“People don’t like fishing,” Mike Riedl said, a smile creeping up behind his Amphibia floating sunglasses. “They like catching.”
Riedl is a bass “catching” guide based out of Mora, Minnesota. Wait… Bass? In Minnesota…? Minnesota, where walleye is king and muskies bring bragging rights at the diner?
Twenty-eight year-old Riedl only started his part-time guiding business a couple years ago. But the full-time FedEx driver happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Mille Lacs Lake — a renowned 130,000-acre walleye and muskie fishery — is in his backyard. But in recent years, fishing pressure and other conditions collapsed the walleye numbers, prompting the DNR to issue a catch-and-release-only order for Minnesota’s favorite fish on the state’s favorite walleye lake.
The upside of all the pressure on the walleye? Nobody was targeting bass. The population of largemouth and smallmouth in the lake flourished and grew.
This year, Mille Lacs was named a top bass fishery by both Bassmaster magazine and USA Today. With walleye — a delicious fish to eat, but not a particularly fun fish to catch — off the table, people were trying to figure out how to put themselves on Mille Lacs’ suddenly-famous bass. Enter Riedl. Few folks can bag bass on Mille Lacs like Mike.
While he’ll guide for a number of species, bass are Reidl’s specialty, but largemouth are his faves, because with hawgs, “the action is always there.” In warmer weather, he likes to throw smaller jigs off his Carrot Stix rod, keeping them shallow over structure and teasing the mossbacks into striking.
In the fall, he likes to offer a minnow pattern to entice the hard-striking bucketmouths into hitting his rig. Colder weather makes bass sluggish and more aggressive: They strike harder and faster, hitting bigger targets, to maximize the amount of energy they take in relative to the energy they expend doing it. Largemouths got no time for playin’ in cold weather.
But for folks who are just hoping to hook a fish, a ned rig is Reidl’s go-to.
“It will catch them year-round, and you’ll catch a ton of fish,” he says.
A part-timer, Reidl’s guide services are priced extremely competitively, making him an excellent choice for beginners who are looking for some pointers, pro tips, and fish on the end of their lines. Putting someone on their first fish still puts a big grin on Reidl’s face.
Helping people catch fish and have fun doing it is this young guide’s mission. And Reidl’s got the gear to do it. In addition to ultra-light Carrot Stix rods, he also uses Woo Tungsten weights for his rigs, careful to avoid environment-damaging lead.
He’s also careful about his clients’ comfort. Mille Lacs, for example, is a big, round lake — more than 90 mi. in circumference — and the Central Minnesota winds can whip up some good-sized waves on the surface. Fortunately, Reidl’s boat is an extra-wide, double-console Triton, equipped with higher gunwales and a TH Marine jackplate — which keeps the prop in the water on choppy days — making for a smooth ride and dry clients.
Make no mistake, in spite of his youth, this wily guide is a pro. And no one can argue with his fishing philosophy:
Asked if he had any final, secret pro tips for hooking a hawg, Reidl replied, “Yeah. If you’re not having fun, you ain’t doing right.”
Contact: Mike Riedl, On a Mission Fishin’ (https://www.facebook.com/onamissionfishin)
and follow him on Instagram @ onamissionfishin
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