What a bust of a winter we have had (although as I'm writing this we are finally getting another snow storm). While many of you probably thought the unseasonably warm weather was great. I for one was not a fan. This is the time where I get out and fill my freezer, but honestly it does a lot more than that. It keeps me sharp, even though I'm fishing for a completely different species of fish and drilling holes in the ice. At the end of the day the # of fish and quality of them in my bucket still directly relates to the decisions I made on the water that day. There's no doubt in my mind I am more "ready" and trusting of my instincts when it comes time to step on the front deck of a bass boat.
I did manage to finally get out on Muskegon Lake (twice), the first trip was a bust but the second trip I found a school. Unfortunately the ice became unsafe before I had the chance to go out and beat on them a few times. I also found a rock bass honey hole, and while that is kind of strange they are a blast to catch and I don't mind eating them from cold water. I may have to exploit that a few times next year if we get the ice. The other thing that was nice about getting out the last few times is I got to use my new shanty. I picked up a Clam Nanook Thermal, not only does it keep me warm when Muskegon gets windy and nasty. But more importantly it makes it really easy to be mobile when I'm on the hunt for an active school of perch.
I also had a chance to head north for a weekend and explore some new territory. A couple of us headed up to my bud Matt's cabin in Onekema and had high hopes of some jumbo perch. With the warm up we left my 4 wheeler at home and knew we would be in for some long walks. The lack of snow on the ice would make pulling our gear easy though. I had a little local info so we started there and it didn't take us long to start catching fish. Unfortunately they were small perch or "smerch". Unsure if they were mixed in with the big ones I decided to drop the FishSens SondeCAM.
The water was really clear and the clarity of video was amazing. It also helped I made a custom stand for my tablet and was streaming the video right onto it via the camera. After camping out for 40 minutes and keeping a close eye on all the perch moving through, it was evident we were only around smerch. I was getting some cool footage at least! Speaking of footage keep an eye on mine and FishSens social media accounts to see it.
We kept moving and moving, fishing everywhere from 10 to 50 feet and seemingly finding smerch everywhere. It's like the bottom of the lake was alive with them! We never found the school of jumbos we were after, but it wasn't for lack of effort. I brought 2 drills up and 5 batteries, which drill a ton of holes with a 5 inch auger. We drained them all by the end of the day. However It was time to regroup and fish an entirely different area on day 2.
Day 2 was more of the same but we found an area with some quality perch mixed in. Would have liked to spend a couple more days there to get things dialed in. Ice fishing is always about finding that one magic hole and the pursuit of that is what keeps me drilling and drilling. We didn't find it this year, but I guess I will just have to make the trip up there next year.
Other than that I have been busy working with Hutch on his training and working towards finding a new company or 2 to work with in the coming year. That is really going to be a big priority for me this offseason and I'm definitely devoting some time to it. Brandirawks is also going to be completely redesigning my website with a fresh new look. I'm really looking forward to seeing how that will turn out!
Also since it's still show season I've got a couple reminders. This weekend ClearH2O Tackle is having their open house (the 27th and 28th of February). If you are going to be anywhere near southwest Michigan it will be worth checking out. Darrin carries all of the good stuff in his shop and he will have some good deals for the weekend. If you can't make it but need some tackle (like we all do) just give him a call and let him know what you need. Ordering online is an option too, but you won't see everything the store has to offer or that Darrin can get so it is worth the call. I may be down there one of the days, but I will for sure be at the upcoming shows in Grand Rapids (March 17th-20th) and the D& R Sports Show (March 25th and 26th). I'll be representing Humminbird and Minn Kota in Grand Rapids and Lew's in addition to the previous 2 at D&R. Looking forward to seeing a lot of you there!