In the 1940’s the National Geographic Society named it one of the Top 10 most scenic lakes.  It stretches for nearly 40 miles from Tower to Cook and it’s waters are teeming with walleye, muskie, smallmouth, pike, crappie and more.  It’s Lake Vermillion and we’re going there this weekend.

“Vermillion is a fantastic lake,” Don Periera, DNR Fisheries Section Chief said. “Of course muskie doesn’t open until later in June (June 6), but muskie guys know it’s one of our premier muskie lakes right now…it’s (also) a great walleye lake, it always has been.  It’s one of our big top 10 walleye lakes.”

Jamie Dietman and I will be making the drive for the Governor’s Fishing Opener this weekend, staying at Fortune Bay Casino and hitting the water early, excited to get back out for walleyes and do it on a body of water that I’ve never floated before.

Lake Vermillion Walleye photo courtesy of MN DNR
Lake Vermillion Walleye photo courtesy of MN DNR

“What’s nice about Lake Vermillion and makes it a great opening day location is that we have a deeper water bite that is really reliable,” said Tim “Buck” Lescarbeau from the Best Bet Guide Service.  Lescarbeau guides on Vermillion and has the tall order of trying to get Governor Mark Dayton on fish this weekend.  After the Governor was shut out last year and caught just the one the year before, it could be no easy task.

“I didn’t realize those stats, so I wasn’t feeling any pressure until just now,” Lescarbeau says laughing.”

Casey Sunsdahl will be feeling a bit of pressure as well as he’ll be in charge of helping Lt Governor Tina Smith hook into one of Minnesota’s finest fish.

“It’s always fun to have whoever out, I’ve had a lot of people with a lot of different titles,” Sunsdahl said. “It’s not really uncommon to have some really important people on Vermillion.  It’s one of the nicest lakes in the state and I’ve been to a lot of them.”

Some of the best news that we’ve had this year is that lakes are ice-free across Minnesota.  Two years ago for the opener in Park Rapids, we had to punt when it came to our preferred lake and go in search of open water.  When they announced a lake further north for this year’s Governor’s opener, a few worried glances were cast around the room as people wondered if we’d have to pull portables and drill some holes to find fish.   But with the relatively warm spring this year, the ice came off with plenty of time to spare. What should that mean for fish patterns this weekend?

“We’re definitely ahead of schedule for the last two years,” Lescarbeau said laughing.  “Most of the spawners should have recuperated so we should have a good shallow bite.”

David Wallin releases a walleye
David Wallin releases a walleye

“Fish are going to be moving back out of the spawning areas,” explained Sunsdahl.  “They’ll be just about everywhere-shallow, deep, (and) in between.  There will be fish out in the basin, lot of transition areas and (in) lots of bays.”

The old standby jig-and-minnow will be a hard presentation to beat this weekend, but don’t be afraid to try other tried-and-true methods.

“We like fishing Lindy Rigs on Vermillion and there is definitely a reason for it,” Sunsdahl explained.  “Jig and a minnow is always a favorite presentation and it works up here in the spring and fall, but if you really want get down to the bare basics, a plain hook and a minnow, you’re gonna serve yourself well.  Cover some water and when you find the fish, stick with them, slow down and work them over and you’ll catch a lot of walleyes.  I think it’s gonna be a pretty easy bite this weekend.”

After hearing more about Vermillion and the fact that there are walleyes, muskie, pike AND smallmouth in it, it makes you start to wonder why it is doing so well, while another big lake in the state is not.  What makes this lake different?

“I don’t know.  It’s a middle-aged, Canadian shield-type lake,” said Lescarbeau. “It’s got tulibee, but it also has perch. It has huge forage bases of perch.  These fish are real healthy.”

If all the fishing reports are accurate, this could be the best walleye opener in recent years-whether on Vermillion or on one of the other 11,841 lakes across the state.

Hear more from Lescarbeau, Sunsdahl and Little Falls Area Fisheries Manager, Eric Altena on this weekend’s Minnesota Sporting Journal Radio Show. Find a station and time to tune in here. 

Then follow along with us as we offer reports from Lake Vermillion throughout the weekend here on this website and on our Facebook page.  We’ll let you know how the Governor does!

Leave a Reply