A few weeks back I had the pleasure of going ice fishing with a buddy of mine who many people say, should have his own show on television. Why you ask? Well the following post will once again prove that my friend, lets call him "G" for the purpose of this story, is a fishing god and can in some magical fashion coax these underwater creatures to the end of your line, which in this case proved to be mine.
The reason I was so excited about fishing this time, was the fact that it had been 20 years since I last went ice fishing and I can still remember being out on Lake Simcoe with my brother having a blast as we hunted out favorite prey. Back then, I remember being in University, drinking beer and putting less emphasis towards the fishing. I remember getting sick and being cold. Well a lot has changed in that time. "G" was confident leading up to our outing and said that we would be hooking into some Slabs for sure but to be patient and to tell the wife, not to wait up.
Fast forward to an unseasonably warm January afternoon on Lake Scugog, which happened to be a day after a full moon? It seems every time I have gone fishing of late it coincides with either a new or full moon. That alone should bring you success on the water or in this case the ice but as we all know when it comes to fishing, you have great days on the water but there is also the odd time that you get skunked.
We arrived in the early afternoon and upon proceeding on the ice with "G's" truck, he mentioned that I should roll the window down. It didn't dawn on me until about a split second later that there was always a chance of going through the ice. I now knew what it was like to be an Ice Road Trucker. After speeding to our spot, the anticipation grew as I knew that "G" managed a limit the previous 2 days out on the ice. Today we were after the mighty Black Crappie.
After drilling a few holes, we were quickly set up, and our lines were in the water in no time at all. I remember a tournament angler saying to me once that the best tip he could give when it came to catching fish was to keep your line in the water. I was expecting to hold them and jig them up and down like the guys out on the ice were doing but he rigged them from the ceiling of the hut so we didn’t even have to hold them. That way when the Crappie started to hit, you would see the line get pulled sideways.
Next on the agenda was starting up the propane heater. A lot of things have changed in 20 years but I don't remember there being heat back then. This was ice fishing in style.
The action started out slow but less than a minute into our adventure we all ready had some small perch on the end of our lines. This went on for some time but most of the perch proved to be small on this day. So patiently we fought of the perch and tried to save our minnows. We were setup over some nice weeds that showed all the tell tale signs of being alive. The water depth was around the 8 foot mark and our choice of gear was ultra light rods with "fly type" ice rigs mounted on them, jig heads and live minnows that were suspended a few feet below the ice. The perch action continued for another hour or so and I was beginning to wonder if we would see any signs of our target fish. "G" assured me that it was still to early for them but they would come out of the depths sooner rather than later. Then, finally just like my fish god had predicted, we managed our first Crappie of the night.
Having only been on the hard water once or twice before I was amazed at how sensitive the bite was. You had to keep a keen eye on the rod tip and the line as the most subtle bite would move the rod and line ever so slightly. Not sure if "G" is a fish god or just has more luck. He was landing way more fish then me, he was able to see the subtle movement in the line. It seemed that "G" was manning all the lines as I was to slow with my observations. I really needed to visually see the line move a lot to catch them but he seemed to detect even the subtle movements. Half the time I wasn't paying attention and he would say fish on. By the end of the night, I was much better at it and it felt good to land a couple of big ones. The action was quite fast and furious for a few hours but just as quickly as it picked up, it seemed to disappear almost instantaneously a few hours later.
I went home with a total of 16 Crappie and one Jumbo Perch and "G" ended up with a limit. I also beat my personal best which now stands at 14”, 1 lb 12 oz. I also remember it being like this whenever we get out on the soft water together. “G” just seems to outfish everyone on any given day. When I got home I got them all cleaned up and had an incredibly tasting fish fry the next day.
Things that I learned: get a hut, gas auger and propane heater if you are going to be serious about it, other then that it was pretty simple. Dress warm as the winds can pick up at any instance. However if I was doing it by myself I probably would have had the hut in a completely wrong section of the lake where there were no Crappie.