Thursday, March 2, 2017

Johnson's Perch Extravaganza

Button Drawing
Well, this year has certainly been a challenge when it comes to ice fishing.  Even northern Minnesota experienced a relatively late freeze as you can go back to my earlier Red Lake Posts, not much going on.  Usually the last "wheel house" event occurs during the last weekend in February, just before the Walleye season closes on Mille Lacs Lake, Johnson's Perch Extravaganza held at Nitti's Hunters Point Resort about halfway up the East side of Mille Lacs Lake.  A group of us including Mark, Russ, Randy, and Mike find an area out on the lake where we can park our houses on Friday night, we set up our Perch Camp. We have a lot of fun cooking, playing the the official game of us "Wheel Houser's"....Farkle, having a few cocktails and trying to catch a perch large enough to enter the contest.  This year the weather has been quite mild and although the ice on the lake is solid enough, the warm weather has caused a substantial heave near the shore as well, the shoreline ice has deteriorated significantly.  The week before saw rain fall on Mille Lacs and any hole through the ice acts as a drain with the water that's on top of the ice makes an effort to get below the ice.  These older holes from ice houses and or fisherman allows this to happen and there were reports of holes that had grown to 3 feet in diameter.  To further complicate things it got cold on Thursday night and it actually refroze the surface including lightly freezing over any of these drain holes creating a dangerous situation if a person happen to go over one.  Therefore for the most part all of the accesses on the East side were closed and not letting anyone on the ice.  Of course that didn't stop some people from showing off their stupid quotient as we stood there for the button drawing a guy in a Ford Pickup and pulling an ATV on a trailer tried to cross the crack and ended up dropping the front end down into the ice.  Luckily he only dropped to the frame and the ice held him up otherwise it would have been a lot more entertainment.  I have no idea what this guy was thinking but what ever it was he got a big surprise. The west side was letting people on but who the heck wanted to travel 12 miles over the ice with zero guarantee's one would get off in a couple of days.  Therefore we all decided to skip putting our whell houses on the ice and just attend the Button Drawing.  They sell buttons with numbers on them for $20 each,  then starting at 3:00PM the drawing begins, and of course if your number is drawn you win something.  They always have great prizes such as a couple of wheel houses, a 4 X 4 UTV side by side, as well as a bunch of new augers, tackle packages and quite a bit of pretty good stuff. Unfortunately even though I bought 2 buttons, those numbers failed to be announced.  Originally because of the ice conditions it was planned to have the drawing in the parking lot of Hunter's but boy, would that have been a mess.  Thursday and Friday saw temperatures drop into the mid teens and solidifying the shore ice so they moved the drawing onto the ice where it normally is held.   Mark found a spot up on the shore that was elevated above most people making it easy to hear the numbers called.  As well the shore tended to be warmer than standing on the ice which was a lot nicer.  After having a couple for the road I met Russ and Randy at Bayside for a burger then headed back to Dayton.  The forecast for this weekend is in the upper 50's so we are getting really close to the end of ice fishing.  Maybe 1 more time next week when I promised a friend I'd take him and his son out for crappies,  Hopefully the ice will be good!

Hand tied jigs
One of the employees at my work stopped by the office a few days ago to show me his latest hobby, tying jigs for walleye fishing.  I was impressed by his craftsmanship, attention to detail, and of course his interest in fishing.  It reminded me of 40 years ago I used to tie my own jigs using dyed fake fur as the main body.  Kevin Aiona and I used to really catch the walleyes down in Catfish Slough on the Mississippi River north of Alma (Pool 4) Wisconsin.  We would simply drift with the slow current in the channel of the slough and catch all the walleyes we wanted in a few hours.  Since then it's been told to me that the slough has filled in and is quite shallow as the walleyes are no longer in that area. It still brings back good memories as Catfish was one of our favorite places to fish.  One of these days  I will get Kevin to bring me back down on the river for a nice day of fishing, maybe we can catch some old memories!  With the early ice out maybe the river will be good this year.  At this time there isn't much of a snow pack here or  around the upper Mississippi to melt and the river level should stay reasonable for the next month or so.  I do remember taking my good friend Leon Lambert fishing below the Alma dam on April 5th of that year, it was warm and we did catch some fish.  He offered me my choice of jigs and I decided to take the middle one with the promise of a picture of me with the walleye I will catch on it in May when I head to Lac Seul.

1 comment:

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service said...

Nice choice of jig. Crayfish colors always perform well in Canadian shield lakes. Next time you come to AK have him tie up an egg sucking leech pattern for you. It'll crush the trout/silver/pinks.