Mister Whiskers!

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First Fish of Spring!

There’s just something about sitting on shore, on a bright, early spring day.  The warmth of the sun and the lapping of the water calming my soul.  Rods leaning up on a stack of rocks with the clickers on and the spools free and willing.  Just a hint of shad gets on the soft breeze.  Yep, spring catfish has arrived.  I’m not a big time cat hunter but I enjoy some relaxing bank fishing from time to time. Not much to get ready or put away when you get home.

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Sit Back & Wait!

Mitchell Meyers, and I decided to try fishing for Mr. Whiskers on Thursday.  The weather was nice, sun and 55 with light winds.  Sounded like a good plan to me.  Mitchell arrived before me and called me at work to let me know the fish were going to bite.   A ten pound carp followed by a 4 pound cat and a smaller cat….I was out the door and on my way.

I arrived and made my way down the rocky shore.  I found Mitchell crouched down by his rod soaking up the warm rays.  I got set up with a circle hook and shad guts.  I casted both lines out and sat back….ahhhhhh.  It wasn’t long before I heard the sound of my clicker go Ziiiiiiippppppp!  We got a runner.  This has to be my favorite part of cat fishing….the taking of the bait and peeling off of the line.  I got up from my comfy chair and picked the rod up.  I engaged the spool and turned off the clicker and let it rip!  Whiff!  Crap…..I’m not used to circle hooks.

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Good Average Fish!

I set up again and reprogrammed my brain for circle hook fishing.  It didn’t take long to get the hang of it.  I hooked up with several cats.  We ended up catching 10 fish in about 2′ of water.  It felt good to get out and soak up some sun after the long winter we had.  I’m looking forward to some warmer days and some big panfish.

Late Ice Iowa Perch

When you think about the end of March in Eastern Iowa, you think about spring and warm temps. When my dad called me this week and told me I better come up again…..I was thinking walleye.  When he said ice fishing, I couldn’t believe it.  How’s the ice?  22 inches is all…..  That was all I needed to hear.  I’ve really gotten into the perch fishing this year on the Mississippi River system.  I don’t know of any other place in Iowa that grows them to this size with the mass they carry.  If you find them, you truly have the potential of catching a trophy.

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Twice as much to love!

Same story as always.  I got up early and made it to my Dad’s place.  Yes, his egg burgers were waiting when I arrived.  We drove up river to the spot we intended to fish.  Several people had made it out on the ice before us.  Predictable…..when a perch bite happens, it doesn’t take long for the word to get out.  I didn’t know what to expect with all the fishing pressure the last week and the warmer temps.  We expected a sunny day with little wind and a temp around 55.  That is nice fishing.
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We walked out to the spot my dad had fished a few days prior.  We set up and right away my dad popped not.  It was a big one.  WOW!  I dropped down and saw a red mark on the Marcum.  I started to feel excited about the potential of the day.  Then the mark dropped back down….hmmm.  I set up a tip down on the spot and moved to the next hole.  Same thing….and again….  Okay, time to change up.  I tried a different color.  Same problem.  Changed again….same.  Again…..same.  Excitement turned into frustration.  I decided to go heavy and downsize.  I put a Custom Jigs & Spins Tungsten Chekai on.  I ended up tipping it with a J&S plastic tail bit in half to shorten it.  Yeah, the bite was really off.  The ice had over 100 people on it at one point.  It cleared down to 30 or so.
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The tip-downs did a good job for me.  They netted a third of the fish.  I lost 3 on them under the hole.  If you think a perch isn’t a very good fighting fish, you haven’t had one of these queens of the Old Miss on the end of your line.  They make some impressive runs.  When the fish did bite on a jig it was ever so light.  Just like a crappie.  They would come up even with the bait and just sit.  Either sucking it in or sinking back down.  A lot of fish did this today.  If they bit well, it would have been insane.  I’ve never been so happy after fishing so hard on such a terrible bite.  The quality of these fish is just amazing.  This is one special bite.  Even when it is slow all it takes is one fish that could be a trophy to make it all worth it.  These things look like Peacock Bass coming up the hole.
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This will probably be my last ICE post for the season.  As I was leaving my dad’s place water was flooding down the hillsides and the creeks are running wild.  The river will rise and take the ice out.  One more shot would be nice…..but I think the wife would think otherwise.
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Late…..Late……Really Late ICE!

So, I stand on the shore of our family pond on March 21…….  This pond sits a little outside of Cedar Rapids and this is three weeks later then I’ve ever been on ice in this area.  Would you?

 

Open Water?

 

Looks sketchy!

 

I DID!  14 inches out here.  Getting out is the adventure!  Stay SAFE!

Gotta be CRAZY!

Great Day With Dad!

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Pond Crappies!

What can I say about this year that you haven’t already said?  Most of the local lakes in Eastern Central Iowa are a bust this year.  Plenty of fish with no size.  Most of my outings on public water have produced little to nothing in the way of keepers.  I’ve found myself fishing mostly farm ponds to scratch the big fish itch.  I was so excited last Sunday when my Dad dropped me a line.  I was out playing with the kids in the snow for half the day.  I noticed my phone flashing when I got in.  I dialed my voicemail and waited.  It was my Dad.  ”I got a limit of perch today!”  I quickly called him back.  Yep, he had decided to try a new area on the Mississippi River and caught some really nice 10 to 12 inch fish.  I told him I’d see if I could make arrangements to come up.  Long story short….I was on my way the next day.

I arrived at about 8:45A.M.  My Dad was already to go when I got there.  He had his wonderful egg and hamburger sandwiches ready for the ride.  Some day I need to open a dinner that only sells these….man are they good…and they stick with you all day.  We loaded his truck up and ran up river.  We arrived shortly and started to walk out to the spot.  I was brimming with confidence that I would soon be blessed with these beautiful fish breaching the water to the hard ice above.  Perch to me are a real treat.  We don’t have much for perch locally in my area.  They are not only beautiful fish but they are one of the best eating fish I’ve ever had.  They taste like they have been infused with butter!  So, GOOD!

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Personal Best Redear through the ICE!

We arrived at the location he had caught fish the day before.  I started up the auger and drilled a dozen new holes.  I wasn’t going to bring the gas auger but I’m glad I did.  I was looking at 18+ inches of ice.  I was in a hurry to drop down the hole.  I put my transducer in the hole and saw nothing but bottom.  I tried fishing….nothing.  I repeated it.  My Dad had moved to a different hole.  Nothing.  Ahh, here we go I thought.  The trip is gonna be a bust.  Should have been here yesterday entered my head.  I hopped a couple more holes.  Then in the 4th hole I had a couple marks.  Up 2 feet off the bottom.  I dropped down and the mark came in line with my jig.  Hmmmm…..something didn’t feel right.  I set the hook.  A beautiful 10 inch perch came up.  Nice.  I took the fish off and dropped back down.  Bam!  Another one…this one felt large and in charge.  I was thinking bass.  I was wrong.  It was my biggest perch of the day.  A 13.25″ fatty.  My personal best in-fact.  May not seem that big but like I said…..we don’t have these in my neck of the woods.

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Personal best Perch!

So, with those 2 on the ice, I started to feel like the day may go my way.  As I continued to fish around I found nothing more.  I decided to set up a couple of my tip downs.  My Dad still had nothing.  About 30 minutes went by without a mark.  Then, one of my tip downs started to move down.  Nice and slow.  I was well away from it so by the time I got to it the fish was hooked and the rod was bouncing up and down.  I brought the fish up and it was another nice one.

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Personal best TOOTHY through the ICE!

It was a tough day but a rewarding day when it was all said and done.  The fish would come through in small pods from time to time.  I would manage one really nice flurry of 10 fish in about 15 minutes.  What a blast.  We ended up with 22 that we kept and one 7 to 8 pound northern that my Dad hooked into as I was packing up to leave.  This was his personal best northern.  He did a great job of fighting it on the 3 pound test he had on.  I also fished a new prototype jig that Mitchel Meyers and I have been working on.  It performed wonderfully.  I didn’t lose one fish on the jig.  I caught 17 of the 22 perch on this day as well.  Look for this new jig next season.  Might have to bring it to market.

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What a mess!

Likes like warmer weather by the end of next week…..I might have to run up one last time before I put the little sticks away.  It ain’t over yet!

Oh, and maybe if everyone did a little more of this………Just saying?

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Live to fight another day!

Hidden Gem!

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Careful out there!

Is it March already?  No, so what’s with this 50 degree weather…..  I was asking myself this while I was on a conference call at work around 11AM yesterday.  I decided after the call was over I would leave work and hit a small lake.  I had to stop home and get my suit….mainly to keep dry.  I was a little concerned about the ice.  The warm temps have done some damage to it.  I arrived at the lake and got out of my car.  I walked over to the edge of the lake in a shallow spot and walked out to test it.  The edge was very thin and cracked and broke but it was sitting on the lake bottom.  It didn’t really move at all.  Once I got out past the first foot or two of shore ice it got thick again.  I decided it would be safe enough to give it a go.  I went back to the car and got my gear out.

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Bubbles = Wood!

I made my way out on the ice slowly, watching for anything that didn’t look safe.  The ice was very clear and healthy looking.  I drilled a couple holes by some big bubbles frozen in the ice.  Many times this will indicate wood under the ice….not always.  In this case it did.  I could see a lot of brush on my Marcum and some fish around a few limbs.  I dropped down to them and they came up instantly and struck.  Nice…a 9 inch gill.  That felt good.  Most of the bites I’ve been on this season have been very tough.  I managed to get 2 more gills to join the fun.  Then the hole went cold and so did the bite.  I moved and drilled some more holes.  I noted a lot of holes out in the middle.  High pressure area……good places to check but not spend a lot of time on.  These spots are usually fished out on first ice to mid-season.  I checked it and I found nothing but dinks and shy fish.  I moved back away from this area and found some more air bubbles in the ice.  I started to locate a lot of these bubbles and drilled several holes around them.  I could almost visualize where the trees and brush were on the bottom from the location of the bubbles.

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Gill on the ice!

I spent the rest of my time hole hopping and catching the aggressive fish.  It’s a great strategy to use.  I had to adjust my presentation a lot early on.  I switched color, style and tails….the full gambit.  I ended up using one of Mitchell Meyers jigs.  He asked me if I would try fishing a few of them.  It was the ticket today.  It was like the lights came on when I dropped his jig down the hole.  I used a Teal and Pink jig with a purple and pink tail.  It was hot!  I like how heavy it fished as well…..I didn’t expect that.  I’ve really been on a tungsten kick lately.  It makes it hard to go back to light jigs but I’m glad I tried it.

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Mitchell Meyer Handmade Jig!

So, it was a great day….I kept 15 nice gills for a big meal with the family.  I was the only one on the lake all afternoon and it’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been on the ice.  Not a bad day.

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Nice MESS!

Personal Best! Part Two

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11.25″ Gill! 1.4 lbs

So, I went out with Mitchell Meyers on a private pond and had another amazing outing. Breaking another personal best. We had been fishing a hot spot with several 9 to 10 inch gills on the ice. The fish had stopped coming through so we decided to try another spot. We sat focused on a few fish coming through. It seemed like a ping-pong game. I would see them and then a minute later Mitchell would see them. We landed a few small bass when I noticed a huge red mark on the LX-5…..yeah, I can’t afford one of those fancy new LCD flashers yet. It stuck around for a while then…..WACK! It was a fighter for sure. We still didn’t have any snow on top of the ice at this point. I could see what looked like a hub cap going in circles under the ice. The fish broke through into my world with line wrapped around the ducer. Man, what a fish. I reached for it and pulled it safely onto the ice. The 2 days…..2 personal bests. I like it!  The gill was 11.25″ and weighed 1.4 lbs on my digital scale.

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On the Wall with you!

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Nose to Tail in a 5 Gallon Bucket!

IDO Episode: North Dakota Perch Feeding Frenzy

Here’s the latest IDO Ice episode.  James and Joel can’t keep the jumbo perch off.  Nice problem to have.

Personal Best! Part One

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Crazy on light tackle!

Looks like the ice is here to stay this year.  After last years short ice season, I’m glad to see it.  Temps forecasted in the teens all next week assuring safe ice for the masses.  Wondering what this year will offer, I hit the ice at Macbride Christmas day.  I was greeted by 3 inches of super clear ice.  Clear ice is kind of eerie but a lot stronger then snow ice.  I fished several key locations for first ice crappie and only managed 6 keepers.  Very disappointing for virgin ice.  No holes on any of the spots tried.  It wasn’t hard to find fish but the size was an issue.  I think we are on a bust year for slabs at Macbride.

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8 Pound PIGGY!

I decided to give it another try the next day.  I fished new spots that always hold fish.  Again, virgin ice at a perfect 4 inches thick.  I gave it until 3 bells and ended up with the same results…..6 keepers.  Lots of 7 inch fish around.  I decided to try another spot for wipers.  I only had my Quiverstick/241 fly reel with 2 pound test with me.  I didn’t really expect to get into them any way….

Well, long story short, I found them.  I ended up seeing huge red marks on my Marcum for the next hour and a half.  The fish ended up being a mix of wipers and stripers.  I had them responding with an aggressive cadence.  It was hit and run over and over.  I had several monsters on the end of my undersized gear.  Talk about hard to handle.  It was amazing to see these fish coming up in the clear water towards the hole and making runs right below my feet.  I wish I had a video camera….it’s rare to have this clear ice under foot.  I managed my personal best wiper of 8 pounds.  I had 3 others that I couldn’t manage to get to the hole that felt even bigger…..why didn’t I bring my rod case?  Oh, we’ll…..still a blast!

Winter?

Yep, it has finally arrived.  It feels like X-mas this morning.  The extended forecast shows highs in the low 20′s for the next 10 days.  We should have fishable ice on most smaller waters by Sunday or Monday.  I would think by next weekend larger lakes should be good to go.  Time to get new line on and check your augers!

IDO InDepth Outdoors

Another 40+ degree day with rain….not what you would expect 10 days before X-mas. This is really starting to be the norm around Eastern Iowa. While Lake of the Woods is up to 14 inches of ice, we are stuck with open water. The ice started to go on twice now and has come back off. Better weather coming next week. I’ve been keeping busy making some jigs and getting some video time in. Last season I was asked by InDepth Outdoors, to become a Field Reporter. I make posts about my outings and report the action with a few choice picks. Not much to talk about last season as most of you know. If your not familiar with IDO, they are a fishing TV show / Internet community. Great guys and on the cutting edge of it all. Something new for this years season, current information. They are filming on Monday and showing on Sunday. A tough schedule to keep up with. Most shows are filmed a year in advance to be shown the following season. I have decided to post this season on the site…..check it out and enjoy. I will post episode 4 from this season. This is the first of the filmed on Monday and shown on Sunday episodes. WARNING!!!!! They are on ICE! Don’t watch this if you can’t take it much more! COME ON ICE!!!!!
EPISODE 4 2012