I do not think I've ever spent so much time on the ice without putting a line in the water as last week. Last Saturday my wife Tammy and her tournament partner Carla Bahr competed in the Women Only Ice Fishing Tournament hosted by Women Anglers of Minnesota, which took place on Gull Lake. It would be the first time they fished together and it would turn out they would make a pretty good team. With a very tough bite they spent the day trying new spots and looking for bigger fish.
If you are wanting to chase walleyes or northerns you only have a day or two left to do it. So what does that leave until ice out? For most anglers they switch gears to panfish. But what if you still want to chase big fish? There are actually a few options, northern pike angling on Mille Lacs is still open, along with all kinds of trout fishing. And if you still need to get some walleye action Lake of the Woods is just a quick four hours away.
Well, either Minnesotans are tougher than most or we've all been brainwashed into thinking that anything above zero is warm. But that's just the way you have to think this winter if you want to go fishing. Even though we have plenty of ice fishing in front of us I have to admit I have been starting to plan some open water trips already. As I sat on a small lake last weekend after drilling holes everywhere, I just thought how much easier I could of covered the lake in my boat. Nevertheless that won't happen for a while so it's back in the fish house I go.
And what a weekend it was! The Extravaganza was a crazy place last weekend. With all the media in town for some football game coming up they came to Hole-in-the-Day bay to check out the biggest fishing contest. From ESPN to national news stations there were people everywhere who will see what we do to pass the cold winter days. And as far as the fishing, if you knew how to fish for tullibees, your chances of taking home a prize was pretty good.
When most people think Lake of the Woods, it's staying near the Rainy River or in a house out on the lake a few miles.
Finally with a break from the arctic air I got to go out exploring without the fear of frostbite and soon the fish also were out enjoying the warm weather. After a couple of trips for crappies and bluegills it was time for something new. I sharpened my spear I recently purchased, and old but a goody, and then gathered some old and new decoys I've been collecting and then it was off to the dark house for a day of spearing.
Although most Minnesotans have been a little upset with Mother Nature this week to say the least, ice fisherman have never been happier. And let's face it we really needed an arctic week to build up some ice because people obviously were never going to stop overdoing it. With vehicles, sleds and all-terrain vehicles all over the state still dropping through the ice this should make the lakes a little "safer."
Last week I finally started the ice fishing season and it started off with a bang. Hitting some smaller lakes with a little more solid ice seemed like a good place to start. Luckily the panfish cooperated and the first fish fry of the year really hit the spot.
It's down to crunch time if you are going to fill your muzzleloader tag, and believe me I'm hoping that big old buck just happens to step out so I can finally go to ice fishing mode. Speaking of ice fishing, last weekend at the ice fishing show in St. Paul was crazy. Being most of Minnesota was just freezing the show was packed. People from Iowa to Canada came to see what was new for this year.
Sometimes we have bumps in the road that we cannot avoid. They may set you back but don't let them stop you. We arrived in Montana a little later than planned, so we need to make the most of the little time we had before the mule deer season ended. Being no one likes to eat their tags, the plan was to not attempt a one-day trophy hunt and to shoot the first decent deer I saw. This would be about having meat in the freezer to remember the season, not antlers for the wall. That would have to wait to next year.