It wasn’t so much that Nate Posterick was preparing to catch a big fish. That he cut a double-wide auger hole in the ice on Lake Mille Lacs was more for the view.
“You can see right down there,” Posterick, 26, said of his practice of drilling two 10-inch-round holes side by side, then chiseling out the ice in between so as to have one big hole — and a much better view of the underwater world.
On Feb. 26 — the day before the walleye and northern pike season ended — it afforded him a a nice view of the goings-on in about 13 feet of water below the ice on Mille Lacs as he got in on the last of the walleye fishing. But that double-wide hole would come in handy for more than just spectating.
Even with the big hole — and a Vexilar fish locator — Posterick, a plumber and avid fisherman from Baxter, didn’t see much that day. Not a single walleye and only one medium-sized northern pike through mid-day. Then, at around 4 p.m., he got a look at a big fish. A muskie, he thought at first. But as it hung about a half-foot off the lake bottom, eyeing his small Cleo jigging spoon tipped with a minnow tail, Posterick saw it was a northern.
A split second later, the casual spectating ended and the fight began.
“It just snapped and hit the lure,” Posterick said.
Working what he knew was a big fish with 6-pound line, Posterick lost track of time.
“He kept running,” Posterick said. “He would pause and slow down and I’d start gaining on him and he’d take off again.”
He figures the fight lasted 20 to 30 minutes and, even with the double-wide hole, “It was still pretty hard to get him up. A 10-inch hole wouldn’t have worked.”
It proved to be his biggest pike ever — he landed a 40-incher on Red Sand Lake years ago, he said — and probably one of the biggest pike ever taken through the ice (spearing excluded) on Mille Lacs, or most any other Minnesota lake for that matter. It measured 44 inches and weighed 25 pounds. He kept the fish and plans to have it mounted.
“He was,” Posterick said when asked if the fish was bigger than he figured. “I usually try to play that down. But I pulled it through (the hole) and it kept getting longer. It just kept on coming.”