Please check ice before heading out on any body of water!! As I stated above, the weather has been changing so drastically and ice must be checked thoroughly. Please use caution regardless of what you read in an ice report. Forums and social media are a great place to find out about ice conditions, but never rely on them. Please be safe!!
This year I decided to come up with an ice fishing challenge for myself. Here it is:
1) Catch a walleye that takes 2 hands to hold (come on, double digit!)
2) Catch lots of lake trout!
3) Catch my first whitefish (haven’t caught one at all!)
4) Catch a pike through the ice (haven’t done that yet)
5) Target perch and crappie (and catch ‘em!)
Now for my first report of 2012:
Location: Bay of Quinte, secret spot 😉
Ice conditions: 9 inches thick, no snow cover, slick
Target species: walleye
Water depth: 39 feet
I met my friend Jeff (Quinte Ice Fishing Team) prior to 7am so that we could be on the ice for first light. Jeff drilled holes to check ice thickness all the way out to our location. It was very windy, so using the slush (from drilling holes) on top of the skirt around the outside of the huts kept the huts locked down on the ice. After I got my flasher, heater and rods set up, it was go time!
I started with a size 7 Perch Jigging Rap tipped with a minnow. I dropped down and marked a fish on my flasher within minutes of jigging a few inches off bottom. This fish was tight to bottom and began to rise for my bait. I lightly twitched and raised the bait up and the fish followed. As the fish moved closer quite quickly, the image on my flasher grew and it was a big red mark! As I continued to pull the bait away, the fish pounced forward and struck! I set the hook and it felt a beast of a fish on the other end! As I started reeling, my drag was tinging! I KNEW it was a hawg, and seconds into the battle, it freed itself and took my minnow…. so the day started in heartbreak. I was however, optimistic that it would not be the last nice ‘red mark’ on my flasher.
I marked several fish, they were hesitant to bite but got this little ‘cigar’ sized walleye:
I caught 2 little eyes, and then saw a flicker in about 24-30 feet of water. As Jeff said, a lot of bigger fish will be suspended. I reeled up past it and was now using a Macho Minnow (spoon) without tipping a minnow this time. The green flicker grew and changed into a red mark. I really had to work slowly for this fish as it was not impressed by any aggressive movements. I lightly twitched the Macho Minnow to make sure I got some action from the tail, but not too much darting around. The fish came at the bait fast and I pulled away just a bit and got the fish to rise up. A second charge at the spoon and this time the fish took it:
Finally, I’m back in the game! This fish really restored my confidence. It was the last one I caught for the morning. We left the ice for lunch and came back out, and I kept the Macho Minnow on. Here’s my set up:
The Shimano Caenan reel has been great for ice fishing! I have it spooled with 20 pound test Power Pro. With the click of a button you can drop your bait down as much or as little as you need to put it right in front of the nose of a hungry walleye.
The evening was really windy, and began to snow. It’s amazing what you don’t notice when you’re so focused on those fish. I looked out and the ice had a blanket of snow, yet I was warm and cozy in my hut. This was the last fish of the day for me:
I worked this one up off bottom, and coaxed it into a bite. It took a little more convincing, but slow movements were key. The wind and snow would have made it difficult for a good photo outside, so here I am sitting in my hut.
More ice stories to come! Thank you for reading, sharing, and liking!