As lake waters cool, fishing can heat up.
As a 16-year-old, Gregg Schroeder worked as dock boy at a marina on Lake Waconia. It might have been his second-best job ever.
“An out-of-state family rented a boat from us,” Schroeder says. “For three days in row, they came back without any fish. On the fourth day, they asked if I would take them fishing. I did, and we caught a good stringer of northern and bass. That was the first time anyone paid me to take them fishing.” That was 38 years ago this summer.
Last year, Schroeder’s Guiding Service made 322 fishing trips. He targets Lake Minnetonka and Lake Waconia and fishes for crappies, walleye, northern, bass and muskie. His open-water season starts with crappies in April and ends with muskies just before the ice takes over open waters.
What constitutes a good day on the water? The most successful day was boating seven muskies in one day, and three of them were over 50 inches in length. The longest muskie Schroeder’s boat has ever netted measured 56 and 1/2 inches. The second longest lands on an even 56 inches. The biggest, i.e. heaviest, had a girth of 27 inches. “According to the Department of Natural Resources [DNR] charts, which take into account both length and girth, that one weighed 52 pounds,” Schroeder says. And? “There’s bigger fish out there,” he says.
Speaking of other fish, for Schroeder, muskie season starts when water temperatures cool, which is typically mid to late August. “When waters cool, bait fish start to congregate,” he says. “That’s when the muskies put their feed bags on. They get really aggressive and get easier to catch.” This all means there’s plenty of good muskie fishing left yet this year.
Schroeder outfits his clients with proper equipment, including rods, reels, line and lures. The muskie rods he prefers run nine to 10 feet long. Reels are typically Shimano baitcasters wound with 100-pound Power Pro fishing line and finished with 130-pound leaders. While tossing 3/4-pound lures is Schroeder’s main tactic, followed by a figure eight pattern at the boat, he isn’t averse to other methods. He’ll sometimes troll and fish with live bait (3/4-pound suckers).
Who’s in the boat? “We take out all kinds [of customers]—kids, wives, guys who have never fished …” Schroeder says. Corporate events can run up to 36 boats. Schroeder recalls fishing with two older gentlemen, who had never fished for muskies. “They told me they didn’t care
if they caught fish,” he says. “Boy, did they ever care after catching 50- and 52-inch muskies. They were texting and sending all kinds of photos.”