3-26-13 – Went Out With A Bang

After a great day on the ice yesterday, it would have been nearly impossible not to get back out today. The weather was going to be similar to yesterday with a little more wind and still lots of sun. As we drove up in the dark, our biggest concern was what the shores would look like. We knew the ice out on the bay we knew would be fine.

Getting on the ice was not an issue and neither was finding the fish. They hadn’t moved from the day before and they were biting well. From 7 am until about 2 pm, we worked over a large area trying to stay on active fish. Throughout the day, I put on a few miles and was able to put some real nice fish on the ice in my travels. Quite a few colors were tied on but the last two days have had the same pattern; light in the morning and evening and dark during the day. White was the best color during low light and maroon/white was the best daytime color. With the water being so clear, this is my usual theory.

The day of fishing, if it was the last one, was a great on to go out on for the winter. Walking off the ice, the top layer was getting soft but as we neared the edges, we knew the end of the ice was very near. One of the access points has a small pipe running in with only a trickle of water coming in but in front of this was a large, wet, honeycombed area. After getting off the ice, the walk back to the car was a bittersweet one but in no time we will be out in our boats!

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3-25-13 – Days Are Getting Longer

Even with the weather that we have had recently, there is still some decent ice out there. I had made plans with a buddy to get out in the dark and see if there would be a morning crappie bite. We met in the parking lot at 5:30 and packed up our sleds for the walk in.

We didn’t have to punch any holes but kicking them open took a few thuds. Overnight the temperature was cold enough to put a nice coat on all the holes. With a bit before the sun would start showing over the horizon, we got to work. The fish took a bit to find but when we did, if became apparent very quickly that they were in a very small area. Using glow jigs and maggots, working the crappie took patients and steady jigging action.

As the sun grew higher, the bite went away completely. We had decided the night before that our best bet was to head out when this happened to another spot that had been producing well lately. Just to make sure we were making the right decision, we looked around with our underwater cameras for a bit to make sure the fish weren’t there and just not biting. As our suspicions were confirmed, we knew what our best option was.

When we got to the second spot, the walk in took a short bit. The ice was still solid but the sun beating on it had to be taking a toll. We started off in a spot that was decent a few days earlier. As we fished through the afternoon hours, we found a better concentration of fish migrating towards the swamp. The more holes we punched, the better the fishing got. We ended up having a large area covered and as everyone else cleared out, we had the ice to ourselves.

The rest of the night was spent walking in circles looking for active fish. We found quite a few holes that were more productive than the rest so we used that knowledge to benefit. With productive holes in the back of our mind, we worked these holes in circles so they would have a chance to replenish. As the sun sunk in the sky, the bite slowed more and more. We ended up packing up our gear a little before the sun set, concluding our 13 hour day on the ice. A long day with an even longer drive home!

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3-20-13 – Day After The Storm

I met up with a buddy before the sun came up hoping for a crappie bite in the dark. The snow that was predicted to come came on the lower end of the spectrum and about 9″ was laying on the ice. It was a calm morning with very little wind. The fish started off slow but picked up as the sunrise came closer.

The fish that we found in the dark were curious. It wasn’t very hard to find crappies that were willing to check out a jog but getting them to commit was a different story. I was running a white glow tungsten jig tipped with maggots. I was pulling fish from the top of the weeds and getting them to bite 5′ off the bottom in 9-10 feet of water. When the crappie bit in the dark, they bit hard. As the sun started to rise, the quality of bites decreased but the number increased. More fish started cruising the lighter it got but they were mostly bluegill and pumpkinseed.

The rest of the day after the morning bite went downhill fast. I caught some really nice pumpkinseed and bluegill but the numbers weren’t great like they had been. I worked around and around up until about 11:30. I started using my underwater camera today quite a bit. I found it necessary in order to find fish. In most cases, if I could see a fish on the camera I would catch it. In reality, there weren’t many fish in the small isolated weedbed that I was on.

Having to work at 2, I made sure to leave in time so that I wouldn’t be late. My truck is still packed and ready just in case the ice is still solid when my work week ends. If the ice is too thin, well… the boat is ready!

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3-19-13 – Snowstorm Panfish

The snow was falling today. Overnight, we had gotten 3-4″ of heavy snow and another 3-9″ was on the way today. Throughout the day, the snow steadily fell but at times it came harder. The only time the snow was a pain was when the wind was swirling and hitting me in the face. The ice we were on today was better than most around. 10-11″ of good hard black ice reassured my mind that the heavy snow wasn’t going to fold the ice under my feet.

We weren’t on the ice until about 7:30 am because we didn’t want to rush around on the roads that were slick. Walking out, we had trouble finding the old holes in the white out we were in. We started off punching holes too close to shore and not on weeds. Once we did find what we were looking for when the snow let up, it was on!

After the holes were punched, it didn’t take long to get on some fish. We caught pumpkinseed and bluegill mainly with a mix of perch and crappie randomly. At the start of the day, the fish were holding tight to the bottom in the weeds. For me, as the day wore on, I couldn’t seem to connect with any fish in the weeds. I was working my jig above the weeds with the occasional drop a few inches down in to them. I found that most fish were aggressive and rose up to quickly snatch up my presentation. The crappie today were easily identified before even biting. They have a way of charging a bait like no other. You could see them come up as a bait was  with most bite coming 5 feet off the bottom.

As the day went by, we both noticed a decrease in the fish activity. Around noon, any one who was watching us fish probably thought we were lost. We walked in circles with no luck. Surprisingly, we put up with very slow fishing thinking that they would turn on for an early afternoon bite. We were wrong. When the clock hit two, we were done. A short day on the ice produced some very nice fish but not a consistent flow of fish.

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3-18-13 – Is It Late Ice Or Early Ice?

The plan was for a few of us to meet up on the ice around 10:30. I planned on going up alone and hoping that people were on the ice so I wouldn’t have to go out alone. Upon my arrival, I got hit with the fact that no one was on the ice and I might have to drive elsewhere to get out. I told myself that I should wait around for a bit to see if any one showed up. About ten minutes later, as I was thinking it was a good time to head out, some one pulled it. It was an older man who was ready to go! After a short conversation about the recent bite that had been going on and about how we felt the ice would be, we figured we could give it a shot. We packed up with safety gear and all of our fishing supplies and headed for the ice.

The shoreline was the worse part from what we could see but it only went for a few feet. One real hard whack with the spud bar went through but knowing the bay, we knew we were only in a foot of water. Once we got on the old ice, we used the spud bar and common sense to avoid potentially bad ice. Mainly, we stayed away from dark ice and snow patches. After walking out a ways, we figured that we were in 4-5 feet of water. After punching some holes to find out how much ice there was, we found 6-7″. It seemed like the majority of this ice was formed in the current cold snap that we are experiencing. Working our way out to where the fish were took a while but we knew after a drop of the camera that they were still there!

Fishing started off pretty decent. The fish were around and relating heavily to the thick weeds that were sparse at best. The best holes that we found were the ones that exploded with weeds when the auger was pulled out of the hole. Mainly the fish came out of 7-8 feet of water and were sluggish. I found that when jigging, getting the fish to come up didn’t take much effort but in general getting them to bite required the bait to be still.

As the day wore on, the fishing action slowly declined. We worked in all directions but found that the fish thinned out no matter where we went. The one part of the day that got interesting was as we worked more south, the ice got thinner. Around 4:30, the fishing was too slow to stick it out any longer. Anyway, the wind was picking up and the temperatures were steadily dropping as the snow storm was rolling in.

The end of the day was welcomed and I was home before it was dark. With some good fish in the bucket, it was a great way to spend a day!

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This fish was nick named stubby!

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3-13-13 – Ice Is Going Fast

As the title states, things aren’t looking good for us ice fishermen. Just yesterday, I was on the same body of water and saw no indication that the ice would be as it was today. Getting on, the shores were lined with open water and the color of the ice had changed quite a bit. Regardless, I was happy to see a fellow fishermen a few minutes ahead of me on his way out to perch fish.

After catching up with the other guy, we both went off and started looking for fish. Many of the holes we fished were open from days ago whenever the last people were out. It looked like it had been a few days since any one had been out too. From the 2.5 hours we spent out there, we knew why no one was out. The fishing was terrible! I caught a dozen perch and only three were keepers. As disappointing as it was, I knew that the bluegill would bite!

Coming into the weedbed that I wanted to fish today, I was only able to use the spud bar to open up four old 10″ holes. With those holes open, I decided to be effective, I needed to punch another two dozen holes across the weedbed. With all the holes open, I baited up my jig with maggots and started fishing.

I found the fish to be aggressive. They were scattered throughout the water column with the majority of them cruising 4.5 – 5 feet below the ice. I found that if the fish were not showing on the flasher above the weeds, dropping down into the weeds produced more pumpkinseed than anything. Although fun to catch, they are grubby in this lake and bluegill is what I wanted to bring home for dinner. After about 30 minutes, I had a dozen fish on the ice and I switched gears to all sight fishing.

Mainly, I stuck to the larger 10″ holes from someone else. These holes allowed me to see more of the area surrounding my jig. A little bit into the new technique, I pulled out my underwater point and shoot camera and started recording videos of these fish coming in and working the bait. I ended up with two pretty cool videos that I have uploaded on our YouTube page. The first video is Late Ice Sight Fishing with a few of the better catches on camera. Getting in focus videos was tough today because of the particles that were suspending in the water column. The second video is Bluegill Blowing On Bait. Anyone who fishes for bluegill has seen how finicky they bite. This video shows you just what they are up to!

This might be our very last post on ice fishing this winter. Although the ice will be missed, ditch fishing and getting the boat out will be very welcomed!

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3-12-13 – Mixed Bag In The Rain

With all the reports of people going through the ice lately, Venturing out alone after deer water perch on a warm, rainy day wasn’t sounding too ideal. I arrived at the lake a little before sunrise hoping to see some other rigs parked. Unfortunately, I was alone and having not been on the lake for a bit. I couldn’t go out yet and feel safe. I sat around for a bit waiting and ended up taking a nap. I woke up after a bit and still no one was around. I changed gears and decided to spud out to the bluegill grounds. Shallow water had me feeling a bit more at ease.

As I arrived out to where I intended to fish, I found a solo trip was still in store for me. Luckily, the ice felt safe and the holes out there only had about an inch of ice on them. I had gone out without my auger so I used my spud bar to open a dozen or so holes before starting to fish. To get a better sense of how much ice there was, I reached down the hole which revealed 13″ of ice.

The fishing today was better than it has been. I found that the fish were cruising high in the water column and feeding aggressively. I was fishing an orange Bentley Stinger tipped with maggots. This lake seems to produce more and better fish when fishing strictly meat. While fishing, I would start high in the water column and if no fish showed on the flasher quickly I would work down until I had a mark come in. In general, the fish were biting without much working but the longer I stayed in a hole the more finicky they became.

I tried sight fishing today but was unable due to the rain hitting the water. It rained so hard at times that I went back to the truck to escape getting too wet. Because of the warm temperature, I wore blue jeans, an old water-absorbing raincoat, and mud boots. When I finally decided to go home it was because I put on an extra 20 pounds of water weight. I guess some days are just too much!

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