(Above: The first Mattsabasser “ice fish” in a long time for no good reason. I still wet the hands and release these fish for others to re-catch or table. C&R is not a big deal for me here but would prefer the trophy fish to go back. Pickin’ my battles on this one.)
My plan was to break the ice curse that has plagued me for so long with only a few hours to work with. Guess you can say it was one of those “anyfishwilldo” days.
At first I was dropping lightweight jig and grub combos in 1\16oz. White, yellow and black were what I had on hand. White and yellow got a few taps but that was it. After about an hour and three drilled holes later I went to 1\32oz. Here I was able to stick the landing on a very small trout. The pond to the west was also scouted with a few drilled holes. I didn’t get so much as a nudge so the gear was moved back over to the other pond. Ice wasn’t stable enough for me to fish the big lake on this side, which was my original plan.
(Above: Small fish and a lot of slush but just enough fish to make it worthwhile. This fish nearly owned me on the photo op with an escape attempt. One point deduction for getting the sleeves wet.)
Over the next few hours I experimented with tube jigs, brown with black dots and a few other variations. The results were more or less the same. Small hits, missed fish and the occasional trout. As time wore on and the edge on my hand auger blades dulled I realized that my limited game was only working on the smaller fish. Funny how in the beginning I just wanted to catch any fish but once that was accomplished my heart started to long for something better. To make matters worse my time limit was exceeded beyond repair. An appointment was junked and the rest of my agenda in the real world was thrown out the window.
By 2pm I was completely regretting having to rely on the jig setups. Not bringing more of my trout ensemble left me with only a few options and my own footprints on my butt. Woulda coulda shoulda.
(Above: Here is an ice-hole shot showing the top snow layer and about four inches of ice. Easy work for the auger and just enough hard water to make me feel comfortable.)
Not all of the ice was stable. The north side had mostly solid frozen water around four to five inches. Other areas had a good deal of gray or soft ice with some open water depending on the pond you were looking at. The intense sun seemed to be baking the top of the ice in some areas adding yet another factor of danger. I would constantly look ahead of me for any anomalies in the top of layer of snow before approaching. Then I would brush the top layer of snow off to ensure solid ice was below me.
(Above: This is but one area where you could take a run and jump right in the water. Stable ice around 3-4” is roughly 10 to 20 yards towards the west of the lake.)
My mentality towards ice fishing needs to change as the hard water scene offers a lot of opportunity. If more focus was applied I am sure that larger more spectacular fish would be the result. That doesn’t mean a power auger and ice hut purchase is in my immediate future.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.