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Thursday, January 3, 2013

New year family ice fishing trip

Kids still off school for New years break, I decided to take them up North for a few days despite some cold weather in the forecast. I wasn't expecting to match the spectacular results we had while trout fishing last week, as the target species for this trip was largemouth bass. Being a warm water fish, they are notoriously hard to catch under the ice, but well worth the results.

After catching some bass on that lake last February, I was hoping to top the results this year. I brought along my brand new Humminbird Ice 35 flasher, figuring 3 days would be ample time to test and get used to it. Though I'm not much of an ice fisherman, I rarely splurge on gear in that price range. But after a very busy 2 months at work, I decided to make an exception...

We got up to my favorite outfitter (Mijocama) just before 9:00 AM on new year's eve. Got settled in our chalet and hit the ice shortly before 11:00 AM. Plan was to fish the same area as last February, as he already has his first ice shanty installed on the spot. Being with my 4 boys, I knew that the 3 younger ones may have a tough time staying our on ice, so the heated shanty with 2 indoor ice holes made good sense.

I set us up with 1 jigging rod each, as jigging is by far the most effective method to catch bass under ice in regions where live baitfish are forbidden to use. Also set up my ice flasher, going from hole to hole every 10 minutes or so, giving my ,kids a chance to try it as well. Marked some huge schools of baitfish, but nothing big as far as I could tell.

The fishing was slow on day 1. Ari hooked the first fish of the outing, a smelt that hit his Rapala Jigging rap:

I managed a small perch that I tail hooked while jigging a mini Kastmaster spoon.

Jocelyn (the owner) took the time to come out and fish with us. Though I've been going to Mijocama for many years, Jocelyn rarely gets the time to fish with us, as he's typically booked solid and very busy throughout the summer. Winter is the exception. Being an outdoorsman, he takes the time to fish, hunt and trap as often as possible.

He had his sonar set up in his ice hole, and I put my flasher down in the same hole, so we can compare readings and possible action. Jigging near the bottom, he hooked up to a 13-14 inch bass that didn't show up on either of our systems. It must have been either lying on the bottom before it hit, it was his last bass of 2012:

We hit the cabin early for dinner, kids were asleep by 5:00 PM after a long day that started at 4:00 AM.
Next morning, they were up by 5:00 AM, after a solid 12 hours of sleep. We were ready to head out just after sunrise. With the temperature dipping to -14, they opted to fish inside the heated shanty. With the action being extremely slow, they headed back to the chalet to play Monopoly, which seemed more exciting to them than jigging an ice hole unsuccessfully for hours on end. After going lure hunting in the trees with Ari, Avi joined them as well.

Ari an I headed back to the cabin for lunch, with plans to switch areas on the lake, closer to our chalet. Though we'd be giving up the comfort of the shanty, we'd be right near the chalet if need be, and we'd also have a wider depth of water column to fish, being that we were adjacent to the lake's deepest hole (100+ feet).

We drilled our ice holes varying between 20, 35, 40, 45 and 55 feet. Again, many schools of baitfish at various depths marking on the flasher. Avi simultaneaously jigged at 25 and 50 feet for a short while:

He also tried drilling with my manual auger:

Jocelyn came by to visit and fish with us for a bit while prospecting new spots on the lake:

Shortly before sunset, I hooked into a nice 11 inch perch, first keeper of 2013:

With temperature dropping quickly, the sun set on another fund day on the ice:

The following morning, the ground temperature hit -25, felt more like a blistering -35 with the winds gusting at 15 - 20 KM/H. Levi and Eli didn't bother coming out to fish, they opted to do some sledding down one of the hills leading to the lake near the chalet. Avi and Ari were brave enough to come out with me, despite us not having access to a heated shanty on that section of the lake. Avi lasted less than 10 minutes, Ari maybe an extra 10 - 15 minutes. The 4 boys were all inside within less than 1/2 hour, not being equipped with the clothing I have, nor having the patience to jig holes that were freezing over within minutes.

As another group of people were coming to stay in our chalet, 1 hour alone was all I could afford, but well worth it. Though the fish weren't biting, I finally enjoyed that hour of peaceful,  quiet fishing, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, despite being out fishing without shelter on one of the coldest, if not the coldest day I've ever fished.

I highly recommend Mijocama outfitter as a prime destination for trophy bass fishing and family fishing trips. For more information on Mijocama outfitter, or to contact them, click