ICE BLAST II!

Another weekend of early ice is behind me.  This Friday and Saturday I spent time at ICE BLAST II down in the charming small town of Sigourney.  This event is an invite only event put on by Tom Moore.  Tom is one heck of a nice guy.  I’m not just saying that because he invited me.  I’m saying that because I mean it.  He is a Fisheries Biologist that has a true passion for the outdoors.  He is so driven by his love of the land.  You don’t meet many like him.  Tom has done a lot for the area around him.  Lake Belva Deer, yeah he had a lot to do with that.  It was his baby.  It’s a gem of a lake that has a lot in-store for the future.  He manages several ponds in the area as well.  That was our groups focus for the weekend.

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Dinner is served!

Our first day goal was to get enough meat for a fish fry.  Mission accomplished!  We had a hay-day!  The morning was perfect.  Not much wind and when the sun came out from behind the clouds it felt like a fernace.  The fish were every where and the were biting.  We had a large number of fat and sassy gills coming up to join the party.  Most were 9 to 10 inches with a few over 10.  A crappie would surprise us now and then.  It was nice to have an easy bite with such quality fish.  We fished in the pond basin over 20 to 22 feet of water.  The fish came through at 12 to 18 feet.  We had a major high pressure on us.  I didn’t expect it to be this easy.  I was fishing a Custom Jigs and Spins Chekai Tungsten jig tipped with a pink and white finesse plastic tail.  I had a number 8 plastic that I bit in half to make smaller for the gills.  Check out the pics…..that says it all!   Fish Fry…..?  CHECK!

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Great Start!

We decided to hit another pond.  It would be a small pond that is catch and release only.  Large crappies and large gills would be the target.  As all of you know I have an interest in pond management.  Tom, as I would learn, has some very interesting management techniques.  He likes his crappies and he likes them BIG!  Several of the ponds he manages have large crappies in them.  I’ve always seen them as very difficult to manage.  Usually they end up stunted and over populated.  He uses them in many of his ponds as a top predator.  Just like a bass would be put in for this.  He uses larger adult crappies from other ponds and puts them in.  Big crappies are cannibals and will eat all species.  They are very different from the 8-10” crappies.  I’ve never seen this done on so many small ponds before…but he’s doing it.  The area around Sigourney has one of the largest populations of ponds in Iowa.  It’s nice having all of this at his disposal.  He has the freedom to move the fish around where they are needed and remove the fish if they get over populated.  Good problem to have.  Back to the fishing….It was early afternoon and the wind kicked up between 20 and 30 miles an hour.  It was getting nasty fast.  The fish at this pond were very negative.  We managed a few nice crappies and a few big gills.  I would say the weather got us.

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Big Mama Paper Mouth!

Day two we went back to the first pond.  John Campbell came down to join us.  He wanted some footage for the news and his new show that plays on Sundays at 10:30 am.  It was nice talking with him about things since he retired.  This added some more entertainment value to the day.  You will notice in this post that I don’t have many pictures.  It wasn’t because of the lack of nice fish.  It was all because of the people I fished with.  I’m usually not a big fan of larger group fishing….but these guys were simply the best to be around.  I was entertained by great stories and joking around all day long.  It never got old.  It was relaxing.  My intensity subsided on this weekend trip to somewhere in Iowa.  Pictures just didn’t seem to be that important after a while.  I just enjoyed it.  After a little filming on this pond we decided to hit a big fish pond.  We took the caravan to the next pond out in the middle of a field.  When we got there the wind came up and it was brutal.  The snow started to fall and blow sideways.  What happened?  The wind switched to the northwest.  We popped some holes and the fishing began inspite of it all.  John Campbell began to roll the tape and we did what we could.  The fishing was tough.  We managed some nice crappies like the dandy 14 incher pictured.  Some bigger bass made for some excitement.  I started to feel some confidence in this spot when the group decided they couldn’t take the wind any longer.  So, we pulled up and moved out.

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Here’s looking at you kid!

The next property we hit had two ponds.  We dropped a few guys off to fish for some eater crappies and we went to a tiny pond for some bigger crappies.  This pond was probably less than half an acre.  We popped a few holes and started to fish.  It wasn’t long before Tom had one up on the ice.  Nice!  This was a new one on me.  I’ve heard of fish right under the ice but I’ve never experienced it.  Here it was.  The fish were coming through 2 to 3 feet below our feet.  I loved this way of fishing.  Landing 12 to 14 inch crappies right under your feet is pretty cool.  I now know the difference between surface clutter and fish right below the ice.

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Plastics and pan’s!

We ended the day a little early.  Everyone was sick of sitting out in this bone chilling wind.  We had our evening fish fry while we watched the Colts come back to win against the Chiefs.  It was fun but you could tell everyone was pretty tired out.  Crazy couple of days.  6 ponds in a day and a half.  Each one was it’s own adventure.  Thanks again TOM!  What a great event!

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HE ATE THE WHOLE THING!

Just a couple of parting things to share.  You guys that want to go fish Belva Deer and want a place to stay.  Check out the Belva Deer Inn.  It’s about 5 minutes from the Lake and is squeaky clean, comfortable and quiet.  It also has a great HEATED fish cleaning house.  It has water and a fish grinder.  One of the best set ups I’ve ever seen.  I also had some of the best licorice I’ve ever had.  It was old fashioned licorice that was to die for.  I got it at the H & M just up the street a ways.  Oh, it’s sold out right now.  What’s up next?  Dangerous weather that ‘s going to keep me home.  I’ll be joining Tom again next Friday I imagine for another round then I plan on doing some local fishing for a spell.  I wonder if we will be hitting midwinter slump early this year?  Only one way to find out!

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