Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hitting The Ice Again For The Second Time!

A Day On The Ice With The Kids!

We had to make a decision last night as to what we were going to do the next morning. It was the opening day of the late goose and duck season here in Michigan, we really hadn't been seeing any waterfowl in the field we could hunt. The decision was made since the girls wanted to go out ith us boys, ice fishing it was.

It was hard to get up once again at 6:30am to go out to fish. Sleep is at a premium these days and I didn't want to pry my eyes open that early to fish! Mikey kept coming to the bedroom door and whispering to me dad, dad, get up dad its time to get ready. I managed to coax him into getting the other kids up and ready before I had to fall out of bed. With that little trick I managed to get another 45 minutes of soul refreshing shut eye!

Once I did get up, it was a chore to get myself in outdoor mode. It took a bowl of cereal, but now there wasn't time to make coffee, the one thing I NEED to get me reved up for the day. By now all four kids are ready to drag me outside and to the lake. I managed to grab all the appropriate gear and head to the truck and the brisk morning air greeted me with a balmy 17 degrees! Hello! Although that was better than the last trip out two days ago when it was a whopping 9 degrees! The cold didn't bother the kids at all, at least not yet, hehehe! Their bright shinning faces were beaming lets go fishing! That would soon change! This trip was the first ice fishing outing for my youngest daughter who is seven. She loves to fish, but this will be an all new experience for her. She has never stepped foot on the ice for the winter angling experience. In all reality I didn't think we would be out more than an hour or so.

It was off to the corner gas station where they sold bait. I pulled in and sent Michael in to see what kind of bait offerings they had and the price of them. He came back and told me that they had three dozen wax worms for $4.16 and they were old! Forget it! We went to the old standby store in town where I should have went in the first place. They had the same three dozen for $2.00, now that is more like it. I knew that three dozen would be plenty, even if the fish were biting. The three youngest kids jabber jawed all the way to the lake, and while I was trying to see straight in the morning light and keep my senses about me while driving I almost hit a nice Tom wild turkey! He was right on the edge of the road when Michael yelled, "Watch out dad!" I swerved and the turkey flapped away at the last moment, the three younger kids thought that was cool! I didn't!
We finally pulled into the state park and began the task of deciding who would pull the sled, you would've thought they were after gold! This was a good thing, since Michael and I usually fight over which one is going to pull the sled, we both hate it. Little did the three others know that usually half the gear falls out along the way and you constantly have to stop and reload the sled. I guess I should break down and buy a bigger one some day, but with those three wanting to do it I will wait a while longer.

Me Bundled Up With The Video Camera

Mady, my youngest daughter, was a little reluctant to step on the ice once we got there. She had never been on the frozen water before, and found it safe to send dear 'ol dad out on the ice first. At least she is smart, send the fat guy out first to see if its safe! Then she said, " I will walk in daddy's steps where its safe." Once again if the fat guy makes it,his footsteps are safe! After about 50 steps all is well and she is off running around like she is on dry ground. Since we are the first ones on the lake we have our pick of spots to fish, of course we pick the best spot and begin to set up.

Michael Baiting Hooks

I start drilling the holes for the day since I knew they couldn't drill them and Michael was busy getting the rods ready. That would keep him busy for a while; you ever tried to bait hooks for kids while they are waiting for you to get them ready? Hehe, he! I won that battle also! That is twice I've tricked Michael this morning! I finally got all five holes drilled and Michael was still baiting hooks as I grabbed my rod and put bait on it. This trip is looking better all the time now. I put Mady next to me since this was her first time out and it didn't take long for her to get into the action!

Mady's First Catch On The Ice!

Her line wasn't in the water more than two minutes when she got a bite! She shrieked, "Daddy, I got a fish!" That made my morning! I told her to reel it in and within a couple of cranks of the reel she had her first fish on the ice, a nice blue gill! I told the other kids, "Ok, its game on now!" They now had something to beat and that was all the encouragement they needed! It is amazing how kids and adults react once you make a competition out of it. Mackenzie and Jake wanted to make it a team competition with those two against Mady and me, leaving Michael to fend all for himself. I said to him, "See how they treat you after you help them get their rods ready?" Now he is beginning to see how I feel most of the time! Hehe, he! Boy this is turning out to be a great day now, but for some reason I don't think he sees it that way!

Team Mackenzie & Jake

It didn't take long for team Jake & Macknezie to put one on the ice, she caught her first gill of the day. Then she caught a small one that had to go back. Then Jake caught a nice gill which eventually turned out to be the biggest catch of the day, he bragged all day about that feat! It was now 2 t0 1 to 0. Mady helped our team get caught back up with another nice gill along with one she had to throw back in. After that I caught one almost as big as Jake's fish, so we took the lead 3 to 2 to 0 for Michael.

Jake Getting In On The Action

Michael's Huge Bass!

Michael got mad and moved to another spot to fish since he wasn't getting any bites. It wasn't long until he caught his first one, but it was a small bass and it had to go back in. He then caught one to put on the ice to finally get on the board. Jake and Mackenzie were catching a few more but they were too small to keep. We had been there about an hour and a half and by now the three younger ones were getting a little froggy. They began to leave their rods on the ice and run around chasing each other. I got after them and told them that they needed to settle down because all the noise was making the fish spooked.

A Nice Sunny Day On the Ice

The next excuse for being restless was they were cold, so I fired up the little Mr. Buddy heater I brought along just for that very reason. You would have thought I was the greatest dad in the world for having brought out a heater! By now the sun was bright and the thin vail of clouds had disappeared completely. It was warming up nicely.

Mady Fishing & Warming Her Toes By The Heater

A few minutes later I hooked into another fish, so I yelled at Jake to come over and reel it in, now he and Mackenzie were tied with Mady and me. Mady realized that it was still a competition so she picked up her rod and began to fish again. It wasn't long until she caught one more to put us back on top again. Meanwhile Michael is catching a bunch of small ones, so he switched holes again. After another hour had passed it was time to go since we had an archery tournament to shoot that afternoon. The kids were satisfied with the fish we caught and Mady was proud that we won the competition. Jake didn't care since he had the biggest fish of the day, and Michael was ok with it since he had caught a bass.

Jake Trying A Different Hole

When it was time to leave the kids now fought over who was going to carry the little cooler with the fish in it. Now it seems as if the sled is unimportant, the fish was the prize to carry now. I let Mady and Jake carry the little cooler together trying to instill some team work concept in them. That didn't last long, after half way to the truck they were fighting over how to carry the cooler! So much for team work! Michael got stuck with the sled again! Hehe, he! I love teaching him lessons! He told me he can't wait to have some kids to do all the rotten stuff for him! All in due time I told him, for now you can enjoy helping dear 'ol dad! It was a great day to be out with the kids on the ice! As a side note, Michael got even with me at the archery tournament. I blammed it on my old and tired eyes! He's younger and he should see better than me any ways. Hey I have to blame it on something. I can't let him think that he is just simply better than I am! I have to keep the upper hand some how!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First Outing of the New Year!

The 2009 Ice Fishing Season Is Here!

With the new year looking us in the face, I had to plan something to get us out in the field since I had New Years Day off this year. Fellow Pro Staff member Chuck Parr, myslef and Mikey decided we would hook up with a friend of Chuck's and try a little ice fishing at a lake in southern Michigan. It was the same lake that Chuck and his friend tried last year with no luck, but his friend has since found out where to set up on the pike!

Chuck & I With The Up North Journal Rig!

Looking Across The Main Lake

For some strange reason Chuck managed to talk me into getting up at 5:30am to go fishing! Is he nuts! Yes, but I guess I am too, since we got up and headed out! Now this year we have the Up North Journal rig to transport all of our stuff, so that means we got to bring out the quad! I wasn't exactly hip on the idea of bringing the four wheelers out on the ice at this point in the season. We had 55 degree weather just 4 days earlier with a lot of rain. I was afraid the ice would be too thin, but I thought I would let Chuck's friend be the guinea pig!

4" Of Clear Hard Ice

I watched as he crossed the ice and punched holes along the way to make sure it was thick enough. After seeing him cross safely and him wave me across I made the mad dash across the ice to the other side of the cove. We made our way around a point into another little cove and dropped off the gear, then we went back to grab Chuck and Mikey.

The Guys Heading Out After Dropping Off The ATVs

When we got everyone back to the spot where our gear was, we began to search for the big drop off that we saw on the hydro map. It took a few holes and checks of the depth until we found the spot we were looking for. Then we set four tip up rigs, then we began to look for the deep hole. The ice was only about 4 inches thick so we left the quads near the shoreline where it was a good 6 to 8 inches thick. We found the hole that was about 60 feet deep and began to drill our holes to fish in.

Looking Through The Ice Into The Deep

Just as we got set up and began to fish the wind picked up. Chuck's buddy Jeremy set up his ice shanty and he stepped out of it at the wrong time. The wind blew hard just as he stepped out of it and the shanty became a wind sock! It went sliding across the ice! I never seen someone move so fast across the ice before. Chuck gave him a few ice spikes to nail down the shanty and that worked pretty well. After about an hour of nothing happening, we moved back into shallow water. Jeremy said, it was probably too early in the season for the fish to be that deep. We left the tip ups on the edge of the drop off in hopes of a pike hitting them. We sat for a while and we were standing around talking when Jeremy tried something. He took a small spoon and tied it on his line to scrape up the bottom with. He explained that the disturbed sediment would atract the perch. They would think it was small burrowing water creatures that they feed on making the sediment cloud in the water. It took about 10 minutes and a small school of perch swam through his hole! Within a few seconds of seeing them he had one through the ice! That was a pretty cool trick I thought. After another hour of nothing happening though, Jeremy and I took a walk back into the bay to see if we could find any good spots.

Mikey Doing His Thing!

Along the walk he would punch a hole and check the depth, after about three checks we found a nice weed bed in about 5 feet of water. We got all the gear and Mikey and Chuck joined us at the new spot. We were sitting there talking when Jeremy's rod took a tumble in the shanty, he had one on! He scrambled to grab the rod and pull the fish through the ice. It was a bass, it was about 10 inches long, but at least it was a catch. It wasn't legal size so back in the hole he went. It wasn't long until Jeremy noticed a perch hanging around his bait. The fish was nibbling at the minnow but it wouldn't take the offering completely. It finally took off and that was the end of the fishing.

Mmmmm Bait!

About that time we noticed a couple of younger kids riding two quads across the ice at a pretty fast clip. They were hot dogging it and I told the guys, someone is going to go through the ice if they kept it up. They were out in the middle of the lake where the ice wasn't as thick so they were risking not only their machines, but their lives as well. Jeremy and I took the gear back to the vehicle and we were going to come back and pick up Chuck and Mikey. While we were taking the stuff back to the truck, one of the kids on the other machines went through the ice. According to Chuck and Mikey, he stopped on the ice and then reved up his engine to pop a wheelie. When he dropped the clutch the rear tires broke through the ice and water was spinning up over the tires. As he was going through, he reved the engine more and the machine grabbed something and pulled itself out of the hole in the ice! I bet that kid had to clean his shorts out when he got off the ice! I wished I would have had the video camera rolling on that one!

Me Looking Cold!

Chuck Looking Like Frosty The Snowman!

On the way back, Chuck had to set backwards on Jeremy's machine for the ride back to the boat launch. He got covered with snow and looked like frosty the snowman when we got to the boat launch. We got back, took a few pictures and loaded everything up and headed home. We didn't catch any fish, but at least we got out on the first day of 2009! It was a good way to start the year off, and as they say, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work anytime!