While fish are not known as the most intelligent creatures on earth, they are certainly masters in one area of expertise, and that’s how to be fish. Fish know exactly where they like to be, when they like to be there, and what they like to have for lunch. Few people know fish as well as fish know themselves. One man among them is Gregg Schroeder of Schroeder’s Guiding Service.“My dad taught me how to fish right after I learned how to walk,” Gregg reminisced. “He took me out on Lake Minnetonka and Lake Waconia whenever we could go. Those lakes would become central to my life.”
Gregg got his first job as a dock boy on Lake Waconia, and shortly thereafter his first paid gig when a frustrated family of Tennesseans hadn’t landed a fish three days into their vacation. Gregg had lake water in his veins by that point, so he offered to take them out. The bass never stood a chance.
After that success, word spread about Gregg’s angling prowess. He got his own boat, accrued an arsenal of fishing tackle, and now guides over three hundred fishing trips a year on his two home lakes. He offered to share some of his knowledge with me, which I dearly needed, as I’ve learned far more about canned beer than fishing itself during my trips.
“We have a lot of largemouth bass here, and they love soft plastic bait, especially 7” worms,” Gregg explained. “They’re available in all sorts of colors, but after thousands of times on the water, I’ve found that pumpkin and purple are the best colors to use. Don’t ask me why, but you can’t argue with the bass.”
“Use the Texas rig when you fish with plastic bait. That’s where you embed the tip of the hook into the bait’s body so it won’t snag on anything, which is crucial because bass prefer transitional areas, especially around milfoil. When you use a Texas-style tuck, you can deliver the bait right around the weeds without worrying about snags. If you want to strike above or around the weeds, switch to a spinnerbait. They move and flash just like a little fish does, which is what the bass need to see to leave their cover.”
“If you want to switch to walleye, bottom bouncers are the way to go, especially on Minnetonka because they cut right through the weeds there. Try trolling a little faster than you feel is natural, between 1 and 1.5 mph. Walleye are predators and use short bursts of speed to take their prey, so it’s good to fish as aggressively as they do. Keep in mind that walleye are most active during the first and last hours of daylight. When they’re too lethargic for a bottom bouncer to do the trick, slow way down and put an ? oz jig and minnow combo right in front of them. They usually won’t object to it.”
“I used to fish 18 tournaments every year, mostly for walleye,” explained Gregg. “I was up against seasoned pros, but I’ve always been competitive. When I saw other people fishing better than me, I’d not only learn what they were doing, but also how to do it better. When you fish, experiment, improvise, and always try to do it the best.”
“I’m not giving you all my secrets, though,” Gregg teased. “Maybe you ought to come out on the Lake and let me show you in person.” Gregg had better watch out — I may just take his advice and learn how to fish better than he does. (In between canned beers, of course.)
“Seeing someone land their first muskie, the pure joy and energy of it all, it’s always a blast,” said Gregg. “I love it most when a little kid catches their first fish. It reminds me every time of when each of my daughters caught theirs. Those were the most rewarding feelings in the world, and I’m blessed to relive them so often.”
Visit schroedersguidingservice.com to learn more about Gregg’s local fishing expeditions.
By David Scheller