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FishinChad

Big Gill/Crappie Lakes

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I know most of you dont want to share lakes that hold big gills and crappies, and for good reason, posting small lakes on this forum can lead to much increased fishing pressure. But I still am going to ask! I spend most of my time pike and bass fishing, but more and more each winter I find myself ice fishing for the little guys, gills and craps. I spend most my time pulling up small fish, but I know how fun it can be to get into big ones. I know alot of my problem is lake selection, mainly because I do not know much about any lakes other than the ones very close to home, and as far as I know, none of the ones I know anything about have good numbers of big fish. I am a CPR fishmerman, so I really dont care how many fish I catch in a day, what I really am hoping for is big fish, Crappies 12"+ and gills 9"+. Dont have anything against eating fish, I just dont like to eat them. I am hoping some of you could point me in the right direction as far as lake selection goes. I dont mind driving 1-2 hours to get to a good lake, so anything in that kind of range would work(I am in metro area). I wont bring any other pressure to the lake, I dont go tell everyone I know. If you would like to contact me by email instead of posting, it [email protected]

I have tried using DNR's lake info to find some good lakes, but the data is usually outdated, and can be misleading at times.

Thanks for any responses!

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It seems you have an infatuation for catching the largest and its a common observation in the fishing world. We all go thru the stages of catching the most, limit out stage, biggest, retirement and fishing when you want to, instead of when allowed time. To me its personal gratification to find one on your own. Its a FACT in MN. Red Lake for Crappie and Pelican up at Orr for Gills meet your requirements, not the same lake and thank god, but the pursuit is expensive these days. The internet downloading of pictures has seemed to create a (try and out do the other guy) a view that unless your not catching the largest gills and crappie seems to drive blood pressures thru the roof. Thats a sad way to appreciate the outdoors. These days I spread my take around and am thankful for having the opportuuity to get out during week nites or weekends if I choose and catch nice fish, Keeping my expenses in check for my future retirement. The internet is a factor these days, try different waters, one way to really check it out is drop off at bait shops during the spawn time and check the pictures out. Gluck hope you find the magical place, I will say I've already been there, caught them, and done it. GLuck laugh.gifgrin.giflaugh.gif

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Thanks for the reply. I do enjoy finding fish on my own, I spend a lot of time fishing in places that are away from the crowds, trying to find my own spots on lakes away from everyone else. I mainly made this post to try to get some new lakes to try this year and next. I dont have a whole lot of experience with chasing big pannies, and dont have much knowlege of the lakes more that 20 minutes from the metro. I dont really have the time to fish everyday and try out bunches of new lakes every year to find big gill and crappie lakes, I do what I can but my options are limited in the metro area. I personally have never really cared about numbers, or a limit, sure catching more is always nice, but most important to me is the thrill of hunting for big fish. I dont really feel like I need to "out-do" everyone else, it is just my personal fishing preference to seek big fish, not numbers. I basically am just trying to get find some other lakes outside of the metro that would be worth trying. I am not asking for specific spots on lakes, just some lake names that would be worth the effort to travel to them and hunt down some nice fish on a body of water that I can at least feel has nice fish in it.

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If you dont mind crossing the border there are numerous lakes that meet your criteria for big fish. The best in my opinion is clam lake east of siren. I havent had great luck with numbers but the size can be amazing. Last year we caught 8 gills between 9.25 and 9.5 inches along with a couple 13 inch crappies as well. Every year there are a few 1.25lb gills caught out of this lake. My grandparents live in milltown and I dont always work alot in the winter so I spend lots of time over there, I dont even bother with the metro much for panfish anymore. There are sooo many good panfish lakes in that area, just stop in any bait shop and they will usually point you in the right direction. Some other lakes I fish alot over there with big fish are long and big trade near atlas. Balsam can be good for big gills at times, as well as deer lake. Long lake near balsam also has really big crappies but it is definetly better very late ice than it is this time of year. Hope this helps, I know how hard it can be to get people to give out lake names, but none of these lakes are any big secret, ill keep those to my self!

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I heard from someone who heard from someone that they were catching 14 inch crappies from Buffalo Lake in Buffalo.

Yeah, and I have some ocean front property to sell ya in MN. Truth is braggers are either liars or (Contact Us Please) when it comes to metro area lakes. Most say teh way to get bigger fish is to go way north but it is also over looked to go south where warmer temps increase the growing season ever so slightly.

Good LUCK

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Well I would say that mille lacs might be up your alley not just for perch, but for gills and crappies. It is not all that easy to find the big gills there but they are around. the crappies that show up in isle bay get fished hard but there are other places on the lake to find them. The crappies i have caught have been every thing as good as i caught on url. I am still looking for a gill over a 1.25 pounds. Good luck

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Quote:

I heard from someone who heard from someone that they were catching 14 inch crappies from Buffalo Lake in Buffalo.


Take it to the bank They are in the lake. Stop over some time, take a look at the 2 I have in the freezer

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I don't doubt they are in nearly every lake, They just don't consistently run that size though.

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I know most of you dont want to share lakes that hold big gills and crappies, and for good reason, posting small lakes on this forum can lead to much increased fishing pressure. But I still am going to ask! I spend most of my time pike and bass fishing, but more and more each winter I find myself ice fishing for the little guys, gills and craps. I spend most my time pulling up small fish, but I know how fun it can be to get into big ones. I know alot of my problem is lake selection, mainly because I do not know much about any lakes other than the ones very close to home, and as far as I know, none of the ones I know anything about have good numbers of big fish. I am a CPR fishmerman, so I really dont care how many fish I catch in a day, what I really am hoping for is big fish, Crappies 12"+ and gills 9"+. Dont have anything against eating fish, I just dont like to eat them. I am hoping some of you could point me in the right direction as far as lake selection goes. I dont mind driving 1-2 hours to get to a good lake, so anything in that kind of range would work(I am in metro area). I wont bring any other pressure to the lake, I dont go tell everyone I know. If you would like to contact me by email instead of posting, it

I have tried using DNR's lake info to find some good lakes, but the data is usually outdated, and can be misleading at times.

Thanks for any responses!


Fish Phalen Lake in East Saint Paul.. I am so serious, that lake is a great panfish lake. Whenever I am on that lake, I can not keep the fish off my line. However, you may only get 1 keeper bluegill out of 15 fishes caught, but the crappies are decent size in that lake.. The key is to fish deep this time of year.

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I know this isn't the exact answer to your question, but I would focus on lakes of 700 acres or bigger. These lakes do a good job of sustaining a quality fishery for slab panfish even under heavy pressure. Lakes like Osakis, Rush(by Perham), Cass Lake are some of my favorites. Work at finding your own spots. Many community spots are limited with quality fish due to the pressure. I like to find deep weedlines off the beaten path adjacent to deep water. Weeds often get overlooked in the winter. Don't forget to try right in the weeds as well. Good luck

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Great advise, I will take it all into consideration. I may have to venture to some of the bigger lakes away from crowds.

How about location of bigger panfish on any given lake? Have any of you noticed bigger crappies not being around the main schools of crappies, but rather out on their own? Or do they often prefer weedlines and shallow structure instead of suspending over deep holes like the big schools of crappies do? And for gills do the big bulls often roam deeper than most of the schools of gills, or are they basically just mixed into the schools of smaller fish?

Thanks again for any responses, this site is great to get some tips on some of these issues. There is always something new to learn.

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Depends on the weather, time of year, and what day your fishing. Weekends are usually bad for catching bigger fish, because of pressure and noise, and people seeing you out there pulling fish in or being out there all day in the same spot will give them the hint your getting something. Then you might as well kiss that spot goodbye, and take your limit off. I won't fish spots on the weekends just for that fact, and wait till the week when the weekenders are not up and everyone has to work! Depending on what time of year your fishing bluegills and crappies matters too. Doing your homework in the field (on the lake) will tell you that, my big thing is scouting a lake before I even fish it, either by lake maps, driving the boat around the lake slow checking structure. In the winter people drill a billion holes and check depth, I don't like that approach just because you make to much noise doing that. Just a few common sense tips from me, but you have to figure it out yourself on the lake by using your intution and electronics. This is a site for helping other fisherman but somethings need to be learned on the water, otherwise whats the point of fishing? Then it would be called "Catching" if everyone knew everything. Which with all the advancements in fishing technology is starting to come to true.

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I recommend checking out the bigger lakes as well. In particular I target lakes where gills and crappies are not the most targeted species. As mentioned above, Leech can kick out some very nice crappies and gills as can Mille Lacs. I actually found a lake in the BWCA this summer that was loaded with huge gills. We found them by accident because they were attacking bass spinnerbaits. I've fished this lake for 10 years and never knew they were in there because we focused on the areas that generally hold walleyes.

Lakes that are known for big panfish draw crowds and big crowds generally clean out the population unless the lake is very large or is difficult to fish due to vegetation.

One other tactic that can be effective is to target lakes they periodically freeze out. The panfish tend to grow quickly after a freeze out. I realize we haven't had a real winter in years so these lakes are tough to find right now.

You could also buddy up to some farmers in Iowa and ask them if you could fish their farm ponds. This is tough to accomplish though.

Good luck.

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Where fish are located, as far as big vs. small etc. in my experience(and I am not an expert by any means) depends a lot on time of year, what lake...the list of variables is endless. One spot that I feel is overlooked for big gills and crappies is the weeds!! If you can find green ones, great! Second best are ones that are still standing! One thing I do alot is drill a few holes on weed flats and put the aqua view down. You can get a feel for if fish are there and/or if there are organisms or bait fish for them to feed on. Panfish suspended over deep water are usually the easiest to find and catch, but not always the biggest!

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The main species I fish is Bluegills. Most of the time when I catch them they tend to school by size. I have been out anchored on my boat and dropped a flu flu in a small target area and have pulled out 5 to 10 keeper size fish and everything around that honey hole is small fish. I see it when ice fishing as well. If I move maybe 20 ft I can find larger or smaller fish. Another thing I have noticed with the aquaview is Bluegills seem to swim in big circles. One second you cant real them in fast enough then the next minute nothing for 5 minutes.

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All the fish we caught on that BWCA lake were between 9.5 and 11.5 inches. I consider anything over 10 a big gill. Granted some guys may say it needs to be 12 inches to be big. But I have ever seen a live gill over 11.5 inches.

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on the lake I fish a lot,the bigger crappies are usually on the top part of the school.Is that pretty common?

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Quote:

on the lake I fish a lot,the bigger crappies are usually on the top part of the school.Is that pretty common?


Some of my biggest crappies I have caught have been the highest suspended fish on my screen. If I am fishing off the bottem and see a fish up high, you better believe that I am going to try and entice that bugger to bite. To my surprise on average they typically have been bigger than the others. Not every time, but more ofter than not. I don't know if this is the common knowledge, but it has worked for me thus far.

CA

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On smaller lakes that get allot of pressure say 300-400 acres try finding lakes with a particular deep hole say 40-60fow. Use the smallest line as possible say 2lbs. and you'll need a vex. but big fish WILL sit in deep holes and when active will suspend and are usually not targeted as much.

I was taught this many years ago and it works. I just wish I had more time to chase them.

mr

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No those are big bluegills. How often do you catch a 10" bluegill now a days. My biggest is an 11" 1 lb 5 oz bluegill, but I have seen bigger but they were stuffed on somebody else's wall. 11 1/2 thats a nice fish, that must be of been 1 lb and half or a pound 10 oz, did you guys just CRP or C&R? More than likely might be one over a foot in that lake then.

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Unfortunately we didn't photo any of those gills. They all were released. We were on a day trip to a small lake with three guys in one canoe and we all left our camera's at base camp. To be honest I have not seen that many gills that large. I am guessing the biggest ones pushed 1.5 lbs but we didn't have a scale either. Any time you can find gills over 9 inches on a consistent basis you have yourself a gem of a lake. Just don't tell anybody about it.

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You got that right walleye guy, people are so nosy and lazy to find their own gems now a days that I don't even fish some spots because unless I know I will have it to myself. Its not worth it to have someone see you catching nice fish because then they will crowd you and fish out your spot that you found and had to yourself. Then like most people they tell everyone (neighbor, buddies, cousins, inlaws, family members, local bait shops, or post it on here thinking they are some internet fishing pro) then you might as well kiss your spot good bye and go find another one. I have had that done to me many times, and so you learn what to do and when to fish your spots that nobody else fishes or knows about (they are out there, you just have to put in your time and work at it to find them). It's like I was taught and told you have to protect your bluegill and crappie spots all the time.

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Meat-Run, are you saying that you have found that sometimes the bigger fish will be on the bottom below the suspended active fish in the deep holes?

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I don't want to speak for Meat-Run, but I think he is referring to the fact that they will be concentrated over the deeper holes, but when they are active, they will more than likely suspend themselves.

They are more likely to be missed if people are fishing without a flasher. Thats why you should always target suspended fish even if you are seeing activity on the bottem. They are more than likely the biters.

sorry MR smirk.gif

CA

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