This winter is certainly testing my patience. Ice making weather has been inconsistent and always followed by extreme warm ups and rain. I'd love to just have a little snow at this point just so it would feel like winter. It hasn't been fun for ice making, playing in the snow, or any of the other outdoor winter activities people do.
We did get one little window of it and unfortunately the stomach flu hit my house like a bomb. All 3 girls were sick and I was home taking care of all of them. It was brutal but thankfully the little one didn't get it that bad and we were able to keep her hydrated. By some miracle I didn't get it and was able to sneak out on the ice one afternoon once they recovered. I'm always amazed at how it doesn't really matter what time of year we actually get "first ice" fishing seems to be about the same. The spot I went to isn't all that great, it's a lot of sorting but if you can catch them fast enough a solid limit of perch is possible. I ended up getting a limit of decent fish and somewhere between 10-15 bonus bluegills. It felt great just to be out of the house and even better to be standing on some ice. Hot baits were the Clam Outdoors Dave Genz Drop Kick in Glow Purple Tiger and a Clam Maggot Jig in Firetiger Glow Bar, both were tipped with spikes. The other cool part about this trip was that my nephews were over so it was going to be fun to show them and Mabel all the fish. The perch that frequent this area are feeding on young of year bluegills and most of them had a few in their stomachs. They thought that was the coolest part of the process and since they all love eating perch they were excited about a fish fry at a later date.
I'm still going to be hopeful for some solid ice at some point. I just know it's going to be a much shorter season than I'd hoped. But with the right conditions and a little luck I'll still be holding out hope to get on some up north big water in March. Until then I'm just going to have to get creative to get out there and get some fish. The one positive is it will allow me to investigate something I've always wanted to. I might look a little silly trying it but I'm optimistic looking stupid could pay off with some exciting fishing.
In the last few weeks we've seen the schedules of all the major tournament series in West Michigan come out. I'm relieved to see that everyone gave Cadillac and Mitchell a break this year. Other than that there isn't anything too exciting coming up. Shaun and I are going to fish the D&R Sports Series again. The schedule is pretty standard for west Michigan other than a trip to Houghton Lake in June. That should be an interesting one and I think it is going to end up being a lot of fun. It will also be interesting to see what happens with the Grand River event. I don’t believe the high water is going to drop enough to make Harbor Island usable next year but we will see. Either way it is going to be an awesome trail to fish again this year. I'll probably jump into some opens and West Michigan Bass HOTD events in between D&R tournaments. I had also hoped to do one or 2 Payback Bass events this year but none of the dates are going to work for me. We are extremely lucky to have some quality options with big turnouts in west Michigan, it is such a fun and competitive place to tournament fish.
Since we are on the topic of bass fishing, there are some new products out. First up is the new Dobyns Fred "Boom Boom" Roumbanis rods. 5 bait casters tailored for power fishing and one spinning rod are in the line with a retail of 249.99-259.99. These are comparable to the popular Champion XP series line from Dobyns. Also new although not in final production mode is the Dobyns Kaden series. These are going to fit in between the Sierra and Champion XP lines. They aren't for sale yet but if you give the shop a call and ask about them you might be able to get a really good deal on the initial test run of them.
Have I said before how excited I am to have Humminbird's MEGA 360 on the boat this year? I expect this one to pay off big time and be a lot easier to identify targets vs looking at SI while actually fishing. That has definitely helped my game the last several years but I expect 360 to have a much bigger impact. It also means I'm going to have to rearrange the front area of my boat to get another graph in. I'll be adding a dedicated 360 graph, ethernet box, and all the correct cables to make a 3 unit network this year. I know this can be really confusing if you haven't done it before so if anyone ever has any questions on what they need for networking or what specific cables they need, don't hesitate to ask me.
It just occurred to me that I never reported on how the end of duck season went. We had a huge crew for the late split and there were a lot of birds around, there were also a lot of dudes around. We killed a few birds Saturday morning but it didn't quite meet our expectations with birds just flying around scared from all the pressure. We ended up calling an audible late morning to try and get on a field that had some geese in it the day before. Our timing was about 15 minutes too late but we almost got them to do it with decoy bags laying everywhere and a terrible hide. We had another group come in hot before we could even get that all cleaned up and had them work us for what seemed like forever. It was exciting being able to work birds that long but so frustrating knowing it was probably not going to happen. They finally had enough and Cameron and I kept on them as it seemed like they were going to fly off into the Horizon. But 2 birds broke off and came headed back our way, they circled once and then gave it up as best as they were going to do. I dropped the one about on top of me, so close that Hutch wasn't interested in Fetching it. I took a couple steps over to pick it up and couldn't believe my eyes when it's one leg was sticking up with a piece of jewelry on it. It ended up being the only goose of the afternoon but at least it was a good one. I've been waiting a long time to finally get a band! We put the info in right there in the field and found out the bird was banded near Attawapiskat Ontario in 2018. It definitely made it a little more exciting being that it was from further away.
Lastly I'd like to congratulate my dad on his retirement! More free time to go on more adventures hopefully and I'm sure the girls will enjoy seeing their grandparents more often. Hopefully by the next one we'll finally have enough ice for me to take Mabel ice fishing because she keeps asking to go.