Have spear, will ice hunt
A buddy and I were able to get out recently for what was probably our final ice fishing excursion, although it ended up as more of an “ice-hunting” trip than an ice-fishing trip.
The Lake Superior bay we walked out on was still holding about a foot of ice, although the top half was pretty soft. A mile away, the southeast end of Whitefish Bay was lapping at the edge of the ice pack that would probably be gone within a couple weeks, depending on what Mother Nature had in store.
We had to make a considerable effort to get out to our remote fishing spot. We don’t own snowmobiles, and even if we did, the trail was a slushy, muddy mess. But there is a spot where a county road comes very close to a very steep hill that we were able to slide down with our portable ice shack, rods, buckets, power ice auger, spud and, most important of all, a whitefish spear. By lowering the packed shack with a long rope, we were able to get most of it down to the ice without losing too much along the way.
We hook-and-line it for whitefish and menominee in this shallow, clear-water spot, but since it is legal to spear those two fish, we always bring a spear just in case the fish aren’t interested in biting. On this day, it was a good thing we packed the spear, because very few of the fish showed any interest in our teardrops and wax worms. A couple of them went so far as to push the baits around the hole without putting them into their mouths.
After a while, we resigned ourselves to the fact that the fish weren’t going to bite and we grabbed the spear every time a fish would come into view. My partner and I did pretty well with our throws, and both of us remarked about how much fun it is to use a spear instead of a fishing rod. It’s much more like hunting than it is fishing, and given a choice, I’ve always favored hunting.
We went home with a fish dinner and a reminder of how important it is to keep many arrows – or spears, in this case – in your bag of tricks when you’re headed outdoors.
The sun warmed up to 55 degrees, making our trek back up the “cliff” a muddy and slippery one, but the ice held on, giving us hope for more springtime ice fishing, something that usually isn’t possible in all but the far northern reaches of our great state.