It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down to write one of these. It was nice to take a little time to just focus on adjusting to the new baby and hunting. It has been a busy and productive fall and I’m looking forward to the next couple weeks of just keeping it simple and hanging out with the family. But between the last blog and this one a lot has happened so here we go!
When I left off last time I was just about to head back and fish one of my favorite tournaments of the year, the Jigs and Pigs Open on the Portage Chain. Bryan and I spent a day out there before the tournament looking for some new water and revisiting some old stuff. They were definitely snapping and we had a really good day. A couple of new stretches of water produced a lot of bites so we were really excited about the tournament. There was a good turnout this year and a bunch of guys who can catch them so it was going to be fun.
We actually put our first keeper in the boat while idling through the channels. It wasn’t big but it was nice to have one before we actually started fishing. Our hopes of lighting them up in this new area quickly turned to confusion as we couldn’t get any bites. Long story short, that area never kicked out a keeper all day and it wasn’t the type of place they could just leave. I don’t have answer to why it was off there but luckily we had lots of other places to fish. Our next stop produced a missed opportunity on a good one, that was it for the small area and it was time to keep moving. That’s what I like about the chain is there is a lot of 5 minutes and out type places.
We filled a limit on the next spot including a 4.86 that bit a jig. We flipped it in the boat on 12 pound P-Line Tactical, that stuff is strong! The next spot produced our first smallmouth and a good cull with a jerkbait. From there things turned to a struggle. We continued to catch fish but not the right ones. There were also a lot of boats on places I really wanted to be. Usually that isn’t such a big deal in this tournament but we definitely had to alter our game plan because of it this time.
We caught a bunch of fish the rest of the day and had some really good flurries. Unfortunately we were culling by ounces and not pounds. It was just impossible for us to get the right bites. By the end of the day we had compiled a respectable bag but it didn’t matter because dudes caught them. We had somewhere between 15 and 16 pounds and finished in 5th I think. It was definitely one of the best weigh ins I have seen there. I think everyone had limits which isn’t always the case in the fall there, hopefully everyone had as much fun as we did.
Duck season and deer season have been in full swing. This year duck season was very up and down with hunts all over the place. The last 2 weeks which are usually my favorite were absolutely brutal for me. We had one hunt where my dad went down in the water with a hurt leg. It also happened to be in the low 20s that day. We were able to get out of there without calling for any additional help but I wasn’t so sure that would be the case at first. It was a good reminder of just how dangerous things can be. We still have the 2 day late season to look forward to, those historically are some of the best hunts of the year. I’m anxious to see what the weather is going to give us and what we will have lined up for birds.
Deer season ended up being a major success. I really didn’t hunt that much but when I did the action was often pretty good. I had 3 close encounters with my bow and ended up letting an arrow fly on one of them. Unfortunately I missed the buck I grunted in on what wound end up being my last bow hunt of the year. Firearms season would swing the odds in my favor though. Opening day was one of the most exciting deer encounters I’ve had. I watched a really nice buck with a doe for most of the morning. But they never made it to where I would have a shot opportunity. After not being able to glass either of them for an hour I decided they had either bedded down or gone out the back side of the cover. With the wind in my favor and soft snow to walk in I elected to put the sneak on them. The plan worked perfectly and I made it to the cover. The thought to crouch down and let out a few soft grunts crossed my mind. But I assumed to the deer were on the other side of some cattails and brush. I chose to not alert them to my presence and that ended up being a major mistake. I decided to keep working to get around some cover when the buck got up 10 yards in front of me and peered around the bush he was hiding behind. As I found him in the scope he bolted behind the bush and I was never able to see him again to get a shot off. I got around the bush as fast as I could and had the opportunity to take some long shots if I wanted too. But instead I chose to watch as he hightailed it out of there with the doe. Looking back on things I definitely could have changed a few things and killed that nice buck. But chalk it up to my inexperience in stalking big game and that it just wasn’t his day to die. While I didn’t collect any venison, sneaking to within 10 yards of a mature whitetail buck was still exciting. The rest of my hunts on the east side were uneventful but luckily I had a buddy who was going to take me out to a deer rich environment on the west side. I was able to fill 2 antlerless tags over here and am extremely grateful for the opportunity. While neither of those hunts involved any exciting circumstances like grunting a buck in or sneaking up one. They were moderately ranged, well placed shots, and I couldn’t be happier to have a bunch of venison in the freezer. It was also especially cool for me to bring the deer home so Mabel could check them out.
I’ve also been busy the last couple weekends working some ice fishing shows at ClearH2O Tackle and D&R Sports. There’s no question there is a lot of excitement going into ice fishing this year. Clam Outdoors has some cool new products going into this year. My favorite has got to be the new Nanook XL, a 2 man shanty that’s light enough to be pulled by hand. They made it bigger than the previous version and also added side symmetry doors to it. Life is going to be good out on this ice with it this year. The Humminbird Helix ICE units were very popular also. For those of you looking for a fishfinder that can pull double duty on the boat and on the ice, the Helix All Season package is an awesome option. It comes with everything to set it up both ways.
Some other news is that FishSens has decided to focus their marketing efforts on science and inspection. While it is still an amazing tool for angling the new direction will not include a prostaff. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I had with FishSens and the relationships that have come about because of it. The camera really taught me a lot about what my electronics were showing me and some really important things about smallmouth behavior. Not to mention it has been an awesome ice fishing tool. I wish FishSens nothing but the best and I know we will definitely keep in touch.
That’s all I’ve got for now, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and happy New Year!