Located in northern Minnesota’s Beltrami County, Blackduck Lake enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a consistent walleye producer. Consequently, it’s a popular angling destination that sees its fair share of fishing pressure, especially during the open-water seasons.
Stocking and natural reproduction both contribute to the lake’s reliable walleye numbers and anglers generally experience better-than-average catch rates of “eater size” walleyes—fish in the 14- to 15-inch range. Fish surpassing 28 inches have shown up in DNR test nets, however, and once in a while at the end of a lucky angler’s line. It’s also known for producing XL yellow perch, as well as oversize bluegills and crappies, though the latter two species are present in low numbers.
At roughly 2,700 acres in size, Blackduck’s deepest hole is just 28 feet. Thus, the lake is one of the first to warm up after the ice leaves in the spring. Its bottom is comprised of a mixture of sand, mud and rocks, while fish-holding structure and cover are plentiful, according to Team Northland Pro and well-known fishing guide Brian “Bro” Brosdahl.
“Blackduck is definitely on my Top 20 list,” says Bro. ”It’s got everything: sand, rocks, mud; lots of humps, bars and rock piles; and in the summer lush weedbeds grow all along its shoreline and around the big island.”
Jig-and-minnow combos are often the best choice in the spring and early summer when the water is at its clearest; later, as weedlines become more established and algae begins to bloom spinner rigs, float presentations or minnow-body crankbaits sometimes out produce jigging tactics.
“Walleyes in this lake aren’t minnow snobs,” says Bro. “On some lakes in the early spring, they’ll only take shiners; but here a healthy fathead or leech works very well.” From the season opener to mid-June, he recommends threading a minnow or leech onto a 1/8-ounce Parakeet or Glow Watermelon Fire-Ball® or RZ Jig and probing shorelines, focusing first on water 8 to 12 feet deep. Shallower when the wind is blowing.
“The west shoreline from the north end all the way to the access ramp can be especially outstanding this time of year,” he says, “as can the eastern shoreline from the north point on down. If the wind is from the south, try fishing along the south side of the big island, too.”
By mid- to late-June the lake’s weedbeds are fully established and casting jigs may step back in favor of dragging rigs or still-fishing a float rig. Bro recommends pulling a nightcrawler on a Butterfly Blade Harness, or a leech on a Butterfly Blade Rig along the edges of shoreline-connected weedbeds, as well as the steeper edges of mid-lake humps and bars. Here, concentrate on water in the 10- to 18-foot range.
“Go with a silver or gold blade behind a Rock-Runner® Bottom Bouncer heavy enough to keep the rig fairly close to the boat,” he says, “and just cruise along with your trolling motor. Yellow perch will be right in among the walleyes and you’ll catch them as well.”
The lake’s southern shoreline, around and on either side of the main point, is prime territory for weed walleyes in the summer, according to Bro, “but you can find them all around the lake and big island ,and on mid-lake structure,” says Bro. “If you find that other anglers are already fishing the area you’ve picked out, just move on to the next likely spot.”
Anglers looking for big crappies and ’gills during summer should focus on the edges of the deepest, thickest weeds they can find, according to Bro. “These fish aren’t numerous in this lake, so you’ll have to scout around to locate them, but when you do they’ll be good size,” he says. “Target them with a Gypsi Jig® or Fire-Fly Jig under a float. For big ’gills, tip them with a small leech or chunk of ’crawler; crappies prefer a small minnow. And remember that bluegills are under special regulations on Blackduck. Anglers are allowed to keep just 5 fish per day.”
Bro switches tactics in the late summer and fall, opting to drag a creek chub, redtail chub or large minnow on a Roach Rig. “Work it slowly around the edges of mid-lake humps,” he explains. “Steep breaks that drop into deep water are the best.
“And if you don’t like pulling live-bait rigs, another option is jigging a large fathead or rainbow.”
Lake maps courtesy of Navionics. For more information, visit: Navionics.com
Size: 2,686 acres
Max Depth: 28 feet
Shoreline: 12.4 miles
Ave Clarity: 3.5 feet
Species Present: Walleyes, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Black Crappies, Bluegills, Pumpkinseeds, Hybrid Sunfish, Rock Bass, Lake Whitefish, Ciscoes, White Suckers, Freshwater Drum, Shorthead Redhorse, Burbot, Bullheads, Common Shiners