Monday, December 22, 2008

2 Below Zero and Falling

After a busy weekend of making bologna, plowing snow, and attending the annual Bots Christmas Party, I decided to head out late Sunday afternoon to see if the big crappies were biting west of town. The weather was cold and windy, promising to get worse. My insulated Thermal X portable house is great for these situations. The lake is the same spot where I caught the crappies featured on the very first post of this blog. Although I did get a late start, the sunset bite is always the best part of this fishery. After loading the ATV on my trailer and inserting the house in my truck, off I went. Needing bait I had decided that the short detour to Cabela's might take 15 minutes so I kept going knowing the hardware store in St. Micheal sells bait. Arriving at 4:02 I walked up with my minnow bucket and the door was locked. Not wanting to drive back to Cabela's or search for a different bait shop my bait was going to be strictly artificial. In this case it would have to be one in my tackle box called a Purist. I used to fish this ice lure fishing the backwaters of Alma and had forgot about it until Kevin reported his luck a few weeks ago using a Purist. I have yet to see this lure in sport shops around home and ended up finding them at couple of bait shops along the Mississippi River as well as Gander Mountain in Lacrosse.

Arriving at the lake to my surprise people were driving their big trucks onto the ice. A quick check verified the thickness at 15 inches and of course knowing this would save me another 15 minutes I drove out to my spot. Not only did is save time, the truck provided an excellent wind break for my portable. The snow on the ice is a nice bonus as it provides a way to seal the bottom of the house from the wind. Having set up, I started the heater, lit the lantern, and got out my Vexilar sounder. The hardware store being closed should have been an omen as my battery on the sounder was completely dead. Now what??? Ice fishing without my Vexilar is like fishing with blinders on my eyes. My first thought was to leave, however since I was fishing in 12 feet, I could work the jig in the bottom 5 feet of the water and maybe hit a few. I caught 3 right away including the first, a beautiful 12 incher followed up with one at 11.5". Wanting desperately to use my "underwater eyes" I remembered a battery that Tom Emmons had given me Friday afternoon. While in his office I noticed a couple of batteries sitting on his file cabinet marked BAD. Asking what they were he exclaimed that they were good, I tested them, do you want one? Perfect, a spare battery if I needed one and it was still in the truck. Tearing out the dead battery I inserted the "BAD" battery only to find out it was completely dead as well. So much for that. After a dead spell of 1o minutes it dawned on me that I had a battery in my underwater camera and proceeded to tear that apart, extracting it's power source and plugging it into my torn apart sounder. LIGHTS!!!! It's like the blind seeing again. I began catching fish immediately as I could now pinpoint their location and wait them out. At 6:30 the bite ceased but not before I had 9 crappies and a nice sunny. The crappies exceeded my expectations with 7 over 10.5 inches. I even threw back a couple that on other lakes would have definitely gone in the bucket. Despite all the troubles it was satisfying to be able to catch a mess of fish using a tried and true lure that needed no addition of live bait to make it successful. I also credit my spring bobber set up as many of these fish would simply swim up and inhale the lure. Only the slight twitch or the limpness of the line would reveal what was really going on below. I had missed at least 8 fish because of this.

It is Christmas in a couple of days and I hope yours is a joyous one. Hopefully my present will be to spend a day on Mille Lacs chasing those crazy walleyes. Of course I still have the Ol'Crappie hole to fall back on. Merry Christmas!!


Anonymous said...


with your vehicle next to your ice house can't you run a power cord to your vehicle battery ???

Just thought it might be something a person of your degree could figure out who to call to hook up a wire for ya

nice fish

later buddy and how was the lefsa ?

Anonymous said...


Vic rarely uses anything but a purist!


Dewey said...

"2 Below Zero and Falling"?? T'was35 below this mornin' up here!