Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Bite is On

After last weeks attempt to get to the offshore areas I like to fish, Lory and I decided to try it again.  Another week of colder weather coupled with the additional time the resorters had to figure out their roads, we headed up much earlier in the day to take advantage of having more time to adjust our strategy if needed.  When arriving mid afternoon for the most part you are stuck staying in one place as it's important to be settled in during that peak time from 4:00 to dark.  I have a "secret" spot near Indian Point that is often very good when few have fished it.  With no roads beyond the heave and the threat of 8 inch ice you are restricted to ATV travel but once across those newly frozen areas there is substantial ice.  Driving up to Dewey's access we dropped $10 in the pay box and headed out to the known heave.  As always we stopped at Bill's and his thought was Dewey would have a bridge over the bad area to drive the ATV over and continue from there.  Parking the truck about 1/4 mile from our intended crossing point we unloaded the ATV to check everything out.  Well the bridge was laying on the ice and no practical way to cross the heave.  Looking across the barrier, contemplating plan B another truck came out with the intent on following our plan of getting to the other side.  As we talked Dewey shows up, gives a short assessment of the situation then offers to head back, get the plow, and push the bridge over the suspect area.  15 minutes later he was back and with some help from us spectators we had the bridge safely in place.  This was our cue to pack'em up and get going, destination 3 miles away.  The ice was very rough to the north of us so we followed the edge east till an opening presented itself then turned north towards the magic spot.  Lory was somewhat nervous as we maneuvered around large chunks of ice protruding from the surface, a result of the previous winds pushing the ice around and smashing it into itself.  Arriving at our spot it was great news, only one other set of holes were drilled and whoever was there had left.  On the other hand maybe that was an sign.  Setting up our house and drilling around 10 holes we fished for almost 2 hours and never marked a fish.  I had put the camera down and it sure looked like a great spot with gravel and small rocks scattered on the bottom.  Unfortunately we were not there to fish rocks.  After 2 hours I looked at Lory and stated we are leaving. get packed up as I had my eyes on 7 mile Flat, a good 6 miles north of our location.  I had rigged my HDS5 with a 12 volt plug and a RAM mount for inside the ATV cab,  it was just like being in the boat as we worked our way further north. 

Arriving at 7 Mile I had an idea of where I wanted to fish however the area had a number of portables parked in my spot.  Looking at the GPS and the Lakemaster bottom contour map I located a spot that indicated an inside turn with a gradual slope from 36 to 24 feet.  As stated before these structures often rise from the lake floor to the top of the flat within 20 - 30 feet.  I fish this area quite a bit in the summer and am pretty familar with where the fish tend to be and this was one of those spots. The changed strategy was to set up on the bottom side of the flat in 36 feet while drilling holes at the top edge then paralleling along both edges to provide a stretch of structure to work along.  The ice was a good 18 inches thick, in great shape, and once set up we started working the area.  It wasn't too bad out but the wind was cold, never the less we worked the outside hole structures with little protection from the cols.  By this time it was about 3:00 in the afternoon and almost immediately we started marking fish.  They were not very aggressive and would often just come up to the bait, check it out and quickly disappear off the Vexilar screen, at least there were fish in the area.  It took about another hour before the fish started hitting our lures and by 4:00 we had enough to know the best was yet to come.  With a few walleyes on the ice and a few bonus jumbo perch, at 5:00 the switch really turned on.  I had caught a nice fish earlier but didn't get a chance to snap a picture.  The first picture is a nice 23 inch fish that helped redeem myself of letting the first on go without getting an official picture of the blog.  Within minutes Lory nailed this nice 22 inch walleye.   We were still hole hopping when Lory landed a keeper out of a hole exclaiming there was another one down there.  Quickly baiting up he dropped the line and a second fish slammed the lure, another keeper.  He said there is a third one, again dropped the lure and wouldn't you know picked up a third fish in less than 3 minutes.  We ended the day with over 20 walleyes caught, 8 nice keepers 16 - 17.5 inches, and over 6 released that were 20+ inches.  My real prize was a 4 inch walleye that hit my minnow head, pretty comical.  The hot baits were the Rattlin' Flyer with a minnow head, a Hawger spoon with a whole minnow, a shiner on a dead stick, and my trusty old Jigging Rap.   With 3 nice perch we left the flats for the 10 mile trek back to the truck hoping the ice hadn't shifted while we were gone.  The bridge was still in place, we loaded the truck and left satisfied with one of the best ice fishing day's we've had on Mille Lacs in a while.  It is a testament to being able to adjust your strategy, understand your location, and work for your fish.  Sometimes it all comes together, just like on TV!

Today is my Dad's birthday, he would have been 82 years old.  His birthday is on Ground Hogs Day and I will always remember his comments regarding the predictions for winter as he always felt a connection to the folklore of the day.  Today he would have said we will have 6 more weeks of winter, something that we haven't had much of lately.  Happy Birthday Dad, love your son Dave.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny how someone always has "your spot?" Must be a universal attitude among fisherman that someone dares to fish "my spot." Why do you think I put my house out when there's 4" of ice? I don't want anyone taking "my spot."

Nice post. I'm only catching bass and bluegills right now. And, yes, I've got "my spot" to myself...


chris said...

i looked at your blog superdave! pretty cool and how would a 4in walleye be the prize if it hit your minnow head?
-chris phillips or phillips chris