For the week prior to the Onalaska Ice Get-together, the planets, stars, moons and everything else lined up perfectly! I got to spend 4 straight days fishing with one of my best friends Scott Hunter (Milemark_714) on Pool 7 chasing eyes, sauger, and perch. Well, I also need to add education to that list.
The weather forecast has been a broken record and just keeps repeating “clipper, clipper, clipper…”. Knowing we didn’t have the most opportune conditions, we both wanted to take the new Marcum LX-9’s camera/DVR for a serious test run on the river. Both Scott and I have a number of “spot-on-the-spot” locations that do very well for us. With good solid ice across the channel and around/between wing dams, we finally had the opportunity to see what made certain spots so hot. A few of these are shown in the recently posted video links I have under the Ice Fishing Forum for the LX-9 Test video – /wp-content/uploads/bbu_images/fishing/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=1214176&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=93&fpart=1&vc=1
This proved to be a very educational trip for us. For years, we have had a little spot about 3’-5’ in diameter that produced nice gills, but also very plagued with snags. Suspecting it was a stump, you can only imagine our surprise to see a bar stool wedged into the bottom with the four metal legs sticking up.
For the walleye guys, I would pay close attention to the bottom structure of the 3rd video. Those “dunes” are incredible for holding walleye and sauger all year long. We’ve had great success over the years fishing a few “flats” between wing dams that at face value, are FLAT. Well, so I thought. After running the camera down and looking at this area that I thought was structure-less, was actually structure-FULL. Just a flash back to an early episode that James filmed – Ice Fishing 101 – The Dual Beam Advantage, it’s easy to see how & why fish can go undetected with electronics when they are sitting in those pockets. The transducer will have the strongest returns from the top of the dunes in conjunction with the returns from the deeper pockets. With minimal separation, the fish can very easily disappear into the bottom without being shown on a locator.
Besides playing, we did manage to get some serious fishing time in on some stubborn fish. Taking advantage of the ice conditions, we concentrated on areas between wing dams in the 16-18 fow. If you go out over ANY moving water, take every precaution and use common sense. The ice will be thinnest in heavy current and where the water rises over a wing dam. (if not small pockets of open water). Knowing areas of pea-gravel and sand proved to consistently hold fish.
Wednesday through Friday, had very similar bites, with the different weather conditions. Spurts of activity lasting 20 minutes or so would give way to an hour of lookers. Scott and I managed to throw the spectrum at them. With most baits having the same result. Fish would rise 2, 3, and sometimes up to 6 feet off the bottom to only sit and look. During the flurries of activity, jig raps in W-5 / W-7’s , Spoons, and most jigs in common walleye colors would get bit.
But during the slow periods, a pan fishing tip from Bret Clark proved to be a hot ticket on good size sauger and a few nice eyes. Running various Custom Jig & Spins Diamond Jigs with a 1” gulp in smelt, chartreuse, or glow kept us busy. In addition to the sauger snapping them up, we found the larger perch in the area was very willing to cooperate with them as well.
About the only good thing that could be said for Saturday’s blasting winds we dealt with is Friendship & Lunch amongst a small part of the IDO family. Our small get together on Lake Onalaska proved to be a dismal bite. But I truly believe most were there to socialize and enjoy the friendships we develop more so than fishing.