Me and 3 of my buddies were wanting to go to Mille lacs sometime this winter and rent out a ice house for a weekend and have some fun and hopefully catch some fish. But we have no idea what time of the year to go or which resort to rent a house from? Any ideas?
There are no shortages of house rentals thats for sure. I've rented houses 4-5 times now and used a few different resorts. Here is what I've learned over the years.
1. Like anywhere earlier is usually better for walleye. The late winter gets tough.
2. If you want to catch fish you'll need to get out of the house and go looking for them. If you catch something in the rental consider it a bonus because its not all that common. When you find a resort to rent from find out roughly where the houses will be and then research some spots around that area you want to hit on your own. Bring portable and all your augers and vexilars and go find them yourself. Use the house as base camp.
3. Some resorts do a better job at getting you on structure while others just put you out in the lake somewhat randomly and call it a day. At times even the most well intentioned resort owner will be limited on where they can put the houses based on ice conditions. For example a few years ago we rented out of Twin Pines on the west shore. The bay they are in was completely cut off from the rest of the lake by a pressure ridge so they couldn't get the houses out very far. We didn't get a single bite in the house all weekend.
Out of the resorts I've used I liked Rocky Reef the best. They have some good structure they keep the houses on so you at least have a shot at a fish in the house. The reef is a good spot for walleye in the evening and you can target perch out deeper during the day. Also the owner "Rockman" is a pretty straight shooter and should steer you straight. Also they have really good burgers at the bar. I believe they also have newer light weight houses that are made of foam so they can get them out earlier in the season. That means they can get them on the best spots before most of the people can get larger houses out.
I've also heard some good things about some of the resorts on the east side of the lake but have never personally used them.
If you want to catch fish from the rental I'd consider going up to Red Lake or Lake of the Woods. Much better odds up that way. I used Cookie's on URL (MFP Member) last year and we caught fish consistently from the rental which was good because it was -25 with a stiff wind and I wasn't going out chasing walleye in a portable that weekend.
T-Bone, Earlier the better. NoFishFisherMan has good info. I'd would watch reports or call a few resorts, find out fishing reports and how far they are getting out. Cordinate that with some structure and find the cheapest rental or resort closest to it.
To get your self out earlier you could stay on shore at a resort and wheeler out.