As many others did, I spent some time over the holidays thinking about this past year and what I want to do differently in the next. I like to apply my resolutions to more than just losing weight and cleaning my house. In that spirit, I will put some down in the next few weeks here in the blog related to fishing.
Recently my son expressed an interest in ice fishing. In over 20 years of being in Michigan, I have never engaged in this type of fishing. How can anybody call himself a Michigan angler and never have ice fished?
So on January 1 and 2, we respooled my father-in-law’s old rods, rigged a tip up, put everything in a sled, and walked down to Moon Lake. We chose it because it is close, easy to walk around on, and having fished it frequently, we know where the many drop offs are.
January 1 was cloudy and 25 F, with winds of 20 MPH gusting to around 30, causing a windchill of -10 to -20 F. The ice was around 6-8” thick. January 2 was partly sunny with some lake effect snow, minimal winds, and a temperature around 25 F.
If you know me, the cold doesn’t bother me anyway. I have done my share of steelheading, including in the heavy snow (see Aaron Rubel’s 23” brown story). But I will be honest, I am an active fisherman, so ice fishing with tip ups, even jigging, reminded me of why I got into fly fishing. It felt like bobber fishing with a night crawler, and to me, is about as much fun as watching paint dry. I would rather stand in a river in a blizzard swinging streamers.
We tried several different holes around the lake, and only had one tipup go, but the minnow at the end didn’t seem to have been touched. Other than that, no action. My daughter and her friend had a sled with them on the ice that they slid around with and had a great time. I even took a few slides.
1. Do more research to know where and how to fish through the ice.
2. Better yet, find somebody who really knows how to do it. Our neighbor caught a couple of rainbows on another lake the same day we were out, but even those surprised him.
3. Don’t forget the dipper. We made due with the auger blade protector the first day, and made sure to remember it the second.
We did enjoy our time together outside, so it was definitely not wasted. I need some help to understand the allure of the sport.
Sometimes the fishing is hard. You use all your skills, favorite lures, hit the best holes, everything that has worked before, and you catch nothing.
Last summer was that way. I had a great spring trout fishing and early season bass was productive, but by mid-June, not much was being caught by anybody I knew. The weather had cooled down and the patterns were crazy.
The last week of June, we rented a pontoon boat with extended family, 9 people tooling about East Twin Lake in Lewiston. It was a beautiful day, albeit cool. We had spin rods and my fly rod, night-crawlers, jigs, poppers and Clouser minnow patterns. Beyond a couple of perch, nothing much was happening anywhere – not deep, shallow, docks, or shore cover.
Towards dinner time, we just let the boat drift and it headed into the shallows. I had seen some fish tailing up in the shallows, but not regularly. There was not much cover, algae, or a major drop off.
I saw one tail about 50′ off the bow. I started my false casts and let it drop – 10′ short. But from experience I have learned that you strip anyway – you never know what may hit. Two strips in and something hit.
As he flew out of the water on a jump, everybody in the boat sat up to watch. Fishing my 6 wt, I could not horse him in, which made for a fun fight. Lipped him to the deck so we could get this photo.
21″ of beauty on a slow day. I can’t complain about that.
And my wife’s comment? “Wow, you really do catch big fish!”
But even without that fish, I spent time with family relaxing on the water. Sometimes it really is more about the fishing than the actual catching.