Well it finally happened, looks like we are done ice-fishing for the year. The last day I walk off the ice is one of the saddest days of the year for me.
But it was a great ice season! My partners and I had almost 3 full months on the ice this winter–the way it should be. We were drilling holes all the way up through last weekend.
So, consider this as my last ice report for this year; let me show some pictures, tell some stories. . . .
We had a good year for walleyes through the ice, one of our best in years. I got one last “whitetip” last week.
It had to be that new Tony Roach Walleye Ice Rod!
The kids and I got on the ice last weekend. It turned out to be one of our most enjoyable days on the ice all winter. For once the wind did not blow at hurricane force, and of course we caught fish!
Shortly after getting set up, we had a tip-up flag go up. My daughter Emily has caught some pike through the ice before, but never on a tip-up. There really is nothing to it, but I coached her like a typical dad.
Look close, that 26.25-incher was tagged. . . .
That is ole #1173. In case you have not figured it out yet, we were fishing at Wanahoo and the pike there have been tagged for the past couple of years (How Many?, Got Another One). I do not have any details on this tagged fish yet, but I can tell you that it was tagged in the early spring of 2013 or 2012.
Earlier this week, I alluded to the fact that spring was really already here in many ways. If you spend some time on the water or in the field all you have to do is look and listen, maybe even smell the air. We may have been on the ice catching fish, but spring was all around us.
There were plenty of Canadas.
Look close, these are geese too, but not Canadas. Their call is distinctive, and I love listening to them.
The mallards kept chuckling over our heads too.
There were some teal puddling around in a patch of open water about a 100 yards from us, and every once in awhile they would commence to squeaking. I saw one flock of snow geese, but they never got close enough even for my amateur photos. At sunset the rooster pheasants started crowing, and at one point with all the birds calling, it got so loud I hollered for everyone to shut up. It was so noisy I could not hear the sasquatch howling!
You know my ice-fishing philosophy is to “Drill baby, drill”. The kids kept doing that and finally got onto some panfish. I kept watching tip-ups while jigging, but after a few flags soon after we started fishing, we had no more action. I often see folks set out tip-ups and then just let ‘em sit. If the fish are biting, that is great, but just like jigging, I believe the best strategy is to keep moving, keep trying new holes until you start catching fish. It required more work, but eventually I moved all the tip-ups. A short time after that, I had flags popping again. This was the last one of the day. . . .
That was a fat 35-incher, our nicest pike of the winter. Emily gets an assist. I managed to get the line tangled around the flag and tip-up spool and when that fish made a couple of strong runs, I could not give her line like I needed too. I was shuffling back and forth with the tip-up in my hands trying to keep the line tight while untangling it. It was a comedy of errors for a bit, Emily pitched in to keep the line tight, and we managed to put that fish on the ice.
Gotta show one picture of my son and the bullhead he caught.
Emily and I caught all the good fish, all the big fish. All Daniel caught was bullheads, might have been big bullheads, but bullheads nonetheless.
Not really, but Daniel out-fishes us often enough that we have to rub it in while we can.
Those last two photos were taken by Emily with her new camera. She took this one too, and I kind of like it.
A beautiful day on the ice with my kids, fish were caught, and some big fish. It just does not get any better than that; hope we do not have to wait long for next ice season.
Coming to an end . . . .
See you later. . . .
Never fear, ice season may be over, but I will be fishing open water soon, probably less than a week after walking off the ice! Stay tuned!