Monday, January 9, 2017

Weekend at Okoboji

Stan's Bait and Tackle hosted a great bluegill
tournament on Little Emerson Bay
A weekend spent at Okoboji is always a good time for several reasons.  First, the morning scenery on this lake is like no other I have ever seen, the sun comes up over West Okoboji like a story book cover.  Another of course, is the vast amount of species anglers can fish for at these lakes.  I am pretty sure I could spend the entire month on this chain of lakes and not get bored of chasing down its many species.  My travel companion and tournament partner Mark Anderson made the trip with me, and as always we had many laughs on the ice and many conversations about the fish and fishing locations we tried.  During the time there, my buddy Mark or I caught the following species of fish: Bluegill, Walleye, Perch, Drum, Crappie, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Bass, and Channel Catfish.  Obviously, these lakes offer an endless array of fish to catch!
Fishing is a life-long adventure, you just never know what you might learn at any given time to make you a better angler for the rest of your life.  The best part of that is then sharing it with friends or my kids as they have taken a love for ice fishing as well.
We schedule the trip because of a bluegill tournament that was held on Little Emerson Bay on Sunday.  I have grown to love sight fishing big Okoboji Bluegills...but that was not the case this year.  For some reason or another the bay has been cloudy all winter long and sight fishing was not part of the trip.  We found a few areas that were holding nicer bluegills on Saturday and had a pretty good game plan of what we were going to do for the tournament on Sunday.  Those big bluegills that attract anglers from neighboring states, they were nowhere to be found by any tournament competitor.  Of the 30 teams/60 anglers that fished the event a 0.74 pound bluegill was the largest fish.  That is a great bluegill but doesn't compare to years past.  We fell short of the competition this weekend, finishing in the middle of the pack, but many fish were caught and lessons were learned.  Disappointed, yes, we both were but we will fight again another day.  A big Congratulations to friends Chad Angell and Josh Sansgaard on another ice tournament victory!!!

My largest fish ever caught through the ice
Channel Catfish: 7 pounds 10 ounces
22 inch rod, 2# test line
Another component of this trip was to try to fish for other species on the lakes.  Saturday afternoon we took a short drive to East Okoboji to fish there.  I have never iced fished there and was willing to take a look at it.  We were hoping for some yellow bass and crappies.  On this adventure a couple other friends joined in that were fishing the tournament as well.  The four of us drilled a lot holes on the breaklines to discover no fish on the Vexilars.  We continued looking and drilled out to the deeper basin, this is where the Vexilars started to light up.  For the last 70-90 minutes of daylight the fishing action was great.  Big yellows, nice black crappies, a keeper walleye and my biggest fish ever through the ice, a catfish.  It was quite a roller coaster those last few minutes of light, but we squeezed as much as we could into that day of fishing and we all enjoyed it very much.  It is fun to fail, and then conquer the fish...even if it was for a brief amount of time.  Lessons learned, experienced and remembered for another day on the ice.

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