Monday, February 22, 2021

The Long Walk... Worth Every Step?

This past weekend we headed south once again to look for some crappies.  The lake has little access and no machines are allowed to move around on the lake.  A long walk through snow was something we were not going to avoid.  We were up to it for a chance to catch some big crappies that lurked in this small lake.

Once we got to the lake we started in the some of the deepest water the lake held.  This proved to be a good first move.  We started picking up fish slightly suspended off the bottom of the lake with our Vexilars and we started catching crappies, and we knew right then the walk was well worth it!  The weather was great for hole-hopping and we searched all day long.  I used a Reins Tungsten spoon most of the day, the quick drop on the Quantum Drive reel really makes fishing the deeper water quick and easy.  The middle part of the day was brutally slow, but then about 4pm, right on schedule, the crappies magically appeared once again.  It was a great way to end the day as reeled up our final catches of the day.  Dozens of crappies made their way to the top of the ice and some of those will make a nice meal soon.

Big takeaway from today was locating and fishing the active fish.  Fish were located on the bottom of the lake, 5-6 feet suspended and fish in the middle of the water column.  Only one group of these fish were the "biters" on this particular day.  The fish that swam 5-6 feet above the lake floor were the biters.  We were able to keep our spoons/jigs in that range to call the fish in from surrounding areas.  This no doubt led to bringing more fish under our Vexilars and helped us catch more fish all throughout the day.  

Monday, February 15, 2021

2021 Yellow Bass Bananza

Once again. the largest ice fishing tournament in the state took place at Clear Lake yesterday.  Kevan Paul and his crew at Clear Lake Bait and Tackle continued this tradition in a scaled down version.  There was not a large meal/bash the night before but as for the tournament itself, things were the same.  With all that is going on this year, and no banquet, the attendance for the event was right around 90 teams.  The weather and temperatures did not encourage any late entries either.  Temperatures plummeted this week with many days seeing temps under 0 degrees.  It was some of the most brutal ice fishing conditions I have ever fished in.  As we pulled into the event on Sunday morning, the temperature was -17 degrees, that did not include the wind, the "real feel" was -44 degrees.

David Gissell joined me at the event this year as my regular partner decided he didn't need his appendix anymore a week before the event.  The plan was to stay in the little lake, cover as much ground as we could and drill as many holes as we needed.  I had not visited Clear Lake this year at all, which is rare. I have fished this lake for many years and in recent years the "little lake" has treated me well.  I decided to go with history and fish areas I was comfortable with.  We fished water from fourteen feet deep all the way to six feet deep.  We found the typical perch, walleye, a white bass and caught about 45 yellow bass during the four hour event.  We found one area that the yellow bass kept feeding in, it was about half the size of a football field.  We kept moving and even hit old holes over and over again.  It worked out as we pinned this group of yellows in that 8-9 foot range.  The Vexilar FLX30 continues to impress me.  The fine lines and details of weeds really helps pick out fish and the size they are.  I could tell if small perch were below or if they were the targeted Yellow Bass.  Equipment is always key and today was no different in these adverse weather conditions.  I choose to go with a 24-inch Jason Mitchell Meat Stick to help me stay close to the hole while the wind whipped around.  A Quantum Drive reel with 3# test line tied to several spoons for the day.  The smooth drag on the Quantum reel was good insurance on this day as ice built up around the line, eyelets and everything else.  

The four hours went quickly, and the multiple layers of clothes kept me comfortable for the day...drilling a lot of holes keeps you warm too!  Our limit of 30 yellow bass weighed 12.02#.  I figured by getting 30 yellows in the bucket that it would put us in the  op 15, which was our goal.  However, as we talked with the many other competitors we knew we would be closer to the top than we thought.  As the prizes were given away, we ended up in 5th place.  The reward was the hottest electric auger on the market, the Strikemaster Lithium 40 volt 8-inch ice cutting machine.  

Another YBB in the books, my seventh in a row.  Jacy Large and I started fishing these events back in 2015 and ended up with a 5th place finish, 2016 was a 15th place, 2017 was 16th, 2018 was 150th, 2019 was 7th, 2020 was 9th and this year the 5th place finish.  It has been a fun run chasing these Yellow Bass all over Clear Lake.

Kudos to all the anglers that braved the weather today.  By staying on the hunt all day without a shack we were able to overcome Mother Nature and collect our share of yellow bass.  The reward was a place in the top 10 once again.