Thursday, January 26, 2012

Heave Ho

Last weeks sub zero weather was just what the doctor ordered to heal up those open area's on Mille Lacs, some that were over 1/2 mile wide.  With the new ice pushing 8 inches, although not safe enough for cars and trucks, an ATV would be the perfect mode of transportation for our Sunday excursion to the lake.  With little snow on the ice it was critical to put the chains on the rear wheels which really stabilizes the ATV when traveling over clear ice.  Loading up my tow behind portable in the back of the truck, we put the ATV in my ramp trailer, Lory and I headed up US Highway 169.  With every aspect of that road memorized as I am exactly 68 miles from Bill's bait shop, 1 hour and 10 minutes if I hit the stop lights in Elk River just right.  With the conditions stabilizing we figured Bill would have the latest hot spot for us to try.  My friend Mark Applen had called as we drove up telling of a nice limit of jumbo perch he had gotten yesterday on the east side.  My original plan was to fish one of the deep offshore gravel bars, one that has been very productive at first ice.  Being almost February its far from first ice yet ice conditions have resulted in little fishing pressure on anything out further than 2 miles.  Well Bill had bad news, the ice has healed nicely however the rising temperatures have caused the ice to expand and heave, causing a major obstacle for getting out very far.  The crack extended from the southwest end of the lake following the shore for 5 miles before cutting across Indian Point then dipping into the bay between there and Sherman's Point.  Bill suggested that some houses are now stuck on the lake side of the crack and bridges were already being dragged out to provide a safe crossing.  We decided to try an area I call Roland's Flat, just NW of Indian Point.  Mark and I fished there the previous week and had some action.  The backup plan was to fish the deeper rock humps south of Sherman's however in both cases this heave pictured stopped us in our tracks.  This heave line was about a mile out from the landing and if you look closely at the middle you can see it extends as far as you could see.  The high point shown is over 5 feet and the darker areas at the base is water that has flowed through the crack onto the ice.  The previous week this was open water.  With the ice at 8 inches it didn't pay to try and find away around so we fished the south edge of the flat with the top being right about where the water starts.  Not the ideal spot on the flat but we really had no choice.   

The plan had changed but we were in a fairly good area, there were few people around us and no one venturing close to the heave which marked the top edge of the flat at 15 feet.  Like most flats the edge is a fairly steep drop and within 30 feet was the bottom edge at 22 feet.  My GPS showed a slight inside curve which usually indicates a prime spot.  The nice thing about this flat is that the top is covered with weeds and provides excellent cover for perch and walleyes.  Unfortunately the fish did not share my enthusiasm for this great spot!  Being rather pleasant out hole hopping wasn't much of an issue.  Lory did find a hole that did have a fish in it as shown here, a fat and plump 25 inch walleye that went back down the hole.  10 minutes later he had a smaller fish on, surely a  keeper but it got off just as he brought it to the hole.  A couple more hits and that was about it, the flurry lasting a whole 30 minutes.  As for me.........well someone has to assure his friends catch fish, take the pictures, make sure they are on safe ice, and have a nice ride back to the truck, yep that's me!  I missed one fish and that's all she wrote.  Oh well, still nice to get out.  Lory was using a plain jig head and minnow while my bait of choice was a Jigging Rapala.  Admittedly the Jigging Rap is a more aggressive bait and the jig with minnow is a more finesse presentation.  Obviously the fish wanted finesse rather than attack a faster moving lure what few there were of them.   The weather this week is back in the mid 30's to 40 and it should be interesting to see the new developments.  The websites are telling of marked roads to the middle of the lake for snowmobile and ATV traffic only.  This might be the weekend I can get out to some of those past productive offshore areas as I have not had a good report since my Lake of the Woods trip.  Maybe it's time to start planning another trip to the border.

The warm weather is tugging at my soft water ambitions.  I am starting to reconfigure some of the things on my boat for more convenience.  With March a month away and no significant snow anywhere in the Mississippi River drainage area, it could be an early start for the Ranger this year.  With ice fishing going the way it has, maybe it's a good thing.

1 comment:

Jeff King said...

Glad you're back in the game Dave. Its always frustrating when mother nature takes over, a reminder of how it all really works....Now in Alaska if you were into ice fishing you could drive your class A motorhome towing a Jeep Wagoneer onto the ice with no problem....As for me, the only ice is the cubes in my glass.