Monday, 24 February 2014

Long Weekend in February

With the first weekend in almost four months of winter to have minus single digit temperatures, I had made some plans to go fishing. Sadly, most of them fell through. Friday was spent in pursuit of black crappies with very minimal success, although an enjoyable day was had watching Olympic hockey on a smartphone as we fished. It was a full moon that night and some very big marks showed up on the flasher that day, but none of the big ones committed to my offerings.

Saturday rolled around and my fishing buddy was too sick to go and we rescheduled for Sunday, although he was still to ill to go then. I couldn't believe it, full moon weekend, highs of minus two and I wasn't out there to fish it. I could've went out alone but really prefer not to. As Sunday evening wore on the phone rang, and a fishing opportunity for the next day presented itself, as long as the extension for the auger was bought by a friend over the weekend.

I was so excited to go fishing and had to be up at 4 am, I got everything ready before getting to bed around 1 in the morning, Waking up came easy this time, I needed to wet a line and land some fish in the worst way. The initial 40 kms of our drive were snow covered, with the ditches full up to the road, it was tough to stay on track. Heading west the roads got better and we made it to the access point with an hour before sunrise, finding three to five foot snow drifts. It was clear we weren't making it through, so we quickly found a place to park and unloaded our gear, kicking ourselves that we left the sled at home. With the clouds fading away and the moon slowly setting we grabbed the essentials and trudged on through the snow to a spot we had success at a week ago, away from the crowds.

On that note, a lot of folks when talking about where to start on a body of water will say just head to where the ice huts are, they are there for a reason, That may hold true, but often they are placed on hot morning or evening bite specific locations, or a species you may not be after. On the other hand the fish in those areas receive more pressure than lets say away from the shanty towns a few hundred feet or even a kilometer or two. We learned the weekend prior that away from the crowds produced exponentially better than being in amongst them after talking to a few different anglers that were out on the same body of water. That morning we were set up in amongst the shanty town and caught five fish in 4 hours, after that we made a move and were at least 1/2 a km away from anyone and hammered the perch. That one move away from the crowds payed off.

Out at our spot, we ended up drilling six holes each twenty feet away from the next and got to fishing. The sun was still below the horizon and the wind was picking up, the marks started to appear on the flasher and it wasn't long before I missed a bite, I blamed the wind.  A few fish were landed twenty feet away and although the day was supposed to be a nice one, we decided with the wind making bite detection difficult and lines icing up, to drill a shack pattern of holes and set up the shelter.

All set up and lures down, it was game on from the get go, the perch were very aggressive flying in and hammering our different lures. I was starting with a minnow deadsticked on a moon drop jig and quickly found out it was looking like more of a one rod and line kind of morning as I could not keep up with the action on both rods missing more than I was landing. This is what we were here for, non stop perch action below us with multiple double, triple and even quadruple headers as Jay stuck with two lines.

As the morning wore on, more and more trucks plowed through the deep snow making there way out to fish and eventually a tractor and blower cleared the access, by lunch I'd say there were at least 150 vehicles out by the shanty town with maybe 6 away from it with two groups about 150 feet away south and north of us. All sorts of lures were working well for us but I just couldn't work up the courage to use my darter with out it being tipped with a minnow (I know it effects the action). Frodo on the other hand was hammering them with a Salmo chubby darter without it being tipped.

It was a good day to be out, clear blue skies, minimal breeze and the sun radiating off the crusty snow. Having to leave earlier than we usually do wasn't a big deal, the action had been steady all day, more than enough fish were landed with enough for a meal kept and the rest released. The pack up was easy in the mild weather but the walk back with the extra weight was brutal, I will never forget the sled again. The fish fry the next day was an added treat, tempura perch chunks with some battered vegetables and some home made dipping sauces, there's nothing better than fresh fish out of cold water.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Voth Release

With a few successful perch trips under our belts, it was time to bring along a friends father to test his luck at a chance at a jumbo. Another early rise, long walk and quick set up and we were fishing ten feet of water below the ice. My friends father had fished for perch at a few different lakes in Manitoba over the last few years, as well as back in Russia many years ago. This wasn't anything new for him, but the sizes sure would be, if we could catch one.

I had him using a small PK flutter spoon in a fire tiger pattern fishing just a few feet away in the shelter and right after I missed a tap on my darter something slammed the minnow tipped flutter spoon. I jumped up to pull the transducer out of the hole, hopefully avoiding an unnecessary lost fish and he said "No, no, not very big" in a charming Russian accent. I grabbed the transducer cable and hauled it up and just behind it up comes one tank of a fifteen inch perch. Excitement all around and high fives, before we could get a picture of the fish it was back down the hole to fight anther day. Tom was quite mad to say the least, he really wanted a picture of his dad with a huge perch. I felt bad as I had ranted on the drive up about my opinion in letting the big big ones go despite most others not doing so and felt that had contributed to a picture less release. "First big one must go to grow" he said.

Contrary to the previous week, the dead stick was not on fire, It was still producing the odd eater though. We tried many different lures and colour combos as we normally do, I used it as an opportunity to try some that I hadn't tried on this lake yet and they all did surprisingly well. If a big mark showed up on the flasher and wasn't interested in my lure I would throw down a PK panic and see if that would do the trick and boy did it ever.
Tom was determined to not let his dad school him and was quite adamant in landing his first jumbo perch, it being his third trip to this lake. He was changing up lures often and landing a lot of eaters. Before lunch he hooked into and landed his first trophy perch on a Lindy rattlin flyer. It was a huge relief for him and a good morale boost for the day, father and son both icing a trophy perch, little did we know there were more to follow.

After a lull in the action, and another missed tap on my darter, Toms dad got strike on his dead stick jig and minnow hung horizontal. Caught off guard, he set the hook and hauled up a nice 14.75 inch perch and right as we were about to take a picture it leaped out of his hands and dove right down the hole it came out of. We couldn't believe it and we named the practice "The Voth Release". A lot of chuckles were had as we continued to catch nice sized eaters on through the afternoon.

With the day dragging on, the action slowing down and inevitable bad weather on the way we decided to give it twenty more minutes and then pack up, and boy was that worth it.  Tom ended up landing his second trophy perch and his dad iced a nice sized pike to finish off the day. Our sled was a little heavier on the walk back, but lucky for me Tom and his dad pulled it while I dragged the shelter in its bag with broken straps.