** HLO 2016 Stories **

Merry Christmas 2016

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas. This time of year is a significant time to show your family and loved ones what they mean to you. Family and friends are the most important part of you. Without them where would we all be?

Hang Loose Outdoors was established on those lines: a tight knit group of friends pursuing the outdoors with one goal, "To have fun". We have now tied in the friends with families and we can honestly say we are now one big family. With family comes responsibilities and maybe less time away and on the water.

Every time on the water or in the woods means more to me each outing. No, I'm not getting soft, for that will never happen. I've realized how this team has accomplished so many goals that we had once set out to do. Our goals have now changed or different goals have moved up the long list. Now, the important thing is sharing the time on the water or in the woods with others. Yes, goals change with time. We now have goals like, "teaching our kids how to fish" and "sharing a great day on the water with clients". And a new year brings more goals and a new understanding to every outing.

When you spend less time fishing or hunting, I believe you also become more grateful for the time spent outdoors. As you might know or might not know, I am currently laid up right now in a full arm cast. A full cast is not allowing me to enjoy one of the things I truly love, "ice fishing". It's almost impossible to drill a hole or set the hook. Bundling up clothes on my upper body entails an all out battle. Doc says I can plan my time inside and am limited to an 8oz right arm limit for another month. I have to heal so I can get back on the water.

Friday, Colt, Ben, and Dylan made it out onto the ice to one of our favorite back lakes. Fishing back lakes is one of the things that I miss most of all during the ice fishing season. What a blast it is snowmobiling into the wilderness into remote small lakes with no one around for miles. Northern Minnesota holds hundreds and hundreds of small lakes that seldom see human activity during the year. Some of these lakes can be called secrets to the people who know what they hold. Others might call them "gems". The majority just look at them as remote cabin lakes or overlook them all together. The adventure getting to these lakes is what we look forward to. This particular lake on Friday involved an eight mile ATV ride and then about a quarter mile walk straight through the brush to the lake edge. Can you access this lake another way? You can't unless you are one of two landowners who own land that borders the lake. We take the public way in as we always do to our other back lakes or to lakes we haven't yet explored.

The fishing on these small bog stained lakes can be hit or miss like every fishing outing can be. Friday, was one of the days where the small crappies bit and the big ones went absent. We set the hook a lot and returned all the fish back to the water to grow bigger. Did the boys have fun? Absolutely! There's nothing that compares to being out in the middle of nowhere with good friends and a mystery under the ice. When you strike the big ones it's even more satisfying. There's something about high fives and screaming laughs out in the wilderness that sends a shiver down my spine.

We share this same excitement with our clients during the open water fishing season. Although our open water fishing takes place on larger lakes where others are present we still enjoy laughs and high fives and lots of good times. We take advantage of the ice season when we can make it to those hard to get to lakes. A lot of these lakes can't be accessed during the open water season. Northern Minnesota is a special place. I can't wait to take our kids to these lakes to enjoy what the pristine outdoors hold.

If you are like us, then each season brings on a new adventure. Each year brings new goals. We are excited to bring on the new year and new adventures. We can't wait to explore new back lakes this cold water season. We also are looking forward to the open water guide season. We will be sharing lots of hook sets, laughs, and good times on the water with our clients, friends, and family.

Bring on the new year and remember to have fun. Enjoy your time with friends and most importantly your family!

written by Brock

3rd Weekend of Dec 2016

Merry Christmas to everyone from all of us here at HLO!

Ice fishing is in full force as we push into the holiday weekend.

ATVs and snowmobiles are accessing small lakes around the Grand Rapids area. Most lakes have 7+ inches of ice. Some have more and others less. The larger lakes such as Pokegama, Wabana, and Trout are just starting to see traffic. Anglers must use caution on these larger lakes. Anglers have reported areas with only 4 inches over deeper water. Please understand no ice is safe ice especially this time of year. Use caution and check the ice as you head out from shore. Each new lake we venture out onto, regardless if there are previous tracks or other anglers out on the lake, drill or chisel a hole every 50 yards or so. Have ice picks on you, a life vest, 100 ft rope, and use the buddy system. Don't walk out together or when the ice is safe for an ATV, give yourself some distance. If you fall thru then your buddy behind can throw a rope. Just use caution. We like a good 4 inches to walk on and over 6 inches to drive an ATV.

The walleye bites on Upper Red Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Mille Lacs have been excellent. Resorts on Upper Red are allowing 1/2 ton trucks and wheel houses out now. Small trucks are accessing Lake of the Woods but please call the resorts for up to date info before you head up. The road out of Adrian's is open to ATVs and side by sides. If you are looking for a great report or to book a sleeper on LOTW please call Slim's Resort 1800-243-2412.

The HLO crew was all over the board this past weekend. Some were bowhunting and others jumped on the ice for the first time. Saturday night, we celebrated Colt and Dylan's birthdays. We make it a priority to get together for a good time once in a while. It was a great time with friends. I'm not sure who won the bean bag tourney, but it was surely competitive.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy your holiday time with family and friends

2nd Weekend of Dec 2016

Please check out our homepage for an area ice report. I know a lot of you are looking to get out and hit the hard water.

A lot of anglers were out and about this weekend checking ice conditions on local lakes. A handful of very small lakes were fishable, but the majority were still not quite ready. They will be good to go by the end of the week so get your ice fishing gear ready.

If you are in the market for new fishing rods please go and check out JT Custom Rods. We can't say enough good things about these phenomenal sticks. JT has everything from panfish rods, to walleye and lake trout rods. They also make excellent Christmas gifts. Shipping is fast so go and order today. Enter promo code 'banderson' at checkout to receive 5% of your order. There is a lot of hype on these rods as we start the 2016-2017 ice season. If you want to check out these sticks first hand, please give one of us a call and we can bring a couple rods to you to test out.

Since ice fishing was a no go this past weekend, a couple of us hit the woods again in search of a little venison. The cold temps made things a bit rugged, but we toughed it out for a few hours here and a few there. Deer movement looked promising by all the tracks and trails, but we didn't see much action. They must have been moving during the night with that big moon. This time of year is extremely tough and this weekend was that for sure. Deer do not cover much ground between bedding and feeding this time of year and being between those places at the right time is how you win. We entered a loss in the deer hunting category again this weekend. There is still time to whack one with the bow so I'm sure Colt and Topps will pursue that a couple times before the season ends on Dec 31st.

For now, everyone's minds are turned to ice fishing. Be safe and tune back in for next week's report.

St Paul Ice Show- 1st Weekend Dec 2016

Colt Anderson and Dylan Maki worked the St Paul Ice Fishing Show this weekend in the JT Outdoor Products booth. JT ice rods are one of the hottest talks going into the 2016-2017 ice fishing season. Well, the JT booth was packed all three days and rods flew over the counter and out the door with nothing but smiles left behind.

There is a lot of hype online and on social media about these awesome custom rods. A lot of anglers stopped down to the Ice Show to get their hands on a JT rod for the first time. Everyone was simply amazed when they placed one of these rods in their hands. "Light, Sensitive, Awesome balance, Perfect load from tip to backbone, A built in spring bobber, Cool designs, Where's the checkout, Unbelievably lineup of rods from everything from crappies to lake trout, Great customer service"; are just a few of the words that jumped out of anglers mouths as they held a JT rod or proceeded to the counter to purchase one or two or three.

People who hadn't heard of JT custom rods were also totally impressed when they found their hands wrapped around a split grip cork and custom engineered carbon blank with recoil guides. Its truly a remarkable sight when you see people's eyes light up when they first feel a JT rod. That was the story all weekend long. We wish we could see their face light up when they set the hook with a JT. I don't remember my first dozen fish on a JT because I was just in 'Awwww' at the feel of the rod and how every walleye headshake was felt through my whole body. "I've never fished with a more sensitive and perfect feeling rod", Brock.

The JT booth was a popular place and we had a wonderful three days of sales. We are so proud to stand behind this awesome company. Its our duty to get you the angler the best rod in your hand. If you fish crappies, perch, walleyes, or huge lake trout, JT Outdoor Products has the rod for you, be it winter or summer too.

If you didn't stop by the Ice Show this weekend go online and check out their fine line of ice rods. JT Custom Rods Link. Enter promo code 'banderson' at checkout to receive 5% of your order.

We are still waiting for ice on the smaller Grand Rapids area lakes. Cold temps are here so things should start freezing over soon. If only the wind would stop so it could. Be patient everyone.

Thanksgiving and Muzzleloader Opener 2016

What a change to the Northland! Almost two feet of snow blanket Northern Minnesota. Some say it's beautiful, others say, "What a mess". For those looking for ice fishing conditions and reports, we are going to have to wait and wait.

Those still with a deer tag, muzzleloader opened this Saturday. The back country roads and trails are covered with snow so access was tough going. Four wheelers struggled to get down what once were brown trails. Those who had their snowmobiles ready were lucky. Reports from the deer woods this weekend were good. We all seen deer, just no bucks. The does were putting the feed bag on in clear cuts and food plots, but movement to and from was minimal. Hunting the edges provided quick sightings to grab a bite to eat here and there. When will the big bucks make a mistake? We are wondering.

As we hunt and wait for ice, there is no better to time soak in the family time and the holidays.

Thanksgiving was spent with family and friends. We all hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at HLO.

Last Weekend of MN Rifle 2016

The second week of the Minnesota rifle was very similar to the first. The weather was mild and comfortable. For those of us HLO hunters that still had a tag, we were looking for something to spark the action. Maybe a weather change would get the bigger bucks on their feet. The lockdown phase seemed to be in place this second week and action was on the slower side. Something had to change.

The few of us who still had tags are the ones that usually wait for that giant buck. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. This year, most of us passed on at least a few bucks that might haunt our minds or our freezers down the road. Some of us always hold out for big antlers, but when time winds down, the freezer calls our names and sends us scrambling. We all have muzzleloader and late season archery to look forward to for meat so the time crunch hasn't happened yet.

On Thursday night, things changed just like we were all waiting for. Well, maybe a little too intense. The temp dropped and with it came the worst blizzard I can remember this decade. From Friday morning to Saturday night, 16-22 inches of snow lie on the ground in Northern Minnesota. It all came at once and with it the wind. We thought this would kick deer movement into high gear, but it had only a small influence on it. I believe the majority of the deer ran for cover and the rest to food.

Team Maki came through at the end of the second week and during the last weekend. It seemed as the deer were relating better to the food during the last few days of the rifle season especially with the insane snow dumping. The back country woods were slow going, but the food sources provided sightings. Brian Maki, Dylan's dad, put the hammer down on a very nice 10 point. Colt and Dylan guided Marissa to her first buck. Congrats Marissa. Now, lets turn our attention to Colt and Dylan.

Colt and Dylan passed on so many small bucks throughout the season, I don't know if they could really count them up. They also passed on a couple bucks that could have been shooters, but they decided not too because they were possible future hog candidates. They also have some management bucks they want to take out in their spots. Management bucks will never be hogs. Well, Dylan got bored of passing small bucks so Saturday he blasted a management buck. Not sure, but I believe lots would be happy with this buck. I know Dylan was jumping for joy over this beauty. Congrats Dylan. Oh, and for Colt, he's still looking for one of the giants he has on camera to make a mistake. -pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is father and son, Brian and Dylan Maki

Who else have we missed? Brock, Topps, Adam, Craig? We are all getting our muzzleloaders ready. Muzz season opens next Saturday the 26th.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Have a safe one!

2nd Weekend of MN Rifle 2016

The first week and second weekend of the Minnesota firearms season was very mild with consistent temperatures in the 50s and a couple days in the 60s. For deer hunters, it wasn't exactly ideal weather for deer movement, but it sure was nice sitting in the deer stand.

Those that put in their time, were patient, and sat all day got their chances. Those that scuffed and complained about no deer moving because of too warm of temps kept their tags deep in their pockets. Funny how the guys that complain are usually the ones back at the cabin for lunch. The rut is on, bucks can move at anytime of the day. Sit your butt in the stand regardless of weather or all the hearsay you're hearing from area hunters.

The first week and second weekend of season was quite kind to the HLO boys and crew. We put in our time sitting all day sits from dark to dark in many of our favorite spots. Yes, deer movement was down, but we still seen plenty of deer and a few of us pulled the trigger.

We always stress taking a kid hunting especially in the weather we have been having. We have to get them interested in the outdoors and hunting. Well, I'm mighty happy with my wife Lexi who took our nephew hunting on Saturday morning. He is already addicted to the sport, but is too young to venture out on his own. Landon shot a nice 5 point buck and Lexi helped him gut it and drag it home. I was at work so I finished the process of hanging and high fives when I got home. Thanks Lexi and congrats to Landon on his buck.

Other good deer that hit the ground include Dylan's mom, Kelly Maki, who put a beautiful 8 point down mid week. She puts her time in when it comes to deer season and we are all very pumped for her and her hog buck. Staci put one in the freezer for Team HLO Godfrey late week. Kevin, also Team Godfrey put the biggest buck of the year down mid week. -Kevin's buck is featured in the upper right corner of the blog. -Also pictured in the blog with Kevin is Dan Neary with another great HLO buck. Again, these boys put in their time, hunt totally different locations, but sit all day sits. Their chance came on hog bucks and they made it happen.

Back to the woods we go. Good Luck second week and last weekend everyone. Bring a kid hunting!

Minnesota Rifle Opener 2016

The best time to be a bow hunter in Northern Minnesota always takes place in those couple days leading up to the MN Rifle Opener. The Rut is close and the 'chase phase' is usually underway. This was the case again this year. Bucks were seeking the first hot does of the season and lots of movement was taking place in the woods during daylight hours. As always this presented opportunity to shoot a nice buck with the Hoyt bows.

A couple of the HLO boys hunted daylight to dark the week before the traditional Minnesota Opener. They passed on a couple nice bucks that just weren't quite shooters in their minds. But On Thursday, one particular shooter made a mistake. Randy Topper arrowed a buck he called 'Old Face'. He presented Topper with a 30 yard shot and Topper made a perfect shot. -Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is Topper's unique buck. This buck is full of character with a drop main beam that follows the left side of his head down before going back up. The buck has split brows and a cool kicker off the same side of the rack. Congrats Topps on an awesome bow kill.

The opening weekend of the MN Rifle Season was warm with temperatures in the mid 60s. Deer movement during daylight hours was at a minimum, but if hunters put in their time they seen deer. A lot of little bucks were shot around the Grand Rapids area. A few good one are always shot on opener and that was the case again this year.

Todd Godfrey shot a beautiful 9 point buck for the HLO Godfrey Team on Sunday. The buck was hounding a doe during lunch time hours. This was not the only rutting action we witnessed.

A lot of hunters get the false impression that the weather controls the rut. This is not true. The rut takes place the same time each year. If you are not seeing bucks chasing does it's probably taking place more during night time hours.

The only thing you can do is stay patient and sit all day. You never know when that hog buck is going to kick up a doe and chase her right by your stand. We have shot many big bucks during mid day hours 11AM-2PM when a lot of hunters are back eating lunch or taking a nap. Stay in your stand all day and make it happen.

For now, back to the woods we go. Good luck hunters. Be safe and take a kid hunting. It's great weather to take the kids hunting.

Last Weekend of Oct 2016

Happy MN Rifle Opener Countdown

A lot of you are wondering how the rut is progressing here in Northern Minnesota as we push into the week before the Rifle Opener. We have been in the woods for the past two weeks and can say that things are off to a great start.

A lot of people think the weather controls the rut. That is nonsense. The rut takes place the same time every year regardless of warm weather, snow, rain, windy conditions and so on. The rut is controlled by the shortened days and position of the earth. The rut begins the same time each year give or take a couple days. The power and intensity of the rut can be influenced by the weather. If you are not seeing deer chasing during the day, they are probably doing it at night, or during lunch time when you are back at the cabin.

Warm weather will lessen the chase during the day, but might influence more buck movement during the middle portions of the day. For some areas, warm weather can help, and others hurt. Mild weather is definitely nice for all day sits which can increase your chance of bagging that buck. My favorite time of the day to hunt when the rut is on is from 9AM-2PM. It seems that bucks just love to cruise for hot does during this time of day. The does are bedded and it is easy for a buck to move from one does bedding area to the next. Try it next time your morning and evening sits are deerless. Sit all day or mid day!

A lot of small bucks have been on the move the past couple days here in Northern Minnesota. The small bucks are usually the first ones to get all horned up once that first doe goes into estrus. We have seen a few does in estrus so things are off to a great start. Put yourself in a good spot this weekend and sit all day. You will see some rutting action. Bring a kid out this weekend. Mild weather is a great time to introduce a kid to deer hunting.

Colt, Dylan, and Topper headed out to west Central Minnesota this past weekend and bowhunted some of our turf out there. They reported good deer movement all throughout the day. A lot of small bucks were seen, but two giants were seen chasing does too. It's hard to pull a big buck away from a doe into range so that's how the story ended. It will be different this weekend when we pick up the big guns.

Good luck hunting to all...

Fourth Weekend of Oct 2016

What's the most important deer hunting tool?

As we roll into the deer season I was asked a simple question the other day that raised an eye brow! What is the most important hunting tool in your mind? I stopped and thought about this for a good minute.

This is a frequent question when it comes to fishing and you all know that answer. A good graph like the Lowrance HDS series is the most important tool to have. If you are looking to spend under a $1000 and catch more fish while increasing your fishing knowledge then upgrade to a nice fish finder. I don't care if you have a 14 foot aluminum boat, put a good graph on it and you can fish the same as those guys in the big Lund or Ranger boats.

It didn't take too long to answer the question at hand when I actually went thru my hunting equipment in my mind. Yes, a four wheeler gets you places, a good bow or gun is key, clothes keep you warm, and on and on. But the most important tool I use and use on a regular basis is my climber deer stand. On all day sits during the rut, my Lone Wolf climber is comfortable, quiet, and light. I can walk into anywhere and sit all day without making a peep. I use this climber 90 percent of the hunting season and I question myself the other 10 percent. Why? Cause its hard to sit in any other stand. A climber is so comfortable. It's so nice to not have to hang a set every spot or drag a ladder stand in. You just walk in and throw your climber up and your hunting in a matter of minutes. If you want to move down the ridge a little, you climb down and scoot down to another tree. It's that easy.

I owe a lot of bucks and meat in the freezer to my climber. I have found a lot of good hunting spots utilizing a climber deer stand. If you want a comfortable sit, the best scouting stand, and a mobile tool in the woods, buy a climber. I know the Lone Wolf is the most expensive out there, but you won't ever have to buy another in your life. Other brands like the Summit lineup is also great.

The most important tool in my hunting book is my climber deer stand.

written by Brock

Third Weekend of Oct 2016

The third weekend of October was spent on Leech Lake. Every October the HLO boys camp at Federal Dam Campground for the last open water hooray! This weekend was nothing short of fun. Good food, good friends, and good fishing were had.

Our focus was not catching multiple walleyes, but more on the lines of finding some rod benders. Fall walleyes are fat this time of year so catching a hog or two is much more rewarding than putting a mess of eaters together. Fall walleyes put the feed bag on in preparation for the upcoming winter. Big walleyes can be absolute giants and add a whole new turn to drag peeling when you set into them.

It took a little bit of snooping around on Leech Lake to find what we were looking for. The big walleyes weren't schooled up like the smaller ones were. Once we found a big bite, we stuck with the program and put several fatties in the Lund boats. Fishing for these big ones wasn't fast and furious, but it was so fun when one found the net. There is no better time of year than the fall to catch the fish of a lifetime. Their girth is amazing especially on those walleyes over 26 inches. A couple over 26" hit the net. We took pictures and released them for next year.

Another fishing season is in the books and we can't be happier with the season. From tournament fishing to guiding, it was another awesome season. It's sad to see the open water fishing come to an end, but we can now chill up in a tree and wait for hog bucks. Our focus now will be sticking an arrow in a big buck. It's funny how we jump from one outdoor sport to the next in a matter of days. It's what we live for. Soon it will be ice fishing!

Thank you to all our sponsors this open water season, our clients, and all our family and friends. We couldn't do what we do without you.

If you are looking to book a guided fishing trip with us in 2017, please give us a call soon or before the first of the year. Our schedules will begin filling fast for the spring of 2017. Walleye fishing will be nothing short of amazing again!

Second Weekend of Oct 2016

Welcome October.... The busiest outdoor month of the year! This time of year is a tough one to cover as the fall season in Northern Minnesota offers so much to do. You have fall fishing, grouse hunting, duck hunting, and the deer archery season all wrapped up into thirty days. The fall colors are beautiful and maybe one more short family trip is in store before the cold hits. Fall chores, winterizing the camper, saying goodbye to the garden, and just complete chaos can fill the month of October. Good planning is needed this time of year. One thing is for certain, October is an awesome time of year.

The fall fishing around the Grand Rapids area has been really good. If you are looking for one last fall fishing trip, please call us (218-259-5447) soon as we only have a few more available dates before the boats get put away and the hunting season takes full control of our free time. Our guides will be on the water until late October.

The walleye bite has been good on most bodies of water as of late. The Fall bite is definitely here. Look to Leech and Winnibigoshish as well as the local rivers for the best action. A jig tipped with a minnow in 4 to 12 feet of water will trigger those walleyes into biting. Work that jig and minnow from .4-.8 mph.

The crappie bite has also been great in the Grand Rapids area. The crappies are sliding out of the shallows and hanging in their fall or winter transition spots. Use your electronics to find schools of crappies in deeper water. A 1/16 ounce jig tipped with a chub minnow or plastic and jigged vertical will put those delicious slabs in the boat. A small jigging rap (size 2-3) will also do the trick.

Leech Lake was awesome this past weekend as our guide team hit the water hard. We had a large group trip out of Trapper's Landing Resort on the South end of Leech. It was windy and the walleyes bit like crazy. When the wind blows, focus on those rock shorelines where the wind is blowing into. A jig and minnow in 4-8 foot of water was all that you needed.

Thanks Trapper's Landing for the hospitality. What a wonderful resort!

pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is Ben Olson with a mess of geese from over the weekend

We are jumping into the hunting seasons after next weekend. Good luck hunting everyone. Remember to take a kid hunting!

First Weekend of Oct 2016

Wow, the weather was beautiful this past weekend. With temps in the upper 70s, no one was complaining. I don't believe there are too many more of those left in store though. This coming weekend looks like a cool one and its really gonna kick fall into high gear. We haven't had a hard frost up in this neck of the woods yet. I believe its coming this weekend.

Water temps on area lakes are above average for this time of year. This weekend's warm weather made them jump up even more. A few Grand Rapids area lakes surface temps were above 60 degrees on Sunday and almost into the mid 60s. This warm water has stalled the fall bite just a little on certain bodies of water. The water temps were coming down nicely and then this warm spell pushed in. No weekend wind might have also contributed to the slower fishing this weekend.

Walleye fishing was tough on Saturday and Sunday, but Monday it was good due to some much needed wind. Walleye fishing has had its mixed reports this week and a lot of that stems from the water temps. Fish just don't think it is fall yet. Water temps control that aggressive fall bite on not every lake, but the majority. Look for the bite to pick up this weekend and into next week with this cooler weather in store.

We have had some really good walleye fishing the past week and then some pretty slow outings. Every lake has been totally different as of late. Those walleyes just don't know what they want to do day to day. One lake the fish are deep and then the next lake they are super shallow. One thing has been for certain though: each day has tossed up a few big walleyes even on slow days. Fish are carrying their weight right now and if we have to wait for a bite, it's been worth it.- 'pictured in the upper right corner of the blog are Kristi and Molly with very nice walleyes from an afternoon guide trip'

Look for walleyes in 20-25 feet of water on the clear lakes around the Grand Rapids area. Walleyes are shallow on the smaller stained water lakes and also on the larger wind driven ponds like Leech and Winnibigoshish. A jig and minnow in 4-12 feet of water will put fish in the boat while fishing those shallow water walleyes. When targeting the deeper fish on secondary shorelines, fish with a larger minnow (creek chub, rainbow) on a lindy rig. A heavier jig tipped with a minnow will also work out there. If I was to tell you one tip for the week it would be this: when targeting walleyes shallow or deep use the largest minnows in the scoop. If its the biggest golden shiner or the largest rainbow chub that's what is going to catch the fish. Walleyes like a big meal this time of year.

The local rivers are kicking up walleyes too! Never forget about those river eyes this time of year.

Crappies are sliding out to their fall and winter spots too but those water temps are also pushing their annual march back a touch. Look for them on secondary breaks or on the rims of there usual fall locations.

Fall colors are full so get out and enjoy! The hunting season is here and there's no better time to take a kid hunting.

Last Weekend of Sept 2016

Fall fishing is heating up around the Grand Rapids area. Water temperatures are finally beginning to drop into the upper 50s and low 60s on most area lakes. We have seen a more consistent shallow water walleye bite the past few days. The crappies are pushing into the fall and early winter locations. All these signs are good news for the fall angler.

We will be on the water guiding for the next couple weeks. Please call us asap if you are looking for one last guided fishing trip. We only have a few more dates available before we really turn our focus to hunting. HLO guides will be on the water until that October 20th date.

This past weekend was full of fishing and guided trips. Although the weather was on the nasty side, the fish cooperated. They weren't slamming, but the bite was consistent. Look to Winnibigoshsish and Leech Lake for the best walleye action right now. A jig and minnow in 4 to 12 feet will make those early fall walleyes bite. Be mobile and cover water until you locate active fish. Then slow your speed a touch. Trolling crankbaits to cover water is another good option this time of year. Once you find a few hungry walleyes, switch over to that jig and minnow combo. Fall is a great time of year to catch a giant so hold on to those rods tight.

The September Full Moon took place last weekend Sept 16. We had a guide trip early this week just a few days after the full moon. Leech Lake offered a good night bite under the moon. Again, fishing wasn't lights out, but it was consistent. Salmo stings pulled 2.0 mph on the inside of the weeds caught good eater walleyes and also a few tanks. Look ahead to that October full moon on Leech Lake because its going to be a hammer fest!.

Oh geez; so much going on this time of year. How do we cover it all: fall fishing, duck hunting, grouse hunting, archery, fall colors and the list goes on. Have a great fall and we will see you on the water or down the trail.

'pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is a couple pics from the last night outing on Leech Lake'

Cabelas Masters Walleye Circuit Cass Lake- Sept 16-17

The last fishing tournament of the year is complete as 98 teams competed for two days on the walleye waters of Minnesota's Cass Lake chain. This was the last stop of the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit regular season.

The Cass Lake chain includes all kinds of structure: steep breaks, weeds, rock, mud transitions, expansive sand flats, and more secret nooks and crannies than a walleye angler can dream of. Two hundred of the best of the best walleye anglers had no problem finding or catching walleyes. The question was who found the right ones and who made it happen two days in a row?

Teams could fish the whole Cass Lake chain: including Pike Bay, Andrusia, Wolf, Kitchi, Buck, and of course famous Cass Lake. If your boat floats there, you could fish it. Each of these bodies of water hold great walleyes but some hold better unders (under 20") and others better overs (over 20"). Each team can weigh 5 fish per day and no more than 2 over 20". How did teams strategize this? Did they go after a big over or two early or did they try to get a nice sack of unders right off the bat?

Hang Loose Outdoors had three teams competing in this years event including Colt Anderson/Dylan Maki, The Wolf Brothers, and Randy Topper/Dan Swenson. The tournament also included a couple teams from the Grand Rapids area and Rays Sport and Marine Tournament teams from Walker/Bemidji and Moorhead.

Day 1 found the HLO teams at the top of the leader board and all within striking distance of the leader who weighed in close to 15 pounds of walleye. Colt/Dylan sat in 6th place going into Day 2. The Wolf Brothers finished in 7th on Day 1 and Topper/Swenson were just a few pounds off the lead. The boys would have to bring the same heat on Day 2. Consistency is key when fishing a two day tournament. If you can do the same or a little better on Day 2 then usually a top 10 finish is in store. The thing with Cass Lake is there is always a chance for a huge bag especially with all the different lakes teams can fish. The problem is very few teams capitalize big on Day 2. Who stuck out a big bag or stayed consistent Day 2?

I don't know how these boys do it sometimes but that's why they are on our guide team: The Wolf Brothers stayed very consistent on Day 2. The Wolfs finished in 3rd Place overall for the tournament. Well done guys. You burn a lot of gas and put a ton of miles on that Lund/Mercury but you always find fish and the right ones. I believe that is two years in a row you have finished in the top 5 at the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit on Cass Lake.

Colt and Dylan couldn't find their Day 1 fish, but worked their tails off and put together a small five fish limit on Day 2. This weight combined with Day 1 cashed them a check and landed them a 17th place finish. Along with that check they cashed a check for third biggest walleye on Day 1. These boys will be noticed in years to come. They have had one heck of a tournament season this year. They have fished some of the biggest tournaments in the Midwest and cashed checks in a couple of them. I can't wait to see these boys' future. They work their butts off for Hang Loose Outdoors.

Topper and Swenson needed a bigger bag on Day 2 then they weighed on Day 1, but just couldn't make it happen. These guys reported catching over one hundred walleyes in the two days of competition. They just couldn't buy any luck and get tangled with a big one. Sometimes luck has to be on your side during a tournament. One fish can make all the difference. I believe this is what happened to this HLO team. They caught fish everywhere they went. Where was that one big walleye? They still finished in the top 30. Nice job guys.

As far as the other Grand Rapids area and Rays Sport and Marine teams went: Sean Colter and Dave Hernesman placed 8th, Templin and Hasse finished 2nd, and Reed/Nikkel 25th. A big Congrats to 1st place team of Weickert and Balcer. The top finishing three places were all Lund/Mercury teams. Well done to all teams and a huge thanks to Stony Point for hosting this event and to the Masters Walleye Circuit for coming to Cass Lake.

That's a wrap for the 2016 tournament season. We are sad to see it go but already anxious for next year. Its always a fun time and a great learning experience. Like we always say: Our fishing guide service gets stronger and stronger with each tournament. We learn so much and carry this over to our clients on the water.

Thank you to all our sponsors and our families. It's been a great ride in 2016.

2nd Weekend of Sept 2016

Congratulations to Mr and Mrs King. We celebrated the wedding of Craig King and Amanda Carpenter this weekend. Cheers to a long and happy life you two!

Besides another HLO boy tying the knot, here is a short fishing report:

How's fishing been? Walleye fishing around the Grand Rapids area has been slow to fair this week. Fish are scattered on the shorelines and on secondary breaks and targeting a school of fish has been difficult. Its that time of year where the walleyes are transitioning and trying to decide which way to flip their tails. They will figure it out real soon and be in their fall locations in the next week to 10 days. That water temp dropping will get them there. Catching walleyes has been one here one there as of late. If you do find a school of walleye they haven't been biting like crazy. You have to work for them.

Slowing your presentation for walleyes has been key this week and using minnows has added to a little success also. Its that time of year where you should start jigging a minnow again. We have been jigging larger fathead chubs and running a two foot lindy rig tipped with a chub or shiner too. Speeds from .5-.9 mph have worked best.

Using minnows on the shorelines have kicked up beautiful mixed bags of fish this week: walleyes, crappies, pike, bass, and even a few bluegills. The shoreline weeds and rocks is where I would target right now. If you don't find any fish shallow try moving out to that secondary break on the shoreline. Cold weather can do some funky things to fish this time of year.

Don't forget about the great fall fishing that takes place on the rivers around the Grand Rapids area. Those will start heating up real soon too.

Full moon this coming Friday! Get those cranks out and start trolling. I believe I will be on Leech Lake on Saturday night.

Good luck to all of our HLO teams (Randy Topper/Dan Swenson, Dylan/Colt, Abe/Amos) fishing the Cabela's Masters Walleye Tournament on Cass Lake this Friday and Saturday. Follow us on facebook for results or stop in to Stony Point and watch the weigh in. It's gonna be another great tournament and the last one of the year. I should also add: Good Luck to all the Grand Rapids and Ray's Sport and Marine teams fishing the event. Can the Grand Rapids teams smoke the top 10 places like last year? We will find out Saturday evening.

Labor Day Weekend 2016

We hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Labor day is a day off of work and we will take that freebie anytime we can get it. What is Labor Day?

"This is the definition of Labor Day by the United States Department of Labor: Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

For most, Labor Day signifies the end of summer and the kids going back to school. Some people hate the end of summer and others couldn't wait for it to get here. How do you feel?

For us here at HLO, Labor Day means the busy open water fishing season is close to an end. A few guide trips and one tournament remain in our books until all thoughts turn to hunting. A few of our guides will be on the water until late October this year if you are looking for an awesome fall guided fishing trip.

We spent Labor Day weekend camping with family and friends at Stony Point on Cass Lake. We didn't fish hard, but hard enough to put together the annual Colter/Grand Rapids Crew fish fry. The spread of food this year was out of this world. When you prepare a meal for 50 people and everyone feels extremely fat afterwards, you know it was good. 'Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is this year's crew.... minus a few stragglers who are laying on the ground with gut aches and a couple out of control kids who wandered off.'

Craig King and Amanda Carpenter Wedding next weekend and then we are off, back to Cass Lake to get prefishing for the Cabela's Masters Walleye Tournament on Cass Lake Sept 16-18th.

Craig King Bach Party Weekend

The Hang Loose Boys were up at Lake Vermillion this past weekend celebrating the last few days of single life for Craig King. Craig or known as 'Mama' has been an original of the HLO crew. Craig was one of the guys who would never ever miss a weekend's old school Hang Loose Outdoors trip. Whether it was camping in the Big Falls sticks catching walleyes in the morning, shooting grouse in the afternoon, and having a raging fire at night; walking thru the bush in the winter to small tip up lakes; or just camping on Upper Red Lake for opener, Mama wasn't going to miss anything. Even with our busy lifestyles today and few trips throughout the year, Craig seldom misses one.

Mama was also the one who we all thought would be single for the rest of his life! Well, when you meet the right woman, things change. I guess that's why we had to have a Bach party for Craig this weekend.

It was a great weekend and we even caught some walleyes on Big Vermillion too. Look to the East end of the lake for the best walleye action right now. The shoreline bite in 14-18 feet of water was best with crawlers.

Early congrats to Craig and Amanda King. Have a great wedding!

Cabelas Masters Walleye Circuit on Devils Lake

Dylan Maki and Ben Olson fished the two day Cabelas Masters Walleye Tournament on Devils Lake this past weekend.

I give these boys credit fishing this professional tournament with absolutely no previous experience on the lake. Ben had been to the lake just a couple of times throughout this summer. Ben is now the fishing manager at Scheels in Grand Forks. If you need any help on fishing equipment, electronics, tackle, clothing; Ben is the man. Call Scheels and ask to talk to Ben Olson. He helps us HLO guys with many problems and ordering secret goodies all year long.

Dylan and Ben prefished Devils three full days before the tournament began on Friday. They reported an awesome walleye bite all across the massive lake. Dylan said, "Its crazy, You can catch walleyes from four feet of water out to forty, It doesn't matter." "Walleyes are everywhere and this lake is enormous." They were catching a lot of 16-19 inch walleyes but were struggling to find a consistent bite of over 20 inch fish. It sounded like that was game for the majority of other anglers also. Each boat (2 anglers) can weigh their 5 biggest walleyes (no slot) with no culling allowed.

Eighty walleye boats hit the water Friday and Saturday for the tournament. Like every tournament, someone always finds the big ones to wrap up a win. During this two day event, Corey Heiser and Troy Morris (last year's defending champs) came out on top again. Their huge Day 1 bag of over 30 lbs of walleyes was enough to go along with their Day 2 bag of 13 lbs. They took home the title by a hair and claimed Devils Lake again. Congrats guys!

All anglers reported catching over 100 walleyes each day of the tournament. 100 walleyes a day? I gotta get out to Devils Lake. That's some good fishing there. Wow.

As for Dylan and Ben, they finished half way through the pack of 80 plus boats. Remember these 80 boats are some of the best of the best in the Midwest. I'm so proud of these two boys and what they do on and off the water. Their dedication and passion for the sport of fishing is insane. These guys are going to be some serious fishing studs loaded with knowledge at a young age. I can't be happier to have them on the Hang Loose Outdoors team.

written by Brock

Second Weekend of Aug 2016

The Topper and Wolf families spent this past weekend camping at Stony Point on Cass Lake. It was a great weekend with family and friends with a little fishing mixed in. The last MWC Walleye Tournament of the regular season comes to Cass Lake next month (Sept 16 & 17). The boys were out snooping around a little in preparation for that.

Speaking of MWC events, Dylan Maki and Ben Olson just left on Monday for the Devils Lake MWC tournament which will be held on the 19th and 20th (Fri & Sat). Prefishing began yesterday and they reported a lot of hungry walleyes out on the huge pond. The boys need to find the big walleyes and lock them down. Good luck guys! Follow us on our facebook page for tournament news and standings this weekend.

The last few days have been full of guide trips too. We have had lots of happy clients and smiles in the Lund Boats. We always have happy customers so maybe they were just that much happier this weekend. August is a multi species month for us. We target walleye, crappies, northern, bass, and whatever bends the rod. We let our clients pick their game. This weekend it was a crappie and walleye kind of game. Brock headed south for a couple trips and targeted August crappies in the weeds. The crappies cooperated both trips and the JT Custom rods were bending. Colt and Topper targeted walleyes and smallmouth bass for an evening trip and again; hook sets, laughs, and happy customers.

Fishing is so much fun when smiles and giggles fill the boat.

We have September and October trips available. Call today to book a fall trip. 218-259-5447

First Weekend of Aug 2016

The wife and I spent three days and three nights up at Rainy Lake this past weekend. A little getaway together was needed and she let me pick the destination. We wanted some beautiful scenery, good fishing, and a relaxing setting. I wanted to go to Canada, but she hadn't received her passport yet so that was out of the question. The next closest thing to that had to be Rainy Lake.

We boot-n-scooted out of Grand Rapids early afternoon on Wednesday. It was hot (85F) when we jumped out of the truck in Ranier, MN. The Lund Boat hit the water and we cruised in and out of islands to some close reefs out on the main lake. Surprisingly, walleyes were everywhere on pretty much every reef. The only thing wrong with the situation was most of them were really small walleyes (10-12 inchers). We wanted to bend some rods and hear some drag. It took the Lowrance HDS a few more reefs before we spotted some good looking arcs. We made several passes through those fish and the JT Custom Rods got a workout. We caught over 20 walleyes in the nearly 3 hours out with the biggest being a hefty 26 inch. The fishing was looking promising as we left early so we could get situated in our cabin.

Our hosts greeted us at the landing and we followed them to our place of stay. It was truly insane when we laid eyes on where we were actually going to shack up for the next three nights. I can't thank you guys enough. Your place is truly beautiful. Lexi and I unpacked and we talked fishing and our plan for the next day.

The morning came and we found ourselves boating over 20 miles to the east to waters that supposedly held bigger walleyes this time of year. Well, we got there and the wind arrived about the same time. Nasty wind churned up waves over four feet and just made for an uncomfortable experience. We wanted a relaxing one, remember. We decided to turn around and head back. The decision to turn back was a good one, but it wasn't fun as the waves got bigger and bigger. A straight west wind down Rainy Lake blows. We fished a little on the way back, but most of our time was spent going 7mph. We hung out at the cabin that afternoon and then visited a resort for dinner that evening.

Friday came and the winds were still cranking. They were nothing like the day before, but enough to stay in a 12 mile radius. We found plenty of fish that day and ended up keeping four beautiful 16 to 18 inchers for a fry. We called the fishing off early again that afternoon cause we were sick and tired of wind and waves. That night we cooked fresh fish, green beans, and green fried tomatoes. Everything was fresh besides the beer and noodle salad.

Saturday was absolutely beautiful, but we had planned to leave around noon so we ventured out to the part of the lake where we were on Wednesday evening. It didn't take long to start pulling them in. Who said you had to go 20 miles to catch bigger fish? We caught over 30 walleyes in just a short couple hours, including 4 over 25 inches a couple just shy of that. The weather would of been great for a long boat ride today. Wouldn't you know it? The weather is always the best on the day you arrive and the day you leave. That is just how it goes. I wish we could have spent a full week.

Rainy Lake is a huge body of water full of walleyes. When you are on them you are on them. I would love to go back up when the weather is on the calm side and the talk of 100 fish days per boat is the norm. If you haven't experienced Rainy Lake fishing and the sheer beauty of the lake, you should put this on the vacation list. There is so much to do and so many places to camp out on the lake. If you are looking for some of the best fishing in Minnesota, get ahold of our buddies at Rainydaze Guide Service (218-290-6102) to book a fishing trip you won't ever forget.

Thanks Chris and Kelly for the awesome hospitality. See you next time..

written by Brock

Last Weekend of July 2016

Sometimes you must gather it all in: the scenery, the sunset, water, the animals, everything. When you are fishing, there is so much going on all around you. Being out on the water is a special thing. The fishing (or boating) is why you are out, but you must consider everything else too. You are there to hang out with family. To laugh and joke, to share the outdoors. When the fish are biting that's an added bonus. When you fish with us, HLO Guide Service, your chances of bending rods and catching fish is very good. So sit back and wait for a bite while you admire all that is going on out on the lake. The lake is not just yours.....

This past week and weekend offered many different events that pursued me into writing this little blog. The sunset the other night was outta this world. It was amazing. We caught lots of walleyes under that beauty so I considered myself lucky as we all set the hook and starred off into the beautiful colors that surrounded us. No on wanted the dark to cover that sight up.

The loons were out of control the other morning on Trout Lake and they kept my clients entertained between bites. Then the bald eagles began bickering and one flew out and snatched a fish on the shoreline right in front of us. That was a cool sight to see. Some of the little things, I see all the time, but to those from the busy lifestyles to the south of us, these little things are an wonderful experience. When they "Awww" over them, it makes me soak up the little things that much more.

It is our duty to keep the lakes clean so our future generations can enjoy the water and all that is taking place. So please take this into consideration next time out. Look closely to all that is happening next time you are on the water. Soak it in. And remember when you get back to the boat landing, Clean, Drain, Dry those boats. Remove the drain plugs, remove all water, drain your lower unit, remove weeds from you trailer. Do our part to keep our lakes beautiful and crawling with wildlife. Thanks

written by Brock

4th Weekend of July 2016- Night Bite?

Who's going night fishing? The full moon was this past Tuesday the 19th. With hot daytime temps and water temps rising, the walleye night bite has been very good all week and will remain good into next weekend. We will be out on the water pulling some cranks. Hit us up for a report. Whenever there is a heatwave during the day combined with flat calm conditions, there will always be a night bite on the deep clear lakes around the Grand Rapids area.

Fishing has been good around the Grand Rapids area. One lake is great for a couple day stretch and then it slows for a few. Then a different lake turns on. The bite has definitely been better with a little wind and a few passing clouds. If you aren't marking fish or fish aren't biting when you mark them, move onto a different lake. That has paid off big time the past two weeks. Some days walleyes like to be fat and lazy and sleep all day especially with a big moon.

They can also be there one minute and gone the next. It is key to pay attention to those Lowrance electronics. Make sure you are on fish. If you are and they are not biting move to the next pod of fish. We have been locating walleyes, catching the active ones in a pass or two and moving on to the next school or pod. This has put more fish in the boat. Some lakes like Bowstring and Winnibigoshish, there are still a fair amount of fish in the shoreline weeds. Never forget about those weeds. If you are not catching fish out deep on those mid lake bars and humps, push back to the shoreline and fish the weeds, especially when there is wind.

Leeches and crawlers are working best right now on lindy rigs. Work them at .5-.7 mph. If that doesn't make fish eat, rig up a bottom bouncer and spinner rig and burn thru the fish with some speed. The shoreline fish have liked spinners tipped with crawlers pulled 1.0-1.2 mph. You have to bring variety to the table this time of year. If one thing isn't working keep switching things up. Make the fish tell you what they want. But you must bring the menu.. Good luck on the water!

We are always trying to become better fishermen and also educate our clients and others so you can be more successful on the water. Tune into our You Tube Channel each and every Thursday for our weekly fishing tip video! This week's tip was: Tips on catching walleyes at night around the Grand Rapids, MN area. Check it out. I believe next week's tip is gonna have to be catching walleyes on spinners.

GRAHA Walleye Shootout 2016

The 3rd Annual GRAHA Walleye Shootout was held on beautiful Pokegama Lake Saturday July 16th. A fifteen thousand dollar first place purse attracted nearly 70 out of town teams to this first class event. The food at the rules meeting served by the Dutchroom to the breakfast and coffee in the morning and foot long subs and beer when anglers returned to the docks at the end of the day was extremely top notch. There isn't a tournament out there that caters to its anglers like this one. Lets not forget about the intense weigh in and boat parade of the top 10 teams at the IRA Civic Center in the evening. And the live music afterwards. What about the bean bag tourney during the fishing tournament. The Lund boat test ride. The this and the that. Thanks to all the sponsors of this event and the folks who made it happen.

The only thing that wasn't special about the event this year was the fishing. Bright skies and calm winds made for an extremely tough bite. When the GRAHA anglers who fished this year's tournament hear these words 'tough bite' again, visions of this day might haunt them in the future. It was darn right brutal tough especially out on the lake which is known for giant walleyes and head shakes that will make your forearms burn.

The amount of walleyes out on Pokegama Lake this year will blow your mind. Tournament anglers couldn't believe how many fish they were marking on their electronics. You talked with guys who were dropping underwater cameras down during prefishing and counting hundreds of walleyes in a school. They were on every structure, in the weeds, on the humps, on the deep flats. Saturday they were plain out not hungry. The amount of bait in Pokeg this year will also boggle your mind. Between the smelt, young perch, shiners, small sunfish, and every other kind of baitfish, walleyes can fill their faces when they please. They have the whole menu just waiting on a plate in front of them. Why do they need to eat a crawler, leech, jigging rap, or creek chub passing by?

Like every tournament someone finds a way to get it done. Saturday, ten teams found a way to entice a few fish into biting. These ten teams found themselves entering the arena in their boats with loud music jamming behind them and a large crowd cheering. Those twenty anglers deserved their glory that night. Every time a new team would enter, the hair would stand on the back of my neck. I knew that feeling. Two years in a row I got to experience that boat parade and that intense weigh in. This year I sat back and watched.

I know a few of those teams took a gamble and fished the river along with a number of other boats. Well, they did the right thing that day. We all know how big the walleyes get on the lake. If those fish eat, there's no winning on the river. A forty to 50 plus pound bag (5 fish AIM format- Catch, Photo, Release) is very possible out on the lake. There's chances you must take during a tournament and you just have to go with your gut feeling sometimes. No one ever predicted such a tough bite.

Tim Bymark(Bimmie) and Chris Marinnuchi(Nuch) made the right decisions all day long and it earned them $15,000. Some tell me they were up on the river, but Topper and I seen them multiple times out on the lake as we burned gas to try and find an active fish or two (which didn't happen for us). Whatever they did, they had 5 fish and weighed in the biggest bag of the tournament. They got to kiss the cup and also earned an extra $1000 for top finishing Lund/Mercury team. We couldn't be more proud of these two local sticks. We have fished numerous tournaments with them and it was their time to shine. Shine they did.

Two years ago, Topper and I had motor problems the day before a tournament. Bimmie borrowed Topper and I his boat for the last day of prefishing before the Krause Anderson Walleye Classic. I'm not sure if Bimmie was already dialed in or if he was being a nice guy. You deserve this win man. The best part of it all, the cup is home in Grand Rapids where it belongs again.

Congratulations to the top 10 on a solid performance. Congrats to Brian Brosdahl and Paul Nelson on big fish (Did I see Brosdahl give his landing net away as he entered the arena?). You guys made it happen. Remember that weigh in and experience forever because it's truly a special one. Thanks to all the sponsors, the committee, and the volunteers who made this event what it was. Stay tuned for coverage of this tournament from Midwest Outdoors in the near future. Thanks guys for capturing this awesome event.

Those walleyes will continue to eat and pack on the pounds. Will we see a 50 pound bag next year? Who will be jamming to music and sitting on stage for the exciting shootout weigh in? I know I want to be. Until next year.... Good luck on the water!

written by Brock

2nd Weekend of July 2016

I love setting the hook and numerous times. Walleye fishing the past week has been good, but it's not like you're setting the hook a ton in a given 8 hour day. Maybe when the walleyes are on fire, you get to. Well, I was happy to have a guided trip scheduled for Saturday that involved chasing another species besides walleyes.

The weekend before I scouted a little for Saturday's crappie fishing trip. We found a few big crappies, but thoughts roamed around in my head all week to if they would stay there for another week. Lots of factors are involved when it comes to this especially with the weather the past few weeks and the crazy water temperature swings.

We pulled into the first spot on Saturday afternoon and started setting hooks almost instantly. Yep, they didn't go anywhere, and there were more than the weekend before, many more. Todd and I set the hook on our JT Custom Rods close to a hundred times. It felt good to catch fish at a constant pace (one out of three casts, sometimes every cast). We had a blast. We told stories and exchanged fishing knowledge for four quick hours. We barely moved the Motorguide Xi5 off anchor mode. I might of jogged us around maybe down the shore 20 yards and then back. There were so many crappies it was ridiculous. Oh, and a few hog gills to boot too. Fishing was good.

The fishing and setting the hook and size of crappies was not the highlight of this trip for me though. A few guide trips a year no matter what the fishing turns out to be make for long friendship. This trip with Todd was one of those. Todd is a kick butt dude and knows the outdoors. We had some of the best boat conversations I have had in quite some time. Most boat talks are Topper and I figuring out game plans to catch walleyes during tournaments. The majority of them are filled with frustration. But Saturday, we didn't talk about trying to catch fish cause all you had to do was just throw you line out there. We talked about fishing other bodies of water, deer hunting, family, and you name it, while we hammered on fish and set the hook a ton. Thanks Todd for the awesome evening on the water. That one ranks up there for me. I wonder how long those hog crappies will stay there?

written by Brock

4th of July Weekend 2016

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July Weekend. The HLO boys spent time with family and friends most of the weekend. And we had a blast..

Storms and unstable weather have been the norm the past several weekends or should I say weeks as in the case this past Tuesday. It seems we can't make it thru a weekend without a damaging thunderstorm to the area. On Tuesday a brutal thunderstorm carrying straight line winds, torrential rains, and vertical lightning bolts struck the Deer River area. Roofs were ripped off houses and businesses, a semi truck and trailer were flipped on its side, trees were uprooted, baseball dugouts lifted off the diamond, and lots more heinous damage. We feel for the Deer River area today as everyone begins to pick up the mess. Lets come together as a community and help those in need... please.

As for the fishing this past weekend, it was good, not great. Walleyes are in their summer transitional period on most lakes as the water temps finally push into the 70s. I would assume most lakes will see mid 70s by this coming weekend. Most walleyes are beginning to test deeper waters and mid lake structures. They can be there one minute and gone the next. It is key to pay attention to those Lowrance electronics. Make sure you are on fish. If you are and they are not biting move to the next pod of fish. We have been locating walleyes, catching the active ones in a pass or two and moving on to the next school or pod. This has put more fish in the Lund boats. On lakes such as Bowstring and Winnibigoshish, there are still a fair amount of fish in the shoreline weeds. Never forget about those weeds. If you are not catching fish out deep on those mid lake bars and humps, push back to the shoreline and fish the weeds.

Leeches and crawlers are working best right now on lindy rigs. Work them at .5-.7 mph. If that doesn't make fish eat, rig up a bottom bouncer and spinner rig and burn thru the fish with some speed. The shoreline fish have liked spinners tipped with crawlers pulled 1.0-1.2 mph. You have to bring variety to the table this time of year. If one thing isn't working keep switching things up. Make the fish tell you what they want. But you must bring the menu.

Colt Anderson attended Lund Boats Ultimate Fishing Experience Camp in Walker, MN last week. Leisure Outdoor Adventures put on this fabulous event. Professional fishermen such as Perry Good, Tony Roach, Scott Glorvigen, Ted Takasaki, and many more gave presentations and on the water demonstrations for three full days. Gary Roach even made a guest appearance and presentation. The camp got to fish with the pros and learn a ton of new walleye tactics ranging from electronics, boat control, presentations, fish behavior, and much much more. The knowledge ran deep and Colt said, "This was one of the best learning experiences I have ever had when it comes to fishing." If you want to attend this event next year, please get ahold of one of the HLO boys or Leisure Outdoor Adventures. It is worth every penny if you are serious about becoming a better walleye fisherman.

I must add one more thing about the past weekend. I had to do some scouting for an upcoming guide trip this weekend. The mission was big crappies so I had to travel outside the walleye norm and find some slabs. My beautiful wife assisted me in the search and we found what we were looking for on Saturday evening. It took us an hour and a half to find one, but then they came easy after that. The crappies are hunkered in the thickest and deepest weeds adjacent to their spawning locations. At least that's where we found them. -pictured in the upper corner of the blog is my wife, Lexi, with a couple early July slabs

written by Brock

Last Weekend of June 2016

Its getting to be a norm in the Grand Rapids area to have to dodge a fairly good storm at least once a weekend. Saturday, we had to hide from yet another strong thunderstorm that kicked up horizontal winds and large rainfall. I didn't hear any reports of twisters or baseball sized hail like last weekend, though. A lot of trees and branches were scattered around the area. The humidity and mother nature combined can sure make some crazy storms.... And she can make them happen with the snap of a finger. These storms also made us have to reschedule shortened fishing trips. The fishing was good too until we had to scramble to get off the water...

A lot of you are probably wondering how the bite on Pokegama Lake has been recently. Eighty percent of our guide trips this time of year take place out on Pokegs. This is usually the bread and butter time of year. You catch a bunch of eater walleyes with a couple big hog walleyes mixed in for the perfect picture. Well, if anyone knows Pokegs like us, you know that this body of water changes drastically from year to year. Its like no other lake you or we have ever fished. The amount of bait in this system is trifold of what is was even last year. Fish are fat and full. No, fishing is not slow because there are no walleyes left. There are so many walleyes out there right now that it would blow your mind. Go drive around and drop an underwater camera down on the weed edges! They just aren't hungry..... YET...

We have been taking a few guide trips elsewhere around the Grand Rapids area and the bite was HOT this weekend. The number of quality walleye lakes around the Grand Rapids area is amazing. We fished a handful of these lakes this past week and into the weekend and they didn't disappoint. Plain lindy rigs tipped with a crawler or a leech were our goto pulled .6-.8 mph. Spinners and crawlers caught a few fish too, but speed and flash just didn't seem to be the best ticket yet. Slip bobbers and leeches also worked well in the evening hours on a couple of those deep clear lakes. "I never thought I would say I added another tactic to the arsenal, but I really could run with the slip bobs from lake to lake", stated Brock. "I always made fun of those guys anchored up and corking, but there is a place for every presentation in the walleye world." "I'm learning when and where to use it and it sure is fun."

We are always trying to become better fishermen and also educate our clients and others so you can be more successful on the water. Tune into our You Tube Channel each and every Thursday for our weekly fishing tip video! This past week's tip was: Marking hog walleyes on your Lowrance HDS. A couple quick settings to clear up your screen and help you locate more walleyes..

If you are heading up to Lake of the Woods or the Rainy River, please take a peek at Slim's Resort. 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! Slim's is right on the river just before Wheeler's Point. Stay at Slim's during all your Lake of the Woods fishing adventures. Fishing on Lake of the Woods has been very good lately. Call up Slims and book a trip for the summer! I guarantee you will catch big walleyes!

Follow us on Facebook for daily fishing and outdoor 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 summer and fall guided trips for 2016...


AYA Kids Bass Tournament

The Angler Young Angler Tournament was held Saturday on Pokegama Lake. In years past, this has been a walleye tournament. This year they put a twist on it and made it a bass tournament. This is always an awesome time for the kids and Ray's Sport and Marine along with Lund Boats and Mercury Marine do an exceptional job hosting, running, and organizing the event.

Rules for the event were as follows: Weigh your 5 biggest bass (Smallmouth, Largemouth, or mixed bag, No rockbass); Boundaries were Pokegama Lake (you couldn't fish the River); Could use live bait; Tournament hours 8:30AM to 3:30PM; One adult and one/two kids under 17 years of age per tournament boat....

HLO teams fished this event including: Randy Topper, Brock Anderson, Amos Wolf, and Abe Wolf.

I'm(Brock) not going to talk about our day because the bass just didn't like us for some reason. We lost a few at the boat, but struggled to figure out a pattern on smallmouth or largemouth. I will try to summarize the days for our HLO guides and kids.

Randy Topper and kids were on some good bass earlier in the week. I heard they had a mixed bag going casting topwaters in the morning and rigging deeper for smallmouth later in the day. When I drove my Lund 2075 past them at 11:30 it seemed they were already out in deeper waters looking for those huge pokeg smallies. I hope they were cause we had an empty livewell. We were on our way to the slop on the east side.

It wasn't until later in the day that I ran into Abe Wolf and his Crew on the back side of Camper's Island. Abe said they had a good bag and they had been super shallow all day. Wow! That's Awesome! The kids and I took a timeout and rerigged our rods for pitching shallow water. Well, that didn't work for us either. Hahaha I ran into Amos just before weigh in and I believe they had a few good fish too.

A slow day fishing for the kids and I still resulted in lots of fun, laughs, and learning. I even let Noah and Ella drive the 200 Mercury Verado powered Lund boat back to Tiogo Beach. The power steering of Mercury makes it so easy a 9 year old can drive. We had a fun day and it's all about the kids at this tournament.

Back at Tiogo Beach, everyone started talking about the bags of fish they had. A few boats had good bags and a couple surprisingly struggled like myself. Abe Wolf and his kids had a good bag. Topper's was OK and so was Amos'. A couple boats weren't telling anyone what they had including G Fothergill.

In the end, five teams stood up on stage and Abe Wolf and kids were one of them. Congrats to Abe and kids on 4th Place at the AYA (pictured in upper right corner of blog). Congrats to all the kids and to the adults who brought kids. This is an excellent tournament and a great way to get kids hooked on fishing. Congrats to Gordon Fothergill and Boys on first place.

For more information on Angler Young Angler tournaments around Minnesota or next year's event on Pokegama Lake please get ahold of Dave Hernesman at Ray's Sport and Marine in Grand Rapids (218-326-0353).

Lake Bemidji and Leech Lake AIM Tournaments

This time of year is a crazy mess! We look forward to it every year though. The hustle and bustle trying to prepare for tournaments, sneaking out of work, the mind spinning 360 degrees trying to figure out what the walleyes are thinking, doing, and eating, and the time away from family are all factors involved in the hectic season. Yep, it's called tournament time. Three tournaments in nine days this year is even more nuts.

Leech Lake was complete on Sunday so off we went to Lake Bemidji on Wednesday, after a large group guide trip that morning. Colt and Dylan pulled off an 11th Place finish on Leech Lake so we were all pumped to try and post a good finish at the Knights of Columbus Walleye Tournament on Lake Bemidji.

Let me say a few quick words about the Knights Tournament. We have fished this tournament for six years and it is an awesome event. It is top notch. From the rules meeting to the National Anthem that always sends goosebumps down my spine to the great fishing and the intense weigh in is all the way a tournament should be run. And the 100 teams are the best sticks in the area so you better bring your 'A' game to this one.

Prefishing went pretty good for Topper and I following up to Saturday. The bite was kind of inconsistent, but we had a plan. That's the most important part. We had a couple spots for big fish and a few for our unders (under 20 inches).

As we sat in the camper on Friday evening and listened to the radio. John Peterson (owner of Northland Fishing Tackle) came on and gave a preview of the Knights of Columbus tournament. His words were ever so true and Topper and I couldn't not follow through with our plan. I remember him saying, "Their will be a lot of really good fishermen who come in with no fish or possibly just a few fish because they chose to go after their two big walleyes all day." "It's hard to win a tournament if you don't have a big one or two." Topper looked at me with these words and it was game time.

We blasted off as Boat #2 at 7AM. We were pumped to go after a couple hog walleyes right off the bat. Our plan was to run to a couple secondary humps where we had caught some big gals on Thursday and see if we could get our two overs first. It didn't take long and Topps was hooked up. A plump 19" landed in the net and Topps sighed, "Bonus". It wasn't a big over but it would work well for one of our unders.

Each team weighs 5 walleyes in this tournament. Only two can be over 20 inches. Five fat 19 inchers might land you in the top 15, but it's not going to win it.

We ground out our big fish spot for two and a half more hours without a bite. Around 10AM we decided we better hit the weeds and get four more walleyes. Well, spot two kicked out a 19, 19, 16, and 16. We had our five fish in a half hour. It was big fish time again. We needed a couple over 20" to weigh in with our three awesome 19s. Well, to save words, we didn't upgrade fish the rest of the day. The big walleyes eluded us for another tournament day. We tried! We stuck to our plan and at the end of the day, Topper and I were happy with how we fished. Sometimes you need a little luck during tournaments too.

The weigh in was full of high energy as we heard word of a couple Grand Rapids teams that had big bags. No, it wasn't Colt and Dylan or the Wolfs. It was Dave Nikkel and Nate Reed, Dave and Jim Carpenter, and Aaron Murphy and Rich Blomberg. These three teams brought their 'A' game. Congrats to Aaron and Rich on first place, Dave and Jim second, and Dave and Nate on 4th.

After the weigh in, we raced back to our campers at Stony Point on Cass Lake. The boys jumped in a vehicle and cruised to Walker for the rules meeting for the AIM tournament on Leech Lake that following morning. The HLO teams who fished the event on Sunday are as follows: Colt and Topper, Abe and Amos, Dan Neary and Craig King, and Dylan and Ben Olson.

With no prefishing behind them, the boys battled extreme waves, rain, and bitter temps on Sunday. The 100 boat field was full of the best of the best walleye fishermen. Pros from across the upper Midwest fished this tournament. After 8 hours, everyone returned soggy and beat up from the crazy conditions that Leech Lake threw their way. Leech Lake was not a happy lake that day. Boats reported six foot waves at times.

At the end of the day, Craig King and Dan Neary stood proud with a 15th place finish and money in their pockets. Good work guys. Way to stand up for team HLO!

Another week of guided trips are in store for us this week and then the Angler Young Angler Bass tournament is Saturday on Pokegama Lake. Fishing, fishing, and more fishing.....

First Weekend of June 2016- Leech Lake Tournament

This past week we (Brock and Randy, Craig and Adam, Dylan and Colt, and Abe and Amos) found ourselves camping at Stoney Point Campground on Leech Lake preparing for the 2016 Leech Lake Walleye Tournament. This tournament was filled with 155 of some of the best teams in the state. For this two day tournament you could keep 6 fish a day. A combination of 5 under 20 and one over 26, or all 6 under 20 if you couldnít find a big one for the day.

Pre fishing did not go well for us, fishing was very inconsistent and the wind would switch directions constantly. When the wind would switch, it would turn 180 degrees. The wind wasnít just a breeze either I must say. We ran across the lake multiple times in 4-6 foot waves. The wind for the week was pretty consistent somewhere between 15-25 mph. This lake definitely picked our brains pretty good for a solid week!

Letís jump to Friday afternoon (The day before tourney time). We had to be off the water by 3 and then to the rules meeting we went. With our boats inspected by certified AIS inspectors, we had our sheets signed that we were clean of invasive species and headed to the rules meeting. We showed up to the casino, got our boat numbers assigned, threw $20 in the big fish spot, and paid attention to the rules and ways we could get DISQUALIFIED! After the meeting, we headed back to Stoney to re-spool our rods and tie up all new rigs. Full of excitement and anticipation, Colt and I finally decided on a game plan.

Tourney day was finally here, I was too anxious to even eat my free doughnut given by the tournament Committee. There we sat in the middle of 155 boats, anxious to get rolling! We made it with boat number 11 and when they said GO, I pinned the Mercury big tiller and off we went across Walker Bay towards Otter Tail Point. It sure didnít take long going 50 mph! We arrived on our first spot and it took us about 9 seconds to catch our first 18.5 incher. After that it was history, we weeded through a few smaller fish after we had our 6 in the box. We finally decided it was time to go big fish hunting. Iím calling it big fish hunting, not big fish catching because we were not able to put one in the live well for day one. We managed to put a few hours into a big fish for day one but like I said no luck. With our heads hung a little low, we raced back to the weigh-in, at the Walker City Park. We soon learned that the bite was tough and our 10.37lb bag was in top 20 for the day. Say what? We were in top 20 out of 155 teams and we didnít even have a big fish over 26 inches? This really excited us. Only 11 teams brought a big fish in on day 1. The fishing must have been tough for 144 teams to not catch one over 26. We packed the boat up and headed back to Stoney Point to re-rig the rods and make sure everything was perfectly in order for day two, Sunday.

With coffee filled in our Yetis we landed the boats and drove them to Walker City Park again for takeoff. We were boat number 11, but they do the takeoff backwards on day two. We had plenty of time to finish our coffee! Day two was calm in the morning, just a little walleye chop to make the boat go faster. We decided to mirror our day one plan and do the same thing day two. We really had to grind our spot out day two to get our unders as the wind had changed 180 degrees yet again for the 15th time of the week. But good news, we got em! They werenít as fat as day one so we decided to get out of that spot and go big fish hunting early. Well good news, we were able to upgrade two of our unders, but again, no big one over 26 inches. We headed back to weigh in and just as we got to Agency Bay my smart gauges started beeping at me and telling me that I had low voltage on my running battery. With the smart gauges shutting the motor down, we were only able to run it at 11mph. As we rounded the corner we only had 4 minutes to get there or else we would have had to forfeit half our weight as a penalty for being late. As we pounded through 4 footers in the bay going as fast as it would let me, we somehow crossed the line with 28 seconds to go on the clock. Talk about cutting it close! I was sweating like you wouldnít believe! As we sat in the crowd with anticipation, they started calling out the top 20. As they started with 20th place and counted towards 1st, we noticed right away that we had quite a bit more weight than 20th and got jacked up!!! We (Colt and Dylan) ended up in 11th place with 21.23lbs. Consistent fishing pays off! We were only 7 pounds away from first place, imagine if we would have gotten the big one over 26 inches! Itís pretty awesome to be one bite away from taking a tourney home with a big check. One of these days we will be on top! We couldnít be more proud to just be able to fish consistently and take a top 15 out of 155 boats especially in the conditions that Leech Lake threw at us. The waves were giants for prefishing and even larger on Saturday and Sunday. The 2075 Lund and 200 Mercury Verado handled them beautiful. Congratulations to Kurb / Sutton for catching the most pounds in walleyes. Great job!

As for the rest of the Hang Loose teams, well, they didnít do so hot. Like I said, the bite was tough. They caught fish, just not the right ones. Lessons are always learned each and every tournament. Grind a spot or keep on keepin on? That is the hardest decision ever. On to Lake Bemidji next weekend and back to Leech Lake for the AIM on Sunday. WOW, itís going to be another crazy weekend.

Written by Dylan Maki

4th Weekend of May 2016 - Tourney Time Already?

Hang Loose started their tournament season a few weeks early by fishing the Gary Newell Memorial Fishing Tournament on Lake Bemidji. We heard of this tournament through the grapevine and Dylan and Randy decided to give it a whirl. We have very great things to say about this tournament and we would like to see more Grand Rapids teams show up to battle with the local Bemidji crowd. Bemidji is a huge fishing town and so is Grand Rapids so the Bemidji folks love to go to battle against Rapids teams, as they should, they are very good sticks.

Topper and I noticed the vibe of this tournament being very upbeat and every single person participating in this tournament was approachable and loved to 'BS' during the rules meeting as well as the weigh in. We felt very welcomed!

As far as the fishing went, luck didnít seem to be on our side for getting a big fish in the boat. Our first little honey hole had a zillion of cookie cutter 16-17 inch fish so we had to weed through them to get our 18ís and 19ís. We probably caught 30 fish before we decided itís all or nothing, letís find a big momma and win this thing! Topper was the first one to start feeding a big perfect mark that came across the Lowrance and just after we graphed the fish we also noticed a tree on the Downscan. Wouldnít you know it, the fish wrapped itself up around the tree and by the time we could make a circle around it, and the fish had broken itself off. We picked up our rods and headed to Randyís Top Secret spot. (No he didnít make me wear a blindfold) As we rolled into this spot shutting the Mercury down as fast as we could, Randy was feeding line to another hog just as fast. When it was time to set the hook, Randy took a huge hookset and the drag screamed. The fish seemed to have six foot headshakes as it slowly sank itself back down to bottom but just like the other big fish we had on, the line snapped.

With only one hour left of fishing time, we went back to our little honey hole to see if we could somehow get lucky and pop an over. Shortly after our arrival Randy had our first over in the boat. It was a dandy 22 incher, not what we needed to win, but it would certainly help. Shortly after we contained our excitement, I had another over on. As Randy has tried teaching me, never put too much pressure on the fish, let it fight, let it wear itself out and it will make its way to the net. Well my excitement got the best of me and I put too much pressure on the fish and it popped the hook just before the net. It was a hard time to learn that lesson, but itís learned now.

All said and done we made our way to the weigh in with what we thought would be a decent bag. Well the Bemidji folks taught us a lesson, we ended up 41st place with 8.45 lbs. Congratulations to Brian Hendricks and Bill Nelson with 18.72lbs and they also got big fish at 7.15 lbs. You couldnít ask for a much more perfect bag than that! Again, all said and done, we would love to see more Rapids teams come to this tournament, it was very well organized and the fishing was awesome.

With that being said, the bite around the Grand Rapids and Bemidji area has been very good thru the second weekend of the MN Fishing Opener. The fish are on the shorelines and chowing shiners and other minnows that are heading in to spawn. Find the bait and you will find the walleyes. On calm days try fan casting and pitching jigs tipped with minnows. This technique is a great way to catch walleyes on those days when the wind doesn't offer that so called 'walleye chop'. Look to Bemidji, Cass, Bowstring, Leech, Winnibigoshish (evening hours), and Upper Red Lake for your best walleye action right now. Stick with those jigs and minnows for another week.

written by Dylan

2016 MN Fishing Opener

Hope you all had a great 2016 MN Fishing Opener! I might be lying if I said the weather was finally beautiful for once. The man upstairs must like to see us battle the elements in search of the first meal of walleyes. Right? The weather was downright brutal again for this yearís opener. The northland was even treated with snow on Saturday morning. Cold and windy were the reports from the opening weekend.

How about the fishing? Well, I canít speak for most only for us and the hearsay of the anglers I spoke with. Thatís like one percent of a percent of all the anglers who hit the water this weekend. The turnout around Itasca County was very good despite the forecasted weather. Itís a tradition to fish, camp, and spend time with family and friends on the opener. I must say traditions were followed to a ĎTí once again. I'm pretty sure lots of laughs, good times, and hook sets and hot coffee were shared this weekend.

Oh yeah about that fishing. It was a good opening weekend on our end of the stick. We caught plenty of walleyes for the fry pan and threw back a fair amount in the slot. We even caught a fair share of crappies, jumbo perch, and pike. I heard of one big bass and a couple bluegills too. Although, walleyes were most targeted, everyone loves a multi species bag. No matter what species of fish bends the rod, they are all fun even if it is another slime and you have to take your gloves off one more time. Cold hands get warm over the campfire or back at the cabin.

Where were we fishing this weekend you might ask? Well, I hate to give out names of lakes this time of year to maybe prevent over crowded boat landings when there is only one on a lake. Also, me telling you where the fish are biting defeats the purpose of keeping secrets and most importantly another fishermanís secret. Walleyes are always biting somewhere on every lake with a good population this time of year. You might have to work harder on one body of water than another. Those fish are predators and they are filling their faces this time of year as they recover from their annual spawn. You can catch them, trust me.

Lakes such as Winnibigoshish, Leech, Upper Red, Mille Lacs, Bowstring and others have such a good reputation that a high percentage of anglers look to these lakes for a good walleye bite. A small report on these larger bodies of water might be helpful to point some anglers in a better direction to be successful. And these lakes are big with numerous boat landings. From what I heard from anglers and the HLO boys who fished a couple of these famous walleye factories was the bite was good. It wasnít lights out, but the fish were biting even in the wind and cold.

That cold front changed the bite from what most expect on opening weekend. We all like that shallow water walleye bite on opener, right? Shiner minnows and bait are up in the shallows and the walleyes are on their heels. I heard of some anglers picking off walleyes up shallow, but most of us found the better bite out deeper. It was like this for the handful of lakes that we all fished so I must say it was a small pattern. The best bite is always the one you yourself finds.

Why was our walleye bite better in deeper water this weekend? Iím no fish expert, but I can sure come up with some opinions. Fishing on Sunday formed this opinion. A slow walleye bite on Lake X made me change up my game plan hours into our day. I decided to go chase crappies up shallow. We had been getting some nice crappies up in two to three feet of water a week prior to the opener. We jumped up to the shallows and plucked a 12 inch crappie almost instantly. Then for the next hour, the seas went dead. The water temps were 61 degrees last week and now they were 52. Did the crappies move out deep and postpone their prespawn? They were gone. We searched the whole shoreline and had no action.

I went into walleye search mode as I like to call it and put my head into the Lowrance and started cruising. I cruised the breaks, nothing. I cruised shallow water flats, nothing. Then I took a shot in the dark and just started searching the basin. The fish had to be somewhere. I found some scattered fish in 14-16 fow out in no mans land. We started fishing and to my surprise catching. An empty livewell turned into a packed house in a quick hurry. Walleyes werenít the only species in my Lund well. We had jumbo perch, crappies, walleyes, and a couple big bull gills. All the fish were just hanging out deep together in small pods. It seemed to me that the cold front had pushed the fish out deep. Dropping water temperatures have done that before and I should of taken that into consideration two hours earlier.

About the same story followed on the other end of my cell phone late Sunday night as I spoke with the other Hang Loose boys. They were on different bodies of water, but their bite was best out a touch deeper than normal too. Those early season walleye spots seemed to not be vacant of fish, but werenít holding the amount of fish to offer a great bite for us. Now, the story might have been different for you.

How was your opening weekend walleye bite?

Look for the water temperatures to rise this week and into the weekend as the weather forecast is predicted to be beautiful. We will be pushing up into the shallows looking for those hungry walleyes as those temps work their way back up to the 60 degree mark. The shallows will be packed full of bait and walleyes real soon. I will continue jigging for now.

Good luck on the water this week!

Mother's Day Weekend - Almost Fishing Opener

What an awesome Mother's Day it was. The weather was beautiful and the fish were slammin! Yep, the crappies around the Grand Rapids area are shallow and feeding. That's what most of the HLO guys did this weekend. We took our lovely wives, mothers, and gals out fishing. It was a great weekend on the water!

Next weekend is the 2016 MN Fishing opener. Where is everyone heading? I've heard a lot of Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish, Cut Foot Bowstring, Lake of the Woods, Upper Red, etc. All these walleye factories should offer an excellent bite on opener. Let's cross our fingers for the weather first. As of now, if this weather sticks around and no cold fronts roll thru, plan on an awesome opening weekend walleye bite.

Why do I say the walleyes should be biting on Saturday? Well, the water temps are hitting the low 60s during the day on most of the area lakes. The walleyes are all done spawning and ready to put the feed bag on. The shiner minnows are heading shallow to complete their spawn. This recipe of hungry walleyes, bait in the shallows, and slowly rising but stable water temps makes for the perfect storm.

Find the bait on opening day and the walleyes will be there. A jig tipped with a shiner minnow or a plastic of your choice should be your goto presentation on opening weekend. Focus on the shallow wind blown shorelines and points in 4-10 foot of water. If the wind is calm and drifting is not an option, go into the shallows and fan cast using your electric trolling motors. Fan casting is an important tactic to bring to the game when those walleyes are up shallow chasing shiners. When waters are calm and you are in 6 foot of water, what do you think the walleyes see when they look up? I bet they see your boat. Fan casting covers more fishy water and gets you away from the boat. Make long casts towards the shoreline and slowly retrieve your jig/minnow. To be honest, this is one of my favorite ways of fishing.

Another one of my favorites while the jig/minnow is on the end of my line is rip jigging. Rip jigging is deadly even early in the year. Lots of guys think it doesn't work early because its too aggressive. I will tell you it works both ways. If you are not familiar with rip jigging you should learn how. Rip jigging is a very hard snap or sweep of your rod instead of a slow jig up and down. I pretty much sweep my rod tip 5-6 feet at a time. In order for this to be effective there are a few things to follow. First, its nice to have your boat speed up to like 0.8 mph or more. You need monofilament line so it stretches. I like to run 6 or 8 lb Stren or Trilene XL. If you are in the shallows which you will be, go with a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce jig. Tip it with a minnow and give it a long cast. I even let more line out after my cast. Now, with slack in your line, sweep you rod tip towards you in a long sudden motion. Now, let back 5-6 feet with a loose line and snap back. Back and forth and back and forth you go. It should sound like a whip if you do it like I do. I don't have this down like others so I'm not telling you this is how its done. I like you enjoy learning and this is one technique I'm still mastering. It takes practice. I won't say names, but there are a few guys out there who are amazing at this technique.

Why does rip jigging work early in the year? When you rip jig effectively, your jig pauses or stalls in the water column for a split second. This pause triggers bites. The pause happens just off of bottom. A walleye just chilling on bottom takes the pause as an easy meal. It doesn't have to snatch it up off bottom. Remember me saying keep slack in your line when you rip it back for the jig? Once you rip it back, pause with slack in your line and feel the bite. Now, set the hook hard. If no bite, rip it back again. You pretty much try to keep a little slack in your line at all times unless you have a fish on. If you are catching weeds or bottom, you have too much line out, your not rip jigging fast enough, or your not going fast enough for the size jig you have on. Put a lighter jig on, increase your speed, or rip jig faster and harder. You don't want to make contact with bottom, but want to be close. Like I said, it's an art, and it can make for a sore arm in the morning, but it's deadly.

What do I look for on my electronics early in the year? That's a great question. I have a tough time graphing walleyes in shallow water like 6 feet. They just scatter before my sonar cone hits them. I try to find bait balls and any type of clutter of my graph. If you have a noisy graph then there is probably something going on around there. Start fishing.

I run my sensitivity in manual instead of auto. If I'm shallow, I turn my sensitivity down until I have a white background and a nice yellow bottom. My screen is noise free. If there is bait or walleyes shallow then you might begin picking up clutter or noise on your screen. Sometimes you might not get a solid arch, maybe a half of an arc. Anyway, I could go on forever about electronics and walleyes. For now, I will leave you with that.

Stay tuned to our website www.hanglooseoutdoors.com for more tips and to our Youtube Channel: HangLooseOutdoorsMN on Thursday for our video tip.

Good luck to everyone for the MN Fishing Opener. Remember the most important thing this weekend: BE SAFE!

written by Brock

First Weekend of May 2016

Fishing is called fishing for a reason. It is defined as, "The activity of trying to catch fish". Trying is the key word here. Last weekend (Apr 24) a fair stretch of cool weather rolled thru the Northland. This past week, temperatures warmed, but the wind continued to blow from the north. That breeze made the nice land temps kind of cold especially on the water.

Mid week found the Hang Loose boys fishing for crappies. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't lights out. It was a search to find them on Tuesday and Wednesday, but when we found them, we were able to catch a few nice slabs. We had to really work for them when they appeared of the graph though. These fish hung in the 8 to 14 foot depth wherever there were stubby weeds on bottom next to the reeds.

As we caught fish midweek in front of the classic muddy shallow bays, it was a no brainer to where they would be during the coming weekend. Right? Well, the weekend rolled in and we all planned to bend some rods and take a few people out to enjoy catching some fish.

Well, things didn't really go as planned. The water temps warmed just like they were supposed to, but the fish didn't show up. Not only didn't they hit the shallows, they disappeared. I mean they were gone from all the places we had been catching them for the past two weeks. We checked deeper and shallower depths and came up with nothing. Our electronics were even blank. Sight fishing on the bow with the Motorguide Xi5 didn't even turn anything up. I shouldn't say nothing. We caught some bass, bluegills, pike, and rockbass. The HLO boys fished five different bodies of water throughout the weekend in the Grand Rapids area and only 1 crappie made it to the boat. Where did they all go?

We thought about this one long and hard and the only thing we could come up with was this: They have to be buried in the bottom or in the mud in that transition between the deep basin and the shallows right now. They definitely aren't schooled up. If they are in the mud or hugging bottom they are probably scattered about like this. They are waiting for the winds to switch to the south and the water to warm a couple more degrees. Once they realize this has happened, they will slowly rise up and start quietly feeding into the shallows one by one. Once it's safe up there, they will come by the twos and then the threes.

Look for crappie fishing to heat up and them to begin appearing in their classic spots later this week. The forecast looks beautiful with south winds. I guarantee things start popping around the Grand Rapids area in a quick couple days. Stay tuned for Thursday's video tip this week on our YouTube Channel: HangLooseOutdoorsMN.

We'll see if things go back to normal. For now, keep fishing. Panfish are so unpredictable this time of year. Trying to find them is all the battle. Once you find them, you will catch them. Just remember: Practice Catch and Release! We encourage keeping some for a meal, but please release those big females. Take a kid fishing. Kids love catching crappies and bluegills. "Your bobbers under, set the hook" "Got em". There's something about that phrase. See you all next week!

written by Brock

Last Weekend of April 2016

Another somewhat yucky weekend rolled into the northland the past couple days. Saturday morning was fair, but then the rain and wind hammered down. To the north, in Baudette MN, conditions were about exactly the same. Saturday was good depending on where you were on the river or on the lake. By early afternoon, location didn't matter. The rain and wind came from everywhere.

A couple of the Hang Loose boys were up at Baudette MN this weekend. Randy Topper brought his family up for the weekend and they all stayed at Slim's Resort. Saturday, fishing was excellent for them. I went up with the Aitkin Crew on Saturday morning and fishing wasn't so hot and heavy for us.

Location does make a huge difference in where the fish are biting too. Randy fished the gap on the lake side on Saturday and put 18 sturgeon in the boat by early afternoon. Now, that is slammin man! My phone kept on dinging with text messages from Topper throughout the morning as I sat on the Rainy River all the way up by Pelland. Topper and I had decided to fish opposite sides of the famous Rainy River and see where the fish were biting best. Topper won that day and we almost landed a goose egg.

Sunday came and we all knew where we had to be for the best bite. The only problem was, it was raining and the wind was bucking to almost 30 mph. No lake fishing for us. We stuck to the river on Sunday and battled the weather. I'm pretty certain the weather slowed the sturgeon bite. We tried everything and only persisted to catch a few small ones throughout the day. It was a tough go around with the wind, rain, and slow fishing. A warm dinner and cold beverages were a life saver that night.

As far as Randy and his family went on Sunday, they looked outside and made the decision to head home that morning. Smart Idea! You didn't miss anything besides a lot of wind, a little rain, and chilly bones.

The last few years, I've had the sturgeon curse big time. I once blamed it on myself, but I think I'm going to blame it on the weather. It's always beautiful weather until I go up to tackle some dinosaurs, then winter returns. Yes, I believe a cold front affects those huge prehistoric beasts the same as any other fish, possibly more. But, when you want to fish, you go fishing. It's hard to plan around a cold front. Fishing is still better than work and when you're with family and friends, it's tough to beat the good times.

Another great weekend up in Baudette, MN.

'Brodie Topper (Randy's nephew) pictured in the upper right corner of the blog with a 62" sturgeon caught on Saturday!'

written by Brock

Third Weekend of April 2016

Here at Hang Loose Outdoors, we are always looking for the best times to target HOG walleyes and thatís why weíre always so excited for the spring Rainy River Run. This time of the year those big marble eyes are in the pre spawn run and they stage in the Rainy River to find a nice gravel spot to spawn once the water temperature gets warm enough. Although it is hard to make it up to the river on the perfect days when waves of hogs swim through, we somehow lucked out again this year. Just like last year, it was the last 2 days of season that the big girls were there and hungry.

We started out our day out of Vidas landing where we were lucky enough to boat a few good fish, nothing giant, but good hogs. The fishing was rather slow and we all had a one hundred fish day on our minds, so we decided to relocate to Birchdale landing. Yeah I know, leaving fish to find more fish can sometimes bite you in the rear end. We arrived to Birchdale Landing and it took us about a half an hour to find the honey hole. It seemed every cast we were battling an 18-21 inch fish through the fast current. Amos, Randy, and Brock were catching a fish every cast while I sat in the back of the boat and took pictures. At least we were all having fun! When the boys werenít paying attention I jogged the Motor Guide forward a few clicks and moved right into the sweet spot. Randy and Amos didnít think it was too funny, but there was still enough fish to be had. I think it would be pretty easy to say that we met our goal of a hundred fish. We even landed a few good fish around the 25 inch mark! It was an absolute blast. We used Reel Bait Flasher jigs tipped with a rainbow chub minnow or plastic. Colors that worked best were gold and chartreuse. The current was pretty strong, so we spent a lot of time anchoring with the Motor Guide, or we used the trolling motor to assist us to slow the boat down a little bit. It seemed to help a lot when you were going slower than the current because the water was also a little dirty. 'Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is Randy Topper with a nice walleye from the Rainy River on the last day of season.'

We all went to work on Friday, but decided to load the boat back up that night and see what we could find for sturgeon on Saturday. Benny and I landed out of Vidas landing once again, and it didnít take long before a few big pointy nose sturgeon started to show up on the downscan. We would cruse around and graph the holes in that 20 foot mark until we would see a pod of a few of them. If you click the cursor on your Lowrance you can put a waypoint on the exact point of the fish, not where the boat currently is. I noticed some of the waypoints were a lot further than expected from where the boat was, sometimes out of casting distance. We used the motor guide to anchor upstream from the waypoint and then simply jogged around until we found the sweet spot! It is absolutely unreal how much technology can assist you in sturgeon fishing. Also, when we anchor with the trolling motor, there arenít any wet and cold hands from the anchor rope. The Motor Guide Xi5 is an unbelievable fishing tool. Is it really that useful? Absolutely! It makes our jobs easier. We ended up boating 7 Dinoís over the 50 inch mark. Man our arms are still sore from the battles! Tune into Facebook and our YouTube channel: HangLooseOutdoorsMN for weekly fishing tips videos. We will be doing lots of tips throughout the summer on using your electronics to find fish and covering everything boat control related. These tips will help you be more productive on the water.

Open water is here in the Grand Rapids area. Pokegama Lake was about the last to open up and she was ice free on the 16th. The walleyes are being stripped on Little Cut Foot Sioux as we speak. Everything is setting up for another awesome open water season.

Get out there and start chasing those spring crappies around.

Written by Dylan Maki

Second Weekend of April 2016

The ice is off on a bunch of smaller bodies of water around the Grand Rapids area. When will lakes such as Pokegama, Trout, Winnibigoshish, and Leech open up? I bet within the next week as temperatures look awesome for the end of the week and into the weekend.

Lots of anglers were up on the Rainy River this past weekend. Temperatures were bone chilling and the wind gusted like crazy all weekend long. Colt and Dylan were up on the river. They reported a slower walleye bite so they chose to chase sturgeon and save on the hands. It's a lot warmer when you can just kick back in the Lund, hit anchor on the Motorguide xi5, and wait for a prehistoric beast to bite. They said sturgeon fishing was pretty slow too, but they did get into a few.

It sounds like Dylan, Topps, and I are heading up to the river Thursday for the last day of the walleye season. It should be a good bite. The last day is always when the true giants head up river. Lets hope we can tangle with a few.

If you're getting those fishing rods and reels ready for open water, check out last week's fishing tip with HLO -Monofilament or braided fishing line. Fishing line is personal preference, but knowing which line to use when can mean more bites and more fish! Hope you guys enjoy our weekly tips videos!

See you on the water

First Weekend of April 2016

Hang Loose Outdoors began well over 15 years ago. When it started, we were all about secrets as we captured video and snapped multiple pictures every fishing trip. People would ask us, "Where were you fishing at this weekend?" Our response was usually, "Top Secret". Well, that didn't sit well with some people, especially our friends and even our parent's friends and coworkers. Our fathers would proudly display our pictures at their offices and just wouldn't tell people where the big fish came from. Little did they know, we probably kept a few secrets from our parents too. Secrets are secrets right?

Hang Loose Outdoors has come a long way from those years. Today, we thrive on sharing our outdoor experiences with others. We bring people fishing to some of our lakes that were once top secret. We show them how to catch big fish. We introduce kids to fishing. We even provide fishing tips on the internet and social media sites. Why, when once everything was a secret? We have grown up from those days and understand the importance of this great sport. In order for fishing and hunting to keep on keeping on, we must show others how to have fun and be successful when afield. It's future is in the hands of you and I and our children's kids. We love making memories; seeing someone catch the biggest fish of their life, seeing a family have fun on the water, and educating others on fishing tactics and new equipment so they can be successful by themselves. Hang Loose is all about showing others a great time in the outdoors. Our fishing guide business thrives on showing you 'A fun day on the water'!

Today, it's hard to keep a secret. Social media and the internet has consumed most of everybody's secrets. You post a picture or a video and people are on that thing asking questions and shooting opinions until they have the time, date, and place. Big fish pictures are about the worst. If anglers see a big fish or two, three, four, they will dive into you to get the information. Lakes are public so if they find the place, there is a good possibility they will keep it in the memory bank. There is a slim chance they might end up out there, but they might or someone else will.

I should say we do still keep a few secrets nowadays. Our bait, jigs, colors, trolling speed, lures, depth is all kept secret while competing at walleye tournaments throughout the summer. Whitetail hunting spots are definitely secret. Our small back country crappie lakes are kept on the down low. Why would we want to see others on some of our top secret lakes? Sometimes the experience is that much more enjoying when its just you, your friends, and the wilderness!

Yes, we still keep secrets.

We are booking open water guided fishing trips for the spring and summer right now. Our schedules are getting busy so if you want a day full of rod bending action, get ahold of us soon. Trips can be booked with any of the HLO guides by calling Brock at 218-259-5447.

Last Weekend of March 2016- Sturgeon Fishing Tip

Where can you go to catch the biggest fish of your life? When asked this question, lots of anglers look south to the oceans or to the Gulf of Mexico. I said many, but not all. If you were to ask this question 10 years ago, traveling a long distance would of been the normal answer. Today, I bet you get quite a few different opinions. A high percentage of anglers will now answer this question with a quick drive north to the border: the Rainy River.

The Baudette area known as the 'Walleye Capital of the World' is also known for holding gigantic sturgeon. Sturgeon fishing has gained popularity by 10 fold in the past 5-10 years. The sturgeon population has exploded on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River thanks to the MN DNR, Canada Ministries Fisheries and the Clean Water Act. The population was decimated in the late 1800s and early 1900s by commercial fishing. Now, it's back in full force and the lake can sustain a fishing season on this wonderful prehistoric species.

Sturgeon fishing caught our attention about 13 years ago when we would accidentally hook into one of these beasts with walleye gear while chasing pre-spawn walleyes on the Rainy River in early April. We marveled at their power and wanted more. We love big fish and this was one we had to target. Talking with locals and the few anglers we could find who targeted these fish, we begin putting the puzzle together. As catfish fishermen, it seemed similar so it didn't take too many modifications and we had something down.

I remember these days clearly. Sitting in the 14 foot duck boat anchored with huge muskie rods hanging out the sides of the boat. Anglers would drift by walleye fishing and glare at us, as to say, "What the hell those young bucks doing?" "Are they seriously going after those damn no good sturgeon". Not that all of them thought this, but that's what it seemed to us. You would see very few anglers targeting these sturgeon ten years ago and we can say, we were a few of them. The power of these fish amazed us. When the walleye fishing was slow, we didn't care. We had our sturgeon rods with, a few heavy sinkers, and a couple dozen crawlers. Our trip was saved once we hooked into one of those prehistoric beasts. Another fond memory was when we did hook up, we drew a crowd of walleye anglers (some of the same ones that thought we were off our rockers) around cheering us on. We never had a net so it was always a tail wrestle into the boat. That was when we begin cheering. Every sturgeon was a fish of a lifetime.

Today, sturgeon fishing has broken wide open and everyone has caught on. It's truly crazy how popular it has become. The Rainy River sees hundreds of boats in a given day and thousands of lines sink down to the bottom just waiting for a sturgeon to suck it up. Anglers come from Southern Minnesota and cross states to Baudette, Minnesota just to drop a line in the Rainy River late March to the first part of May. This is when the sturgeon fishing is at it's peak. But it's not the only time to target sturgeon. There is a catch-n-release season all year long.

If you haven't sturgeon fished before and want to catch the biggest fish of your life, then get up to Baudette, Minnesota this month and try your luck. Watch this short -sturgeon fishing tips video and it might help you catch the biggest fish of you life. And you don't have to drive to the ocean!

If you are heading up to Lake of the Woods or the Rainy River, please take a peek at Slim's Resort. 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! Slim's is right on the river just before Wheeler's Point. Stay at Slim's during all your Rainy River fishing trips!

3rd Weekend of March 2016

Remember to buy your new 2016 Minnesota Fishing License

I said it last week and I will say it again, the weather here in Northern Minnesota changes daily. We were spoiled with beautiful temperatures in the 50s two weeks ago and this past week its been a bit cooler. It has still been nice with temps in the mid 30s, but no where close to what we experienced during the big melt. We picked up a couple inches of snow last week and it's hanging around for the moment. Look for that to be gone by next weekend. This week looks fair with temps in the high 30s.

Rainy River is on all anglers minds as we push towards the end of March. Lots of anglers have already been out on the Rainy. Yes, the river is open all the way into 4 Mile Bay! Crazy! I haven't seen a report if the public boat landing was cleared at Wheeler's Point yet, but if it hasn't been, I assume it will be open by the weekend. Big boats are landing at Birchdale, Frontier, Vidas, and in Baudette.

The walleye fishing report on the Rainy is slow. The current is strong and the water is dirty making the walleye bite tough. Pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is a comparison of how dirty the water on the Rainy has been the past couple days. How does a walleye find your jig in that? It's simple, it doesn't! Look for the bite to improve as the water clears up and river temps increase. The sturgeon are biting so if you cruise up to the river, DO NOT forget your sturgeon gear and night crawlers. Check out this week's Fishing Tip with HLO -Rainy River Walleye Tactics

If you are heading up to Lake of the Woods or the Rainy River, please take a peek at Slim's Resort. 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! Slim's is right on the river just before Wheeler's Point. Stay at Slim's during all your Rainy River fishing trips!

Follow us on Facebook for daily fishing and outdoor 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... Our schedules are starting to fill more rapidly as we push towards the MN Fishing Opener, May 14.

2nd Weekend of March- Boat Show


Lots has changed in a week! Has it changed for the good or bad? Well, you can answer that for yourselves. If you are anxious for open water, you all have a smile on your face. If you are still wanting ice and hard water fishing, you might be frowning towards mother nature.

As I sit here and give a quick weekend update, the deer are picking on green leftovers in the field behind the house and the water puddles are bouncing with rain drops. Nearly ninety percent of the snow is gone here in the Grand Rapids area. Only a few piles are left in the yard and the shaded areas in the woods still have a white tint. Spring is in the air!

We aren't going to tell anyone not to go ice fishing, but I would be extra careful if you do. The shoreline ice is pulling away on many area lakes. The ice is very much honey-combed right now. A few horror stories were heard of over the weekend. A couple four wheelers were reported going thru the ice on Pokegama Lake. Up at Lake of the Woods on Saturday, anglers and resorts scrambled to get fish houses off and a few anglers tried to get in one last ice fishing trip. A handful of full size trucks reportedly went thru the ice. A few trucks broke thru in Four Mile Bay, a couple near Bostic Bay and one or two on the main lake. I would advise only ATV travel now on the big pond. Be careful around the shorelines, creeks, and river channels! Bring your ice fishing safety gear.

The HLO team didn't venture out on the ice this past weekend. We enjoyed a weekend of open water/fishing talk at the Ray's Sport and Marine Boat Show. Although, the weather was gorgeous, we spent most of our time at the IRA Civic Center showing off the new line of 2016 Lund boats powered with Mercury motors. Open water is right around the corner and many folks took advantage of scoping out their next new fishing boat. Lund truly accommodates the hardcore fisherman as well as the recreational family. Their boats are awesome and every year they amaze us with new additions. I know I can't wait to step foot into my new 2016 Lund 2075 Proguide! Bring on the open water.

Again..... Be safe if you plan on venturing out onto the ice.

First Weekend of March 2016 - Ontario Lake Trout

When it comes to winter camping, things aren't easy. Preparation takes time. Lists are made and double checked. The weather is under surveillance twenty-four seven before departure. Everything must go as planned especially when the destination is Ontario, Canada way out in the boondocks with the goal being big lake trout.

Our families think we are a little crazy, but we love the adventure. Late nights preparing and packing gear is all in the fun. Packing the snowmobiles and heading out across the lake is all success knowing there's only one last thing to do before concentrating on fishing. The wall tent goes up and the fire gets stocked and everyone can take a deep breath. It's time to fish boys.

Dylan, Colt, Topper, and Ben Olson made the trek to the Clearwater and White Otter Chain of lakes this year on the annual winter camping trip. The weather helped the boys out tremendously. In years past, the temperature never reached above single digits with many nights well below zero. This year the temps maintained themselves from 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit. It was a great five days of weather except for the RAIN. Yes it poured cats and dogs on Monday and Tuesday and forced the boys to leave a half day early. Wet gear and all they returned to the states with plenty of gear drying to do.

I'm sure you all are wondering how the fishing was. It was good. Watch this short video and stay tuned to our YouTube Channel (HangLooseOutdoorsMN) for the complete video on the boys trip! It should be out next week and it's to wait for....

Check out this week's HLO Pro Tip on our You Tube Channel too: HLO Pro Tip - Adjusting knot on horizontal ice jig

Last Weekend of Feb 2016

WOW! Was it beautiful on Saturday or what? Fifty degrees resembled an 80 degree day in July especially on the ice. Dylan fished in his t-shirt as we found ourselves way back in the bush early Saturday morning. I kept my clothes on cause I was busy drilling holes and setting the hook. Who's got time to strip down? Cutting trial with our Arctic Cat snowmobiles and then busting brush into an untouched lake made things real hot and sweaty. And we're complaining about being hot in February? Really? No, cause the sweat and sun was good for our skin!

The fishing was good too. Dylan and I caught over 200 crappies between two lakes on Saturday. Eighty percent of those 200 were six to eight inchers, but the rest were well worth the action. Dylan turned a handful of crappies over the 12 inch mark topside including two that were right around 14 inches long. We ended up keeping ten crappies from 9-10.5" for a fish fry. Keep enough for the table and throw the big ones and in our case the small ones back. That's always our game when exploring new waters or any waters. This leads us to our latest HLO Pro Tips from last week and this week.

Last week's HLO pro tip: Use Navionics phone app combined with the MN DNR Lake Finder mobile website to search new water bodies. The Navionics app offers high definition contours of all lakes on file and is extremely helpful out in the field with your gps on. Pick a few lakes in one area to fish in a day and go out and drill holes on your new bodies of water. A good flasher (Hummingbird, Marcum, etc), auger, fishing rods, some bait (plastics, wax worms), and a four wheeler/snowmobile, some motivation, and a good friend or two will always lead to success. The adventure of just getting on to some of these off the beaten path lakes is all the fun. Remember to have a plat book handy so you're not trespassing on anyone's land if you're trying to get into a particular lake. This is all we have been doing this winter and we've made some good memories and great secrets.

Start drilling holes in the deeper basins of the lakes when looking for panfish. If they are not there, work towards the edges. So if the lake tops out at 40 feet and there's no fish, drill holes around the edges of the deeps in say 20 to 30 feet. Use your flasher and a minute jigging in each hole before moving on. Keep on hole hopping. This brings us to this week's HLO Pro Tip.

HLO Pro Tip for First Week of March: When hole hopping and chasing panfish, pay attention to the area just below the ice. Even if you are in deep water, the majority of the fish might be hanging out and feeding directly under the ice to say 5 feet below the ice. One doesn't normally fish or focus on this area, but during late ice you should. Some of the smaller bog stained lakes lose a lot of oxygen and the fish suspend right below the ice chasing bugs and minnows. This is where the oxygen is so thus where the fish are. When hole hopping, don't forget to jig just below the ice here and there. You might find the fish there and a fishless day might turn to a successful one! (Follow us on our facebook page: Hang Loose Outdoors and Hang Loose Guide Service, for weekly pro tips.)

Remember to buy your new 2016 Minnesota Fishing License

It looks like another gorgeous weekend is in the forecast. Take advantage and get out exploring new lakes. You never know what you'll find. Slab crappies? Bull gills? It's all in the adventure. Bring the kids!

Topps, Dylan, Colt, and Benny are heading up to Canada this weekend chasing lake trout. Good Luck boys. I can't wait to see the pictures.

written by Brock

EelPout Festival- 3rd Weekend of Feb 2016

Last weekend, you could have found half of the Hang Loose Crew in Walker, Minnesota attending the National Eel Pout Festival. This annual festival is a great event that tends to break up the long cold month of February with some fun. Celebrating what most consider Minnesota's ugliest fish may seem like an odd way to spend your weekend however, this festival is filled with activities day and night.

Some of the activities include; eel pout curling, pout rugby, beer pong, helicopter rides, polar plunge, and of course, the actual eel pout fishing contest among many more. There are plenty of activities going on to make for a certainly interesting and fun filled day on the ice.

This year the weather did not cooperate as well as it has in the past. With Minnesota's unusually warm winter the ice conditions were not up to par to support the thousands of ice castles and vehicles that would flood onto the ice in front of Walker's Chase on the Lake. Cass County Sheriffs office was forced to shut the lake down to vehicles for the weekend. Four wheelers and snowmobiles would be the only means of transportation from Friday-Sunday morning.

Despite the rainy, wet weather Eel Pout 2016 had a successful turnout. We all had a blast spending the weekend partaking in this crazy, unorthodox festival. If you're looking to beat the February blues, I would recommend at least making an appearance at National Eel Pout Festival 2017!

written by Colt

Second Weekend of Feb 2016

We are almost through it. The sun has some power now and the temps are climbing as we speak. Can you feel it? The mid winter blues are setting in, but hope for spring is within reach. Hold on, we will make it!

Last weekend was quite cold and nasty again. It wasn't the ideal weather for getting out and hitting the ice. Most of us here at HLO did bear down and enjoyed the cold elements though. A few chased crappies, a couple hit some local area lake trout, and Dylan Maki chased walleyes one night by himself. Pictured in the upper right corner of this blog is, Dylan, with a giant Grand Rapids area marble eye. A quick pic and this beast was released. Wow! that thing has a serious weight problem, fatty....

Walleye season on inland lakes here in Minnesota closes on February 28th. Those looking to chase a few more walleyes better get on it. Lake of the Woods will remain open till April 14th due to it being a border water.

This weekend's forecast looks beautiful! The EelPout Festival takes place this weekend in Walker, MN. If you've never been down there, I advise you go especially with the nice weather rolling in. I hear they are not allowing vehicles on the ice this year! Check into their website for more details.

For now.. Tight lines and enjoy the weekend!

Thinking open water? Mark this on your calendars: The Rays Sport and Marine boat show is March 11, 12, 13 at the IRA Civic Center. Stop down and check out all the new Lund Boats powered with Mercury motors. Join us Saturday for a fish fry and fishing talk. See you there. If you are in the market for a boat right now, go to Ray's and chat with one of their professional staff. Call them at 1(800)223-0621 also.

First Weekend of Feb 2016

The last 3 years, we have really stressed the importance of getting off the beaten path when it comes to chasing panfish in Northern Minnesota. There are so many excellent small bodies of water that receive little to zero pressure throughout the year. When the bite on the larger lakes slows and the pressure increases due to plowed roads, get on the snowmobile and go exploring. Small lakes are where its at especially during the months of February and March. The bite never stops on these small gems. If one slows, move onto the next. There are hundreds and hundreds of great small lakes right at our finger tips. Take advantage!

I can't even count how many different lakes we have been on this year. We keep exploring weekend after weekend. If we find success, a mental note is taken. We have only hit a couple lakes more than once this year. This weekend Colt, Dylan, and Ethan joined forces with Andrew Kraft of 'Krafty Fishing' in the Bemidji area. Their mission was to explore a handful of new waters.

Saturday they fished two lakes with very limited success before they landed on a flurry of an evening bite on the third body of water. Crappies appeared out of nowhere and started putting the feed bag on. The window was one of those short and sweet ones. You slam on the fish for a little while and then they are gone as fast as they came.

Sunday went something like this: as written by Andrew Kraft:

"We got GILLS!

What a fun morning bite on a virtually untouched backwoods body of water! A quick surveillance of what we were dealing with and then the madness ensued!

The three of us tag-teamed the small schools of gills as they worked their way up and down the break of a weed flat. Doubles and triples were the norm... As one of us would pull a gill out, another would drop down to stay on the school!

Tungsten jigs tipped with either a wax worm, or a plastic, kept the fish curious as we were able to bring several fish above ice that bumped the 10 inch mark! We released all these bull gills..

Great way to spend the morning of Super Bowl Sunday!"

Those untouched waters usually have potential for some trophy sized fish too. 10 inch gills? Now those are some beauties Kraft! Just remember, they get that way cause they are low pressured. Keep them that way if you do find a secret lake. Secret lakes are secret for a reason!

Last of Jan, First of Feb 2016

HLO guides Colt & Dylan did some back lake exploring again this weekend. Temps in the 30s allowed them to drill lots of holes and ice troll or hole hop as most call it. A few lakes were a bust but a couple turned up very nice slab crappies. Four wheelers are still working for ice travel but snowmobiles are probably the best means with the recent snows this past week here in the northland. There is some slush showing itself on most bodies of water around the area.

For the last few years we have been pulling out the old paper maps and putting an X on lakes that look like good panfish producers. We choose three or four for a given day, load up the gear and make sure the augers are full with gas and head out. Our guides do a little 'swiss cheese' action and then our flashers and tungsten jigs reveal the mystery. Usually 1 out of 4 lakes in a given day provides good action and another gem is added to our arsenal.

There are so many fantastic panfish lakes in Northern Minnesota one can only dream of fishing them all. We love the adventure more than anything. Sometimes success is all in the excitement of just getting there!

'pictured in the upper right corner of the blog are Marissa and Forrest with a couple slabs from the weekend'

4th Weekend of January 2016

Last weekend was spent exploring some new waters that most of us had never been to before. Our target species was lake trout. We booked our three nights stay at Crawfords Camp in Sioux Narrows, on beautiful Whitefish Bay, Lake of the Woods. Our plan was to arrive Thursday night and be out on the water at first light Friday exploring some spots we had picked out on our Lowrance Hds units previous to the trip.

Everything started as planned, Ben Olson, Dylan Maki, Andrew Arola, Randy Topper and myself all met in Baudette around 7 Thursday night. Our gear was all stuffed into the truck and we were off, we had another 2 hour drive north of Baudette to Sioux Narrows. We arrived shortly after 9 and unloaded the sleds, charged our graphs, and laid out or clothes for the morning.

Alarms buzzed at 5 o'clock. We all rolled out of bed eager and ready to explore some new waters. We decided to spend most of the day in a huge bay of Whitefish south of Sioux Narrows. We had many spots picked out that we wanted to hit during the day. We would pick our number one spots and fish a few hours in the morning before picking up and bouncing spots. Each of us hit a handful of these throughout the day.

Topper broke off on a heavy trout within the first half hour. Dylan landed the first one of the trip a mid 20's inch fish, a great way to start off! A couple small ones were landed throughout the day along with a giant 42 inch pike from Benny! Not the giant trout they thought was peeling line from his reel, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless. We were seeing a handful of active fish in every spot, however very few of those fish decided to eat. We tried jigging tubes, swim baits, spoons, bucktails and rattle baits. It seemed like the fish did the same thing every time, they would come in, lethargically follow our bait for a few seconds and then disappear as quickly as they appeared. Talk about frustrating! We returned to the cabin that evening with our heads held high, we didn't slam fish, but we did catch a few in a new part of Canada.

The rest of the weekend went about the same as it did on Friday. We all picked out what we thought would be great spots only to sit with limited action. The wind blew strong from the north limiting our movement Saturday morning. As the day went on we were able to explore some different spots and ended up seeing many more fish than the day before. I was able to land a nice mid 20's inch trout on a ReelBait Flasher jig tipped with a 5'' white fluke, my second fish of the trip. Shortly after, I was aggressively jigging the same lure when a giant mark flew in and slammed me! I set the hook and was amazed as my 38 inch medium heavy rod bent completely over at the handle. Drag screamed and I struggled to get another hook set and the fish was on a dead run for the bottom. It looked as if I had a 20lb pike on my crappie noodle rod! Just seconds after I set the hook a second time, the fish spit my lure. How devastating! Even worse, that was the last of my action for the day. I continued to see fish but no takers.

Benny and Andy were able to hook a handful of fish through the evening hours of Saturday, but only were able to land a couple. Many fish spit the hook or broke the line right near the ice. Dylan struggled to get a bite as well as Topper. Fish seemed tight lipped and very finicky. We ended our day all the way over by the Whitefish Narrows. We covered lots of water and many, many spots! Talking to the guys at Crawfords, it seemed like the story was the same for everyone: slow and finicky. That made us feel a bit better about our performance on this new to us body of water.

We licked our wounds and reevaluated out plans for the last day of the trip. We were to fish a different lake for half a day before we were forced to pack up and head on home.

A 12 mile portage was in store for us for Sunday morning. Our plans changed quickly when Andy's sled started acting up, it would go for about a mile and then die, fire up and go for another mile or two before dying again. We decided to continue and see if we could at least make it to fish for a few hours, however, it got to be too much of an issue and we were forced to turn around.

We dubbed it a successful trip despite our low success. It happened to be a finicky bite, maybe due to an extreme low pressure and cloudy front that rolled in just as we arrived. Either way, we explored a beautiful area of Lake of the Woods, caught a few fish, and most importantly, marked some good go-to spots for the next trip! Each trip to an area will get better and better. You can't go into a new area expecting to pound fish especially lake trout. People put in hundreds of hours to hone their spots to exactly where the fish will be traveling a given piece of structure. Each time we fish lake trout we increase our odds through additional spots and further knowledge of these wonderful fish, hopefully finding better success with every outing. Overall, it was a great trip with many laughs. Just canít tell you how fun these Hang Loose trips really are. Fishing is the second fun part. The trip, experience, and humor are first. I canít wait for the next one!

Written by Colt

Third Weekend of January 2016

A couple weeks ago we were begging for cold weather and now it's kind of getting old. I know it is January, but -20 degrees with constant wind chills, 'C'mon Man'. It has been bone chillin here in Northern Minnesota. The good news is it has made some really good ice finally. More good news is a warm up is in the forecast for later this week and into next weekend.

I'm not sure if we are all turning soft or old age is setting in as of late. I know years ago when we were single and didn't have families, the weather didn't stop us. I'm not even sure if we checked the weather. -20 degrees was just another day on the ice. Today, its not often you will find us out on the frozen water when temps hit the negative digits. Well, I should say that isn't totally true. When the spear house is warm, we usually enjoy the underwater television. A little wood in the wood stove and a spear in the hand. It doesn't get much better than that on a cold winter morning.

This cold snap got the best of me the past 2 weeks. All my days off were in the negative double digits. I found myself prancing around the house and the heated shop just trying to find something to do. I couldn't handle it anymore. I had to fish. So Colt and I forgot about the temps and headed out. The truck read -19 when we found our first lake of the day.

The second lake came shortly after as the first one only provided very small crappie action. The temp was -11, but the wind was still blowing. We didn't set up a house (crazy). Hole hopping kept us warmed up and busy. Yes, parts of our bodies turned numb, but sometimes I will freeze for the chance at slab crappies. That day reminded me of the past when nothing else mattered but fishing. Today, I realize our equipment (ATVs, flashers, rods, etc) and my body (hands, toes, face, etc) especially the next day does not like the cold weather. Things break and things cost money to fix. Sometimes (nowadays) it's nice to stay home on bone chillin days and spend time with our loved ones. Get bonus points (maybe) and wait for the good weather days. If they don't come and the brain needs to fish, then you better go fishing!

Yesterday wasn't enough fishing pleasure. I think I will head to the lake right now. The wife is working so why not. (Love you Lexi, I'm sure you'll be reading this!)

Stay warm you all. Warmer temps are on there way!

'pictured in the upper right corner of the blog is one of the slab crappies we caught-n-released this weekend in the COLD'

written by Brock

Second Weekend of Jan 2016- Fishing or Hunting?

We are finally talking 'safe ice' around the Grand Rapids area. Its the second weekend of January 2016 and we are seeing lots of fish houses and darkhouses on area lakes now. Most smaller bodies of water have 10-14 inches of ice. The deep clear lakes that we normally walleye fish have anywhere from 5-9 inches. I would say it's safe to drive a wheeler around the shorelines on these lakes, but I think I would still hesitate to rip across the middle of these deep lakes(Pokegama, Trout, Wabana, etc). Be careful! No ice is safe ice and we all know how the ice season began.

Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake have reports of over a foot of ice. There have been some vehicles driving on these bodies of water. I would call the resorts for more info if you plan on driving out. The best area walleye bites are occurring on these bodies of water right now. Look to the south end of Leech Lake in 16 feet of water in the morning and afternoon hours. Try the humps on Winnibigoshish in the afternoon hours in 20-24 feet of water.

Resorts are letting out vehicles on Upper Red Lake now. Call up to the resorts before heading up. They will give you the latest ice conditions report so there will be no surprises once you get up there. The bite on Red Lake slowed down a tad this past weekend talking with a bunch of groups who fished the big pond. They reported the resorts are letting trucks and wheel houses out about 2 miles. Look for this distance to increase with the cold snap this coming weekend.

The bite on Lake of the Woods remains great as I checked in with Slims Resort on Monday. Limits have been reported of mixes of walleyes and saugers. Resort houses are all the way out to 32 feet of water now. The resorts on the South End are letting out ATVs, snowmobiles, and light vehicles. The ice is 10-14 inches. The hold up on heavy vehicles is Four Mile Bay by the sounds of it. Again, call the resorts before heading up.

The crappie bite has been great on the small Grand Rapids area lakes.

The cold snap this weekend kept the HLO boys jumping for joy. We are chomping at the bit to head to Canada to chase lake trout. The mild weather hasn't made for good ice in Canada either so it's kind of a waiting game. This cold snap again this weekend should put some more ice on the lakes up there. Lets hope we don't get too much snow this week. Talks of up to 8 inches as you head further north.

HLO Pro Staffer Craig King headed to Wyoming this past week for the Cow season and scored big. Now, how do you beat that? Hunting season isn't over till its over. Nice work Craig. I can't wait to eat some elk. (pictured in the right corner of this blog)

Good luck to all you anglers as you head out to the lakes. Be safe and check the ice. Stay warm. It's gonna be cold again this weekend.

Happy New Year 2016

Most of the HLO Crew rang in the New Years at Slims Resort on Lake of the Woods. This was the first 'ice fishing hooray' up at Lake of the Woods in Baudette, MN for the ice season. Ice fishing and resort business was about a month to 5 weeks behind schedule due to the mild weather this year. Lake of the Woods and Four Mile Bay took a long time to freeze and it definitely didn't make the resorts and area businesses real happy. You can't change the weather so there's not much they can do right.

Talking to the resort owners this weekend, one can only feel the pressure of running a business like this. Your five weeks behind with getting ice houses out, filling clients in your cabins, and your hundreds of thousands of dollars short when the ice isn't on the lake. Feel bad for the whole community at times like this.

Well, the good news, the ice season is now in full swing and the fish are biting. Resorts have their houses out and should be dragging their larger sleeper houses out by next weekend. There is 10-13 inches of ice on the lake and about 10 inches on the bay. I stress this: DO NOT get off the resort roads going through Four Mile Bay this year. The Rainy River has a lot of current and there are still open patches of water. Stick to the posted roads across the Bay and you will be safe.

We had a blast at Slims Resort for the New Year! This resort is so generously run with kind employees and awesome owners. Dave and Brandy make sure their guests have everything they need. Dave and his crew put their clients on the fish. It's a great resort and I wouldn't take my money and business anywhere else up at Lake of the Woods.

I know you guys are all thinking..... "Well how was fishing?" Fishing was good. It was a couples kinda weekend so we didn't get hardcore by any means. We got out fishing at noon one day and 8AM the next day. We set up houses where we ended and just fished and had fun. We didn't move around to try and find fish. We enjoyed ourselves! The Sauger bite out across Pine Island in 24-27 feet of water was great. One day we kept 26 saugers and a couple walleyes for one four man house. That's a lot of fish right? The other house of four didn't do that good. They kept some fish though. Between us eight, we had plenty of fish.

Dead sticks with a verticle glow jig like a deamon tipped with a chub 6 inches off the bottom was the best presentation all weekend. We did get a few on jigging spoons and raps, but the deadsticks won 10-1. Walleye reports were better for quality fish up shallower in 16-20 feet of water in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Saugers ran 14-16 inches so no complaints there.

Slim's Bar and Grill cooked up our catch Saturday night and it was absolutely delicious. Fish, beans, French fries, galic bread, and a beverage and we were all ready for bed. It was soooooo good.

We left for the homestead on Sunday morning. The New Year celebration had its toll on us. Thank you so much for the awesome stay Slim's Resort. We will be back in early March. For anyone looking to stay up at Lake of the Woods, give Slim's Resort a call. You will be happy you did!

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