With snow falling and irrepressible thoughts of spring I’m reminded that there is still
some winter related fun to be had. It might be as simple as a walk through a WMA with the dog but busting through a crusty snow surface often makes for a more difficult time so maybe that can wait a couple weeks yet. It’s a bit early too for turkey scouting and still too white ta chase snows so my suggestion – there’s about 3’ of solid ice and fish are starting to think
After Saturday Fan Outdoors last week a friend and I headed to a favorite lake. The thought was to get away from the crowd looking for some “new” fish. Alone, at least no evidence of past holes or tracks visible we punched a half dozen using the new K-drill. While drilling the only noise audible was the blades cutting ice. I’ve never realized how pleasant that silence can be especially adding to the open hole inventory by simply picking up the drill and squeezing the trigger to start. Dropping the Ice 55 ducer into the liquid ice showed a mere 4.6 foot of water under the ice. With 6 gal buckets for stools we cleaned the holes, packed eurolarva on the hooks before dropping them into the shallow water. Some biters seemed to live under each hole with a few making the 8” keeper mark but the bite was sporadic that
was until mid-afternoon under a warm blue sunny sky. Earlier we both noticed the bright red lines right under the ice in most of the holes. Moving the jigs up just under the transducer gave away the bite. Immediately red lines moved up to the bait.
Sometimes showing up midway in the shallow water column other times from the bottom coming up. It really made no difference because they bit. Much like cane pole days from a
long time agp it was easier to simply raise an arm than reel with less than 4 foot of line out. I’m sure sight fishing would have been fun but it would have required the portable set up to effectively see in the bright sunlight.
Thinking back on the day the type of bite is not at all unusual for spring fish under
ice but it was unfortunate the time it took to figure it out. In those last couple hours we probably caught 50 or so fish actually leaving biting fish behind as we left and the sun
settled into the horizon.
So as you head out next time and notice the red lines right under the ice don’t wait,
catch ‘em! The late winter early spring bite is on, well as least last Saturday it was.
Funny how sometimes the fish don’t read all the articles written about them!
and Have Fun!
With snow falling, oak logs offering winter warmth, Tess in a deep sleep soaking up the heat
as I reflect on time spent afield with her. It’s easy to stare into the flames remembering some of her special hunting moments. One was made in South Dakota while on a media hunt with the guys from Pheasants Forever. It was my first trip over there expecting that once crossing the border there’d be birds running everywhere. Not so as I kidded Bob St. Pierre. But later that day we gathered the group heading afield for an afternoon hunt.
Driving into that field was a sight I’ll never forget. There were birds literally everywhere. Running across our field of view, in front of the truck, flying in groups landing in brush and grass. An amazing site for a Minnesota boy more used to seeing no more than 10 birds in a day. Now keeping that in mind imagine what happened when Tess hit the ground
after a long ride but preface it with what I would soon learn--my e-collar
batteries had died. In Minnesota I seldom even needed the collar but with more scent than had ever had come into her nose she exited the kennel and began acting as though on speed racing around everywhere and I had absolutely zero control. Extremely frustrated with her behavior Casey Weismantel of Aberdeen, SD came over smiling and said “settle down she’ll be ok. I’ve seen the same thing before.” A small consolation but some none the
less. In a while I’m not sure if she did settle down or simply got tired but thankfully she began to hunt. Later in the afternoon the group walked some corn and an adjacent woodlot. A rooster flushed, a shot, a winged bird on the run. Tess took off on the scent and gone.
Whistling, calling her name all futile until Chris Niskanen, then the outdoor writer for the Pioneer Press called from the woods “Who’s got the little Golden? She’s got a rooster and
comin’ your way!” Very much alive Tess delivered to hand. Needless to say I was
really proud of her! My earlier frustration all gone and all forgiven!
Another trip taking Fan Outdoors on the road found us in Hitchcock, South Dakota. The gravel main street put us across from Colonel Bubbas saloon. On one side was the Post Office and the other the VFW and the café. We were told it closed at
4 whether finished eating or not. I was sure at any moment Wild Bill would be tying his horse right outside. But as rustic as it was the bird hunting would be awesome the next day just prior to an oncoming blizzard. Radio duties behind we met our guides, both
young women hunters with Shorthair pointers. A short tar road drive then onto a field road found us in an area with CRP, cattail sloughs and brushy areas. Very birdy and really excited and in a bit of a hurry I left the truck, let Tess and Tramel out discovered later that I left the truck idling for more than 2 hours. Duhhhhhh! Our hunt found us in various cover but a
final stretch of grass would be special. Tess wheeled around between Bob and me then suddenly she turned her head, lifted a front paw and like a picture locked up on a rock solid point. Motioning to Bob he was already watching ‘nready. Walking in front of Tess the bird
flushed, a rooster. A shot, a bird down, Tess immediately on it, a retrieve to hand, Bob called out “nice shot!” The end result a priceless memory! Soon after that I learned my truck was still idling. Glad it wasn’t one of the patented “Billy Big Walks” per Bob!
With Pheasant Fest on the horizon it’s appropriate to share this. Not sure if you’re a bird hunter, waterfowler, deer hunter or a parent but when you enjoy the outdoors there will always be stories making memories and that’s special! Special too are those made with family, friends and bird dogs! Bird dogs always “Bird Dogs!”
See you at Pheasant Fest! It’s gonna be awesome!
Great discussion on Fan Outdoors this week on the work the DNR is currently doing in Northern Minnesota tracking and collaring Moose! To view the photo gallery Click Here