Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Shack or Not?

Dropping baits with the Quantum Drive and Jason Mitchell
Dead Meat Stick all while watching the Vexilar,
a great way to spend the day.
When ice fishing comes into a normal conversation between "non-ice anglers" the topic of sitting in a shack all day.  I quickly choose to educate or at least tell them my beliefs on what an ice shack is for.  I explain that I might be in an ice shack 1 or 2 times a year, and prefer to stay outside and roam around to fish.  There are many anglers that love the comforts of a shack and they certainly do have their place.  Just a day ago I found myself venturing onto the ice when the high temperature was 3 degrees, along with 25+ mph winds.  It was the only day of the weekend that I could fish, so I really had no choice, I had to fish!

I packed up my 1-man shack and headed out to the lake to see if the fish could still be found under these tough conditions.  The team of four anglers took to the ice and quickly started to dissect a small flat next to the main lake drop-off.  We quickly started to pick up some fish but I noticed I was missing a lot more bites than the typical yellow bass outing.  When fishing under these severe conditions everything becomes harder.  Whether it is the temperatures affecting our bodies, line flexibility or the wind tricking our bite sensor.  Either way these all will hurt your fish count at the end of the day.  Although we were catching fish, I knew taking cover might give us the advantage.  By taking shelter in the shacks we were able to warm up our extremities, give our line a much needed warm-up and most importantly helped us gain the advantage to seeing the bites on our rods.  More fish catches immediately started to occur.  It wasn't an accident or a coincidence, it was simply getting an advantage over the elements to catch more fish.  After the bite cooled down in that area, we hiked to a different part of the lake that was protected from the harsh wind.  We were able to hop around much easier and stay mobile in this area, continuing to pick up more fish to finish the day.

So far that has been the only hour of the winter that has found me in a shack.  I prefer to move around and cover a lot of territory.  There is no right or wrong way to ice fish, as long as you are having fun and enjoying the outdoors, you are doing thins right.  Fish on my friends and do things the way you like, in the end it is you against fish, and I hope you have a great time doing it.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Northern Iowa Ice

Typically this time of year anglers can pick and choose whatever lake they wish and go have a good time fishing on the ice.  This year is far from that.  Many lakes throughout the state don't have a bit of ice on them, some have portions of ice while most of the lakes in Iowa are not even close to safe ice.  It has been a weird year for ice anglers, as many people have had to cover a lot of miles to travel to Northern Iowa to find safe ice.  Some lakes north of Hwy 20 have survived the several warm spells we have had in Iowa, and are providing great panfish action.  

Recently I fished one of these lakes on two different occasions.  Each time a friend and I hit the lake from around noon until dark.  Almost the same exact times and almost exactly a week a part.  I have fished this lake over the past several years a few times each year.  Each time has yielded almost exact results.  I am not complaining, as each time some real nice bluegills have been caught with a few crappies mixed in as a surprise.  

Each time while visiting this lake the fish have seemed to be tight lipped.  Yes, they can be tricked by using 1 or 2 pound test line, small jigs, and spring bobbers while jumping around 100 or more holes with the Vexilar... but each time I ask myself why?  Why are these fish, at this particular lake, always seem to be in a negative mood in the past 4 years?  Mother Nature has many secrets, and I guess this anomaly is one of them.  I am not sure if the fish will ever be regular fish in this lake, but when that day happens it will most likely be my best day of bluegill fishing ever.  Until then, I will continue to do my best to trick these nice gills into biting.