I’ve been too busy fishing this past month to blog. The River dropped down below ‘action’ stage several weeks ago. But a blast of “Inuit Summer” around Halloween sent water temperatures plunging into the mid-30s. A matrix in which high water became cold water resulted in substantial change in walleye/sauger behavior–bypassing the normal ‘stair step staging’ these fish typically exhibit with seasonal change in Spring and Fall.
Hopefully when the ice goes out in late March there will be a return to normalcy with the bite starting in deep water wintering holes and ‘stair stepping’ to ever-shallower depth contours as waters continue to warm.
We haven’t seen a semblance of this ‘normalcy’ since the Spring of 2018–and conditions haven’t been textbook sa-weet since Dec. 2015. But consistent success is turning ‘fishing’ into ‘catching’.
This past month has redefined “stair step staging”. The fish moved, all right–from 3-7′ to 21-23′ in essentially ONE big step, with saugers holding in slightly deeper, faster water as they went through this transition. A basic tenet of Fishing 101 is “follow the food”. This is exactly what those marble-eyes did!
With water temps in the low 30’s walleyes didn’t feed often. But when they wanted to eat, they really chowed down. I cleaned one fat sauger with SEVEN two-inch shad in it’s gullet which still felt the need to chomp a purple 3/16 hair jig.
Essentially, we’ve been ice fishing in open water for about a month. With water temps holding at about 34.4 the fish only eat when they wanna eat .The odds of a harmonic convergence between fish and your hook are long when only on the water for 3-5 hours in a 24 hour day. This, and the fact that it a helluva lot of work, is why I no longer guide ice fishing…an pulled the pin on open water too after an absolutely awful 2019.
This is a major reason why I haven’t blogged. Fun fishin’ is less fun when you tell everybody where/how you’re fun fishin’. Where I was fishin’ this past month there were zero to maybe a half-dozen boats. Condtions were borderline brutal. No guarantee of being able to fish another day. I ‘winterized’ my E-Tech Evinude a half-dozen times this month. Pretty simple. Just play with the high speed idle lever for a couple minutes before leaving the boat ramp.
Yesterday, I finally took winterization to Step 2 : gear lube in the lower unit.
All this entailed was removing the top plug and sticking a zip tie in the hole.
Nice, clean gear lube was only about an inch below the plug. No need to pull the bottom plug and change out the gear lube in a brand new motor.
I run aluminum props. The prop which is on my Blue Baby had a rough year.
Only a couple dings and nicks–per blade–but all three blades are pitched in different directions with different bandage–the outboard version of a cauliflower ear. Torn between repair or replace. Leaning toward the latter and storing the prop next to other trophies in the man cave as a tormented reminder of what an awful, AWFUL year 2019 has been…so far.
Only a month remains ’til we turn the page. If you check my previous blog, you’ll see its about getting ready for hardwater. Guess this blog is a prequel to my last.
The Creator alone knows when our last day on the River will be. I’m truly thankful to have been around for 2019–which was an S.O.B.–and hopeful but realistic about what 2020 will bring.
My blogs this past year have been about as regular as an old guy’s bowels…but I am an old guy. Apology is not in the vocabulary. When you’re an old guy you’re thankful for a fart instead of a shart and not about to miss taking a cast to worry about it.