Contact Travis Frank

Phone: 612-382-6927
Email: travis@trophyencounters.com

To book a guided fishing trip or discuss details, please fill out the form to the right and click submit - or use the information above to reach Travis directly.


265 S Oak St
Waconia, MN
United States

612-382-6927

Travis Frank and Trophy Encounters Guide Service specializes in fully-guided fishing trips for Muskie, Walleye, Bass, Northern Pike and Panfish on Lake Minnetonka, Lake Waconia, Lake Mille Lacs and other Metro Minnesota Waters.​

untitled-9037.jpg

Current Fishing Report

Follow Travis Frank's regular fishing report.  Muskie, Walleye, Bass, Pike and more 365 days a year across Minnesota.

Opening Day Walleyes & Wind.

Travis Frank

Saturday at midnight the fishing season kicked open.  A few minutes later, so too did the wind.  This year will forever be remembered as the year for wind and ice.  I've fished in crappy weather before, but this was brutal.  Being tough guys, we battled it all day long.  After all, walleyes are always worth it.

My fishing crew consisted of Bails, an opening day regular.  "New Chad," which as the name suggests, made his first opening day start.  And, last but not least, Eric, "the lone wolf," Wolf.  A motley crew of walleye lovers, for sure.

We opted to keep our tradition going and started at midnight.  Lake Minnetonka was our lake of choice.  Chad kicked off the event with Nitty Gritty Dirt Bands, Fishin' in the Dark, at 11:57pm.  Then, at 12:00 on the dot, we were down to business.  Our first spot was fish less.  At about 12:15 we moved on, and as we motored to spot number 2, the lake erupted.  Gale force winds literally knocked us sideways.  It blew so hard that it would have been miserable even if the walleyes were jumping in the boat.  We opted to take a skunk to bed and get some rest before sunrise.

The morning started slow and cold, but as the sun warmed up, so did the walleyes.  Well, technically just Bails turned on.  While I did my best circus act to hold the boat on the spot he landed 3 dandies.  Interestingly enough, all three were big males, all in the 24 inch range, and all spewing "white stuff" on the bottom of the boat.  Getting rid of the skunk was all we really wanted, then we pulled the plug on our morning.

After lunch and a nap, we returned for the evening bite.  Eric instantly boated his first walleye.  The skunk remained for Chad and myself.  Soon, they placed bets on who would catch a walleye first.  Bails put his money on Chad and Eric took yours truly.  Fortunately, Eric didn't have to wait long to get paid.  My drought was over (insert a Hallelujah)!  I boated my first, followed by a second, which also happened to take big fish honors for the day.  She was a spawned out female over 27 inches in length. I thanked her for the sunset thrill, then sent her on her way.

As darkness approached, "New Chad," was the only man without an 'eye.  His depression was reaching new depths when suddenly he hooked up.  It was a big fish, possibly larger than mine.  Just as we were about to catch a glimpse, the line snapped.  If he hadn't fished so hard all day, it would have been hilarious.  Seeing the defeat in his eyes, we could only laugh at half throttle.  He escaped the full blown harping that we normally dish.  As he re-tied his line we talked about what we could have done differently.  "Nothing," he said.  A new jig and two casts later the man was hooked up again.  Thank goodness, this time, the walleye made the net.

With Chad's fish, we called it a day.  Mission accomplished.  4 tired boys left the lake with a handful of new walleye tales, and wind burnt faces.  In total, we managed 8 walleyes.  4 for the jar, 4 for the photo album.  A far cry from a normal year, but considering the conditions, we called it a success.  Another opening day is in the books.  Until next time, keep on livin' the dream!

Pondering the 2013 Metro Fishing Opener

Travis Frank

Ice, cold, blah, blah, blah.  I don't think anybody wants to spend time babbling about the cold.  Instead, how about we take a look at what this cold weather will mean for the start of our fishing season? 

Lake Minnetonka Walleye

In short, I believe this cool spring will bring good fishing.  Walleyes thrive in cooler water.  Opening day might be slow, but it won't take long for things to heat up.  The next month or two should be solid.  In the metro, the walleyes are spawning as we speak.  They spawn when the water is between 42 and 48 degrees.  After the fish spawn, there is a heavy "feedbag" window when they seem to eat everything in sight.  The cool water keeps walleyes active longer, and many times they remain in shallow, easy to find locations.

On a warm water year, this "feedbag" window often occurs before our season even starts.  Last year the walleyes in the metro spawned 6 weeks before the opener.  Their peak feeding period occurred 4 weeks before opening day.  This year, we should see the peak feeding window occur within the first two weeks of our season.  On a typical year the best walleye fishing generally runs through May, then slowly fades into June.  This year we could be looking at a solid bite that drags into July (if we are lucky). 

Considering our conditions, you could target this peak window for over a month.  If you had nothing but free time for the next 5 weeks, you could start out in southern Minnesota on opening day, then each week trek north until you hit Lake of the Woods.  The prairie lakes of the south will be prime for opening day.  The metro waters will be at peak the week after opener.  Mille Lacs should be prime in about 2 weeks.  Leech should be on fire in 3 and Lake of the Woods will be slamming in 4. Timing this bite according to the spawn will give you the chance at an incredible year of walleye fishing, maybe the best you've ever had.

I will be starting my season in the metro.  Waconia and Minnetonka to be exact.  I believe we will find active fish come opening day.  As of today, the water temps are in the mid 40's and the walleyes should be spawning.  Come Saturday, we will be on the early fringe of their heavy feeding window.  If it starts slow, it will only increase as we progress into the end of week one.  I believe the walleyes will be shallow.  I don't expect to fish any deeper than 7 feet of water. 

Here are some things that I will look for to help me find metro walleyes.  First and foremost, I'm going to search for green weeds.  Most metro walleyes are stocked fish.  They spend the first year of their life in a small weedy pond.  When transplanted, they go to what they know - weeds.  Finding the first green shoots of the year will be key.  The minute the walleyes finish their spawn, they go straight to the green stuff.  Baitfish will use this area, and so will the walleyes.  To get more specific, I believe the inside weed edges will hold the greatest numbers of active fish.  On Minnetonka and a handful of other metro waters, this weedline runs at about 3 to 6 feet of water. 

To catch them, my first choice will be to pitch a jig and minnow, followed by casting Rapala's.  Most people think you have to fish deep water to catch walleyes during the day.  I have found the walleyes to be aggressive all day when they are in the shallow weeds.  When darkness falls, they come out of the weeds and roam on the nearest hard bottom flats.  1 to 2 feet of water is not out of the question.  Casting Rapala's on these shallow flats after dark can be lethal.  This tactic should last at least 3 weeks this year.  On a warmer year, I've seen it die in less than 1. 

Lake Minnetonka is an obvious gold mine, but there are a pile of small walleye factories nearby.  Small lakes with heavy walleye stocking programs provide some incredible fishing opportunities within a 30 mile radius of the cities.  The past 5 years I've made it a point to try these smaller waters right away.  I've been blown away by the success.  The first 2 weeks being the best.  This year, I think they will all be hopping for a good month. 

Thanks to this cool spring, we will be able to fish walleyes throughout their entire peak feeding period.  Ice up north might force you to stay home, but you can be thankful for the bumper crop of fish that await you.  I wish you a safe and prosperous fishing season.  If there is anything I can do to hook you up with more fish, please don't hesitate to ask.  Until next time, keep chasin' your dream!

Ice Time...

Travis Frank

Swine12.jpg

Ice time is good for the soul.  Staring at a hole forces me to slow the pace of life.  Watching a vexilar is my addiction.  I need it and I cherish it.  I know that I'm not alone in this.  Now is the time.  Ice is good and the fish are biting.  Get out there and catch a swine. 

Pictured above is a shot of a Christmas Eve giant.  I must have been good this year to deserve this one.  She pushed the 12 pound mark.  A true giant that humbles me every time I look at her giant frame.  Truly spoiled.  Until the next trophy encounter surfaces, keep on livin' the dream!

Life is good...

Travis Frank

I am spoiled.  I've said it before, I'll say it again.  The past few trips on the water have been very rewarding.  Yesterday I started my quest for the record.  The "Quest" is my yearly state record muskie chase on Mille Lacs.  It happens every year in November and my goal is a 54 pounder (aka: the state record). 

My brother joined me last season for his first rush of a 50 pounder boatside.  Yesterday, he was the first to hook up.  Although it wasn't a 50 pounder, it was the widest, heaviest 47 incher I have ever seen.  We accidentally broke the scale before we could get a weight on his fish, but given the extreme girth dimensions I would put this muskie near the 40 pound mark.  A true giant with ridiculous width. 

Shortly after Adam's catch, my buddy, Matt Hennen, hooked up with his personal best.  A monster that fell just shy of 53 inches.  Again, another fish that broke the 40 pound mark.  This one was around 42 to 43 pounds.  Simply ridiculous.  Looking at the 2 pictures you can see these fish are each a different strain.  The 47 incher was actually a wider, thicker fish head to tail.  While Matt's muskie was nearly 6 inches longer, it didn't retain the same build top to bottom.  It had a fat belly, but not the same width.  If it had the same build of Adam's fish, then we would have been talking about a 50 pounder.  Regardless, they were both incredible fish. 

A few days prior to this outing, I filmed a tv show with Ron Schara and his daughter Laura.  I won't spill the beans on the whole trip, but it was an exciting adventure that I believe you will enjoy watching.  You'll be able to catch the action on an upcoming episode of Minnesota Bound.  The teaser is a picture of Laura's first muskie.  The day prior to our filming, I was out with a muskie man named Jeff, and he also landed a dandy.  You might say we've had a good run of luck.

While all of these muskies stories are great, nothing even comes close to what took place on Saturday.  I wasn't fishing, but I landed the best catch of my life.  I asked my dream woman, Sarah, to marry me, and SHE SAID YES!  Woohoo!  Life is good.  God is good!  I am such a blessed man.  Until the next incredible moment happens, keep chasing your dream!

Muskie Burnt Memories...

Travis Frank

The best part about muskie fishing is that every encounter leaves a memory.  They are an exciting fish and they never dissapoint.  Every catch is burned into our memory banks and the drama that plays out can be retold over and over again.  It's magical how our mind can retain each experience. 

The thrill of the encounter is life changing, and here's why I know this is true - I can meet a stranger and talk with him for 20 minutes.  We can talk about the weather and the latest Minnesota Vikings game.  In less than one hour my mind will have forgetten the stranger's name, and probably have no idea what we talked about. 

But, I can tell you every detail of the first muskie that I caught in 1999. 

It was early August.  I was burning a small black and silver mepps muskie killer over shallow sand in 3 feet of water.  The conditions were cloudy with strong wind (perfect).  My good friend, Dusty Gesinger, was standing in the back of the boat and I was running the trolling motor up front.  We were fishing out of his dad's 14 foot Sea Nymph and I was casting from the wooden platform that we built in the front.  I was burning the small black bucktail as fast as I could through the waves and a mouth appeared from behind.  Crashing through 10 waves, the huge mouth finally caught up and engulfed my bucktail.  It couldn't have been 15 feet from the boat.  After 2 jumps and several hard pulls I hand landed the beast.  The tape measure read 50 inches and I was without a camera.  Still, I remember every detail like it just happened 20 seconds ago.  And, I'm not alone.  Dusty just retold this same story a few days ago.  Proof that this muskie made an impact. 

Since then I've burnt countless stories into my mind.  Every muskie encounter is unique in their own way.  A few days ago I had my good friend, Mike Ernst, along to try to photograph a muskie memory for my clients, Jim and Allen.  It took us a few hours, but we accomplished our goal.  Allen caught his muskie, and Mike captured the memory.  Thanks to Mike's camera skills, part of the memory can be shared.  I hope you enjoy this rare sequence of Allen's muskie memory.