I arrived at my friend Pondboy's house at 7AM. Today, the 21st of January 2012 I took my first steps out onto water.
The mild temperatures we had in December were finally gone and the sub-freezing temps that followed had finally frozen four inches of ice; the minimum that Pondboy feels comfortable fishing on. I was going to go ice fishing for the first time.
First we drilled holes ten feet from shore, then twenty, then we got close to the middle of the pond and measured the ice thickness; 4 inches and a bit more. Next we drilled test holes to determine where to set up the shelter. To determine where the fish were a fish-finder was employed to test for the presence of fish.
Once we found a place that showed fish on the finder we drilled another hole a few feet away and moved the finder to the new hole. If fish marked on the screen another hole was drilled again a few feet in another direction. We kept making holes until we liked what the fish finder was telling us. Three additional holes were drilled to make four in a line and it was time to set up the shelter.
The ice rods are wispy, short, and a little foreign to me, but they are rods with spinning reels and I'm comfortable with those. It took a little time but I got one tiny ice-jig hooked into a few Spikes on the panfish rod and a Rosy Red minnow on the other rod and set up the slip float's stop string.
Rosy Reds are a purpose-bred color variant of the Fathead minnow and are a new-found bait trick to me. There are local places I can get wax-worms, spikes, and other larvae for live wiggling bait but the closest place to get minnows that I know of is 45 minute drive in a perfect world. Pondboy thought outside the box and went to Petsmart. Any pet store will usually have Rosy Reds as they are a feeder fish sold for the purpose of being eaten by larger carnivorous fish; so instead of feeding them to my pet Oscar I am trying to feed them to a crappie or bass under the ice.
We fished two spots in three hours. In the second spot both my minnow float and Pondboy's minnow float dipped then pulled under the surface. I moved to set the hook in a slow and controlled manner and felt a small bit of resistance. I reeled in the line and found my jig without the minnow. Something grabbed the tail and hadn't gotten to the hook end yet. Pondboy had a similar experience.
Fish registered on the finder but nothing else bit today. Still I was amazed at how much fun it was; cat and mouse games with fish that show up on sonar when you drill one hole but once you plant your shelter they relocate. Today we didn't have what it took to catch. I have a sneaky feeling that we might try to go ice fishing again soon.