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Metro Trout Fishing

 January 22, 2018

|Mike Ferrell

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

Mike Ferrell

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.

Tags:

Vexilar

crappie

ice fishing

Prairie Lakes

Importance of Ice Cleats

 December 27, 2017

|

Mike Ferrell

As the last week of the year winds down on us, old man winter has reared his ugly head. Temps have dropped and the mercury has fallen out of the thermometer.

Ice conditions continue to vary across the metro area with 5-10 inches on most lakes. Some houses have arrived on Lake Minnetonka as of late. With these cold temps, ice will be very consistent and I predict atv’s and trucks on the ice by the new year.

Fishing has been steady for sure. Panfish have been striking hungry in depths of 10-16 FOW. The lucky set up has beenClam Outdoors Drop Kick Jig with the NEW Maki Leechi plastic. Crappies have also been feasting on crappie minnows over a deadstick.

I wanted to also touch base on a sometimes-overlooked tool/safety piece of equipment that gets taken for granted: “Ice cleats”.

In my opinion, ice cleats are just as valuable to me as my Vexilar, or Clam Outdoors Ice Armor Suit. Whether there is snow or not on the ice, my Kahtoolas are always strapped to my boots.

A lot of people think that the cleats or spikes just make it easier to get around on the glare ice, sothere isn’t much value to it. Just slide your feet like your skiing or skating, right? Not so much. How sore are your legs the next day? If you’re lucky, you may have only slipped and landed on your bottom. Some people aren’t so lucky. I have personally seen it happen.

Ice is one of the most solid pieces of material. There may be a time when luck runs out, slip and fall and hit your head on the ice. Concussions or a head injury could come easily on the ice.

Ice cleats, like any other tool or piece of equipment we use come in all shapes, sizes and variations. Also, with that, you get what you pay for. I myself, along with the Ice Team and several of my fellow tournament pros use Kahtoola Micro Spikes.

They are around 60 dollars a pair, but will last a long time. They are aggressive in build. There are certainly models that cost less, but I assure you that you may have regrets after a few uses. Do yourself a favor and get some ice cleats. They aren’t just for convenience, they are for safety as well.

Have a good season! Be safe!

Tags:

Ice Safety

ice

ice fishing

Weekly report: Metro area

 December 7, 2017

|Mike Ferrell

We don’t have fishable ice quite yet in the twin cities. The weather is looking promising and it shouldn’t take long now. This is the perfect time to get your gear out and give everything a good “once over”.

Re-spool reels with fresh line. Check the drag and grease to make sure they are in good order. Organize your jig box. I like to separate my panfish jigs by tungsten and lead, I also separate my walleye tackle from panfish tackle.

I like to travel light so there is no need to bring walleye spoons when you are targeting panfish. Also, make sure your Vexilar is in good working condition. The battery should have a good charge on it.

Check your auger. If you have a gas auger,make sure that your fluids are fresh and it runs properly. There is nothing worse than pulling and pulling and you must ask someone to drill your holes for you.

Hopefully you checked out your Fishtrap or hub shelters before it got too cold out. Make sure it is functioning. I like to apply a dry silicone on the poles and slides of my fish trap. It really helps adjusting the poles. It also prevents corrosion.

Most importantly, we always stress safety equipment. Make sure no matter if it’s early ice, mid-season or late ice, bring safety equipment! No ice is safe ice. A life jacket, ice picks, spud bar, throw rope and a whistle are a must have when you venture onto the ice.

Taking care of your gear will ensure a good outing when you venture out. Be safe and make good choices.

Tags:

ice fishing

Ice Safety

Vexilar

Fishing

Panfish