It's 50 degrees, pouring down rain, and the ice is on the way to being unsafe as I'm typing this. I'm not even going to pretend that I'm happy about it. I had big dreams for March ice fishing, but unless things hold up north those thoughts are fading fast. The good news is we aren't far from getting the boats out. But before we get to any of that, I've got to wrap up what went down on the hardwater.
This year was nothing short of amazing for the perch fishery on Muskegon Lake. There are some strong year classes of Lake Michigan fish that are driving this fishery. There are so many of them it can be challenging at times. There have been so many instances of catching good ones on every drop that the thought of moving if things aren't absolutely perfect is always on my mind. We like to call it "getting greedy", sometimes it pays off sometimes it does not. But the numbers of fish on the Humminbird was just crazy. I think we have a few great years ahead of us.
Despite it being really good fishing, they kept me on my toes. We couldn't just sit in one area all winter. We had to stay on them on all winter and spent time fishing different parts of the lake, drilling lots of holes, and at times making really long walks. There was a period of time though that the quad finally made its appearance. We had enough ice for a few weeks for safe quad travel in most parts of the lake. So finally I got to use my quad, trailer, ramps, and all sorts of other fun stuff. It made that mile plus distance much easier, it was also nice to never have to unhook the shanty from the machine. As far as catching the fish when we got them Clam Outdoors Speed Spoons ruled. The bite I had really liked on big tungsten in previous years was really not that great. It was just impossible to put the speed spoon down most days. Another key was the Clam Frost ice braid, that stuff is so thin compared to many of the other ice braids. I could beat anyone's bait back down to the bottom because it had so little resistance in the water. I bought minnows a few times but for the most part spikes, mousees, and perch eyes worked just as well. That means far less effort in taking care of them and less time spent at the bait shop. It kept things simple and simple is usually a good thing in fishing.
I also went shallow for a day with one of the guys from FishSens Technology. He's originally from Tennessee so I was curious to see how he would react to being on ice for the first time. Unfortunately he was way more confident on it than I was hoping and it didn't take him long to figure it all out. When conditions are right for the camera it is an absolute game changer and such an amazing learning tool. You not only can see exactly how to convince a fish to bite but what direction they are coming from, what bottom composition they prefer, and what species/size of fish are around. The species part is very interesting because it allows you to change your tactics based on what kind of fish are around. It also is always a surprise at what is actually swimming through. One of those surprises was a bass I would estimate at around 3.7, that was a lot of fun!
I've also got to give a big thanks to all the support I've gotten this winter from companies that work strongly with ice fishing. It's been fun to get more involved in the ice fishing world this last couple years. Working with THE ice fishing company Clam Outdoors has been absolutely amazing. Having top of the line tackle, rods, accessories, and let's not forget Ice Armor and insulated shacks to keep me out there. I feel very strongly that this has helped me catch many more fish this season (those Jason Mitchell Meatstick rods are the real deal). I've also got my fish finding gear covered with either the FishSens SondeCAM or Humminbird Helix 7. Anything else I need the guys at ClearH2O Tackle have me covered, those guys love to ice fish there so they have all the good stuff and the knowledge to help you find what you need. One final thought is I fished with a bunch of fun people this year. It's not free for all since we still have to keep those special spots from getting blown up, but it's a lot easier just go have fun compared to bass season.
Since we are starting to move into bass season, let's dive into some of the upcoming events where you can see all the new cool stuff. It starts off with the Grand Rapids Ultimate Sport show March 15-18. I'll be there with Humminbird and Minn Kota, we will have all the good stuff. Hope to talk MEGA imaging and Ultrex with a bunch of you. From there the ClearH2O open house is the 23rd through 25th. If you haven't been down there yet this would be a great spring to come check it out. I should be around, so if you do make the trip I'll make sure you get set up with some of the most productive setups for west Michigan. Finally after that, March 30th and 31st is the annual D&R Sports Spring show. There are going to be some great seminars at that one. I'll be there talking Lew's all weekend, David Fritts can't make it this year. But I believe FLW Tour pro Mark Rose will be working the reels with me.
I was going to dive into the tournament scene a little deeper in this one. But I think I'll save that one for when the bass fishing hype really gets going. But all of our schedules and lakes are out over here, just waiting to see if there is a Memorial day open or not. It is shaping up to be a year of amazing opportunities and fun opportunities.
Everything else has been chaos. Between Mabel getting sick a few times and both Amanda and I getting sick, this winter has been a handful. Sometimes I wonder what we ever did with our free time around the house. One thing that has held steady is every time we plan a big family day, Somebody gets crushed and we are all stuck inside the house. For those reasons I'm looking forward to spring and hopefully a lot less germs. The 3 of us and Hutch are all ready to get outside and have some fun.
It should be an interesting few weeks as things continue to thaw and new fishing opportunities emerge. Hopefully a few of those coldwater Lake Michigan species will even make an appearance, I'm excited to see what happens.