Lake Vermilion

Lake Vermilion is a beautiful lake in Northern Minnesota, 26 miles south of the Canadian border. With countless bays, over 350 islands, 61 square miles of water and trophy fish it is an anglers paradise. I first heard about Lake Vermillion two or three years ago while fishing the Saint Louis River for Muskie, which was known for a its beautiful scenery and big Muskie--ever since, my father and I have had in on our bucket list to fish. This July I made the eleven hour drive, met up with my father and fished Vermilion for four days. I was not disappointed. 

What you first come to appreciate about Vermilion is that despite its size, due to the countless bays and islands, you can always find protected water no matter the water conditions. The second characteristic is the endless habitat variety offered by the lake. I have no doubt that you could fish years and still not fully know the lake. 

The first day out we targeted smallmouth as we only had a half day to fish and there was some very promising cover surrounding our campsite. My dad hooked into two in the 2 lb range and I lost two and a big pike which broke my line. 

Countless Islands and Rocky Shoreline. 

My Dad's first Smallie of the Trip, Salmo Crankbait. 

Day 1 was cut short by some rain, I may add that it did rain everyday we were there but the storms were brief and except for the first days hardly impacted the fishing. 

The second day we set off in search of Walleye. However, as has been the pattern throughout the midwest this year, temps have been far above normal and that pushed the fish deep. Most were being taken in between 20-40' of water on crawler harnesses and deep crankbaits. For those curious the Walleye slot on Vermilion is 18-26". Being new to the lake we tried several locations and even attempted late at night but failed to hook into any 'eyes. Later in the day we switched it up for Pike, with me attempting on a fly rod, however the wire leader I brought failed in the first few minutes of casting, thank god not on a fish, and so that venture was cut severely short. My Dad did however land a 3 lb Pike on a spinnerbait. We ended the day fishing for Smallmouth again but while I caught two, they were less than desirable in size and stature. 

Seagulls and Comerants on an island in Big Bay. 

3 lb Northern Pike, Chartreuse Spinnerbait. 

Not quite what I had in mind. Smallmouth, Rattletrap. 

An incredibly beautiful lake and sunset. 

The third day was only about one thing--Muskellunge. We met up with Bob Benson a guide recommended to us by Pete, a guide we had used in the past, both of Northland Muskie Adventures, which is also linked under my guides I recommend tab. Also for those interested here is a link to my last trip with Pete on the Saint Louis. Honestly, it was an incredible day. We had 16 follows, caught three, and I lost one at the boat. We fished for almost eleven hours with me throwing double-bladed bucktails the entire time, but I had I blast. Honestly after 45 min of throwing I didn't think I was going to be able to cut the big blades all day but the repeated follows kept my adrenaline up. When you think that for Muskie, to just see a fish is a good day, we had an incredible day. Both my father and I got personal bests and I think I am starting to get the Muskie bug in him which is fine by me. Bob was a great guide and is obsessed with all things Muskie, if you are in the area definitely look him up. 

Fish On!

My Dad's 46" Muskellunge. Topwater. 

My 44", Yeah I am honestly that excited.

11 hours of casting, yep I slept well that night.

My 45". Double Bladed Perch Colored Bucktail. Personal Best.

The last day we started out looking for Walleye again, had a few bites but none hooked up. My father and I were both disappointed to leave without any Walleye, but that is part of learning a new lake and we have some ideas for next time. We tried for Pike again, and again I hooked into a fish and lost it, making that three lost Pike for the trip, two of which would have been personal bests. Really felt off my game in that aspect. We ended the trip like we started, fishing smallmouth, catching 6 more that evening. I love the spunk of Smallies, and wish I would have brought a smaller fly rod on board to fish for them. 

2 lb Smallie. Wacky Rig.

2 1/2 lb Smallmouth Bass. We patterned them in intersections with rocks and weeds on the shoreline, near points and dropoffs.

Black and Purple Senko's tended to be most productive on the Wacky Rig, I noticed a greatly diminished bite while trying Red or Green Worms.

We saw a lot of these guys--Rusty Crayfish. They are an invasive species which have displaced the naturally occurring crawfish due to their aggression and harder shells. Also they have largely killed off much of the natural vegetation in Vermillion with the exception of a few select bays. 

Well that was our first trip to Lake Vermilion. We will definitely be back. We marked and saved a lot of spots on our GPS, and came away with a decent understanding of the lake. First time on any lake is tough, as you are going into every situation somewhat blindly, but I think we did alright. Next time we hope to hook into some Eye's, maybe break the 50" barrier for Muskie, and take a portage to Trout Lake for some Lakers. 


Looks like a wonderful trip. I'm putting that area on my bucket list for a musky trip someday

Atlas said...

It was a great trip, and to be able to see so many Muskie in one day was astonishing! Really wish my steel leader wouldn't have broken and I could have cast to a few on the fly. Lesson learned don't bring just one of any of your essentials on a trip. I was talking to Bob our Muskie guide and he mentioned that with the fly he gets far more follows than with conventional, inducing the strike seems a tad tougher but still to land one on the fly would be wild!