Tag Archives: Ice Team

2-25-15 – It Was Good While It Lasted

The trip for the day would be a quick but early one.  My plan was to arrive to the lake and have my holes drilled by 6am in an effort to capitalize on and early morning perch bite. The perch that swim in this particular body of water are typically that of the larger, “jumbo” variety and the best best has always been the first hour of light.  I made it to my coordinates a little after 6 and talked briefly to a fellow fishermen as I cut about 8 holes. The bite hadn’t started yet according to the voice coming from the shanty so I was relieved that I hadn’t missed it.

I fished my first hole without a mark on the Vexilar and then moved to the second. As soon as the transducer settled in the hole, I could see there were a few stacked beneath me. The perch in this lake are notorious for non-stop movement when they’re feeding. If you’re able to catch more than 3 out of a hole you’ve done good. The best method we’ve used is the leap frog method the chase the school, but i’m without a fishing partner so that wouldn’t work. This year, for some reason the fish seemed to be staying put, meaning they were in the exact same holes for a better part of a month. Because of this, a nice area had been all plowed out for decent fishing conditions. I quickly caught 8 nice jumbo perch and was now on my third hole as were a few old timers. The guys that plowed the area out a few days prior pulled up and asked me how the fishing was. I replied with “they’re just starting to turn on now”. Well once that was said they decided they needed to make some more room for themselves to fish so they began plowing more of the area out. The fish were gone once that plow hit the ice.

I fished through the rest of my holes without marking any decent sized fish and picked up my auger to venture away from the plowed area.  The fish had vacated the area completely.  It’s amazing how noise on the ice can impact fish in 35 feet of water, but if I had a plow blade being dropped in my house i’d probably leave too!  Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

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1-11-15 – Back To Learning

After a semi successful first trip chasing walleye, we decided to take another stab at it. We decided to fish the exact same body of water, same reef, same everything. This time however we were able to get set up a little sooner in the day since we had updated our GPS location on our Navionics app from the previous trip.

Our 21 lines were set and baited by the time the sun peeked over the hills. Our expectations were high and we felt confident the action would be fast right off the bat. Well, we were wrong for the most part. Just after getting set up our first flag fired and we were able to land a nice fat walleye just under the legal length. We were off to a great start, however, from there we went a few hours without getting another flag and quickly became a little discouraged.

One thing that we’ve learned over the years of trying new spots and new techniques is not give up. Being discouraged is tough to handle but can be a good thing to experience as long as you use it to figure out what you might be doing wrong. Something had to be different so the conversation was started as to why the fish weren’t acting the same as they did the week before. We soon came to two major differences.

Walleye, and their feeding habits can be severely altered by the moon phase. This trip was right between full moons while the week before we were directly following a full moon. Walleye love to feed during a full moon, a “no moon”, and for the three days or so on either side. We were in limbo with this trip, well after the full moon and enough before the “no moon” phase that the fish weren’t super active. The fish still bit but not as consistent as the week prior.

Another important detail that we determined was a factor was the pressure. Now I know when you hear pressure you automatically think barometric pressure. We’re talking about fishing pressure, and not even so much the number of people on the ice but the amount of noise top side really seemed to impact these fish. The first trip we had flags go up and barely spool out any line. Often times this is a sign that we surely had a walleye. Makes sense now. On the first trip, we were the only people fishing, noise was minimal, fish were relaxed and feeding.  The second trip consisted of 14 plus fishermen in the area we were fishing and two of the groups were using ATV’s to check their lines. What tipped us off to this was this time when a flagged tripped the spool was burning. The fish were spooky from the noise, they were still feeding but they didn’t sit under the hole to eat the bait. They were on the run once they got the bait.

Walleye are very sensitive to noise and the phase of the moon! Remember that next time you target them and hopefully you’ll be able to put a few more on the ice.

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12-12-13 – 12-16-13 – Minnesota Part I

The trip to Minnesota for the NAIFC Series Championship started with a slight delay that pushed our departure time back a little less than an hour. After loading up, we hit a gas station to fuel up, grab some snacks, and use the bathrooms before hitting the road. That cycle repeated a few more times until we hit Hudson, Wisconsin for a pit stop at Solar Sportsman. With about two hours left in the truck until McQuiod’s Inn and plenty of daylight left to burn, we made a few stops for bait, lunch, and sight seeing.

Arriving at the resort close to 2pm, Andy and I barely could unpack before we geared up to hit the ice. Our first trip was just to maximize our time on the water and maybe find an evening bite. We didn’t find any fish that were worth trying to catch but we located some weeds a tons of perch using an underwater camera. As we left the ice, a bunch of guys were heading out for the evening walleye bite.

2013-12-13_09-21-59_95Our second day started with a scouting trip out onto Isle Bay. We debated on whether or not we should bring fishing rods or just try to locate weeds and fish. We opted for packing just the basics so that we could leave the sleds at the cabin. We ended up fishing a little bit after we found a nice thick milfoil patch with some crappies cruising through. Right off, I pulled up a crappie and bluegill but nothing else even though we could see fish on the cameras.

Getting off the ice around noon, we made the 1.5 hour trek to Duluth for the Arrowhead Ice Fishing Winter Show. Getting to see and test out all of the new Clam products in person was pretty sweet as well as many of the other companies in the business. We also got to meet quite a few new people. After spending a few hours at the show we got back in the truck and started back to Isle. On the way, we got an invite from Keith Nelson to hit one of his favorite bodies of water for some panfish. After a slow start to our trip in Minnesota, the gracious offer from Keith was an opportunity we couldn’t refuse.

The following morning we got on the road early and met up a few miles from our destination. To say it was cold was an understatement. While us Vermonters experience some cold weather, I don’t think that many people would be out at -20. We were warned at our rendezvous point that the road in was a rough one. Never in a million years did any of us imagine that we would be driving through the woods. Like actually through the woods! As the sun started to rise we got word that it was -27. Thankfully inside of our Clam shacks was nice and toasty with our Mr. Buddy heaters going!

Nice gills and crappie were in the area and looking around with the camera was sickening. Quality fish were cruising all around! Much like Mille Lacs, these fish were tight lipped. Be it the full moon, big drop in temperature, or just an off day for the fish, we had to work for them. While sitting in the shack was warm, hole hopping was more effective for catching. For a few hours up until it was time to go, we went hole to hole looking for active fish. We all caught fish and we even took a few crappie home for some surf and turf.

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While we got to see pictures of the new Clam facility in Rodgers online when they first moved in, the pictures didn’t do it a justice. We got a factory tour from Smitty while we were en route to pick up our snowmobiles for the week. The factory is ginormous and the amount of product they had stock of was beyond any of our imaginations.

P1040967This was our cabin at McQuoid’s Inn

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1-26-13 – Cold Day To Be A Crappie

Having been tied up with other responsibilities for the past two weekends and not able to fish I was excited to get back on the ice.  I decided to make a day trip to a spot 2 hours away.  We arrived at our location with decent conditions.  The mercury was finally above zero for the first time in five days, and the wind at this point wasn’t an issue.  I loaded my shack and made the 80 yard walk to where I would be fishing for the day.

I drilled out an area, shallow to deep.  It’s always a good idea to cut your holes first thing, one it will save you time later and two, it will spook the fish only once if the fish are sensitive to sound.  I started fishing the deep hole to begin with.  The vex was marking fish in 16 feet of water all through the water column.  First drop produced a small crappie, second drop, small crappie.  One thing that I have noticed about this spot is that these fish school in relation to size most of the time.  If you’re catching small fish you’re in a nursery school of fish.  I made a move to the next hole working my way out of the deeper water up towards the shallower shelf.  Right off the bat I hooked into a heavier fish, bass.  OK; well now I know the bass are set up waiting for those small crappie to make a mistake, I made another move, this time more drastic.  I found ten feet of water, fish were stacked on the bottom four feet.  First drop was a beautiful 13″ crappie.  Next few fish were all decent in size, bigger than before.  We continued to work the 10 foot range and were able to produce several decent fish through out the course of the next few hours.

As the morning went on the wind picked up and it became difficult to fish outside of our shacks.  As the sun went higher the fish slid shallower.  This is something we have noticed before while fishing setbacks off the main river.  The fish tend to seek out more cover even if it means going shallower when deep holes are present.  Large weed flats are great places to find active fish during high light conditions.  Another important thing to note was that the fish were not tolerating a presentation for long.  I was constantly changing my jigging cadence and my Maki Plastic to keep the fish interested.  These plastics teamed with a Bentley gold colored tungsten jig worked well for both the deep and shallow water applications we used today.

All in all it was a good day, unfortunately I wasn’t able to “fish” the way I wanted to as was confined to my shack for comfort.  It was a good day learning a few new tricks and applying some older ones to be successful.

1-9-13 – Ice Team TV Episode 4 Filming Day 1

I hit the road early this morning for a trip a few buddies. We had designated the next 2-3 days to film episode 4 of Ice Team TV. The goal of the trip was to land some nice panfish on camera while also sharing some tips of the trade.

The beginning of the day was was filled with shots for the opening scenes and when we got fishing it was close to 7:30. The fishing was steady throughout the day but never really picked up with any good runs. It was a good mix of crappie and bull bluegill throughout the day as well as some nice river perch.

As the sun rose higher, the fish slid deeper into the weeds more noticeable than usual. The water was low the entire day but it didn’t change the bite. Although the fish were harder to find they usually bit when located. The magic depth seemed to be 5-6′ in the thickest weeds that were still fishable. Using tungsten was a vital part of catching fish today. In order to punch down through the weeds, you needed the weight to get all the way down.

The ice stayed firm throughout the day despite the warm temperatures. Although the day was focused on fishing it was nice to slow things down a bit form the usual running around to converse a bit and learn about how shows are made and all that goes into them.

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1-10-13 – Ice Team TV Episode 4 Filming Day 2

We had the pleasure to be a part of the fourth episode of Ice Team TV and fishing with some of the best that The Clam Ice Team Pro Staff has to offer.  This was a great experience and and we appreciate the opportunity.

The day started off a little quicker than the previous since we already had the unloading and preparation shots the film crew needed so it was right to fishing.  The fish hadn’t moved much from the previous day and since we were fishing the same spot it didn’t take long to start pulling in some quality fish.  It was a typical river bite, early morning hours often bring a steady flow of water into the setbacks.  It’s important to understand this concept when you’re fishing a river system that has a dam system.  It’s actually simple to understand.  When  water flows into these setbacks, creating a higher water level the fishing is usually good.  Why? The water flow causes the zoo plankton and small bait fish to circulate, thus creating a great opportunity for the larger fish to feed, and get caught by us the fishermen.  Watch the USGS Water Date site to dam openings and closings in your area.  If the setback you fish is between two dams make sure you are aware of both the upper and lower openings and closings.  A good in-flow is created when the dam above is open, allowing for more water to come out and when the lower dam is closed or letting out less flow creating a back up of water.

As the sun grew higher in the sky the flow also depleted causing the fish to move from the deep channel into the thick weed flats.  (Look for the inside turns adjacent to the main channel to hold concentrations of fish.)  Fishing slowed down a bit but we were still able to stay with them and pick at them for the next couple hours.  Our presentation was a milk pink Maki plastic rigged on a gold head Bentley Tungsten Jig.  Later in the day a few red maggots helped to entice the fish into biting.

All and all we have a very productive day on the setback.  Make sure to watch for episode four from Ice Team Tv to pick up more tips and tricks from the ice world.  Bring It!

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This fish was caught early in the morning in the channel while the water was flowing into the setback.