Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Ice Post

Exactly one week from now I will be getting ready to throw my first open water casts this year.  Sadly, by this time last year, I'd already bagged my first bass for the year.  This weather, I tell ya!

I was thinking, now that the semester is finally over, I'd better get the update on my ice season typed and posted before my open water season gets underway.

I managed to make some headway on my goals for this year - I hit the ice on Jane, Bone, and Chisago.  Two new lakes left to go so if things lock up quickly this coming winter, I should knock this one off my goals list for 2013.  I plan on fishing Turtle near my home, which I never did make the time to try this winter.  As for my fifth lake, I'm not sure yet.  Big Marine, Coon, and Kroon are all on my list so we'll see how things go when the time rolls around.

On to the fishing.

Lake Jane:

In January, I hit Lake Jane out by Lake Elmo with my uncle and father in law.  We decided to set up just off the main hole in about 16'.  We saw some marks on the flasher, but with the exception of two very small pike, we didn't see the action we were looking for.  Which is ok, we didn't really know what to expect anyway as none of us had fished there before.

Bone Lake:

Toward the end of January, I decided to scout Bone Lake near Scandia with a good friend of mine.  When we got there, we still weren't sure how the ice was due to the warm(ish) winter so we decided to park at the launch and walk out, and take it from me, it's a heck of a walk from the ramp to get anywhere on that lake!

First we tried around the point on the north end of the lake and came up with (very) small perch so we moved deeper and started to get into some small bluegill - but nothing solid.  We didn't manage to get into the crappie until the next trip we took out. 

At that point, we knew that the ice was 20" in most places so we drove out.  Every time I drive out on the ice, I feel like it's my first time.  Absolutely nerve-wrecking.  I decided to skip the spots that we had tried before altogether and setup near a break from shallow water to the main basin.  I don't know how many crappie we caught, but I do know that they were only biting on light colored jigs and were moving up and down that break.  There wasn't any size to them to speak of, but we had fun.  I did bring my father in law out at the end of February when the guys from Missouri came up and the action was pretty much the same thing.


I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but every year a group of guys come up from Missouri to ice fish.  Old Navy buddies of my uncle's.  We usually fish for three days.  The first day we decided to give White Bear Lake another shot.  We have a bad history on this lake.  Just plain bad.  We drove out from Bellaire and weren't really sure where to go and since my uncle was running late I got to choose the spot.  Now, they don't like to move around at all so I decided to try and find the most likely place I could.  I opted for a small, steady point breaking into deeper water.  We popped our holes, got setup, and dropped our baits in.  The fish weren't huge, but the action was steady.  I was using a Bro's Bloodworm and Gill Pills, any natural looking color would work as there really wasn't a stand out.  I did have one nice pike that broke off at the hole when I tried to perform a move that I can only  described as an ice flip.  The lesson for the day:  4lbs mono ≠ 40lbs braid.  No idea how big it really was and the speculation only makes me want to kick myself that much harder.

For day two, we opted to head out to Kroon Lake near Chisago.  We had another 8" of snow to deal with overnight and when we stopped at Frankie's to figure out what was what, one of the guys we walked to got stuck in one of the drifts on Kroon and no one had plowed yet so we decided to fish Chisago instead as there was a plowed road that Frankie's maintains.  On our way to the spot that Frankie's had suggested we started seeing thin ice signs and opted not to go any further as at that point we had lost the road.  I chose a spot just off the main basin where a little point came out, we set up on one of the inside turns.

Wow.  As it turned out, that decision made up for three seasons of bad fishing, right there.  We were catching a mixed bag of bluegill and crappie and they were good sized too, almost all of them came from vertical jigs but I did manage several with the red Bro's Bloodworm.  They were moving back and forth between the shallow and deep water because we would catch them in our house and then my father in law would get into them in his, so you knew when you could get up and stretch a little. 

At one point, after releasing a bluegill, I saw a mark on my graph that was hovering just outside my zoom range so I dropped my bait down and watched the mark charge, felt the thunk, and set the hook.  My drag immediately started to peel off my reel and I had the attention of everyone in the house.  With everyone reminding me, I remembered what happened the day before and resolved to stay calm and let him tire himself out.  By the time he gave up, I was able to ease him through the hole and this was the result:

He had a pretty gnarly cut in his upper lip and I'm guessing that he was caught on a tip up at some point.  He wasn't a giant but it was fun to redeem myself for the one that I lost the day before.  Here's a pic of one of the crappie that we caught from that day as well (as measured with whatever we had on hand at the time):
We did find a tape measure and it came in at a little over 10", again, not a giant but these guys kept us busy all day and we all had a true sense of "do we have to??" when it came time to pack up and go home.

Needless to say, we spent day three on Chisago as well.  The weather was a little brighter than it was on day two so we didn't catch nearly as many crappie, but the bluegill were still willing participants in Icefishapalooza!

That's my ice season in a nutshell, for now, it's time to finish gearing up for bass opener next weekend as spending Memorial Day week at the lake is always my favorite vacation! 

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