Friday, February 1, 2013

One Eyed Walleye

The one eyed walleye

Coming out of the deep freeze that occurred last week and Saturday's weather forecast appearing to be reasonable the plan was to spend the day with a number of firsts for my friends.  My fishing companions were Lory Brasel with his new Otter portable, Pete Sipe with his new Clam Thermal, and Keith Holtan, the first time we have ice fished together.  All three had a good reason to get out so I picked the destination, Resort Flat out of the Red Door Resort on the north end of Mille Lacs.  Reports were encouraging and with Keith coming down from Brainerd, it would be convenient for all of us.  After stopping at Lundeen's for bait, we headed north to the McDonald's in Garrison to complete our foursome.  The Red Door Resort is right smack in the middle of the north side and they do a great job catering to ice fisherman.  Every year a crack/heave develops parallel to the shoreline, about 50 - 100 yards out.  Water is an amazing part of nature.  At 39 degrees it is at it's densest sinking to the bottom insuring livable water for the fish.  Only 7 degree's colder it becomes the lightest as it freezes and expands by 10%, which is why it floats.  As the ice continues to freeze it actually shrinks and with the -20 degree weather a few days earlier, the ice contracts causing a break that opens up a space between the ice sheets.  At the Red Door they had a bridge crossing the crack which opened up earlier in the week that spanned 8 feet.   Without the bridge it would be crazy to try and drive across the newly formed ice that filled the crack.  Of course as the weather warms up, the ice will expand which will cause the ice sheets to push together causing huge heaves up to 8 feet high.  This cycle repeats continually as the temperature swings from -20F to 36F then back down.  Once across the bridge we drove 3 miles out to the flat. 

Lory's 24 incher
There is an area along the flat that has proven to be pretty good so we set up along the edge taken up a good 50 yards of an area.  Punching holes from 22 feet on the top of the flat to 34 feet on the bottom edge, we went to work.  Unfortunately the weatherman was a little off as it stayed around 10 degrees with a strong wind blowing the snow around and filling the holes I had drilled.  Although I punched over 25 holes for "ice trolling" my guest decided to stay out of the wind and fish in there shacks.  Me, I still like to hole hop and worked the area until I needed some relief from the wind.  With Keith in my Clam, I set up my Eskimo pop up next to the truck, out of the wind in 34 feet of water.  Lory had a fold up chair and I was in business.  With the area covered, it was now up to the walleyes to tell us were they were at and what they wanted to eat.  Well, they took their merry old time.  As Keith came by to check on how I was weathering the wind and bite the bobber on my dead stick was nowhere to be found.  With a nice big shiner hooked to the end of the line, chances are what ever had it was good sized. Carefully taking the slack out of the  line until the line was tight, a quick set and I pulled up this nice 26 inch walleye.  She was in pretty bad shape, skinny as a rail (like most of my Mille Lacs walleyes have been) and missing it's left eye.  It looked like it had been that way for a while and I suppose it is why the fish was so skinny.  Next to catch a fish was Lory, the first in his new Otter.  Another skinny 24 inch fish never the less a great way to break in the shack.  His fish came out of 22 feet of water, right on the top of the flat. 

Pete's 23 inch walleye

Next to catch of fish was Pete.  All snug in his new Clam, the fish made a mess out of his fishing lines before we were able to get it turned around and up through the hole.  Now this fish looked pretty good and healthy compared to the previous two as it measured 23 inches.  Pete was in 24 feet, closer to the edge of the flat which really didn't help with zeroing in on the perfect location.   There was one thing in common, all fish were caught on a whole minnow.  No matter how hard or soft I jigged my Rattlin Flyers, Jigging Raps, Hawger Spoons, the only thing I could get were a few fish coming in to look at the commotion then leave.  I did mark what I'm sure was tullibees as they aggressively followed my lures up the water column more that 12 feet.  After this summer's tullibee die off, it was nice to see that a few survived.  As for Keith, I set him up right at the edge break of the flat in about 25 feet.  This is usually my favorite spot as walleyes cruise the edge looking for their next meal.  Unfortunately the never showed up for him, not one of my better days of putting people on fish.  Oh well, I am fortunate that being a guide, he understands the situation.  Hopefully I will get the opportunity to rectify this situation again with better results.  Either way we did get 3 nice fish, marked enough to keep it interesting, fished with my friends, and finished the day at the Players Bar and Restaurant for their fish fry.  I really got the hankering to catch some crappies and maybe Sunday I can get out before the Superbowl.  

I am finishing this post from the Sky Club at Chicago O'hare.  My regular laptop is broke and am using my friend, Tom McAtee's.  Usually I can do this on the plane or somewhere I can find time and space but it is almost impossible to type on my 10 inch Asus pad.  I sent it out to Oregon to get fixed and with a little luck, it should be back next week.  One last thing, I did by something from for my laundry sink.  Not spending enough to get free shipping I ordered a Buck folding fillet knife (like I need another fillet knife) to get past $25.00.  I got it on Wednesday and it's really nice.  If you take the free shipping into account, I got a very good deal. 

1 comment:

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

It was a great day on the ice. Thanks for inviting me along.