Monday, January 23, 2012

Ice Ice Baby

Okay I will admit it…… I enjoy ice fishing.  Enough to sink a decent amount of investment for several rods and reels. Some for perch, two for crappie and panfish, and a few lake trout and whitefish rods that also double for pike.  Add a pop up hut and an ice flasher that I can’t seem to ice fish without these days and I am ready to sit for hours on the ice staring at a blinking screen and a hole in the ice.

I think it’s that whole walking on water thing that seems to intrigue. The fact that I am walking over depths that I would normally have to get in a boat to get to, I now just have a floater suit and a pair of cleats on my winter boots that carries me to depths of up to 120’. Last year was the first time my friend drove us out to some perch grounds in his Chevy Avalanche. Believe me; I was sitting sideways towards the door with the fingers on the handle anticipating the moment I would be launching myself out. Crazy stuff.
The other day I met up with Rich with whom I had not seen since October. This time it was a bit different. Instead of 13’ rods and gortex waders, it was orange nylon prison wear and 24” rods. Lake Simcoe is a long ride to ice fish for the day. I was excited that Rich was able to make the time. I have always done well up there but I believe fishing is part luck and chance aside from skill and experience. With Rich and how well he knows this game, I was overly confident knowing I would experience some cold wet hands. The walk out seemed like a marathon. If the 3/4km walk just to get from the truck to the bay was not enough, add another 1.5 -2km before Rich dropped the ropes on the sled. We quickly punch two holes only to see a few fish on the flashers. After hooking them, we knew we had to move. 
Another friend of ours was about a 1/4km south of us and informed us that they were having better success. We made our way over. Its amazing that when you show up and have to park so far away, with the amount of cars and people fishing, we had no one around us for close to half a football field.
We punched one hole each and sat over it for the next three and a half hours. It was non-stop and at times, the flashers were so lit up, we could not see our own presentations jigging down below. Many small fish but we both managed enough to bring home a decent haul of perch. Rich continues to outshine with the fish of the day. A perch that would be close to 15” ( perhaps even longer) without the use of live bait.
Ice fishing is more fun than anything else for me. Good times with great friends.  It’s also the only time I consider keeping my catch. After all, who doesn’t like a fish fry?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Not today. Maybe tomorrow..........

Well, at least the young lads came away with something shiny to hold up yesterday, even if it was bronze ( Well done Team Canada!).  Unless you count the beer caps I tucked into my wading jacket pocket, today was a day to enjoy all that part of winter steelheading without having to get my hands all fishy smelling.
We took a chance. We were lazy to drive any farther than we had to. I think we are growing old and getting soft. The last time we hit this particular stretch, we came home humbled. If I had to place this on my list of ten, it would be dead last. The weather conditions were very much in our favor. It wasn’t winter at all. The flow data was the part we gambled on. I think we were a day early, perhaps even two. However, it was all we could afford and the day did not fall on a weekend so there was good assurance we would not see another.
It was not forgiving. It will need a big spring blow out to clear the timber that seemed to be sprinkled like extra toppings at the ice cream store. I think we left over 20 hooks in the fall down but somehow managed not to lose one float. We gave them everything. Organics, feathers and fur, the rubber molded stuff and even “skittles” of the hottest new bait on the water these days. Enough was enough.  I sat on a big old log and enjoyed a beer with a good buddy. All we could do is laugh at each other and attempted to award the other, the Grandmaster of Retye.
A fishless day heightens the senses and respect for what we have before us. The freedom to go walk and fish a river in solitude is priceless. Sharing time with great company cushions the disappointment of coming home with dry gloves. Nothing is ever a loss when we go out. We now know of a cool little local establishment that has great baked goods and the most incredible dried cured Hungarian sausages I have tasted in a long while.