Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Team Extreme February Ice Tournament

The Team Extreme Ice Fishing Tournament trail came to Rock Creek Lake last Sunday.  Partner Mark Anderson and I had decided to fish this a long time ago and the time was finally here.  Both Mark and I spent quite a bit of time preparing for this event, either studying maps, GPS coordinates, or time on the ice.  We both were pretty anxious to get this tournament going and see where we placed against some of the best ice anglers in the state.
We put together a game plan, knowing that some of our fishing areas would probably be a secret and not fished by competitors.  Our plan worked great.  We started fishing in deeper water near some brush.  The limit for each team for this event was 8 bluegills and 8 crappies.  We had this filled in about 25 minutes.  The size of those fish weren't huge, but it is always a relief to get the limit covered.  We kept fishing hard all day long, which was made easy, as the Vexilar FLX-28's were lit up all day long.  We hopped around the lake and hit 6 different areas.  Some we hit a second time.  We were catching fish at each area, but we honed in on a couple main areas that were in deeper water.
We had discussed before the event that the bluegills are more scarce in the lake and would be the key to victory.  This was very evident come weigh-in time.  Almost every team had the double limit of panfish, which surprised me a little bit.  However, team after team weighed in and the gills were definitely on the small side.  We had some nice 8+ inch gills which outweighed our crappies.  We ended up with 6.93# for our 16 panfish, we ended up 2nd place.  First place had 7.14# which was anchored by a 1.30# crappie.  A huge crappie for this lake, and congrats to them for catching it.  It was a great tournament, and our plan came together wonderfully, and another great placing for Mark and I.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ice Fishing TV show

February 13th marked the day for filming a TV show for our local cable channel McTV.  Producer Steve Muntz once again did a wonderful job of getting some good footage of fish catches and helping viewers understand the sport of ice fishing.  I offered several tips to anglers for fishing in this "slow" time of the winter.  I hope you enjoy it, and learn a few things about ice fishing

As always, we were using VEXILAR electronics to find and catch fish throughout the winter.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rock Creek Anticipation

The Team Extreme Ice Fishing tournament circuit is coming to Rock Creek Lake next weekend.  My usual ice fishing partner and I will be signed up to fish.  I used Saturday as a day of preparation for the event, as other trips this winter too.  The more I fish this lake, the more I wonder about the size of the gills and crappies.  This tournament should be a great report card for this lake, as some of the best anglers in the state will be on the ice to test their skills.  There are plenty of crappies and bluegills to go around in the lake, finding and then catching the nicer ones are always the key to tournament success.

Without trying to spoil too many places at Rock Creek I went on two adventures Sunday.  I went to two lakes that I have never ice fished before.  A friend lured me Red Rock where the crappie bite has been awesome.  I couldn't turn it down.  Caught a few there, but packed up early as the bite was almost non-existent.  It did turn on later that afternoon...bad luck on my part I guess.  That decision to leave and try another lake proved to be a good one though.  I headed to Otter Creek Lake.  A big thanks to Nick LaVelle for pointing me in the right direction, as I found a few fish, largemouth bass, gills, crappies, and yellow bass.  
You never know what will happen when you go to a different lake, but yesterday was a great time, and I have a feeling I will be going to these more often when the water freezes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Big Creek Lake Team Extreme Tournament

I love fishing, and I love competition, so when an ice fishing tournament rolls around and it is close by, I just can't stay away.  This past Sunday Team Extreme Ice Fishing, an organization out of Minnesota was hosting a tournament at Big Creek Lake near Des Moines.  Mark Anderson and I have fished this lake the last three years in different tournaments, so it seemed natural that we would fish this particular event.  Mark spent a few days on the ice scouting it out and I spent a long day there myself searching for crappies and bluegills.  The lake is a big one, a deep one, and a clear one, which is also loaded with brush and rocks.  Mark and I had a good game plan going into the tournament day, we had some deeper locations near the old channel, and we had some shallow and deeper brush piles too.  Tournament rules are that each team can weigh in 8 crappies and 8 bluegills.  No other species counted.
While Mark and I only fish a few times a year, it seems like we fish every day together.  We didn't really talk about the "teamwork" for the day, we just fell into our roles.  Mark fired his Strikemaster up at each stop, and before the first hole was cut, I had the Vexilar FLX-28 down the hole checking for the structure we were looking for.  A few quick words back and forth and we were both fishing in no time.  It is always a pleasure fishing with Mark, I think he is one of a very few that might have as much drive on the ice to figure the fish out as I do. 

One of our nicer crappies for the day, 11-incher

Things started off very quickly for us, numerous bluegills and a few crappies found the bucket at our first stop.  A good start to the day, which is important when the temperatures are hanging around the zero mark.  We headed to our second spot, it was good during practice for bluegills, it didn't disappoint.  We caught a few big ones here as well.  Off to third area, one that we didn't catch fish on in practice, but it had all the right things for roaming crappies.  We hooked up two of our largest crappies in this place, we were flying high!  We continued to hit a few other areas and picked up a few fish here and there.  We ended the day at our starting spot, and I was able to pick up one more nice crappie for the team. 
We had 6 really nice crappies, all over 10inches, and then two of them were about 9 inches.  Our 8 bluegills were all about the same, 8.5inches or so. 
We felt pretty good going to the weigh-in, but thought we needed a few more bigger ones.  It was true, we fell a little short.  We had 9.65 pounds, while the winners had 10.5 pounds.  We placed 4th out of the 13 teams competing, good enough for a nice check.  If you like ice fishing, you should check out Team Extreme Ice Fishing, they have 3 more events in Iowa, 3-Mile lake, Rock Creek Lake, and Brushy Creek Lake.  They are ran very well, and the competition is second to none.

While patrolling the ice, Team Extreme organizers snapped this

nice picture of me while I patiently await a bite.