Saturday, December 28, 2013

Silent Night, Holy Night

December 24th I only had to work a half-day.  I hurried home from work and headed to a lake that is new to those of us in DuPage Angler's ice fishing circles.  I was told to expect decent bluegill there.  I love catching bluegill.  Some fight with way more moxie than they have size.

I had a tip where to fish from my friend Pondboy.  I parked, dragged my gear down to the surface of the ice.  Drilled three test holes and dropped my flasher's transducer in the first. WOW!  The bottom activity was impressive.  I checked the other two holes and they were almost as good as the first.  I quickly set up my shelter and prepared to warm up from the eight degree temperature outside.  

First drop, jig, jig, jig the orange Custom Jigs and Spins Ratfinkee.  One mark followed the jig up the water column.  

A decent gill.  That's a nice start to an nice fishing outing.  I rethought my jig at this point.  It was dark, the water was murky with maybe three feet of visibility.  The fish had to see or more importantly feel what I was offering.  I clipped on a small Salmo Chubby Darter and dropped it down the hole.  I ripped it up in the water column then let it drop to almost the bottom, wobbling seductively as it fell.

The minnow shaped Chubby Darter is good but not magic. It isn't always a "drop the darter down the hole and bring up a bass" lure.  The darter wobbles down then gets followed back up. Sometimes nipped at, sometimes just followed.  Eventually the darter started being ignored.  I took that as a clue to change up jigs to work the bluegills that were obviously the marks that weren't bass.

I tied on a new jig I had purchased this season; a Clam epoxy/tungsten jig in glow-white color with red eyes.  I hooked on three waxies to act as a enticing, twitching tail.  A quick drop down the hole and I had a mark follow me up, up, and I felt a thump signaling a bite.  Hook-set!....into nothing. Reel up to check the jig and I find out one waxie was gone. That makes sense, well two waxies will still entice fish to bite. Well, two would if another didn't just get grabbed.  Another drop and another waxie became food.

Fortunately I had spikes! Spikes are smaller larvae than wax worms. They'd be harder to grab onto and pull off my hook. I put on four spikes that had been died red and dropped the big glowing jig down the hole.  A big mark moved in from the side. It rose up with my jig and just nailed it when I paused it in place...

...BULL!!!   WOW what a GILL!!!  Definitely my biggest to date.  Now where's my tape measure? Drat!!!  No tape.  Ok, I'll hold him up to my medium power darter/spoon rod's butt section and see how long he is then measure at home.  (at home measure 8.75")  Nice, thick bluegill. Any bluegill you can lip is a good bluegill!  Time to release the fish and drop the glowing jig and spikes down to the bottom and jig, jig, jig....Bluegill.

Not as large a gill as the last but it ate the glowing white jig and got hooked.  Eventually the big jig started to repel fish so I made the switch to a smaller Fiskas Marmooska in glow white color.  A smaller jig might get the fish biting again.  Another nice gill.  Maybe the smaller jig was the ticket.

A big mark bit and pulled drag.  The Fiskas dug in the tough upper lip of a largemouth.  Hooray for the small jig.

Looking at my flasher as I released the bass I saw a nice mark moving in on the center of my flasher cone.  Drop the small tungsten jig down and twitch, twitch, WHAP!  This fish pulled drag and I thought it was another bass. 

This gill was even bigger than the first!!!  I lipped it easily and in my excitement I forgot to measure it against the same rod.  I took photos from all angles and the scale pattern on its back was beautiful.  

I'm bummed I forgot to measure it.  I'm pretty sure it passed nine inches but I can't prove it.  Still it was really fun to see it come up and out of the hole.  Oh, see the flasher dial in the picture above?  The thick red mark at 7-o'clock is the bottom. The thick green line counter clockwise around the dial is a fish swimming toward my transducer position.  If I wasn't busy taking pictures of this fish I could have tried to catch the one on the screen that was six inches off the bottom.  It's nice to have that kind of problem.  :-)

One more bluegill would make around 40 total for the day, or the rather for the night.  I looked at my phone after I snapped this picture.  It was 1:30 AM.  Wow!  I just stayed parked in one productive spot on a lake I had never fished and had a fantastic night.  

I did everything I could do inside the shelter with the heater on high before I had to lift open the tent exposing me to the cold winds on this silent night.  It was silent on the ice.  The only sounds were made by my micro-spikes or the gear I was quickly loading into the sled.  All was dragged off the ice and up to my waiting car. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!