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Metro Trout Fishing
Early Saturday morning, Alie and I ventured out to the overpopulated Chaska Courthouse pond. For those city dwellers that enjoy ice fishing, this lake has most likely been in their conversation.
Opening morning is certainly like no other. As anglers, we are all used to waking up early and heading out for that quiet morning bite. This is not the case. Anglers arrive specifically to gain access to a closer parking space.
Well wouldn’t you want a good spot on the ice? Yes, that plays a good role, however not the priority this morning. We as anglers also tend to be somewhat territorial when it comes to our fishing spots. Again, anglers that have fished opening morning on this 10-acre pond know that most fish traps and hubs literally touch each other.
Portable fish house villages are established. Much of the small two-part pond is covered in shelters. It is certainly a sight to see. The pond sports a small bay which is split by a long point that opens the rest of the main lake which is significantly deeper. Our targeted area, believe it or not was still available. We chose to set up in about 8 feet of water near the point from past experiences.
This lake is stocked regularly as a “put and take” lake. Starting in October, the DNR stocks upwards of 1,500 trout on top of requesting additional adult surplus trout that the DNR can provide. The small body of water hosts a vast quantity of year class fish and species. Be ready to bend rods on Rainbows, Brooks, and Brown trout when fishing here.
We tend to arrive fairly early. Being a unique outing for us, we make a big “to-do” about it. We load up our Clam Outdoors 4000T hub shelter in our sled along with the rest of our gear. By gear, I am talking about grilling gear to cook breakfast.
This year we were in company with another couple, so we made cooked bacon, eggs, and hash browns before the official opener to fishing. Our guests were quite impressed!
For fishing these trout, I like to keep it simple. We generally pick a shallower area to fish, anywhere from 8-13 feet of water. A basic medium action Dave Genz Legacy rod with 6 pound Frost Line from Clam Pro Tackle does the trick.
Then, the presentation of choice is a 1.5″ white tube jig. Seeing these trout on the Vexilar FLX28 is not like seeing other species. Trout are very fast fish and they prefer to chase their prey when feeding.
So, watching them on the screen sometimes is very rapid flashes and they are gone, or they hit and they hit hard! On this particular day, we were only treated with top siding one decent Rainbow trout, but marked several throughout the morning.
It is a neat and unique experience fishing this small lake for the opener. If you ever have the chance, I would recommend trying it out. Remember, you have to be open minded, and understand that it is okay to share the space with other anglers on this particular day as they are as well!
Warm Crappie Afternoon January 11, 2018
On Wednesday Alie and I spent the balmy afternoon fishing a west metro prairie lake chasing crappies around. The warm breezy weather reminded us of late ice conditions despite the 15 inches of Ice we were drilling through. With the mild conditions, the crappies cooperated in their aggressive predatory fashion.
What most people fail to realize is that crappies are very territorial and predatory. They are certainly underestimated as a predator, as they are normally deemed panfish.
When fishing these shallow prairie lakes or farm ponds, you must be prepared with the right equipment to be productive. You also must come geared to cover some ground, our augers certainly help us stay mobile. The 6″ K-Drill equipped with the Clam Drill Plate and Milwaukee fuel drill is super light and makes drilling holes quick and efficient.
The great thing about this combination is that it has enabled Alie to drill her own holes and be more independent on the ice. Following up after holes are drilled, we grab our VexilarFLX-28’s and start hopping hole to hole.
We know the lake is shallower than 15 feet, so we set the knob to low power and the 20-foot range with the gain all the way down to 1. What this does, is keeps the weed clutter to a minimum, but also reduces the size of our jigs and the 4″ sunfish that come under the transducer, looking like a 50″ Muskie.
Using our Vexilar in these settings allows us to work each spot quickly. We drop down each hole, because these crappies roam these shallow lakes and it’s rare to find them schooled up.
For a quick presentation, we would drop down a small Northland Forage minnow and about halfway down the water column, a mark will show up on the Vexilar and hammer the lure.
Sometimes nothing, so if nothing happens, we would give it a minute or two and move on. Another great presentation we were using was the 1/28th oz. Northland Tungsten Fireball jig with a Northland Impulse Blood Worm.
Small jig, but big plastic presentation kept the larger crappies coming and the smaller crappies would deter from thebait. After making moves and roaming these large flats for the crappies, once we dialed in a steady bite, we would then drill more holes in a tighter area to pinpoint more fish.
With these tackle presentations, Alie and I were using theClam Ice Team professional series rods, particularly the “Matt Johnson Edition”. These 25″ light rods are equipped with a spring bobber that would trigger the lightest bite. Smaller crappies were extremely aggressive, however those larger 12″ plus crappies, pushed that spring up just a touch to indicate the hook set.
Fishing these prairie lakes and farm ponds are always very rewarding if you’re willing to put in the work with the right equipment.