As I add more years on to my age, I grow more and more concerned about getting our youth involved. A few of my students approached me about advising a Hunting/fishing club and without a doubt I accepted. I’ve had the chance to take them on the ice few times this year and as February break was almost over I took two of them to what I thought was going to be a hot bite and a positive time on the ice for these youngsters.
We made our way to the lake with a few extra Vexilars for the boys to use. Dylan and I had fished this spot the previous week and it was a hot bluegill bite. I thought it was going to be an easy day for the boys giving them a little confidence by putting some fish in their buckets. I drilled the area out and got the boys all set up and ready to jig. It didn’t take long for the two of them to start a baseball game, there was a great deal of swinging and missing going on as I fished beside them. After a few tips on presentation and ready the electronic in shallow weeds they were both hooking up a bit more. We fished for a few hours and I soon realized that the fish just weren’t here. I cut another grid of holes and went searching. I was able to locate some fish but they had slid to the weed edge in 9 feet of water and the weeds were right to the ice. This wouldn’t be a problem for me and Dylan but knowing that I had two young fishermen with me that had no experience reading electronics in thick weeds I decided it would be best if I took them to another body of water to target deep water suspending crappie.
We packed up our gear and made the short trip to a nearby setback. This particular setback was well known for a decent crappie bite early ice and I was hoping there might still be a few fish we could talk into biting. The conditions were poor, we had about 16 inches of heavy snow to deal with. I sent the boys out to clear a few spots in the channel for me to drill about 20 holes. It didn’t take long for one of them to get hooked up. As a matter of fact I don’t think I had even got my rod out yet. The first fish to come up was a decent little crappie, which to these boys was like pulling up a piece of gold. We had a short spurt where the fish would bite but it seemed like you’d only catch fish out of a hole that was fished for the first time, these fish are the fussiest crappie I have ever met. Both boys were able to catch a few fish, one even landing a nice pike. That’s what this sport is all about. Teaching and passing on what we have learned to the generations will only support a positive experience for those to come.
The weatherman called for a nice day and was right but he was way off on the wind forecast! We set up on a recent bite that we had located with hopes the fish hadn’t moved.
The fish were there but no concentration remained. We fished round and round searching for something better. We cut in all directions but only one or two quality seeds would come from a hole.
As we got further from our initial waypoint the number of perch in the 7-9″range was unreal! Happy to be catching fish as quick as you could pull them, we posted up. The fish bit until the cold wind drove us home around 4.
While the flatfish weren’t there in numbers perch saved us. Maybe next time things will be better!
The day started off terrible. We were on the ice with two buddies and cut a ton of holes over a large area that usually produces this time of year. For the hour and a half that we were there, two of us cut while two ran under water cameras. We saw two small perch and one pike. Not what we were hoping for!
We made plans to check a few other spots depending on the foot traffic and to keep moving if it was busy. The first location was a bust so onward we went. The second stop wasn’t much better but there were a few holes between tip up fishermen. As we walked out, we knew the water was shallow but cutting shallow to deep is a good strategy so that’s what we did.
The first hole was in just over 3 FOW. Nothing. Second hole same depth, loaded with pumpkinseed. We decided to cut out a small test area. Things were looking up and there were also crappie, perch, and bluegill. The fishing was slow but most holes offered up a few fish. As we fished in circles, we found a few directions to cut in. The fish were all over but no concentration was evident.
Throughout the course of the day, we had some good runs of fish and the quality was decent. Action was constant all day as long as you never posted up in one spot for too long. All fish were high in the water column excepts the crappie. Kind of strange!
As the day faded, it was time to head for home. The wind was picking up and there was no need to get cold!
Yesterdays limited results and cold temperatures had me excited to sleep in a bit. I had a few errands to run in the morning but I was still on the ice around 10. I cut out a large area on a dated waypoint from a few years ago but was disappointed to see that the weeds were thick and right to the surface.
About two holes in to a patch of sparse weeds that I found, I heard voices from kids coming my way. I poked my head out of the shack and saw a mother with two little ones. They were looking for someone to let them fish some holes so I found a good looking hole and helped the kids land a few fish before the cold drove them away. The were bummed their trip was short but at least they didn’t get skunked!
I spent the rest of the day huddled in the warmth of my shack sight fishing gills as they moved around. It was possible to sit in one hole and catch a fish on average every other minute but it’s hard for me to be content with that. I kept cutting trying to locate the weed edges that ranged from nothing to dense.
Towards the end of the day I found a good concentration of big gills in just a few feet of water. I spend the rest of my time sitting in one hole pulling fish after fish until I needed to get home.
My scouting mission was a success and now I am ready for when someone needs a good bite!
I started off my day with a trip to the dentists so things were off to a late start. The snow was flying and with past experiences, many of the best bites have come under similar conditions. The worst part of the day was the 30 mph winds that were predicted to blow!
I hooked up with my buddy around 10:30 and we started fishing on a spot that we hadn’t cut up yet this winter. Things were slow and the few fish that we found were sitting over the top of short weeds in 10+ feet of water. The weedbeds for the most part were almost too thick to fish! After a few slow hours, we packed up and made a move to a new bay hoping things would improve.
After arriving at the second stop, we made small talk with the only guy in the area. He agreed the fishing was slow but told us to cut where ever we wanted. As we worked through the fresh holes, we picked away at the few fish that were around. We knew we weren’t on the spot so we moved in multiple directions until we found a concentration of better sized fish.
We worked over the area pretty well and were content with the results that we were seeing. We were even able to find a few crappie in the area. Things were looking up for an evening Hydro Glow bite!
Around 4:30 the wind really started to pick up and the bite shut off. From then until about 8 I could mark fish on my flasher but getting them to bite was nearly impossible. It was time to call it a night and rethink strategies for tomorrow!
We got the go ahead from the women to hit the ice on Valentine’s day. After sleeping in just a bit, we were headed out on the ice just after 8 to find some panfish. The bite has been decent but the fish quality varies constantly with a lot of small fish in the mix. Only a few people were out most likely do to the cold temps, wind, and snow. After cutting our way out, the fish seemed to be located over one specific weedbed. To combat the cold, we shacked up and got the heaters cranking.
The fish bit. There was nothing you could do wrong as long as the kept the jig moving. We sat 15 feet apart all day once we found a decent pod of fish. The action was constant for gills and the crappie came through in the mix. We were set up paralleling a nice weed edge that the fish were using.
Although the bite was steady throughout the day, the best bites were when the snow came down hard and when the sun was shining. The extremes seemed to bring on the bigger fish. While these were the times to capitalize on, fishing high in the water column also seemed to weed out quite a few of the smaller gills.
We made it home safely after some slippery roads most of the way home!
I pulled my shack up to my desired first hole still in the dark with hopes of some healthy Champlain panfish. I cut a few holes so that I could hop to when the action slowed up but with the severe cold I planned on spending the majority of my day in the warmth of my shack!
After cleaning my hole, igniting my heater, and baiting up my jig, I dropped down. Immediately I was greeted with the red glow of a fish rising from the weeds on my Vexilar. I was hooked up with my first crappie of the day! Nothing to complain about with with a 12″ crappie on the first drop!
From there, the fishing never slowed. There was an abundance of various sized gills. The crappie were around but with the concentration of gills, they didn’t stand a chance! I could have sat in one hole all day but it is very hard for me to be content when I know that there are better fish nearby.
I cut in all different directions and used my underwater camera to search for a hole with a better concentration of crappie. When I found what I was looking for I shacked up and started fishing. The crappie were happy to bite and after putting about a dozen topside I hooked into something significantly larger.
The battle pursued for several minutes with multiple long runs. I was happy to finally see the head of the 30″+ pike poking out of my now cloudy hole. It was cool to land a nice pike on 2 pound test but I was bummed that the hole was no longer fishable. I had just about every weed within 15 yards laying in top of the ice!
Shortly after, I found another concentration of fish and shacked up for the remainder of the day. I packed things up for the day around 4 and headed for home. A long day on the ice put a few nice meals on the table!