Cass Lake, one of many popular fishing lakes connected by the Upper Mississippi River, is nearly 16,000 acres in size and lies in Cass and Beltrami counties. The lake is a renowned muskie fishery and has a reputation for producing jumbo yellow perch. But according to Team Northland member and well-known fishing guide, Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, “Cass Lake is one of the best walleye lakes in the state.”
He adds, however, that anglers who fished Cass in years past might be in for a surprise now because the water is more than twice as clear as it was just a few years ago.
“It used to be you could see the bottom in about 8 feet of water, but due to an infestation of zebra mussels, it’s now visible down to around 18 feet,” he explains. “This can sometimes make for a tougher daytime bite, and is the reason so many anglers focus on the early morning, evening, and night shifts.”
Fish-attracting cover and structure abound. “Cass is filled with outstanding reefs, bars, weedbeds, and stumps and logs from the lumbering days,” he says. “It’s got all kinds of excellent cover for walleyes, muskies, and all gamefish.”
Brosdahl offers two pieces of general angling advice to fishermen bound for Cass Lake.
“First,” he says, “Remember that the walleye bite is wind-driven. When it blows, you’ll get the best action on the humps, points, reefs, and shorelines that are exposed to the wind. Also, there are so many zebra mussels now, anglers should consider using a fluorocarbon leader—not just because it’s less visible in the clear water; it’s also more abrasion resistant and won’t break off as easily as mono on the sharp mussel shells.”
1. Walleyes can be anywhere this time of year, according to the guide—in the weeds, among the rocks, or suspended at mid-depths. Among the spots anglers are sure to have success in late June and July are on the bars and reefs north and east of Star Island. Try trolling a Roach-Rig® consisting of a Mr. Walleye® Crawler Hauler in Hex Gold, Hex Silver, or Emerald Shiner, and a Rock-Runner® Bottom Bouncer, along weed edges in 12 to 18 feet of water. “Cass Lake loves redtail chubs,” says Bro, “so if you can get lively redtails, use ’em. Though ’crawlers and leeches work fine, too.”
2. Spinner rigs continue to produce through July and August, but Bro also recommends targeting a bit deeper water with jig-and-minnow combos. Just about any breakline around the lake, in the 12- to 24-foot range, around the lake will produce walleyes, but the area south of Cedar Island is a good place to start. “Depending on the strength of the wind, go with a 1/8- or ¼-ounce RZ Jig, or the same size Fire-Ball® Jig rigged with a Sting’r Hook,” says Bro. “I like the parrot, glo watermelon and pink (shrimp) patterns, and a spottail shiner. If you can’t get spottails, try rainbow chubs or golden shiners.”
3. In October and November, walleyes tend to slide even deeper, and Bro recommends fishing the submerged humps, shoreline-connected bars, and around the Potato Islands in Allens Bay. “Key on depths from 18 to 32 feet,” he says. “Drag Roach-Rigs® baited with redtail chubs, leeches or ’crawlers, or use the same RZ Jig or Fire-Ball® Jig combos as before.” Fall is also the time to break out the Puppet® Minnow jigging minnows, he adds. Bro fishes 1/8-, ¼- and 5/16-ouncers, selecting the most appropriate for the depth and wind conditions, and opts for perch and shiner patterns—green perch, glo perch, firetiger, and silver shiner.
4. In the early spring, from the season opener in mid-May through about mid-June, most of the action occurs around the mouths of tributaries, including where the Mississippi River enters Allens Bay and the Turtle River flows into the north shore. Walleyes will hold anywhere from 9 to 20 feet deep, depending on how brightly the sun shines, says Bro, and anglers should focus on any breakline, hump, or point near the river mouth. A Fire-Ball® Jig, in the same shades already mentioned and tipped with a rainbow chub or shiner, is the hot ticket.
Lake maps courtesy of Navionics. For more information, visit: Navionics.com