Finally! It seems every time I've been crushing the perch and my dad comes out, we end up struggling. Sure we've always ended up with a good pile, but we always end up working hard and it never lives up to my hype. I had high hopes this year was going to be different and since we were going to an area of the lake I hadn't fished this year we didn't know what to expect.
It was also going to be the first trip of the year on quads and we had just been dumped on with some major snow storms. Travel on the way out was absolutely terrible, the drifts were tall and we were getting stuck. There were some pretty powerful slush pockets out there too. After a much longer commute out there than expected we finally got started. I popped a hole right on the waypoint and they were there. My dad went to work right there and I started cutting a bunch of ice in the area hoping to find the mega school. That is a constant struggle for me with ice fishing, I am always in search of the mega school. I have no problem leaving a perfectly good school of fish to find an even better one. Luckily most of the time it works out pretty well.
I never really found anything too special but we did hone in on 2 separate zones close to each other. We were mostly fishing outside of the shanty since it was pretty nice out and it was easy for us to move between areas. A couple times we really had them going and it was nice to be able to sit next to each other and just hammer them.
It felt good to get out of there with 100 in early afternoon. We had finally broken the curse and while we didn't have a bunch of jumbos, the numbers lived up to the hype. That is always the tricky part with fishing, so many times you have to say "you should have been here yesterday". I always put a little extra pressure on myself when I take people. It’s important to me that everything goes smoothly, we catch them, and we have fun. Especially when I take my dad or someone who I would like to hang out with on the ice. It's hard for me to sit still out there unless I'm catching them on every drop and I'm always kicking around the idea to explore a new area.
We headed back out the next morning for a few hours. The previous day brought a big thaw so travel was little easier and it was also going to be warm all day. You always have to take advantage of warm weather on Muskegon Lake for exploring. So we headed off to new water on the quads. My first fish of the day was one just under 13.5 inches and a true jumbo for Muskegon Lake. I could see it was a big fish on the Humminbird Helix 7 and was surprised when it actually turned out to be a perch. We caught them good that day too and was a great ending to a super fun weekend!
I'm also seeing some interesting trends out there this year. The perch have really been on the move and it has been really rare to catch them on the same spot 2 trips in a row. Luckily they haven't been difficult to relocate and they have been in thick enough schools that they show up on the fish finder really well. This isn’t always the case as often times you can put a bait down there and they just show up. This year however if I don’t see them stacked or at least see that the bottom is “looking soft”, it isn’t worth dropping down. However I've had to change the areas that I usually look for them. Typically I've been using my Lakemaster chip to guide me around the contours out there. But this year the fish have been off the breaks and into the deeper basins. My favorite zone in the past been 35-40 feet but this year almost all my action has been going on in deeper than 45. Keep that in mind if you make a trip to Muskegon Lake this year. Clam Outdoors Speed spoons have been the number one producer this year. Mostly tipped with spikes or minnow heads as they stay on the hook extremely well when constantly moving. But big tungsten with spikes and perch rigs with minnows have also been really good.
Other than ice fishing it’s been a great winter. Last winter was a disaster with Mabel being sick all the time but it appears she has built up her immune system and this year has been healthy. It’s been nice to be able to get outside with her and Amanda when it isn’t too cold. We’ve gotten to go on some beach walks, outdoor events, and even a fake ice fishing trip with the shanty in the back yard. I can’t wait for next year to take her for the real thing.
I’ve also been busy working on some blogs for FishSens. I’ve been getting around 1 a week out and they’ve been about a bunch of different topics. Keep checking into the FishSens Blog for updates and hopefully you’ll find something that will help make you a better fisherman inside.
It looks like we are going to have ice into March this year. Thoughts of open water have been happening more frequently but until then I’ll be making the most of that ice coverage. See you out there!