Cheers to ringing in the new year! Hopefully everyone had a great Christmas and New Years. Amanda, Mabel, Hutch, and I got to spend a bunch of time with family. Mabel came down with an ear infection that cut our trip a little bit short but in the grand scheme of things it was just a minor setback. One thing that has been nice about the mild winter we've been having was travel was decent for most of the trip to and from the east side.
In between the holidays we had one of the most anticipated days of duck hunting in Michigan. The 2 day late season usually is accompanied by frigid temps, ice, and concentrated birds. This year it was kind of wide open. Still quite a few birds in the area but just not as concentrated as normal. The area that was so good to us last year wasn't holding enough birds. But with the government shutdown going on I had some time to scout. Cameron and I spent a day up the river and found a bunch of birds. Unfortunately there were several other boats who found them too. So we bailed on that plan and didn't find much else that would be good for more than a 1 or 2 man hunt. We had quite a few guys who wanted to go so it was onto the next best thing. We had a place that was holding a bunch of birds that would be a ton of fun to hunt. Unfortunately a big percentage of them were mergansers, but there were a few mallards and goldeneyes around too. We decided to go in and make a mess of it. We put out a lot of decoys out (which is half the fun) although if I could do it over again I would put out even more. We had no wind to direct them so even more decoys would have helped get birds to commit.
We still had some amazing decoying action, I've never seen any duck do some of the acrobatics those things did. One bird completely wrapped its wings around itself and came in exactly like one of the mergansers nicknames a "lawn dart". Shooting mergansers intentionally isn't really what I had planned for the weekend, but I've got no regrets. We always get the "do you eat them? ", as they have a reputation of tasting like garbage. They all get used, a couple soaks in saltwater and ground with other diver ducks, shot up puddle ducks, and pork (60% duck 40% pork) to make snack sticks is where they end up. It definitely takes some extra work to make them edible but it turns out pretty good in the end. Cameron and I decided to hunt another spot the next day hoping for a couple mallards. Our chances drastically went down when someone jump shot the roost. But we just could not get the birds to commit to our decoys. We definitely weren't in the ideal spot (since we weren't ambitious enough to drag a boat in) and we didn't have enough decoys to convince them to check us out. While it was frustrating it was nice to have some action because we really didn't expect any. We ended up with one bird which is going to Jim and Son's Taxidermy. I'd always wanted to get a common merganser mounted but it didn't feel right getting one mounted from the day before. I didn't bring the dog that day since those birds require so much follow up shooting (they are bulletproof). But I had him with me on Sunday, so the last bird of his 3rd season goes on the wall. There was nothing special about the retrieve, the bird was dead when he picked it up. But after he brought it back I realized how automatic he is on those easy ones. He knows his role so well now and while he's retrieved many birds this will be the first one to get mounted.
Now that hunting is done I'm really growing impatient about getting some safe ice in my neighborhood. Luckily I've still got the duck boat to get me out on Muskegon Lake. While it's not nearly as comfortable as my Clam Outdoors shanty, it does the job. It does make me realize how good we have it in a bass boat with a Minn Kota Ultrex and Spot Lock. Anchoring is a huge pain in the butt, especially when you don't land right on the fish and all the anchoring is done in 35-60 FOW. I'm not one to sit there and wait for them, so the anchor goes up and down a lot. Based on the current forecast I'll be back out this weekend in the boat dragging that anchor up and down looking for the mega school.
Speaking of MEGA Humminbird has new Helix G3 units coming out and SOLIX G2 units coming out. Both feature MEGA + technology which delivers 20 percent more detail than standard MEGA. Also included is dual spectrum CHIRP which allows you to select between a wide or narrow sonar beam (its included in the latest update for ice units too). SOLIX G2 will also have a WiFi feature included.
Also check out the latest FishSens blog, it will give you a little insight into what ice line to use in a specific situation. All of the Clam Frost ice lines as well as the P-Line Fluoroice copolymer are great options. I'm going to be doing these quite frequently and it is always challenging to come up with ideas. So any of you out there that are looking for specific info or topics please drop me a note and I will see what I can do about writing about it or addressing it on Dock Talk Radio.
That's all I've got for now. I'll be a busy man during this whole shut down period. Lots of projects around the house, perch fishing, and using this time to get ahead so I don't have to play catch up later.