Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away.........

Original plans to get out Friday and put a few miles on my snowmobile were squelched by 2 weeks of a prolonged January thaw making the trails less than desireable.  In fact it began raining on Friday night and didn't stop until Sunday afternoon.  Our snowcover took a hit however the good news is that the lakes shed most if not all their snow.  As much as I wanted to make it out fishing on Saturday, the rain was too much to deal with.  As intense as a June soaker, I did not want to deal with the mess.  Sunday  held a better promise of fishing without getting soaked.  My neighbor Tom is always ready to go so we hooked up and headed west to try the crappie lake one more time.  Heading out after lunch we stopped at the hardware store in St. Micheal and loaded up on a scoop of minnows and a couple boxes of waxies.  Tom was cautious as he was unsure of the ice conditions after 2 weeks of 30 degree temperatures.  Assuring it would be fine, I offered to drive.  Figuring about 20 inches of ice, it would be certainly be sloppy and needing a new truck, if I did go through it would be the perfect excuse. 

I started with a picture of my Suburban parked on the ice.  I have many good friends in California, Texas, Florida who think I am crazy for driving on the ice.  Sunday morning found me setting up a new Direct TV receiver, talking to a service center in Oklahoma.   While waiting for the system to run through it's paces I struck up a conversation with the technician regarding his location and what does he do.  He asked how cold it gets, responding that we can drive on the lakes.  The guy thought I was pulling his leg!  On Lake Mille Lacs along with other large bodies of water in Minnesota the resorts rely heavily on the winter ice fishing business by creating a sophisticated road systems often totally over 30 miles.  These roads provide access for ice houses pulled out onto the lake as well as revenue from guys like me who buy day passes for around $10 per car to use their systems to drive to our favorite locations.  Mille Lacs has no less than 20 resorts and business's creating roads and maintaining them.  I bet if you totalled them all there would literally be hundreds of miles of ice roads ranging from the main corridors over 100 feet wide to smaller side roads running to the various structures and favorite fishing spots.  GPS's have been a game changer as now everyone  has their favorite spot and can dictate the resort provide access to them.  Years ago when Liberty Beach would plow a road to the flats, it would be close and you took what was available.  Today they can strategically plow roads on the perimeter of the flats, offering a better idea of the layout and where to fish.  Back then we would simply looked for the dropoff where it would go from 25 feet to 35 feet in a very steep drop.  It could be anywhere on the flat, we just drilled on the top and bottom regardless.  I am not sure fishing is any better knowing exactly where we are at these days.

Back to Sunday our strategy was to fish until around 6:00.  We figured the Viking game would be close contest so getting home before half time would give us a chance to see Brett Favre hose it up for the Purple and Gold (BTW, this was my prediction before the game).  It was still fairly warm so we decided to drill a few holes and see if there were any active fish before setting up the house.  About 5 minutes into fishing I caught a nice crappie.  My next hole about 10 feet away yielded a nice sunfish.  2 nice fish in the span of 15 minutes, it was time to set up.  The ice was covered with a watery slush and the wind had switch to one of those damp, cold bone chilling winds from the west, it felt good to get inside.   Mentioning the wind switch allows me to have an excuse for the next couple hours of fishing.  We did catch a ton of 3 to 6 inch sunnies, another good sunny and closing in on dark, Tom caught a twin to my first crappie.  Thinking that would be a start to the crappie bite, nothing could have been further from the truth.  The picture is my attempt to imitate the great fish pictures that are featured on  MT Bucket's blog.  Stating he uses a standard point and shot camera, I tried his technique and it turned out almost as good as his.  You know what they say, imitation is the best compliment!  My apologies to MT.

Packing up and home by 6:30, I headed for my neighbors to finish watching the Viking game.  Dressed in my usual game attire of Green Bay gear, the insults started immediately upon walking through the door.  Although my neighbors like me, on game day all bets are off, especially when you are the only Cheesehead in sight.  After I reminded them how their success seems dependent on ex-Packer players, we settled down to watch Brent do what he does best, throw the game losing interception as his last play of the season.  Mourning their loss, I reminded my friends that we went through the same thing in 2007, 13-3 and the last play of the game, an interception to the Giants to end the run.  I truly understood their pain.  Frankly nobody sympathized with me as I grinned through the whole discussion.   Luckily the fact the Vikes beat the Packers twice this year was not even mentioned.......thank God! Check out Neenahpete for an interesting clip on our current hero. Hopefully next week I can get up to Mille Lacs and look for some big perch as the bite should be starting to pick up somewhat.


pkellin said...

Hey Dave,
I like the story and the picture of the Crappie, you got a good idea from MT. I went up north and fished in the rain on some open water. Kept 20 bluegills and a couple small walleyes. Also got a bunch of bass, biggest one being 21-22 inches. Kept one smaller bass so my dad could pickle it. Hopefully you get up to Mille lacs and have some luck up there!

Take care,

NeenahPete said...

Sounds like Lake Winnebago but I don't know if they're that organized with their ice roads. I've always gotten a kick out of the little "cities" that pop up on the lake during sturgeon season. By the way, I enjoyed the comments about "Brent"! He, singlehandedly made me feel better about the Packers this season after all.