Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Smack Down Time!

Knowing I was going to fish on Saturday the real question was where? As the last 2 Decembers have proved, this time of year the big crappies can be caught west of town. Early ice on Mille Lacs is also tempting as the fish have not been pressure for a couple of months now. A few calls along with a couple of Internet searches and Mille Lacs it was. My neighbor Lory Brasel and a friend Russ Clos agreed that it would be fun to try so we loaded up our gear, ATV's and headed north. Reports of minimal snow and 12 inches of ice gave us the opportunity to hit an offshore mud area about 5 miles out. As always we stopped at Lundeens to get our bait and to get an initial read on the lake. The day looked promising with the sun peeking out , trying to keep temperature reasonable. The other thing the sun does is stimulate the perch bite and we were hoping for these bonus fish.

Arriving at the desired destination we quickly set up about 100 feet apart. The area we fished was fairly large and spreading out would give us a chance to locate active fish. In addition to setting up my house I drilled about 20 holes perpendicular to the line we set up with the houses. If it's nice out and slow in the house I like to hole hop from one to another looking for active fish. It's a great technique if you can put up with the cold. The first rig I set up is a simple bobber rig with a rainbow shiner decorating my jig at the end of my line. This is usually good for a fish or two, and is deadly on the eelpout! My main hole is where I jig various lures such as Hawger Spoons, Jigging Raps, Swedish Pimples, Chubby Darters, and Rattlin' Flyers. I also have a 4.5 inch hand auger used to drill a hole for my Vexilar transducer which keeps it away from fish tangling when bringing them up. Starting out with a Jigging Rap it gives an idea if the fish are aggressive or passive. They will slam the lure if in an aggressive mood or simply ignore it when they are more passive. Half an hour of the Rap showed fish however they were not interested in the quick swimming minnow imitation. My next go to lure lately is the Rattlin' Flyer, a winged lure with a rattle chamber. Lures with rattles can really draw the fish in as the are curious to see what all the commotion is about. For an attractant I snap off the head of a nice fathead minnow and hook it to the lure. Often this simple addition makes a huge difference. This proved to be the right move as fish immediately appeared on both my depth finder as well as the video camera which was positioned to watch the action around the lure. A number of walleyes swam by until one just smacked the lure with vengeance. Unfortunately it was only 10 inches but it was a start. The next 2 hours were filled with 8 - 12 inch fish attacking or simple sucking in the minnow head. In the meantime Lory and Russ had each nailed a nice keeper walleye. It was my turn as I had caught a number of smaller fish. About 4:00 somebody turned the switch on. It was like a WWF Smack Down! Fish were coming in and very aggressively hitting the lure. Within the next hour we had caught 9 walleyes, 14 - 15 inch keepers along with a nice 23 inch walleye I released. The top picture are the 6 fish I cleaned at the house and the bottom picture is the largest I released. Unfortunately I forgot the first rule of a good blogger, to always take your camera! I usually get so excited about going that I always forget something. Improvising Russ took this picture with my phone. Far from the best, it at least shows the nice fish I released (I am positive I will hear about this one). It was a great day of fishing for sure. I was surprised that not one perch was caught or seen by Lory, Russ, or I yet I did end up with over 20 walleyes caught for the afternoon.

A couple of side notes. About a mile the lake ice transformed into a maze of ice chunks scattered as though Ol' Paul Bunyan himself stirred the lake just before it froze. I can't remember a year it was so rough. This week the forecast for Mille Lacs and the surrounding area including the Twin Cities are looking at up to 19 inches of snow, maybe more. This will put a severe burden on the lake as the weight of the snow will make maintaining Ice Houses on the lake as well as travel very difficult. Although the resorts will plow roads, it would have been nice if the snow would have waited about another week. Oh well, I am pretty sure we will survive. The storm will make our already white Christmas even whiter. Have a great Christmas where ever you are. With a little luck we will get dug out and ready to take advantage of the holiday season drilling lots of holes. I know those crappies are still there!


Basspastor said...

Good Report. I've never had that kind of success on Mille Lacs through the ice.


Anonymous said...

I took a drive to Onamia on Friday and was suprised to see a few vehicles out on the west side of Mille Lacs. A little to early for me. Based on your report I should have brought my gear along and gave it a go. Been working hard around here to get a few every night. The same switch must be used for the whole state because all of my bites come between 4:00 and 5:00.


Dave Anderson said...

Basspastor, I have many however it's only about once or twice a year! I see you like fall trolling on Mille Lacs. We should hookup sometime.
We'll see what the snow brings however we should meet on the big pond sometime as well.

Anonymous said...

Nice outing, quite impressive. Good article in link below about Leech becoming hot ice fishing destination