Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Swans in the Mississippi River
 A quick post to report on last Saturday's first ice fishing outing on Mille Lacs.  Because Bill had a number of items I ordered for Christmas, a quick trip to Mille Lacs to pick up the stuff and fish the evening bite was in order.  Reports of 8 inch ice were common so I loaded the ATV, gear, and headed north.  One interesting thing that I noticed on the way up was the significant amount of Trumpeter Swans in the Mississippi River between the house and the 101 bridge.   They were scattered along the river for 7 miles in groups up to 30 birds.  These birds make their winter home below the warm water discharge of the power plants near Monticello.  I believe the estimate is over 2500 swans winter there, I know there were at least a couple of hundred along the shallow areas of the open water.  With the cold weekend, I am sure that the river has froze shut forcing the swans back upriver to the warmer water.  I arrived at Lundeens and spent some quality time unwinding first.  Not in a hurry to get on the ice I complimented Bill on his great influence on me.  Lately I have been waiting till the last minute to do things.  Knowing that I was heading north, Friday night was the time to take the ice auger out and get it started.  Last spring saw a new gas tank installed by myself, didn't really think nothing of it.  Well, after pouring gas into the carb for the 5th time, it was obvious there was something wrong.  After an hour I called Bill and asked if he had any new Strikemaster's.  He finally talked me into not giving up and within the hour had figured out how hosed up I had made it.  Freezing cold, I reassembled the gasket, heat shield, gasket, spacer, gasket, carburetor, governor assemble, gas tank, and air filter perfectly and it started right up.  It probably would have been much easier in 70 degree weather under less duress!

26 incher with a little body

Arriving on an inshore hump I set up in 20 feet, working the edge.  With some of the ice still heaving and cracking, it was smart to stay closer to shore.  After drilling a number of holes and setting up my dead stick line, it was outside to hole hop.   At the last Eric Applen Golf Tourney I had purchased a new Showdown for hole hopping,  a nice unit but takes a little bit of time to dial it in right.  Coming back into the shack and setting it in the dead stick hole, I noticed the minnow line was pretty large.  Thinking the gain was too high I began to look at the settings when I noticed the bobber was completely out of sight..........Duh!!!  Setting the hook on this nice 26 inch walleye, not bad for the first fish of the season.  Not unlike a lot of fish caught this year, this one was pretty skinny.  Resetting the line, outside again to hole hop, returning to warm up I put on a Slender Spoon as the sonar's were not marking much fish.  Dropping it down, these take a while to get to the bottom however as is descended a line came up to meet it, wham a 24 inch walleye!  Finally around sundown a third mark appeared and aggressively hit my lure.  Man, another nice fish until it came through the hole..............dang eelpout.  This was the first one I had caught on Mille Lacs in over 5 years so it was good to see.  They have a beautiful brown coloring and although great to eat, I put this one back.  Leaving at 5:30, 3 fish in 3 hours was good enough.  Arriving back at the landing another surprise was waiting, the front tire on the truck was flat, we won't even go into that.

A beautiful eelpout

Today I am heading to Red Lake with my friend Mark Applen.  He has his wheel house parked at a resort and with a little luck we can hit the night bite.  If the fishing is good we will stay there and if not the plan is to head north to Lake of the Woods.  Either way I am looking forward to spending a few days with Mark and hammering some walleyes that are hopefully fatter than the ones I have been catching.  I have a few new lures to try out and it will be a great way to end 2012.  Next week the lakes around home should be ready for some panfish action.  Have a great New Year and here's hoping next weeks report is successful. 

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