With ironic cruelty, the winter has dealt a couple late low blows; suspending local fishing and rebounding with equal but opposite energy.
Any ice fishing will likely be fruitless, painful and dangerous in the low lands. Fishing in spite of the conditions is still possible and curiosity is a good enough reason to try. But when you check the ice and repulse away in fear its best to ignore these useless instincts and turn down your common senses, just enough.
A score of 1-100, 100 being impossibly perfect fishing and 1 being unimaginably tough- I might of gave this location a 8 or less at the beginning of the season, at least in terms of experiences there. Without expectations of larger bodies freezing its a good opportunity to scout out the fish for next season. After our flood in 2013 certain areas have been completely changed in and around my river. Fishing hasn't recovered in this spot or the topography changed somehow resulting in unpredictable fishing and loss of fish. After about 10 trips of not catching a targeted species its easy enough to jump to conclusions like ' I'm wasting my time' or ' I'm an idiot for doing this' but thats just that useless logic and instinct kicking in.
Part Two : A old hope.
Took a chance on bigger water and the ice was better than expected. Remnants of the breakup were visible and there were some spots of thin ice and black holes from the snow. Extremely unlevel ice, one hole flooded out a low spot. Got a wet foot from a thick slush area that didn't make things easier, a big slushy area that looked like it could be an open crack sat right where I wanted to fish. Going to try from around 2pm to sunset this afternoon then maybe check out another lake.
Stay safe or don't go out on anything that refroze like this, a lot of the ice is bubbly and white so it could be unpredictable and weak in warm weather.
Part Three : Over The Top Or Topple Over.
The ice was good yesterday and the weather was OK, great if you like blowing snow. Checked the semi firm slush area and found about 3 inches of a half-froze shell on top of about a inch of water. Ice thickness under the shell tapered down from about 3'' to 1''. Would of been a bad idea to check the day before since the thin area would be peppered with large fishing holes that were covered with slush, just stepping near could of been enough to break through.
Toughest day yet, from about 1:30-4 PM had about five bites and two fish. Most aggressive bite still barely got hooked, didn't even get inside the mouth, the hook was on the outside of the lip somehow. Pretty much the same story with a trout, missed the bobber going down and it ran with the bait long enough that it should have swallowed the hook but it was just inside the top lip like it was being jigged. Fishing there is sounding like an offer that's easy to refuse but it would be nice to get something good to close the season, still haven't got anything big but I know I lost one or two.
Part 4 : A tale of two fishing trips.
With better weather but worse line I'm all but calling it a season. A few lessons from the last trips were re-learned and need to be noted just to secure them in my memory.
One is to stop trying to set hooks with ultra lite rods, don't touch it if you can hand line the fish, just get better at that and bring something to protect the index finger.
Two, don't drop things down the hole because its annoying.
Three is to not work yourself into a rut, exploring a little can pay off and it might help take some pressure away from good areas.
First day I hooked all three bites with a decent fish, second day caught a few and got what was probably my best fish there, still just under my goal but a good fight, felt like the fish had the upper hand.
Another trip is sounding difficult and line is getting short and spliced, it was 100% of my tackle expense this year (under $2 and not worth it). One break off this season, reminded me of my fourth lesson/rule that I followed, retie after one big bass or two mediums/ three small, why not. Last,don't underestimate or hurry a fish.
Part 5 : The Hot Tub
Had a tough trip, or 5 mini trips, didn't fully prepare and forgot a couple key things. Starting out sick and lazy doesn't help and over doing things without eating isn't as good of an idea in hindsight. The clouds and wind were the brick wall at the end of the day. Walked on river,pond and lake ice.
Feeling beaten up and something like my core temperature never recovered, maybe a little frostbit.
Need to start focusing on not abusing the hands and knees. Also, this time of year the temperature fluctuates from extreme highs and lows with unpredictable/variable weather. Going with light clothing made hard trips harder this year. Emergency hand warmers should be carried.
New Season Tally :
1 3'' Bluegill
11 black bass