Me: Hel, um hello? Dan?
Pondboy: Ok, there's 3 inches of ice at least in the small pond I scouted and the bay of the larger pond.
Me: Um......I guess since I didn't drink my liver into submission last night and slept through the new year I suppose I should get out of bed and get my ice gear from my storage unit.
Pondboy: You're reading my mind.
I'm going ice fishing. I'M GOING ICE FISHING!!!
Wait, did he say three inches?!? I thought I heard three and a half.
Now for those who are starting to ice fish and have no experience please heed the recommendation of the states I cited in my post before last who recommend waiting until you get 4" of solid ice before venturing out to fish. I'll cover why you should a bit farther down the page.
I meet Pondboy and we grab his auger, fish finder, my flasher and we head over to the larger of the two lakes to test out the ice. We both climb on alright. Ok, no problem. Let's both stand near each other and see if it creaks. No creak, ok, then JUMP.
Did the ice just make that noise?
Yes, yes it did.
Drill a hole, let's see how thick it is.........3 1/4"..........Ok, it's holding us and we jumped. Out ten feet more and drill again. Ice got thicker to a good 3 1/2". Ok, that's better. It's not four but it's better.
I head back to get my car and it's contents: my Frabill Trekker Max ice shelter and all the tackle and rods I'd need to fish like a madman. (not that I have any idea how a madman would fish mind you)
I meet Pondboy back on the ice with my shelter in tow. He had already identified a hole with decent activity on the bottom as determined by his fish finder with ice transducer.
I set up sitting on one of my shelter's seats within ice-rod's distance from a hole. My flasher was telling me the bottom which was moving a minute ago was no longer moving. That meant whatever fish was there in my sonar's cone angle before was gone once I had a rod with a tiny Slender Spoon down the hole.
I adjusted my flasher's gain to illuminate the spoon on its screen. This allowed me to let the spoon drop to inches from the bottom then shoot up a few feet on the jig stroke. This ripping motion stimulates fishes lateral lines which help put them on auto-pilot for finding what they think is food.
It didn't work to bring fish to me but Pondboy's float went down and up came the first fish through the ice of 2013.
A bluegill! Dan's first fish to 2013 is a tiny bluegill held out to look like the fish in the Frabill commercials. It made the fish look more impressive but we were just happy one of us caught something. The pressure was off for Pondboy. Now I had to work for some bites.
Pondboy got another bluegill before he suggested we leave and head to the smaller pond with the crappie. I pack up my shelter and slide it into my hatchback for the drive to the next pond.
While setting up on a spot we put Christmas trees on last year the ice made several cracking noises and spooked us both. I try to ease both our fears by theorizing our weight would be distributed over a greater area when we both sat in my shelter so no more cracking should happen....riiiight? Actually it was right. No more cracking or creaking happened once we stopped standing and concentrating our weight in a small area.
Dan and I both catch bluegills here. They're larger than the first pond but not much more impressive. Still it's nice to catch something on the first day of the year.
After releasing my bluegill to the waiting ice hole I put a fresh wax worm on my jig and drop it down to the structure watching the dense tungsten Fiskas jig drop on my flasher's screen.
Down to the tree then up, and up some more. This is when I notice some sonar signal rising up from the bottom with my jig. I tease and jig, jig, jig, lift an inch, jig jig jig, puuuuulllllll.....*wiggle, wiggle, wiggle*
My custom light power 42" ice rod bent with the weight of a fish. The ultra-light reel gave up drag once then again.
The neatest part other than being able to see the bass through the ice was the way it all happened on my flasher's dial. Just the same way I've watched others use flashers to catch any number of species.
Pretty soon it was time to call it a day. We'd been out on the ice for the first time on the first day of January, 2013. While I'm happy to wait for a good four to fish on I was only a bit nervous standing on the ice. Once in my shelter my mind was eased by the lack of cracking and the catching that followed.
I'm looking forward to what I hope is a long ice season. I'm geared up and ready and I've proven on its maiden voyage everything works and that means I'm going to enjoy ice fishing that much more.