Thursday, 28 January 2016

Saving the Day

Sunday on the prairies and it was time to fish. After a long drive up to Lake Manitoba we over loaded the sled and began walking out as the path to drive on was way to rutted up. After about 20 minutes of walking we decided to punch a few holes and look for depths. It was overcast, no wind and still dark. The auger fired up on the first pull as it almost always does and we let it warm up in anticipation of what we would see on the flasher screen once through the ice. We could see a truck stuck at the access point with its occupants moving back and forth in front of the headlights and we all agreed we made the right choice walking out. Jay began drilling with the auger but something wasn't right, the blade wasn't biting and it was clear his attempt to sharpen them the night before was unsuccessful.

Our options were few as we had called all over Winnipeg a few days earlier trying to get a new set of blades but everywhere was sold out. "Well I guess were heading home and watching football." Jay exclaimed.  It was 7:30 in the morning and my brain was scrambling for options, there was no way we were heading home after such a long drive. Luckily there was still cell service where we were on the lake and a quick search provided me with the number for Smoke N Fish in Selkirk along the Red River. A while back I had heard they were open 7 days a week and early so I called to see if they had blades. They were out of stock with the blades we needed but did provide a sharpening service. We didn't think twice and decided to hustle back to the vehicle to load up and giver buck for the hour drive to Selkirk.

We made it to the shop by 9:20 and it was booming, a derby was being held up the river and people were coming and going for live minnows and last minute supplies. Lucky for us one of two employees took the time needed to correct the edge and set us up for drilling again at a more than reasonable rate. We ended up on the Red River where the auger cut like a hot knife through butter and were set up and fishing by 10:15 with the day potentially saved.

My first drop down and a missed bite right off the hop, bait up and drop down again and an eater walleye slammed it. It was a good start in my books as a second eater ended up being my third fish. We were marking a lot of fish moving through but only a small percentage of them were aggressive, the vast majority seemed pretty neutral and took to subtle or no movements in presentations when they would commit. It is very obvious when fishing all the community hot spots that fishing pressure is HIGH on the Red and probably one of the biggest factors to good or bad fishing. These fish swim through hundreds of lures and jigs in a single day with many anglers fishing many different cadences and that has to effect them.

We were landing less saugers than usual but no one was complaining and the first three hours were fairly consistent with steady action. There is usually a lull near or after lunch and at least half the folks out always seem to leave by then. If it is because they have limited out or the fishing was tough we never really know as we like to stick out the slow times and have always been rewarded for doing so. It is usually around mid day when we have seen the bigger fish show up and Sunday wasn't any different. A little over 2 feet long was the biggest landed by Jay and a good fighting hog lost on the bottom of the ice by Frodo would have easily topped it.

There was a flurry of action late in the afternoon as a few vehicles came roaring by, one of which was on tracks. Our screens lit up with marks at all different depths and we proceeded to hammer fish for over 30 minutes. A 14.25 inch goldeye was my highlight of that flurry, no tank walleye but a few eaters as well.

With our old auger we always had a set of back up blades along, somehow we failed to carry over that practice with our Honda as it has cut like a charm and never given us a problem. Looking back it has cut well over 1000 holes since we bought it last season and is one of the best investments we have made. We always try to be prepared as possible and it is never a bad thing when a lesson is learned the hard way and leads to more preparedness in the future.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A Good Start to the New Year

New Years day 2016 ended up being a solid day of ice fishing. Our destination was the northern stretches of the Red River and our target species were Greenback Walleye. We were the first ones out at the access point and headed off on foot to where we left them in fall. Our last trip was a while back but it seemed as good a place as any to start. The current was moderate, water murky as usual and as the sun began to rise the fish seemed to wake up and get active.

The action was steady all morning as we found aggressive fish that would outright slam our lures, hesitant fish that took a heck of a lot of convincing and some very inquisitive goldeye that more often than not would sneak away successfully with the minnow chunk. Having a few different rod set ups and tackle options we were able to target the goldeye as they came through and noticably behaved differently than the walleye and sauger on our flasher screens.

The big walleye showed up over lunch and early afternoon and we caught and released a good handful of 25-26 inchers as well as losing a few on the bottom of the ice. It ended up being an above average day on the Red and we were able to bring home some nice 14 - 19 inch eaters and a few goldeye for the smoker.