Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First Ice, Double the Pleasure

The much awaited first ice fishing trip of this winter season finally happened.  As I had predicted Mille Lacs lake was ready for us as my neighbor Lory accompanied me to the lake Saturday morning.  I was originally going to just bring up my gear and use the 2 up Polaris Touring snowmobile that Bill and I own yet seeing how much gear we actually had, I reconsidered and decided to haul up the ATV.   The other advantage of this would be our starting point could be 5 miles closer to our destination, a definite plus.   As always a stop at Lundeen's confirmed our first strategy as we loaded up with some fatheads, rainbows, a couple of the newest secret baits, and some refreshments.  Our destination was the deeper areas just off of Indian Point.  The best place to start from was Dewey's, just south of the point where we knew there would be ample parking.  Surprisingly he had a road plowed out at least a mile and a half out onto the lake.  Not enough to get us at our spot, we paid him the $5.00 to park on the ice (a pretty good deal) and after loading up the portables, augers, electronics, and bait we were off.  Arriving in 28 feet of water I had marked from a previous visit we separated, drilled our holes and got down to business.  I was excited to try my new camera and was not disappointed.  I usually drill 3 holes in my shack; one on the upper right for jigging, one in the lower left as a dead stick, and a third for the video camera.   The camera itself is tethered to a cable that connects to a wireless remote control positioning tripod.  This allows me to us a small hand held control to rotate the camera in any direction.  Whats real interesting is the camera has a built in sensing device which has a direction indicator on the screen.  Once you locate your lure, it's easy to pan the lure in the other hole then return to your main lure.  Well the walleyes started coming in almost immediately.  The camera is a great way to study how they approach your bait, what kind of mood they are in, and their relative size.  It also helps to confirm your depth finder readouts as they relate to what's below.   The walleyes were not very large and almost in a negative mood.  I tried a number of lures with little luck starting from a Rattlin Flyer to a Hawger Spoon.  When the fish are negative often it takes a lure like a Swedish Pimple with a minnow head to trigger a strike, but that didn't even work.  Frustrated by their lack of interest I panned over to my dead stick pole with a plain minnow hanging from a bobber.  As the camera panned over onto the screen was a walleye just sitting there with my minnow in it's mouth.  A quick jerk and the walleye was off the screen and heading to the hole in the ice.  Only about 12 inches, it never the less was my first walleye of the season.  In the meantime Lory had already caught a couple of walleyes, but was not setting the world on fire.  I decided to move down the spot about 100 yards and after only 15 minutes Lory called stating the walleyes had turned on.  Moving back to my original spot I reset putting on a jigging rap, figuring a more aggressive bite was happening.  Lory on the other hand was catching them on a plain jig head and a whole minnow, and had 4 on the ice.  I finally got the hint and switched, catching a nice perch and 5 more small walleyes, while he ended up with 12 walleyes caught and a bunch missed.  All told we caught 18 walleyes total, kept 6 respectable fish and had a blast.  As usual the prime time was between 3:30 and 5:00.  Here is a picture of Lory with a nice eater.

Sunday was a cleanup day around the house and with things settling down, I decided to try the dusk crappie bite at one of my favorite early season lakes near Buffalo, MN.  My other neighbor Tom wanted to go with us on Saturday however his truck's timing chain had other plans for him.  Sunday was a better day for him so we loaded up the gear and headed out, arriving at the lake around 3:00.  We knew this would be a quick trip and if the crappies are in, it won't take long.   The fishing area is close to shore allowing us to simply walk to the spot.  Some guys were driving on the ice which was about 10 - 12 inches and I surmised they must have much better insurance than I do!  The sunnies were in like crazy so I took this picture of the camera view below the shelter.  There are at least 8 sunfish swimming by and you can see the one near the center about ready to inhale the bait (the small white object in front of it).  While watching the sunfish sort of disappeared as the next thing you saw was a large northern pike coming into view.  I guess those fish aren't that stupid.  

Sundown came however the crappies had not shown up.  Too dark for the camera I put it away relying on my trusty old Vexilar FL20.  Tom was determined to try some crappie minnows while my go to bait is a waxie.  In this fairly shallow water (about 12 feet) I like to work the water column as crappies can be about any depth this time of year.  Noticing a jiggle at the the bottom of the display I lowered my bait and was rewarded with that tell tale inhale of a crappie bite.  Setting the hook, it was a solid fish, just what we were looking for about 12 inches.  The real question would be if this was a loner or part of a school.  10 minutes later confirmed it was a loner.  I did manage a second smaller crappie and added it to the pile of 3 reasonable sunfish and the crappie.  Although we didn't slay them, it was still nice to get out 2 days in a row.   This weekend is Christmas and I will be busy visiting my dad, who turns 81 this year.  With a little luck I will be back at Mille Lacs on Sunday and maybe a couple more days before New Years.  BTW, I am keeping the Dean Martin Christmas song for another week as we did get another 6 inches on Monday, so enjoy!  Have a fabulous Christmas and hope each one of you has a good tug at the end of your line.


Anonymous said...

I've got an older camera and when I have the light on it looks like I'm in a middle of a blizzard (although I can see walleye 'eyes a blazin'). Does this happen with your new camera?

AK Keith

Dave Anderson said...


I have the opposite problem, the light does little if anything. I think it's just for show. The color gets really grainy as it gets darker so I switch to b/w towards the end.

NeenahPete said...

Since I'm here listening to Dean Martin and doing some of my favorite reading I thought I'd wish you a belated Merry Christmas, Dave! I hope your New Year comes with good health and prosperous business along with all that fun you're having with the fish.

Gary Taylor said...


What's your opinion on how well you can see your new camera's screen in full daylight?

Dave Anderson said...


Sorry, I just seen your comment. It seems OK in daylight yet for the most part I fish with it in my shack. When I tried it outside it was cloudy out so I don't think I have a very good answer for you yet. Next opportunity I will check it out.

Gary Taylor said...

OK thanks Dave, I plan to get one this spring but mostly for summer use. I had an S825C that wasn't good in sunlight and just wondered what you thought of the SD model.