wednesday morning we left the docks before 4AM and started fishing in 200 feet and ended in 600 feet. Action was terribly slow and we all wondered if we would ever have a bite. Our day two guide seemed to relax himself more than try to put us on fish. Maybe it was just me. I soaked up a lot of sun that morning on the back of the boat and drank a lot of good beer that afternoon on the Algoma beach. Oh, we did end up with three small trout that morning with 16 rods out. That night we cooked steelhead on the grill and trout in hot oil and enjoyed an awesome dinner before hitting the hay early.

Thursday morning before we left the docks, we told our guide we wanted King Salmon not the small trout we had been targeting. We came for the salmon not the trout. We had seen other charters come in with a few salmon so obviously they were biting somewhere. Day 2 and 3 guide said we could do that, but our bite would be short. Well, lets do it. We want hogs. We ran a long ways to the south and three rods weren't even set before Lexi was battling a brute of a King. The fish was pretty close to the net and another rod went off. 'FISH ON'. I looked at Lexi's Dad and said, "This is what we came for." The bite was short, but we boated some huge king salmon and enjoyed one of the prettiest sun rises I have ever been on a boat with.

Some asked, "Would you go back again and go with the same Charter?" Yes I would. You need a big boat for big waters even though the winds were so calm all three days my boat could of fished just fine. If the wind picks up on that monster, you want to be in a big boat. Second, it's nice to relax, fish, and hang out with family, and not have to worry about catching. You leave that to your guide. Third, the price for the 16 hours of fishing and two nights lodging is very reasonable. I would recommend RV Charters to those looking for a great Salmon/Trout trip on Lake Michigan. Do I want to bring my boat there and fish my way? DEFINITELY!

-Pictured in the upper right corner of this blog is Lexi and I with two beautiful King Salmon from the last morning of our trip. Yes, the last morning made the trip!

written by Brock

The Summer Walleye Transition

This past week has sure seen its spurts of great walleye fishing followed by somewhat slower action then rebounding again. Walleyes are definitely on the transition, or move from shorelines to mid lake structure on our deep Grand Rapids area lakes. This is normal for this time of year. The walleyes feeding patterns are hit and miss up until they finally commit and set up shop on those mid lake structures. It's kind of like asking a car load of kids where they want to eat. One says Burger King, another Subway, then Dairy Queen. One wants a burger, Jake a shake, Kristen a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Everyone wants to go different places and eat different things. To add to it driving conditions are way to busy to make all stops possible. This kind of explains this transition or summer migration. It's a period where the walleyes are feeling the lake out. They still eat here and there, but there is no pattern. Most are on the move. They are figuring out where the best shelter and restaurants will be for the summer months. Once all the walleyes have their minds made up and the water temperatures match what the walleyes want, those summer patterns will set in and those marble eyes will once again put the feed bag on. All lakes are different, but usually this transition takes anywhere from 3-10 days. (There has been lots of literature written on this summer transition period, mostly opinions. Nothing is concrete! It's called fishing. Fish and Learn...)

Look to mid lake structures (reefs, bars, rock humps, long shoreline points ending in deep water) for your best walleye action in the next week or so. When the wind blows or during really overcast days don't throw out cabbage shorelines. Not all the walleyes are going to head to mid lake structures. Some of the best smaller eater sized walleyes will stay all summer long on the deep weed shorelines. Pay attention to your electronics more than ever this time of year. If you're not graphing anything off the edges of mid lake structures, go shallow. Burn spinners over the tops of the humps or work the shallow weeds and rocks on mid lake bars. If that doesn't work, head to the deep shoreline weeds. Be mobile and let the walleyes tell you what they want. I absolutely love this time of year!

Spinners tipped with a crawler or leech should be your first weapon of choice this time of year. Water temps sit in the 70's and spinners on bottom bouncers worked 1.0-1.5 mph will put the majority of your walleyes in the boat, especially your eater classes. Speed is crucial all summer long so fluctuate it and let the fish tell you how they want it. Look to big minnows (creek chubs, redtails, suckers) on lindy rigs to entice those big walleyes on mid lake structures. They are out there for a reason! They want a big meal. During the slow walleye times this past week, big minnows produced steady pike action for us while guiding. Lots of big northern pike kept the rods bent. And best of all, pike are good eating too. Look for northerns on the edges of the weeds.

Look to the mid lake structures on Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, Bowstring, Island, and Sand in 18-24 feet of water for your best walleye bites this week. Spinners tipped with a crawler, leech, or small chub pulled over one mph should trigger the best action. Upper Red lake is still on fire if you are looking for numbers of walleyes. Pokegama, Trout, and Wabana have been good in 16-25 feet of water. Once again... Pay attention to your electronics!

Follow us on Facebook for daily reports. We are booking summer and fall guided trips. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service give us a call today. 218-259-5447

Angler Young Angler June 2015

The Angler Young Angler on Pokegama Lake was held this past weekend. First off I would like to thank Rays Sport and Marine for hosting this awesome event again this year. The kids absolutely love it and look forward to it every year. Thanks to Steve Picht for MC'ing and Brenda and Lindsey for helping out. Congratulations to all the kids who fished. You all did great. It was a huge success again.

The regulations changed this year from last year. This year boats could weigh six walleyes with only one being over 20 inches. Last year boats could weigh in two big fish. This made catching the small ones or unders really important on Sunday. We all know how hard it is to get unders on Pokegama this time of year. With so many good anglers, a few big bags were bound to come to stage.

The weather was beautiful and sunny from start to finish and anglers reported good fishing throughout the day. Most had their one giant Pokeg eye to weigh in. A few boats had one big one and a mess of small ones. The weigh in was intense as parents and relatives squeezed in to listen to Steve Picht announce the weights and have the kids hold up their big walleyes.

In the end, Sean Colter, Jax, and Jerzie edged out Gordon Fothergill and his boys by just mere ounces for first place. Congrats Sean, Jerzie, and Jax. Big fish winner went to our own HLO guide Abe Wolf and his kids. Congratulations to all the kids who fished. There were lots of big smiles at the weigh in. It looked as everyone had a blast again this year.

-Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is HLO guide Randy Topper's kids, Matt and Brodie, with their beautiful walleyes.

2nd Wknd of June 2015- Kraus Anderson Walleye Classic

Its been a busy past couple weeks for the HLO Boys. We all fished the Leech Lake Walleye Tournament two weekends ago and then the Kraus Anderson Walleye Classic this past weekend. Fishing went well but a couple of us could of used a little more luck. We always shoot for the win, but it doesn't always happen that way. That's fishing. Making the top 20 is a great accomplishment in these tournaments as there are so many good fishermen in this great state. The Wolf Brothers (Abe and Amos) had a good showing at the Kraus with their 16th place finish. They were one lucky bite away from the top spots. Good work boys.

Water temps have really warmed up in the Grand Rapids area and the bite is showing that. Walleyes are starting to transition and move around quite a bit as of late. They are here one second and over there the next. Staying on top of some schools has been tricky. Yes, they are biting when you find them and stay with them. We have been using our electronics to cruise water and locate pods of walleyes. Once we find them we have been using live bait on lindy rigs to catch them. One minute it seems they want a crawler, the next a leech, and then maybe a larger minnow like a creek chub or red tail. Its been really important to have minnows, leeches, and crawlers in the boat at all times this past week. We see this every year when the walleyes begin to transition from shorelines to secondary structures and then to humps. You have to stay with them and offer them what they want. You throw in mayfly hatches like we have had the last two weeks and you really need to give them the whole menu. It sounds tough sometimes, but the catching and fun has been great the last couple weeks. We have seen a lot of big walleyes come into the Lund Boats this week. Remember to practice catch, photo, and release!

Now that we have a break from a few tournaments until next month, we will be on the water guiding. Our guide schedule is filling fast so now would be a good time to give us a call and schedule your summer or fall fishing trip.

Look to Leech, Upper Red, Bowstring, Island, Splithand, Jesse, Pokegama, Moose, and Wabana for your best area walleye bites right now. Look for walleyes in the wind blown cabbage and if they aren't there, head out to the secondary flats and structures. Pay attention to your electronics.

Follow us on Facebook for daily reports. We are booking spring and summer guided trips. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service give us a call today. 218-259-5447

First Weekend of June 2015

A weekend in between tournaments meant a little relaxing for some of the HLO Boys and a few guided fishing trips for the others. Either way, it was a great weekend to stay around the area. Sticking close and fishing our home waters sent a chill down most of our necks. None of us had been on Pokegama Lake yet and we were itching to do so. Water temps were almost right for those hog marble eyes to begin showing up in their pre-summer spots.

You all might ask why we call them pre-summer spots? Well, you could call these spots pre-summer or summer, but not mid summer. The walleyes on Pokegama kind of set up shop for a month along the weeds before they push out onto humps and flats. When they are in their pre-summer patterns, electronics are key. These fish play the wind and transition or move along shoreline structure constantly. They are here one second and around the corner the next. A strong wind will hold them on a location for a while, but that's about it. There is so much bait in the lake that they can find breakfast, lunch, and dinner pretty much where ever they go. FYI... When you think you have this body of water figured out, it will chew you up and spit you out. Pokegama Lake walleyes are huge, smart, and extremely complicated! They have a mind of their own.

Anyways, it was a good week of guide trips out on Pokegama. They walleyes weren't slamming, but we picked off a couple here and there. Yep, we did get into some tankers like usual. It was a great first week out on our home waters. The weather was great, the fishing was fun, and our clients went home with a mess of pictures (hog eyes), and some fresh fish.

If you want to book a trip out on Pokegama Lake now or anytime during the summer, please give us a call soon. Our guide schedule is getting busy.

We will be heading to Bemidji on Wednesday evening to begin prefishing for the Kraus Anderson Walleye Classic on Saturday on Lake Bemidji. Wish us luck!

-Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog are JP and Jesse with two beautiful walleyes they caught and released with HLO guide Colt Anderson this week. Thanks for the fun trip guys!

Last Weekend of May 2015- LLWT

This past week, the Hang Loose Crew found ourselves in Walker, MN preparing for the Leech Lake Walleye Tournament. This is a two day walleye tournament fished by 165 of some of the toughest teams in Minnesota. Teams are allowed 6 fish with 5 being under 20 inches long and 1 walleye over 26 inches per day.

Dylan and I arrived on the water for the first day of pre fishing on a rainy Memorial Day Monday. As we would later find out, this rainy day was the start of an ever changing brutal week of pre fishing.

Pre fishing started out well, with some help from Pro Staffer, Ben Olson, we were able to key in on a few spots early in the week that held good fish, however, the wind was everything but consistent, drowning our confidence on these spots being good later in the week. (Leech Lake is a very wind driven lake, meaning schools of walleye are driven heavily by the wind, usually making the windy side of points, inside corners and shorelines ideal.)

As the crew funneled up day by day, we soon had 4 teams pre fishing, Dylan and myself, Brock and Topps, the Wolf brothers, and Craig and Adam. Each night was spent tying lines, rigs, spooling rods, and tending to bait. Keeping bait over a week of pre fishing proves to be one of the hardest yet most important aspects of the week.

Towards the end of the week the weather turned rather sour. Temperatures in the mid 80s on Wednesday turned to upper 50s on Thursday and Friday, paired with wind gusts up to 40mph and a steady rain. Of course, a cold front was upon us once again making the bite a little tougher than the previous few days. The wind was the hardest to deal with, the teams dealt with 5-6 foot swells making lake travel slow and tedious and extremely rough on our young bodies.

Teams had to be off the water by 3pm on Friday. With the boats landed and minds traveling 100 mph mulling over spots and presentations for the coming morning, we made our way to the rules meeting. Teams were signed in and boat numbers were dished out for the morning. With the rules meeting wrapped up, we headed back to Ben's place and finished some last minute preparations for day one of the tournament.

Saturday morning came early, we all rolled out of bed and geared up for battle! Our hopes of better weather were crushed when we stepped out into the damp, windy, 30 degree air whipping briskly up off the lake. Walker City Park was the location of blast off, 165 boats sat and waited patiently in the harbor as the national anthem was sung. Boats were then let go in a trickle start. As our boat number was called, “Number 80!” we cracked the throttle and headed across Walker Bay straight into a cross wind. Let me tell you; that was the most brutal and wettest ride I have experienced in a boat in a long time.

The wind seemed to spark the bite, Dylan and I smashed fish all morning weeding through the 15 and 16 inchers to keep the bigger, heavier 18s and 19s. The boat of Brock and Topper came into view later in the morning and from what we could tell, they were also on fish. We exchanged conversation as we passed each other from a ways out. They let us know they were on good fish and had just caught an “over.” That pumped up Dylan and I, we were glad one of us had a biggie to weigh in! By 11:00 we filled our limit and headed after big fish. On the second spot Dylan slammed a 26 and 1/8 inch eyeball, we tossed a smaller 16 inch and replaced it with our over. The rest of the day was a struggle to upgrade, plenty of smaller, eater walleyes were found but nothing heavier than what we had in the box. Just before we were forced to head back to weigh in I measured our over one last time hoping it relaxed and gained an eighth of an inch. When I slapped it on the tape I realized the fish had shrunk... It no longer reached 26 inches!! I felt sick to my stomach as we slowly, regretfully slid it back into the water... With 5 minutes left to fish I found one last hungry walleye, a 15.5 incher that filled the last spot in our limit after releasing our 6th fish, our only over. We raced back to weigh in and after a long wait in the harbor, we were able to pull up to the dock and bag up our fish to be weighed. Our boat finished day one with 9.60 pounds, good enough to keep us in the running. Brock and Topps weighed in a very respectable 13.10 pounds, good enough for 17th place. The Wolf brothers and boat of Craig and Adam were on fish all day but struggled to put the right fish in the boat. Many were released from 20-24 inches.

Both boats and team members alike were beaten up day 1 of the tourney. Topper's driver seat snapped off at the base, the Wolf brother's windshield came completely off, Adam's steering tension bent on his motor, and Dylan suffered a bent trolling motor and broken steering tensioner. Like I said, the waters were brutal! Gear is really put to the test during a tournament, when everything is full throttle all the time. Leech Lake is a monster in itself.

Day 2 rolled around with the same weather as day 1 but a 90 degree wind switch. Our spots that produced good fish the day before had significantly slowed down. Dylan and I plucked 2 good unders from our first spot before making the trip all the way across the lake to our deep water fish. At our second spot we were able to put together the rest of our limit. We were even able to upgrade a few fish before cruising to the harbor for the final weigh in.

The Wolf's turned their luck around day 2 and brought in one of the largest bags of the day pushing 15.5 pounds! Brock and Topper were able to scratch together over 8 pounds, lacking an over which they tried for most of the day, and Dylan and I came in with 10.61 keeping our weight consistent with the previous day. Adam and Craig weighed in 3 fish for just under 6 pounds. Brock and Topps finished in 27th place. The HLO teams were not able to make the top 20 but we had nothing to hang our heads about. All the teams caught fish consistently all weekend and were able to make adjustments and weigh in some respectable bags. Good job guys! Congrats to the Grand Rapids team of Murphy and Miskovich for their 5th place finish!

Written by Colt Anderson

4th Weekend of May 2015 - Yesterday's Bite?

The majority of this weekend was spent on Leech Lake guiding and taking a peak ahead to next weekend's Leech Lake Walleye Tournament. It was Memorial Weekend so that meant camping and spending time with family and friends too. We had a blast of a weekend and their were no complaints from the weather, except for Monday.

The weather, changing water temperatures, and the altering diets of the walleye all influence our walleye fishing. Yesterday's bite was yesterday, not today. That is a big thing to realize when walleye fishing during this time of year. You caught them in 10 feet of water in the sand on the west shore yesterday. They were chasing shiners and you could see bait balls on your graph. The wind was 5-10 out of the southeast and it was cloudy. Today the wind is out of the west at 10-15 and its sunny and you can't buy a bite where you were yesterday. Well, conditions change and so do the fish's location. Walleyes follow their food and their comfort zone. Take a couple minutes and drive around and look with your graph. Did they slide out deeper, head up the shore to the rocks or down the shore to the weeds? Check both places and fish them for a little while. Nothing? It's time to forget yesterday's fish and go find today's active fish.

A strong west wind would send me to the east shore to scan and fish spots where the bait is blowing in and the active fish might be. Wind blown shorelines should be the first ones on the list this time of year. Vary your spots and depth at each stop. Try some weeds, sand, and rock spots. The fish on the east shore might be eating crayfish in the rocks or possibly be out deep 20-25 feet eating freshly hatching bugs off the bottom.

Do I have your mind going now? Yesterday's walleye bite was yesterday. Today's is today. What worked yesterday might not work today. Keep an open mind when walleye fishing this time of year and alter your locations, depth, and presentation when the fish aren't jumping in the boat. It's a great time of year to have shiners, leeches, and crawlers in your boat when you're out on the lake. Try them all. If you have three people in the boat, rig them up with different presentations when you hit the water and let the fish tell you what they want. A jig tipped with a shiner and a leech/crawler on the end of a 5 foot lindy rig can all be drifted or trolled at the same speed. I like 0.6 - 1 mph this time of year.

Why did I bring this topic up in this week's blog? The middle of last week we pounded walleyes on a lake up north in 18-23 feet of water. They were very visible on the graph and I think they were hanging on the transitions between hard and soft mud bottom eating bugs and small minnows that also were hanging here. On Sunday, I headed back to this same lake for a guide trip. We cruised around looking at the graph for a half hour on these same transitions and only marked one or two walleyes. The conditions were pretty much exact to what they were three days prior when we crushed them. Knowing the fish weren't deep because I wasn't graphing them, we headed to the shallower weeds, 10-14 ft. Here we caught one or two and missed one in about an hour. My half day trip was winding down fast. I headed to the shallow rocks now. Two of us had jigs tipped with shiners and two had lindy's with leeches. We pulled into a stretch of shallow rocks and it didn't take long and we started catching walleyes. We put a great box of fish together in that last hour and a half. My clients went home with plenty of fish and some great pictures.

We spent about an hour cruising and fishing locations I had caught them a couple days before. Knowing this wasn't working, I headed to the weeds and thought we had them figured out. An hour later I headed even shallower (7-10 ft) into the rocks and finally found a great bite. They ate our minnows and our leeches. It didn't matter. These walleyes were stuffed with crayfish when I cleaned them. Days before they had small minnows and bug larvae in their guts. You just never know where you'll find those walleyes.

Keep an open mind and good luck out there. Tight Lines!

written by Brock

3rd Weekend of May 2015- Cold Front Eyes

Minnesota walleye opener is known for cold, windy weather, more times than not, accompanied by rain, or snow. This year has been no exception thus far. The Grand Rapids area weather has continued to be blustery, cold and rainy since opening morning.

Saturday of the second weekend, Ben Olson, Dylan Maki and myself headed out on Leech Lake in hopes of having a relaxing, “hang loose” type weekend. The water temperature had fallen nearly 10 degrees since opening weekend. It now sat at roughly 53 degrees on the main lake near the south shore. Wind was blowing out of the NE at about 10mph right into some ideal early season spots that held rocks, new weed growth and the young of the year bait. Young of the year bait is easily blown into shore by the wind, making windblown shorelines a great spot to fish. Rocks as well as new weed growth offer the best oxygen and shelter for bait during this early time period. The waves crashing over these rocks and through the weeds create oxygen bubbles thus attracting microorganisms, bait, and of course predator fish like walleyes.

The spots we first chose to fish had fish however we were not able to make any of them bite probably due to the cold front. Knowing these walleyes may be sluggish because of the cold front, we moved multiple spots and slowed the boat down to 0.4 mph working in a zig zag motion from 6 feet out to 11 until we finally came across an area loaded with walleyes. Keep in mind that during a cold front walleyes will often move deeper where the change in water temperature and pressure has less of an impact. Finding the right hungry school of walleyes during a cold front involves being mobile and trying lots of different spots and directional areas of the lake.

Once we located a school that was eating, we slowed down our presentations as well as boat speed. The Lund Pro Guide creeped along at less than 0.4 mph while Dylan and Ben jigged 1/8 oz ReelBait Flasher jigs up and down in long strokes, giving the jig plenty of time to flutter and flash to the bottom. I was rigged up with a 3 foot lindy, 1/8 oz bullet sinker and a plain red #4 hook tipped with a large chub. The natural action of these baits along with the slow presentation gave the walleyes plenty of time to decide to eat. Both presentations worked excellent and we were able to boat plenty of Leech Lake post spawn eyes!

Next time you’re out fishing during a cold front slow down the boat and don’t be afraid to try something out of the box to make the fish bite. Sometimes downsizing your bait or hook will trigger fish. Other times, a simply different jigging approach will increase the action. Keep moving spots and soaking up the little things that take place. Fishing is all about learning based on conditions and of course: having an enjoyable day on the water!

See you out there!

Written by Colt

2nd Weekend May 2015 - MN Fishing Opener Report

We hope you all had a wonderful MN Fishing Opener!

Saturday provided anglers, campers, and resort goers a descent day for the MN fishing opener. It didn't snow and it didn't rain, but there was still a chill out on the lake. Early Sunday morning the real unpleasant weather rolled in. What would opening weekend be without a touch of nasty weather......Rain? Here is the fishing report from the weekend!

The area hot spots included Winnibigoshish, Cut Foot Sioux, Leech, and Upper Red. With average ice out dates this spring, these lakes were predicted to have an awesome post spawn bite like they always do when water temps sit in the upper 50s to low 60s. Lots of anglers appeared out on these lakes early Saturday morning and the following are some mixed reports from fishermen we talked to over the weekend. Winnibigoshish was slow for the majority in the morning as water temps stayed cool and crisp. The afternoon bite on Winni picked up both days and some boats caught their limits on the west side: Ravens, Stony, Sugar, Mallard and on the east side by Bowens and the Dishes. A jig and minnow was the goto. Cut Foot Sioux was slow but anglers caught a few walleyes to bring home. Leech Lake offered the best bite throughout the area. Lots of anglers caught their limits in the morning hours in Portage Bay, Meadows, Stony, Hardwoods, Pine point. Leech was best in 5-8 feet of water throughout the weekend. Upper Red took some time to warm up like Winni, but when the early afternoon came, anglers were rippin lips and lots of them as typical Red Lake shined once again. The number of boats was down on Red due to the two fish limit. Most kept two and caught and released 25-50 per boat. HLO Guide and brother Colt took Mom up to Red on Saturday and Mom told me she had never caught so many walleyes in one day of fishing in her whole life. Happy Mothers Day!

Bowstring and Round Lake are excellent opening weekend lakes, but these lakes seen very few boats due to very low water and bad landings. Big boats will not be able to land on these lakes without some strength training. Other area lakes like Splithand, Sand, Island, Cass, Bemidji, and Kitchi provided fair to good bites. For the most part it was a good walleye opener for most despite the weather on Sunday. Oh and that weather doesn't look good for the rest of the week, but it's predicted to be a nice weekend.

Look for the jig and minnow bite to be your goto presentation again this weekend. As water temperatures drop this week due to the cold front, try working that jig and minnow differently and at varied speeds until those walleyes tell you what they want. Start off slow in the morning and work your way faster and more aggressive as the day warms. Maybe try a simple lindy rig with plain hook and minnow if the jig doesn't work. Work the windswept shorelines and those inside corners. Look for the bait and the new growth weeds on your graphs. Wherever there is bait, those walleyes will be close. Focus on that 6-12 foot of water for the best bite this coming weekend.

The Rainy River and 4 Mile Bay gave anglers a great bite this weekend for sturgeon and walleyes up at Lake of the Woods. Topper reported good sturgeon action on Friday and Saturday and a couple meals of walleyes throughout the weekend. Slims Resort on the Rainy River said the walleyes are coming back down the river from the spawn and both males and those big females are putting on the feed bag on their way back to the lake. Contact Slims Resort 1(800)223-0621 to book an awesome summer getaway or guided charter trip. Slims has clean and comfortable cabins, great food, and excellent fishing.

The crappie and northern pike action will also be good again this weekend. The crappies are in the shallows spawning on almost all lakes so now is the time to bring the kids into the shallow/muddy bays and have some fun. Remember to throw back the big ones and keep the good eaters, those 9-11 inches. Tie on some daredevils or rapalas and troll some pike. The pike action should be great along any new growth weeds.

Lets have another safe and successful fishing weekend. Be respectful to those at the landings. Some landings are very low and require a little extra time unloading and loading. Give a helping hand to those in need. Good luck fishing and again... Be safe. See you on the water!

Follow us on Facebook for daily reports. We are booking spring and summer guided trips. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service give us a call today. 218-259-5447

This weekly report has been brought to you by Thrivent Financial- Brad Nelson & Benjamin Weerts

First Part of May 2015- Turks

How can you pass up an end of April turkey hunt? What else does a guy have to do that time of year? Sturgeon fishing is about the only thing going on besides yard work and honey-to-do projects. Hunting sure does sound fun before the open water fishing season really kicks off.

My good buddy, Cory Hakala, called me towards the end of winter and asked if I would be interested in hunting with his group at the end of April in southern Minnesota. I checked my work schedule and it appeared I would get two and a half days to hunt with them out of the five so I went ahead and applied for my turkey license. Cory said all I needed to do was bring my license, gun, and a couple groceries and everything else would be done, besides pulling my gun up and settling my bead.

I had been turkey hunting twice before in Wisconsin, both during the last season. Most hens were sitting on their eggs and gobblers were rarely seen strutting around or responding to calls. It was still fun and I had enough experience to now know what I was doing. I will tell you a thousand times, turkey hunting is nothing like it appears on the Outdoor Channel. It is way more intense and breath taking then that. It's fun to hunt turkeys, not fun to watch on television.

I packed a light mess of things the morning after work and headed down to Blue Earth. I arrived around 2PM and Cory awaited my arrival on his front door step. Cory informed me that Laith and his Dad had just left to go back home. Burned out on hunting already? They didn't kill anything the first two and a half days so they high tailed back home. Not really reassuring in the turkey world, but now we had more spots to hunt.

Cory and I put a few gobblers to bed in the roost that evening and headed back to the house to eat, have drinks, and catch up on good times. We would hunt the morning in the ground blinds.

The next morning provided some awesome action right away at first light. The turkey woods exploded with gobblers gobbling to our right and left. We were pretty confident to get a crack at one of them. When they flew down from the roost, they cared nothing about our decoys or our calling. They headed straight away from us. We had a couple hens come into the decoys later that morning which was an eye opener. One hen proceeded to attack our hen decoy for about ten minutes. She pounded that thing like a UFC fighter. It was an awesome experience.

That evening we set up a ground blind on top of a little transition in the pasture hoping to intercept two toms on their way back to the roost. It worked, but I opt not to take the fifty hard shot. I hadn't really patterned my gun in for fifty yards so I let those two beautiful toms walk. They again didn't care to come into our decoy. Was the mating season done here already?

The next morning we set up in the same spot as the evening before and I got my chance.... We didn't put a decoy out. The two big toms that traveled together didn't give us another opportunity. We had the king tom strut his stuff out in the middle of the pasture for quite some time before he walked into the river bottom. Moments later a jake gobbler came sprinting out from where he went in. Cory called him into us and I smoked him at 30 yards. BIRD DOWN! We celebrated like we had shot a ten pointer. I wasn't going to pass that up after the evening before. This was a two day hunt and I wanted to kill my first turkey. I did!

Thanks Cory for the hunt. Too bad you couldn't get yours. I will be back down next year to double up on some gobblers. I got one out of the way now it's trophy time!

Good luck to everyone this weekend as it's the Minnesota Fishing Opener!

Good luck and BE SAFE!

written by Brock

Last Weekend of April 2015 - Sturg Slam

It seemed like the whole HLO Crew plus everyone else was up at the Rainy River sturg fishing this weekend. With the beautiful weather predicted and the opener of the sturg season both lining up, most had their hats in to head north. That's exactly what took place! Plans were to head north with plenty of night crawlers.

We have wrote numerous blogs along with multiple tips and tricks to catch sturgeon over the past five years. People are really catching on to this big fish sport and it really showed this past weekend. Five years ago, many people questioned us for targeting these prehistoric fish. Why are they fishing those ugly things when they could be fishing walleyes on the Rainy? What kind of gear do you need to catch them? What do I use for bait and how do I do it? Are they really that fun to catch? These are just a few of the questions we received.

Our question to people who hadn't fished for them was: "Where can you go in Minnesota and catch the biggest fish of your life?" This question was easily answered when we posted pictures of these huge fish. Of course they are fun. It is now caught on to the point that there are few people we know, especially close friends, who haven't caught a sturgeon, or haven't tried to catch one over the last couple years. This sport has grown exponentially in the past few years. Why wouldn't it? These fish are huge and are a blast to catch.

It has grown so much that there are now sturgeon tournaments. Topper and Godfrey fished the 'Sturg Slam' on Saturday out of Sportsmens. Topper and Bob had their fare share of luck and placed second and third in the tournament. Payout is based on the three biggest sturg caught throughout the day. Congrats to the Toppers!

Sunday provided a couple giant dinosaurs to Godfrey's boat. Staci boated a 62 inch. The Wolf Brothers and company said Sunday and Monday were great for them as they put a couple hogs over 60 inch in their Lund too. My fiancés group caught a bunch of sturg throughout the weekend including a 73 plus inch tanker with a 34.5 inch girth. This is the biggest sturg I have ever heard about. I have pictures of this fish if anyone wants to see them. The story from this catch that amazes me the most is the fish was not measured to the tip of the tail. WHAT? So how big was it? It's big and its calculated weight is well over 100 pounds. Congrats Nick Wenzel on that fish and possible state record catch and release.......

'pictured in the upper right corner of this blog is Nick's 73 plus inch monster which was released after a couple quick pics (I couldn't not post it)'

written by Brock

Third Weekend of April 2015 - Cut Foot Walleye Stripping

The Minnesota DNR has stripped walleye eggs at the narrows between Big Cut Foot Sioux and Little Cut Foot Sioux on Lake Winnibigoshish since the early 1920s. Once the water temperature reached that magical mark in the upper 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the walleyes from Lake Winni begin their annual march towards Little Cut Foot to set up shop to spawn. At this same point in time the Grand Rapids DNR Fisheries strings their nets across the narrows and begins catching walleyes. The purpose of this is to strip walleye eggs and sperm from the walleyes for the state's hatchery.

With the weather being quite uncomfortable and wet to do yard work on Sunday, Lexi and I headed up to Cut Foot to check out the walleyes and get a report from the DNR. She had never seen this operation so I insisted we go. If you have kids this is a pretty cool thing to show them. I know a bunch of grade schools have taken field trips up here already this year. I showed Lexi a map of Lake Winnibigoshish and Cut Foot and did my best to explain to her the walleyes' migration route before we arrived. How far do these fish swim to make it to Little Cut Foot narrows? Some walleyes may swim 16 miles from the south end of the lake just to spawn.

We arrived just before 3PM and were surprised to see a bunch of visitors doing the same as we were. The nets were full of walleyes and the DNR worked quickly stripping eggs from the females and sperm from the male walleyes. Lexi and I shared my polarized sunglasses and checked out the net of green females for a while. Lots of 23-26 inch walleyes roamed in this net just waiting for their eggs to ripen.

The process is best summarized by a net strung across the whole channel. The walleyes swim into holding nets as they try to get into Little Cut Foot. These are not gill nets. These nets do not injure the fish in any way. In the nets, they are then sorted by female and male and ripe or green. Ripe means their eggs or sperm are ready for reproduction. Green means they are not ready to be stripped. Green fish are put into a separate net for the next day or until they are ripe.

Ripe females are stripped immediately. The DNR fisheries gently cradles the fish and applies light pressure from the front of the belly towards the tail end of the fish. The eggs exit the fish's bottom into a dry pan. Once the bottom of this pan is covered in eggs (maybe 6 females worth) the sperm is poured over the eggs. The sperm comes from a different pan where the male walleyes were simultaneously stripped. A little water is added to this sperm and then it is poured over the eggs. Speed is critical in this process because the sperm is only viable for a little while. Another fisheries biologist takes the pan with the eggs and sperm and mixes it or keeps it in motion. The eggs began to swell and take on the sperm. After careful mixing, mud is added to the process so the eggs don't stick to each other. After this the eggs are put into a cooler with flowing water so they can keep swelling and the whole reproduction process can continue. These coolers are then brought to the hatchery at the end of the day.

At the hatchery, the eggs are measured and then placed in hatching jars. In about three weeks walleye fry is hatched and the DNR fisheries begins its stocking process based on Individual Lakes' Management Plans. Some fry are put into rearing ponds where they grow to fingerlings for the next year's stocking program. The Cut Foot Sioux yearly stripping operation is one of the biggest in the state. Walleyes stocked in the majority of our lakes here in northern Minnesota originate from this operation. Our fisheries depends on this so it is really neat to understand the whole process.

As the DNR started wrapping up for the day, Lexi and I got an opportunity to speak with Chris Kavanaugh and a couple other fisheries employees. The largest walleye they had stripped so far this year was 28 inches. Chris explained that they had a couple more days of stripping to reach their yearly quota. He figured they would be wrapping things up Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday morning. We didn't bother them too long because they were wet from the morning's rain and it definitely appeared they were tired. We thanked them for the fine job they did and headed out.

We cruised around the area checking boat landings and just taking in the Chippewa National Forest. I noticed the yellow walleye slot signs have not been changed at the Winnibigoshish/Cut Foot boat landings yet. The new slot for Winni(18-23") goes into effect on May 9, 2015. I would bet these will be changed when the DNR begins putting docks in at the public accesses.

I'm really feeling for those DNR guys and girls at Cut Foot right now as I look outside at the snow and cold and the howling winds. I hope someone is down there right now keeping the coffee hot for you as you keep the walleyes rolling. Thanks DNR for your hard work. We can't wait for opener!

written by Brock

Second Weekend of April 2015

This last weekend and early into the beginning of the week was spent up at the Rainy River to wrap up the last few days of the border water walleye season. Dylan Maki and I headed north to the Maki Cabin to spend the day scouting for next season's shooter bucks. Of course, this wasn't the target of the trip but something to keep ourselves from getting overly excited for the Rainy the next morning. Weather was forcasted for 30+ mph winds and the reports were less than ideal.

Morning came with gusty winds and a rather chilly air temp. A plan was made as we shared a pot of coffee and joked about how much a curse we seemed to have on that river. We decided to fish out of wheelers point access instead of heading further down river like we had been the past few weekends.

The bite started slow on Monday, but gradually heated up with the water temperate, which sat around 44 degrees. We steadily caught fish all day before giving into the brutal wind and finicky bite. We ended up having our best luck in a 20 foot deep trough that ran parallel with the mouth of a feeder crick running into the Rainy. ReelBait Flasher jigs were our goto along with a simple lindy rig and rainbow chub.

Tuesday found our boat loaded with one more person. Ben Olson came up to join us for the final day of the walleye season. We fished out of Vidas landing, targeting deep corners and breaks from 18-22 feet of water. As the water temperature pushed into the upper 40's, the bite heated up. We found that the walleyes were looking for a stationary presentation, one that seemed to be large and easily traceable in the dark water. A ReelBait Flasher jig once again shined for us. We tipped the jig with large rainbows or white plastics such as Northland Tackle's Impulse Shad. A lindy rig comprised of a ¼ ounce bottom bouncer and 2 foot leader tipped with a large rainbow was also steadily putting fish into the boat.

Eaters were biting steadily all day with the big fish coming in flurries here and there. Dylan was welcomed into the 30” club when he slammed his personal biggest walleye, a giant 30 incher on a white flasher jig and minnow. On the next pass I was fortunate enough to hook a 29 incher that seemed to dwarf any other walleye I had ever laid hands on. I would not hesitate to say this fish was pushing 12 pounds and just plump full with spawn.

A second HLO boat with Brock, Dan Neary, and neighbor Gary also joined us on the River on Tuesday. They bounced a lot of spots throughout the day and reported about the same bite everywhere, a few here and a couple there. Fishing was not hot and heavy for them, but very consistent. Their biggest walleye for the day was a 27.5” that Neary boated.

If you haven't yet made it to the Rainy River to target these prespawn giant walleyes I would strongly encourage you to do so! Make sure you read plenty of reports and be ready to go on a whim! The bite and river conditions change drastically day by day. Sturgeon fishing is hot right now so if you are looking to tighten some lines before the Minnesota open water season, get a hold of Slims Resort located on the bank of the Rainy River and set up a trip!

Written by Colt

First Weekend of April 2015

The ice season is behind us as we push into April. Open water is the talk the past couple weeks as area anglers travel north to the great Rainy River!

The latest from the Rainy River is as follows: The walleye fishing this past weekend was on the slower side probably due to cold river temperatures as we seen air temps dip into the teens during the night and early morning hours. River temps started out around 36F in the morning and broke the 38F and some areas 39F in the late afternoon. The walleye fishing was much better in the afternoon hours. Most anglers reported boating 20-30 walleyes at best for a full days fishing. A few 25 plus inch hog walleyes were mixed into their catches. Look for the end of the week and this coming weekend to be awesome fishing as water temps rise and more female walleyes enter the river system on their way up to spawn. The walleye season closes on April 14, 2015.

If you're looking for a great place to stay while up fishing the Rainy River, give Slims Resort a call.(800) 243-2412 Slims Resort is where Hang Loose Outdoors stays. They have clean and comfortable cabins, great food, and friendly service. They are right on the Rainy River.

Anglers fishing sturgeon on the Rainy River reported good action this weekend. This season is currently catch and release. The river is open all the way into Four Mile Bay as of Sunday 4/5. All the boat landings along the river are currently open to big boats so things are moving fairly well. Good luck to all the fishermen heading up their in the next week. Lets see some pics...

If you're itching about a new boat for this spring get down to Rays Sport and Marine on the NE side of Grand Rapids and check out the new Lund boats. Rays currently has spring deals on all makes and models of boats and pontoons. Rays also carries Lowrance and Hummingbird electronics as well as MinnKota trolling motors. If you have any questions regarding new or used open water products give them a shout- 218-326-0353.

Stop down and visit us at the Miners Arena in Virginia this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will have a booth set up as we attend the state archery shoot...

Good luck fishing and follow us on Facebook for daily reports. We are booking spring and summer guided trips. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service give us a call today. 218-259-5447

Last Weekend of March 2015

It's about time to say goodbye to ice fishing and give a shout out to open water as we push into April. Although the ice conditions were safe this weekend for foot travel and some ATVs around the Grand Rapids area, the predicted weather for this week is going to make things unsafe in a hurry. We are going to take this time to say 'Farwell' to another successful hard water year. HLO prostaffers covered all the bases of hardwater from dark house spearing to lake trout fishing and everything in between this year. Most of their time was spent chasing lake trout in Canada and exploring many small Northern Minnesota back lakes for quality panfish. If you've been following us on facebook or twitter (HangLooseOD) you know that we had our share of good and bad days exploring. The pursuit of uncovering those small gems can be a lot of work, but the adventure keeps us trying. Yes, our arsenal of panfish lakes grew tremendously this year and we look forward to finding more secret back lakes next year. For now, lets concentrate on getting those boats ready!

Get down to Rays Sport and Marine on the NE side of Grand Rapids and check out the new Lund boats if you're thinking about updating. Rays also carries Lowrance and Hummingbird electronics as well as MinnKota trolling motors. If you have any questions regarding new or used open water products give them a shout, 218-326-0353.

Most anglers are looking for Rainy River reports as the open water itch continues. We have good news for you all. Birchdale landing is open to big boats and Frontier is open to small boats. The river looks to be open all the way to Vidas. The walleye bite is picking up everyday with most anglers reporting 30-40 fish boated per day. Fishermen are catching sturgeon too, but remember it is only catch and release.

If you're looking for a great place to stay while up fishing the Rainy River, give Slims Resort a call.(800) 243-2412 Slims Resort is where Hang Loose Outdoors stays. They have clean and comfortable cabins, great food, and friendly service. They are right on the Rainy River.

Good luck fishing and follow us on Facebook for daily reports. We are booking spring and summer guided trips. If you are looking for a fun day of fishing with Hang Loose Guide Service give us a call today. 218-259-5447

'pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is a photo from Saturday, March 28, 2015'
The ice is going to go fast from here on out!

Third Weekend of March 2015 - LOtW Pike

We just pulled back into town from three and a half days of fishing on Lake of the Woods. Our target species were those huge prespawn northern pike. We spent the first two days trying multiple new spots in Canada. Here at HLO, we can never have enough spots. Exploring is fun and with it comes adventure and a little work. Well, our new spots the first two days never really panned out so the next two were spent on reliable spots. These areas we have always fished gave up a few giant pike and a lot of smaller ones to keep the action interesting. Overall, fishing was slower than normal, but the action came in waves or windows. We did ice a few hogs over 40 inches! That is what it's all about. When your lines are in the water, you have every chance for the pike of a lifetime when on Lake of the Woods....

We stayed at Slims Resort on the Rainy River. The Rainy is showing signs of bad ice all the way into Four Mile Bay so access to 4 Mile and the main lake should go through Adrains or Morris Point right now for this side of the lake. We used ATVs the whole weekend and this was the best means of travel. You won't get out with full sized vehicles so bring the wheelers. Ice conditions are fair out on the main lake. Some areas have long stretches of rough ice and others are pretty easy going. There is no snow on the ice so forget the snowmobiles. You will need an auger extension. Be careful around the landings and shorelines as ice conditions change daily. Contact a resort before you go up. That is always the safest way. If you're looking to head up this week or next weekend for pike or looking to fish the Rainy River walleyes/sturgeon give Slims Resort a call. They have comfortable cabins, great food, and friendly service. Slims Resort-(800) 243-2412

Yes, the Rainy River is open past Birchdale as of today. Birchdale landing is open to big boats. Open water or ice??? What's a guy gonna do?

The Grand Rapids area ice conditions are good. ATVs are the best means of travel right now. The panfish bite is great on many lakes, especially those low pressured back lakes. Look to Little Splithand, Big Splithand, Bass, Pokegama, Graves, Cut Foot Souix, Round, and Bowstring for some good action too. Be careful as ice conditions change from one day to the next!

It's also time to start thinking open water. Get down to Rays Sport and Marine on the NE side of Grand Rapids and check out the new Lund boats!

'pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is Randy Topper with a giant 40 plus inch Lake of the Woods pike'

Second Weekend of March 2015

This past weekend was spent at the Grand Rapids Boat Show!

Rays Sport and Marine presented their new line of 2015 boats and pontoons including those Lund boats powered by Mercury motors.

Hang Loose Guide Service put on a fish fry for everyone on Saturday and also gave a couple fishing seminars during the afternoon hours.

If this didn't get you all into the open water spirit, I don't know what would have. The snow is gone and the ice is melting. We will soon be chasing open water spring crappies or jigging for walleyes. It's time to get those boats ready!

If you're looking for a new boat, Rays Sport and Marine have some great spring sales going on right now. Please give them a jingle or stop in for more information. 218-326-0353

We are slowly starting to fill our guide schedules for the spring so give us a call to book a fun fishing outing with Hang Loose Guide Service. Randy- 218-244-8810 or Brock 218-259-5447

First Weekend of March 2015

We attended the Marcell Family Center's 'Cabin Fever Reliever' on Saturday evening. HLO pro staffers Colt Anderson and Dylan Maki presented, 'Locating and Targeting Open Water Walleyes'. Their presentation got everyone in the mood to get out in the boat and start jigging up some spring time walleyes. With the weather we have been blessed with this week, it might not be long until we are. Steve Porter's presentation (Understanding the Mindset of a Trophy Whitetail) was very interesting too. I can't believe the size of racks that guy grows. WOW. I learned a couple new things from both presentations which is always a plus.

The food was good and their were a lot of great silent auction items. I hope they raised a bunch of money for this wonderful event. See you guys there next year.

A couple of us took advantage of the beautiful weather on Sunday and Monday and hit up some more new back lakes. A few of them proved to be dead seas, one not so good, and one gave up a handful of good caliber (slab) crappies. We are adding so many lakes to our arsenal this year. It's surely been a successful ice fishing year.

Join us this weekend at the Grand Rapids Boat Show. Its on March 13, 14, and 15 at the IRA Civic Center. Come on down and check out all the new Lund Boats powered by Mercury motors. Look at all the assortments of other fishing boats and pontoons from Rays Sport and Marine. Join us Saturday at noon for a fish fry presented by us HLO guides. Stick around and talk fishing afterwards and listen to fishing seminars from Hang Loose Guide Service! Let's kick those winter blues and get into the open water spirit. If this weather lasts, we might see open water before we know it.

We will be heading to Lake of the Woods to chase hog pre spawn pike the following weekend. Good luck fishing and be careful as ice conditions began to go fast!

written by Brock

Last of Feb and First of March 2015

Northern Minnesota never fails to amaze me. When you think you have fished a good proportion of the so called 'gems' in the state, you begin to second or third guess yourself. You know how many lakes there are in Minnesota? Claim goes to fame that there are 10,000. Well, there are even more than that. How many small lakes are in the northern twenty-five percent of the state? How many are just in the northern half of Itasca County?

Have I fished all of the lakes in Itasca County? My answer, "Haha Not even close". How would a person know if they have fished all the 'gems' of Itasca County? You wouldn't know unless you have fished all of the lakes. Right? I would even second guess that. Each lake in the state has its own 'time of year' when it shines. Shinning meaning when the fish are most aggressive or willing to bite an angler’s offering. Some lakes have quality fish that hide for most of the year. They do make themselves visible at some time of the year I will promise you that.

These are all reasons why the lakes of Northern Minnesota continue to amaze me. There are so many lakes in this area and the amount of them that are ‘gems’ keeps bringing a smile to my face. You might ask now, “What categorizes a lake a ‘gem?” This is your own opinion. My short definition of a ‘gem’ is: A lake that has quality fish or can produce quality fish throughout a cycle during its lifetime.

HLO pro staffers’ Colt Anderson, Dylan Maki, and myself have taken to the game of finding ‘gems’ this winter to a whole new level. We have been going our separate ways, even to say we have been fishing solo at times, just to drill holes in lakes we have never fished. Does this sound like fun to you? Here at Hang Loose Outdoors, it’s all about the adventure and just being in the OUTDOORS. I have fished more lakes this winter than I probably have the last ten winters combined. I had to purchase a brand new auger yesterday and lay my Strikemaster of 4 years to bed. He couldn’t handle anymore this winter.

I’m not bragging about drilling holes and exploring as many lakes as I can, I’m simply bragging up our small lakes of Northern Minnesota. They hold the same caliber fish than those lakes you see in the fishing reports section of the Outdoor News. It amazes me how many ‘gems’ we have so close to our finger tips. A number of the lakes that I have been on this winter have had zero winter ice fishing pressure or very minimal. Yes, you need to snowmobile into them, but I would say sometimes just finding the right public route and safest way into them is a success in itself. Running around with an auger in one hand and your flasher and fishing pole in the other is the fun part.

When you set the hook, hear your drag buzz, and turn a twelve inch crappie or nine inch bluegill topside, you have just experienced another one of Minnesota’s ‘gems’!

We will be continuing to explore more back lakes as we push into this wonderful month of March Madness. Come on down to the Grand Rapids Boat Show March 13, 14, and 15th and check out the new boats from Rays Sport and Marine. Join us on Saturday the 14th at noon for a fish fry and let’s talk fishing; open water or ice! See you there!

Written by Brock

4th Weekend of Feb 2015

A few of us, HLO pro staffers, spent the past weekend at the International Eel Pout Festival located on Leech Lake in Walker, MN. If you haven't heard of this festival it is a long angling tradition, celebrating one of the ugliest (but delicious) bottom dwelling fish in the North Country. Prizes are given out for the biggest pout.

Eel Pout Festival attracts around 10,000 visitors every winter. People come to fish, participate in “Chase the Pout Games,” which is hosted by Chase on the Lake Hotel, socialize and people watch, or listen to the live music. Whatever the reason, Eel Pout Festival is a BLAST for everyone.

We arrived on Friday evening and the fun didn't stop until we had to leave on Sunday. We met many people who were also enjoying the activities, music, and food. Come on down next year and experience this exciting winter festival. Bring your walleye rods and try to catch the biggest and ugliest eel pout.

'picture courtesy of Paul Lewin - Pout Festival'

written by Colt

3rd Weekend of Feb 2015 - Secret Lake?

Have you ever wondered if your secret is the same as someone else's? This question crossed my mind recently on a fishing outing to a couple of our small secret back lakes tucked in the boonies. First you might ask, 'What is a secret lake'? Well, a secret lake to me is one that receives little pressure, has quality fish in it, and stands out as one that I'm not going to take anyone to besides a few select friends.

The morning started out with us fishing Lake 1 for a couple hours and not really catching anything to right home about. Although I viewed this lake as one of my secrets, we had to leave. The action was really slow and the weather was way too nasty to bounce around and pop holes all over the lake. The temps sat around 5 degrees and the wind gusted beyond 20 mph. It wasn't the best day to be hole hopping.

We loaded up the snowmobile and headed to Lake 2 which was just a few miles down the road. As we took the little bushwhack trail onto the lake from the south, we noticed a group of fishermen were out on the lake already set up close to Spot X. Yep, that's the money spot on the lake. There hadn't been a single snowmobile track down the bushwhack trail all year so they must of accessed the lake through one of the private cabins on the lake.

Spot X was big enough for us to set up and remain about 75 yards away from the group that was already fishing. If the spot was any smaller, I probably would have just turned around and headed to a different lake. This is why I brought up this question to this blog. Is this their secret lake too?

As we drilled holes and bounced around in the frigid elements, I noticed the group of fishermen were kids. They couldn't be older than sixteen years old. Watching them bounce holes and use their electronics to catch big crappies put a smile on my face. That was us fifteen plus years ago. If I was them at sixteen I would have been fierce if another group of fisherman pulled up any closer to me on my secret lake. Was this the case?

As we bounced holes and tangled with a big crappie here and there, the cold gusts didn't seem so cold after all. This lake amazed me and all I could think about were all the other lakes in my past that amazed me at some point in time. The majority of those little lakes don't amaze me anymore due to them being over fished mainly because some people didn't view them as secrets. With the technology today, little lakes can't receive an abundance of fishing pressure like maybe they could have a decade ago. All in all, their are far less secret lakes than there once was. People's greed to keep going back to a good crappie lake weekend after weekend and keeping limits can turn a secret into a dead sea in just a few years. One person's kindness to bring all their friends to where they are biting can also devastate a secret lake.

I know people get caught up in the moment of pulling slab crappies up the hole. Why not, It's a blast. Slab crappies don't get big because people know about them. It takes time and more importantly the correct biologic make up of a little lake to raise hog crappies. Not every lake can grow big crappies. They don't have the correct ecosystem to do so. I just wish I could stress this to everyone who chases crappies on small lakes. When you find those slab crappies, take a minute to think, do I want to pull these huge crappies through the ice year after year? If so, you need to practice catch and release. More importantly, add that little lake to your bank of secrets! Treat it as your secret lake!

The three kids began packing up and as they were rolling out on their 4-wheeler they yelled, "We got 36 feet of water over here if you want to fish our holes". We waved at them as to say, thank you. I love seeing kids like them enjoying themselves in the outdoors. On a cold winter day in February, we thought we were crazy to be hole hopping trying to pick off slab crappies. I hope Lake 2 is their secret lake too. Secret lakes protect a lake's future. And it's nice when someone asks you where you caught those big crappies, "Oh, secret lake".

'pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is Pro Staffer Colt Anderson with a nice crappie from Lake 2'

written by Brock

2nd Weekend of Feb 2015 - A Small Ice Tip

Have you ever asked this question while drilling numerous holes on your favorite small back lake: Where did they go? You were there a couple weeks ago and the crappies were biting like crazy. It was the same time of day and similar weather. You drilled holes all over the lake and haven't graphed a single fish yet.

Trust me, I have been there more than I could count on my fingers and toes. It's almost a mystery at times. The lake is a total dead sea. It's mid February! It's just the time of year you tell yourself. Fishing is slow this time of year. You try to guess what's going on, but you quit and just go home empty handed.

Well, I have a small tip for all of you who fish the small bog stained lakes of Minnesota. This tip doesn't work every time and every where, but it is a good tip to keep in the back of your thinker.

As we push into the month of February, yes fishing gets tough at times, and yes there is a ton of ice (especially this year), but the fish don't just die and go to heaven. Lots of ice or lots of snow on the lakes decreases oxygen levels, especially in our small back lakes (small lakes are effected more by this process than larger lakes). Significant ice or snow depths don't allow sunlight to penetrate thus decreasing the photosynthesis process in a lake. Photosynthesis produces oxygen. Small lakes have less vertical structure and less area meaning they can burn their oxygen supply faster. Large lakes have lots of surface area and lots of vertical layers so they hold plenty of oxygen for the whole winter. It's simple, some really small lakes just don't have enough oxygen to carry on active life throughout the whole winter. And.... Some do...

The panfish in small oxygen deficient lakes either do one of a handful of things: 1. Go dormant for a period when oxygen levels are too low to maintain active eating schedules or an active food chain (lots of fish burry themselves in the mud or bottom like hibernation); 2. Fish are not effected and still hang out in the deeper holes of the lake, but eating habits and energy levels are limited; 3. Fish move to shallow weeds (3-10 feet of water) where they find more oxygen than in the deeper holes where they were found earlier in the winter; 4. Panfish hang out a foot to two feet beneath the bottom of the ice randomly spread out all over the lake (Yes, they can be found a foot under the ice over 40 feet of water). 5. Other (Too many other small possibilities).

My tip for this blog is: concentrate on number 3 and 4. If you're asking yourself: Where did the panfish go? Well, try really shallow and then try dropping a jig tipped with a wax worm or minnow just a foot under the ice over various depths around the lake. These two out of the ordinary tactics might just save you from coming home empty handed next time you go pan-fishing to one of your favorite small back lakes. Good Luck!

'pictured in the upper right corner of this blog is a beauty of a pic Pro Staffer Colt Anderson captured the other night out on the lake'

written by Brock

First Weekend of Feb 2015- Canada Lakers

As you can see by the last three blog posts, lake trout have been the program here at Hang Loose Outdoors for the last month. This past weekend we were up at Browns Clearwater West Lodge fishing lake trout. I'm not sure if it's the intense battle of these fish, the aggressiveness of them, or the anticipation of hooking the biggest trout we can find that keeps us hunting these brilliant fish for most of the winter months. If we could fish them everyday during the winter, I guarantee we would drop everything else running.

Craig, Dylan, Colt, and myself pulled into Browns Clearwater West Thursday morning. We were greeted with hurricane like winds and a cold snap that had also just checked into the area. White out conditions didn't hold us back from throwing our things into the cabin as fast as possible. We got dressed, organized our gear, fired up our sleds, and we were off. Strong north winds kept us on the North shore of Clearwater for the first day. Fishing was on the slower side, but we still caught eight trout between the four of us.

Day 2 found us cruising twenty plus miles into White Otter. Day 2 was the best of the three and a half days. Craig and I set up on a saddle between an island and a small rock hump. Here we put ten or so lakers ice side before bouncing spots in the afternoon. Colt and Dylan tried a new spot and found luck themselves. They fished a long drawn out sand flat leading into a small deep bay on the way north side of the lake. Fergie spoons from Reel Bait Tackle were the hot baits on Day 2 (And throughout the whole trip). The lakers hit it like a freight train. Craig and I found good action on our second spot too. The bite quit around 3PM but not before catching a few right around ten pounds. Colt and Dylan got two on their afternoon move.

That evening we enjoyed home cooked meals and some intense cribbage games along with celebration beverages. The anticipation for Day 3 was pretty high after what had taken place on the last spot Craig and I had fished that afternoon. We planned on all fishing that area come the morning.

Day 3 combined cold temperatures with strong winds once again. This weather kept us in the same general area for most of the day. Fishing wasn't hot and heavy, but we all iced a handful of beautiful lake trout. Being mobile isn't easy when the Canadian Shield bears down on you. Lake trout fishing is much more enjoyable and rewarding when you can bounce around and be mobile. Fishing here for a half hour and then moving can yield a lot more action. Freezing lines and frozen fingers keeps you in your hut during brutal conditions. You definitely wouldn't want to tie into your 30 pounder and try to fight it with your equipment freezing up. I guarantee it will be just another fishing tale. Trout are too powerful for that business!

We woke up to 35 below temperatures (without wind chill) on Day 4. Dylans snowmobile didn't start so Craig and I tore off into the frigid elements without them. We only had a couple hours to fish that morning before we had to check out so we set up on World Record spot. World Record on Clearwater usually doesn't give up a ton of fish, but most are over 10 pounds. And the fact that the world record ice fishing trout was caught here gives more reason to spend the last few hours of the trip on top of the name itself. After pulling on my auger for over a half an hour, Craig and I finally got two holes in the ice. An hour after that, I was finally set up due to a broken heater that I somehow rigged into working. Cold weather sure puts its toll on your equipment, wow. Craig and I iced 4 trout in the two hours we fished that morning. No, no world records either.

We returned to the cabin to pack and noticed the absence of Colt and Dylan. They must of gotten their snowmobile running. Ten minutes later they pulled up and we all discussed the morning. We concluded that we were almost crazy to go out that morning. Well, here at Hang Loose, there's little that stops us from having a good time and trying to always catch the big on.

The trip was cold but once again a success. We caught sixty plus trout, found a few more new spots, ate like kings, enjoyed great laughs, and further increased our trout knowledge. I would call that success! I already can't wait for the next trip back to Canada. I wish we had more hog lake trout lakes in Minnesota. Until next time, tight lines!

written by Brock

Last Weekend of Jan 2015- Reading Trout?

With trout season open in Minnesota and Canada, it only makes sense to turn the tables up and discuss trout. All trout are intense fighters when you have them on the end of a hook and line. Rainbow and brook trout pound for pound fight harder than other freshwater fish of their size. It's incredible when you hook a big one and you feel at a complete disadvantage on the other end of the rod. Trout are powerful!

Lake trout get big and you need big gear to catch big fish. One must understand these fish before targeting them. More importantly, you must understand how to catch them. What? I like to try to understand or read them by fishing them. My flasher (Vexilar, Hummingbird, Lowrance) tells me how they are feeling or how they respond at a given time. By watching their speed and reaction to a bait says it all on a graph or flasher.

If you haven't fished for lake trout much, they can move fast, really fast. Sometimes they are so quick, your flasher barely shows a blip before the fish is jerking your rod, or at times is already off. Lake trout have a different makeup than other freshwater fish. They have the ability to expel large amounts of air or oxygen when they swim. This allows them to swim fast and more importantly change depths very rapidly. I have caught lake trout a foot underneath the ice in 100 plus feet of water before. I once watched a laker come screaming off bottom in 80 feet of water to smoke my lure 5 feet under the ice. That fish seen my lure as it was entering the hole and it put on the upward spiral burners and crushed me in a mere second. These fish marvel me each and everyday on the water. They are fast and very powerful. I love em!

In order to catch them, you must know how to read them. When they are aggressive, they will move unbelievably fast on your flasher. When they are stubborn, you'll witness their ability to put on the brakes. Yes, trout can move fast and then pull an E-brake a foot away from your lure. That's not good. Trout are like muskies. They are super curious and will follow almost anything. Getting them to bite is the big thing. You want a lure that makes them follow you all around and triggers them to eat.

This is where reading them comes into play. You want a lure heavy enough that you can cover the whole water column (ice to bottom). You want to be aggressive at first and jig or jerk that lure from top to bottom. You never know where a trout will be swimming in the water column. A noisy lure with vibration is usually my first choice. If you get a trout to follow, try to pull the lure away from him so he moves faster and tries to pounce. It's just like playing keep away. If you try to play 'keep away' and you continue to get the trout to eat, you have the correct lure on. If you can't get trout to follow, keep switching lures. Go from something noisy to say a spoon and then a tube. Once you figure out a trout's actions and language you can usually determine what to tie on to the end of your line.

Trout will change their language throughout the day so its critical to have a box full of different lures and an auger full of gas. Try to figure out how to read a trout on your flasher and you will increase your hook sets by a bunch. Cover the water column and keep on the move if your not seeing screaming trout on your electronics. Good luck and set the hook like you mean it.

Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog are a couple MN lakers from this past weekend!

written by brock

Third Weekend of Jan 2015- BWCA Trout

The weekend forecast was in and the temperatures looked wonderful for a walk into the BWCA on Friday. Adam called me earlier in the week and asked me if I wanted to go with him and Kevin. Yep, I was down. Warm temperatures meant all I needed to bring was a backpack with my clothes, rods, tackle, flasher, and lunch for the day. That would be easy enough for a five plus mile walk into trout waters in the BWCA (Trout opens on Jan 1 in the BWCA).

Adam and I were pretty pumped because we had not yet trout fished this winter. Normally, winter trout fishing finds us in Canada a couple weeks out of the winter, not in Minnesota. Well, Kevin had a pretty good lake trout lake in the BWCA that Adam had never been to so we decided we would strain our muscles and give it a shot. I had been there a couple years ago with Kevin and done really well. I told Adam the horror stories of dragging sleds in there full of gear and indicated I would never do that again. We shouldn't have to if it's going to be that nice, Right?

The forecast changed on Thursday as we sat at work. Thirty plus degree temps dwindled to a mar single digit high along with strong winds. GREAT! That forecast didn't change my mind because I knew the work involved with pulling a sled. Adam and Kevin changed their minds and decided to pull light sleds with pop up houses. I would carry my backpack and fish on the ice.

We pulled into the portage Friday morning well before light. The walk in was something I will never forget. You know those mornings when it's so cold (-10F and your beard grows icicles), dead calm, and crisp; you can hear a pin drop? That is exactly how it was, but along with that came one of the most beautiful sunrises we have ever seen. I'm not sure if it's just being out in the wilderness all alone with no sounds of vehicles and just us and the woods and water that make things more gorgeous, but it was an amazing walk in. The colorful puffy clouds and rays of the sunrise pushed us eagerly on to our first fishing spot.

Kevin was first to drill his hole via hand auger. We then took turns after that. We were fishing! Our first spot proved to be dead of trout so we packed up after a half hour and pushed on to our second spot. The second spot was a flat between two basins of deep water. The wind had started and Kevin and Adam popped their houses up here. The flasher indicated a lot of ciscoes in the water column. Should be some trout then.

It didn't take long and Kevin was yelling "fish on". I ran over to his house just as he was pulling up a beautiful 24" lake trout. Whoooooo! We took a few pics and returned to our stations. The bites on. I had a few nice fish chase me around on my flasher, but they opted not to eat my offerings. Adam lost one or two trout soon after the hook set.

I put on a Reel Bait fergie and jigged that thing thru the water column. It didn't take long and I had another chaser. Baaaam. "Fish on" I yelled, as I tried to grab my transducer from my frozen hole. Kevin helped me ice the trout. It wasn't big but it would make for a very good eater. Two on the ice!

This spot didn't lack bait or trout, but the trout got finicky as the day went on. They would chase and chase, but wouldn't eat. We threw the whole kitchen sink at them and the results seemed about the same. Kevin caught a fat 26" around 2P.M and we each had a few more chasers before deciding to call it quits around 4P.M. We had a long tiring walk in front of us. I was about frozen so I was ready to warm up. The temps never broke 7F all day and that wind was down right nasty at times.

The trek out seemed twice as long as the walk in and I was happy I didn't have a sled to pull. I'm sure Kevin and Adam were thinking I was nuts for not bring a pop up house as they sat in their warm shanties as we fished too. Oh well, works both ways. Either way, it was a great day on the ice. It isn't every year, conditions are right for this trip. Too much snow and it's almost impossible to do unless one has a team of dog sleds. Fishing wasn't lights out, but we still had plenty of action to keep us grinning. Until next time BWCA trout!

written by Brock

Second Weekend of Jan 2015- Canada Trout Opener

January 1st marked the first day of Ontario’s lake trout opener. That’s exactly where we found ourselves for the first 5 days of 2015. Although a little out of the ordinary, we had to take it easy on New Year’s Eve night and keep the beers to a minimum. Of course we were still a bit foggy in the morning but a cup of coffee and we were on our way north.

Our destination was northern Ontario where the Grell’s have a family cabin. This is our second trip there during the winter so we know the ropes and all of our gear is packed tight the night before. We left town about 8A.M and arrived at the resort where we parked the trucks about 2P.M. We unloaded all the gear and we were on our way to the cabin which is about 8 miles in by snowmobile.

Our first mission was to get into the cabin and get the fire roaring. With the fire started we split up the chores. Two guys head out to get fire wood and the other two start getting spots locked down and houses set up. Both missions were accomplished a little after dark and we were ready for cocktails and cribbage. Cocktails and cribbage never get old on these trips but soon after supper we begin to dig out all of our rods and tackle. A once over on all the rods and the first choice lures tied on we stoked the fire and hunkered down for the night.

Finally around 6A.M I knew everyone was doing the same thing as me laying there dozing off and just waiting for coffee time. As soon as we saw a little light we split up to our respected areas of interest. All set up and ready to go a little before light it didn’t take long for first blood. By 8 o’clock I was on the radio hollering for help. I had a toad stripping line off like I owed it to him. After a 25 minute battle, Gene helped me land my personal best lake trout and we were JACKED. Not more than an hour later I hear Gene on the radio with another hog hooked. By the time I got over to his house Kyle had helped Gene pull the giant 37 incher out. Kyle and Grant were next to chalk up a couple great fish which was perfect for the bar-b-q.

The next day started off similar to the first with two lakers iced by 10 o’clock. After that the bite slowly began to deteriorate as the cold front hit us head on. That is besides Kyle who went on a flurry of three lakers in a row which was a new record for one guy on this lake. Just when I thought I was guna strike out for the day I moved spots and within an hour I had a straight up dinosaur on. I couldn’t budge this thing, it was a heavy pumper, and I knew it wasn’t like anything I’ve fought through the ice. Gene showed up at my house for some badly needed backup and we shortly realized we were battling a big Muskie. I’d be lying if told you I wasn’t bummed just a little bit that it wasn’t a laker but the feeling left when I got “nessy” in my hands. Some screaming and hollering and a few pics and she went back down the hole.

We ended up having a great trip with just a few problems which are expected when the temps are averaging 20 below. We ended up with 14 nice lakers; Gene, Kyle, and myself all broke personal records. Grant caught some great fish and lost his dream hog at the hole which was another muskie about 25 pounds. We also caught around 20 walleyes and a hand full of eel pout.

Can’t wait for the next trip!

written by Topps

HAPPY 2015- 1st Weekend of Jan 2015
Cold Front Crappies

Venturing out of the fish house during cold snaps like the one that recently blew into the Grand Rapids area can be a very difficult feat. When chasing panfish, being mobile and braving the elements becomes a necessity we all must do in order to be successful on certain lakes. Of course you can shack up on your favorite spot and wait it out, you may find a few wondering fish, but to really be productive more times than not you must find the active schools.

One presentation that is widely gaining popularity is the use of plastics for panfish. There are many different varieties, colors, sizes and brands to fit your fishing style. With that being said; if you have not yet given plastics a try, I would devote a day and try them out, you will be surprised at the results.

Plastics give you the upper hand in many different situations. When exploring new lakes, or lakes where I know the fish are usually spread out, I will grab two rods and bounce from hole to hole until I find active fish. On one of these rods I will have a small tungsten jig, tipped with a small plastic such as the mustache plastic from TriggerX. This set up allows me to get down to the fish quickly and pick off as many as I can before they decide to move on. The plastic is very durable, fish after fish, no taking off the gloves and digging in your pockets for a new wax worm or pinching minnow heads and re-baiting after a bite. If this finesse setup isn't the ticket, I drop down my second rod, either a larger tungsten with a bigger profile plastic such as the Flap Tail Grub or the WingDing both by TriggerX, or a Northland Forage minnow spoon tipped with a TriggerX Larvae. These larger profile baits move more water and oftentimes provoke the larger more aggressive fish in a school.

Now, before I gained confidence with plastics in the winter, I was a die hard live bait fisherman. You could not convince me that plastic baits worked as well, and in my case, better than live bait more times than not. But, things change, and I for one was sick of my hands freezing in the wind while I hurried to wipe the fish slime off on the ice cold bibs before I re-baited my hook. I looked for alternative baits, and found the TriggerX line developed by the guys at Rapala. I, like hundreds of panfish was hooked on plastics.

Written By: Colt

*Click here to read HLO stories from 2014*
*Click here to read HLO stories from 2013*
*Click here to read HLO stories from 2012*
*Click here to read HLO stories from 2011*
*Click here to read HLO stories from 2010*




Brock Anderson
HLO Guide Service

Brock's Page
Randy Topper
Fishing Guide Service
HLO Spokesman

Topps' Page
Colt Anderson
Lead Field Staff

Colt's Page
The Wolf Brothers
Tournament Anglers
Wolf's Guide Service

Wolf Bros
Abe & Amos Page
Adam Godfrey
Adam's Page
Dylan Maki
Dylan's Page
Forrest Leitch
Forrest's Page
Ben Olson
Ben's Page
Dan Neary
Dan's Page
Craig King
King's Page
  © Hang Loose Outdoors .com - 2024
~ In loving memory of Rocky Anderson and Jeremy Topper ~