by Rick Paquin
Ice fishing fever had me. The Fishing Minnesota trip was planned for the weekend of December 17th on the famed walleye factory, Mille Lacs Lake. In this part of the country, you can usually plan on an early Thanksgiving ice fishing trip. This was not one of those years.
Warm temperatures had us worried about getting an early freezing bay by December 17th. If we were to get out on time, it would definitely be early ice. As for me, I was going to get an extra day in before the gathering.
I arrived shortly after 6:30 Friday morning and stopped in to visit my friend, Bill Lundeen, at Lundeen's Tackle Castle. He told me they were getting some perch and pike out of Cove Bay. We then drifted into a conversation about technology and fishing. Bill told me a story about Joe Fellegy, a famed Mille Lacs Lake Charter operator and outdoor writer.
When depth finders were first introduced, "Joe was totally opposed to them, he claimed it would create a bunch of 'Push Button' anglers," Bill said. A similar story was told about GPS units. Now we have underwater cameras. Bill smiled and said "Joe is actually all for these units, they are a great educational tool". I thought to myself, I can hardly wait to see how they work. Bill was so convinced that he bought some to rent to anglers coming up to Mille Lacs.
He reasoned anglers could view the type of bottom they were setting up on. He knew the clarity in the water was from 7 to 9 feet. He also knew many of the anglers would love to watch the fish and the effect the action of their lures had on them. Unfortunately for me, our conversation was cut short when two customers walked in. I told Bill "Goodbye" and headed for McQuoid's Inn. I was to meet those two anglers later.
Besides being our meeting spot, McQuoid's Inn is also home to Terry McQuoid's professional fishing guide service. I was excited to have the opportunity to get out fishing with these guys. After all, their recent first-place tourney finish and participation in PWT tourneys, is a nice resume for any guide service. Terry and Aaron McQuoid came in with their snowmobiles loaded and portable fishhouses ready. They were both enthusiastic and energetic, especially for that early in the morning. We were off to catch some fish.
We arrived at Cove Bay and within ten minutes had the fishhouses down and attached to the snowmobiles. We scooted out on a solid six inches of ice. We were expecting a couple of guys from Illinois who had made a 533 mile journey for the event. While Terry and Aaron scouted, punched holes in the ice, and set up the deluxe portables, I checked with the anglers out already.
The early birds were catching a few perch and I headed over to the last two anglers on the ice with no portable - open air fishermen. These couldn't be the warm-weather guys from Illinois. It was here I first met Tom and Phil from Illinois. After talking with them a bit and watching them with their high-vis yellow line, I thought they were in trouble. They proved us all wrong. These guys were a couple of down to earth, fishing maniacs. I did mention they should at least put a different type of line on for a leader.
I received a gift from these two. It's what separates the 'Dead Sea' gang from the anglers who consistently catch fish. It was all attitude. They fished out in the open, taking the wind and cool temps in stride. Their holes were skimming over and they kept at it. They did this 'All Day long'. Did they catch fish? You bet they did. That first day it was perch and pike. Later, they showed us hardy Minnesotans a few things about sticking with it.
|I made it back to the portable feeling a bit guilty that I had done nothing to help set-up. Terry was all smiles and ready. He had the vista-view camera down and the perch were all over. We caught perch and plenty of them. Suddenly the perch scattered and a small pike nosed up to my jigging spoon. I held it very still for a couple of seconds. He didn't seem interested so I started quivering it. He slammed it. I was so busy watching, Terry had to yell at me, "Rick, he took it". I didn't even feel the strike. |