Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Old Man and the Ice

My friend and fellow DuPage Angler Dan "Pondboy" Byrne was born in January.  Every January on or near the anniversary of his birth he takes the day off work and goes ice fishing all day long.  I've had the pleasure of taking off work along with Dan and joining him for his day-long ice fishing extravaganza the last two years and this year I made it three.

I was joined in my ice fishing birthday well-wishing by two other DuPage Anglers; Ted "Soonerbass" Yates and Chunsum "JC1Crappies" Choi.  We met Dan at 6:30 in the morning to start out on our day with the Old Man and the Ice!

By now you've probably guessed who the Old Man is and this Old Man recorded a not at all candid but very cool video of me drilling or more technically "shaving" a hole in 6-8" ice.  I'm partial to the slow motion water that comes up with the auger once the hole is cut.  Isn't cell-phone video cool!

Back to fishing now. I made some holes and the four of us ran around dropping lures and electronics down into the holes to try to find fish and where they were holding.

Chunsum caught first and got a nice gill topside for a picture.  His electronics didn't show any other fish in the area and he soon moved from this hole.

Ted and I got a double.  His largemouth bass and my bluegill bit at the same time and came up for photos.  No evidence of schooling bluegills or fish of any kind evident in either of our holes meant we both moved on like Chunsum had.

Ted's new hole yielded a crappie....and nothing else.  The fish are very spread out and we were working to find a pattern to the bites.  I took this picture of Ted and his crappie then picked up my flasher and rod and headed to one of the first holes I'd drilled.

Ooooo...a mark came in from the bottom to check out the jig and wax worm I'd just dropped down the hole.  This mark was different from the bluegill I'd caught earlier.  It was bigger.  It took my jig and I felt mushy-weight on my rod.  I set the hook.

My rod bent down quickly like it was iron and the hole was a magnet. Big head-shakes, decent runs. I monitored my drag and held on to the rod. Dan asked me if I needed any help.  I asked him to get my flasher's transducer out of the hole.  He did one better. He got down on the ice and watched and waited for a glimpse of the fish and the chance to help land it. 

The big mark was a nice largemouth bass! I love catching all species but I always enjoy catching bass through the ice.  Usually I'm not targeting them so they are a fun diversion from smaller panfish. On top of that they're a hoot to catch on very light tackle!

After releasing this bass the bite stopped.  We made more holes and caught no more fish.  The decision was made to pack up and have lunch. While we ate lunch at a local burger joint it was decided to make the short trip to a pond Dan grew up fishing.  Someplace we could get on schooling fish and find a more consistent bite. 

Ted had to leave us here so Dan, Chunsum, and I went to the pond.  Dan and I figured out where we wanted to set my shelter up and got settled in to start catching fish.  The crappie, bluegill, and bass we'd catch here were smaller than the private pond but more consistent of a bite.  We ended up catching another 20-30 fish before we decided to pack it in and head home. 

We all had a great day fishing.  Tomorrow we would all return to the 9-5 existence but tonight Dan would get to enjoy the rest of his day with his family.  Fish were caught, anniversaries celebrated, and friendships strengthened.  

Happy Birthday Dan!  I look forward to the end of January 2016 when I'll take a day off work and join you and probably other avid ice anglers in the celebration of your birth the only fitting way we can; by drilling holes in the ice and jigging up fish.