Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ice Fishing at Peterson Pond Paradise

There is just something about Saturday's ice fishing trip that will forever be etched into my memory. The fact that I have all these pics documented in my fishing blog archives definitely will help my memory replay this picture perfect day, but even without the fishing blog I would still remember this ice fishing trip. It was just too much fun and too beautiful of a place.

Peterson pond is situated at the very top of the most scenic valley in Central Illinois.  It is relatively small in size at about 1/3 of an acre, but it packs some serious punch in terms of the size of its fish population! 

The wind was calm, the sun was shining, and it was 26 degrees outside- perfect weather for a group ice fishing outing! We got everything set up at 10:45 am and spent the next 5 hours catching fish, drilling holes, setting tip-ups, scooting across the ice, pulling in fish, building fires, burning cattails, drinking beverages, catching some more fish, filming some "staged" fishing videos, eating chili, popping popcorn, reeling in fish, taking pictures, telling jokes, staging pictures, pulling in a few more fish, then cleaning all the fish, then just for grins once everything was all packed up we had yet another new angler come on down and had to get a rod back out to catch just a few more fish! Altogether 17 people caught fish today!!! 

At one point while cleaning the fish out on the ice and being drilled by questions of all sorts from the peanut gallery I had to just say "you folks are way more entertaining than any TV show" Fortunately we did get some footage so here you go, the TV show: (insert youtube video here once edwin gets er finished)

Once we got everything cleaned up, A few more friends showed up and Edwin and Co cooked up a feast consisting of marinated bluegill chips, poor mans lobster, grilled barbecue trout, chocolate chili, turkey chili, spicy chili, and a huge spread of cheeses and crackers. I have a feeling that this was just the very beginning of one of the very best annual ice fishing get togethers in central Illinois. The only thing its lacking for next year is a catchy name.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I had to just check the ice

Sitting at church and talking to my dad and older brother and all of a sudden we had each other convinced we still probably had some safe ice after all this warm weather and rain. Before I knew it, the three of us were headed out the door early going to 'check' the ice. On our way out I happened to bump into Dave, one of our ministers who was to give the second service, is a good friend and also an avid fisherman. The conversation that took place with Dave I definitely learned my lesson from.

As he was talking to someone else, I sort of distracted him with a few ice fishing hole drilling hand motions. Then a few more come on over lets get going and various other reeling in a fish hand motions. Then I tried convincing him into sneaking out the back door and such. Basically just taunting and teasing and messing up his train of thought for the next few minutes, then it was out the door and head for home to grab some gear quick.

So after I took a turn messing with a man of God for a few minutes, God decided to have a little fun of his own with me for a few minutes! As soon as I got in the door, I felt a little rumble in my stomach and quickly realized that I was going to need a little detour. You know, it has to be hilarious watching someone run frantically to the jon! Not only once, but 3 times. I knew Chad and Dad were already waiting at rendezvous point, and here I am 15 minutes later and still cant confidently get more than a few steps away from home base!!! Once I figured out what in the world was going on, realizied what I had done, chuckled for a minute or so, looked toward the sky and said good one, I was finally able to get rolling.

We got to the lake about 1:30 and were pumped up to still have 4-6 inches of ice! The lake came up about a foot, so the edges were open and very soft, but we managed to get out on the good stuff. I wouldnt recommend ice fishing after 2 days of solid rain, but this particular lake has very little runoff whatsoever so the water remained very clean and clear. We could find the fish, but they sure were not biting well at all.

We still had a blast and managed to catch a few trout, crappie, and a handful of boone and crocket bluegill! We really had to work for the few fish we caught. We found schools of fish, but could only get about one out of twenty fish to actually nibble.

I also tried taking some photographs of myself holding a few fish. Since it was only us three out there today, I actually fished real hard. Also my fishing partners will barely hold still for 2 seconds to grab a photo, let alone actually snap a photo:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I dont think we will be able to do.....

........this for quite some time now. Stinkin' 45 degree rain!

Anyhow, here are some pics from possibly our last ice fishing trip for who knows how long? Should be some lakes that dont get much runoff that will whether the storm much better than the lakes with large watersheds.

Look at the determination on Jeff's face!

Chris can make a pile of bluegill in a matter of seconds:

Tony, where is your pile of fish???

Even though the rain and melting snow and ice is very inconvenient and messing up my winter ice fishing plans for the next few days, it actually will save thousands of fish's lives across central Illinois this winter and will make for some much better ice fishing later on! The snow cover on top of the ice blocks the sunlight which is the lifeline for the pond. If small ponds stay covered with snow for several weeks, the pond uses up all its stored dissolved oxygen and fish become very inactive before eventually suffocating to death. All ponds hold and store different amounts of oxygen, and actually that is a big key to ice fishing success! Eating is not on the daily agenda for fish with limited supplies of oxygen. Happy and well oxygenated fish are active fish!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hybrid Striped Bass Fishing at Lake Norris Video

We are starting to put together some of our underwater and fishing footage from this summer. Here is a video about raising and fishing for hybrid striped bass at 33 acre Lake Norris, an HB Featured Property. Chef Todd and Larry Harper catch monster stripers while filming a fishing show for Bill Dance Porcupine Fish Attractors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monster Monster Bluegill Ice Fishing!

Today we went fishing for huge Boone and Crocket Bluegill! When targeting these monster bull gills through the ice, it is not the typical bluegill ice fishing trip with constant action. You have to have a vexilar in every hole to mark when and what depth these fish swim by and figure out what sort of jigging sequence will make em bite. They are typically pretty finnicky, and it can get frustrating to have a huge bluegill following your bait up and down and not biting! I told these guys going in that for this sort of fishing trip that they would have to work hard for these fish and bites would be few and far between. Jonn and his crew were up for the challenge and were rewarded with some big bluegills and a few bonus species as well.

We fished hard from 8 am to 5:30 pm and the guys stuck with it pretty good for only catching one fish for every half hour or so. But when they did catch a fish, it was huge! They only caught one bluegill all day under 7 inches with this ice fishing technique. This particular lake is being managed for giant bluegill so all bluegill 10" and over are photographed and then must be released back into the lake. Smaller 8-9 inchers are kept for dinner!

I have been intensively managing this 33 acre lake since 2003 and have a management plan in place that is much different than how the typical fisherman or lake owner operates or manages. Typically when a fisherman goes bluegill fishing and catches 100 fish, he will harvest the 10 biggest he catches and release the 90 smallest back into the lake. My big bluegill management plan is the opposite, I will keep and eat the 90 small ones and release the 10 biggest ones! There is a bit more to this sort of management plan than just what fish to harvest, but harvesting the right fish is key.

Genetics play a huge role in growing big fish. I like to select my biggest and best fish for reproduction, just like folks who genetically breed pigs, cows, dogs, etc for specific purposes. If you constantly are removing your biggest and most aggressive fish from a closed system, over time you will consistently only be able to grow small less aggressive fish.

Ok, enough of the boring fish info from the lake nerd. Here are some of the pics from our Monster Bluegill ice fishing trip:

At 3 pm, I decided to do a little fishing and found a crappie hole along a channel ledge. Dick and I caught a dozen crappies in 30 minutes before the school moved on!

We also had to take a break from the bluegill fishing for a couple hours and move to a different portion of the lake to target some rainbow trout. For trout we use big buckshot rattle jigs tipped with minnow heads, and a variety of powerbait, and jig/waxworm combinations in 6-8 feet of water. We also found a school of bigger trout in 18 foot of water close to a sharp drop off.

When targeting the big gills, we also caught a couple pesky largemouth, and some yellow perch and walleye. Crappie can be caught near the bottom, but typically they will suspend and hang out well above the bluegills in the water column.

This is a nice photo, but keep in mind that all the big bluegill and trout were released back into the lake.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ice Fishing at Pfeiffer Pond

Today I took a group ice fishing down in Worden, IL at Pfeiffer Pond. Travis just purchased this beautiful pond back in 2009 and what better way to assess the fish population than to get a group of friends out for an awesome day of ice fishing and fun out on the water!

It was foggy, overcast, calm and a perfect 35 degrees outside. I absolutely love ice fishing a pond for the first time, especially with weather like this! It didnt take us long at all to find the fish with the Vexilars, and it didnt take these first time ice fisherman very long at all to figure out how to catch a huge mess of fish! We ended up catching over 100 bluegill and bass by lunch time and altogether caught well more than 200 fish for the day! I didnt have any pics of her in action, but Grandma Pfeiffer by far caught the most fish today, she was a fish catching machine!!! Here are some mo' photos:

Mini Pfeiffer did a great job at collecting all the piles of fish and helping me get 'em cleaned

Once we got done cleaning the fish, Matt and Co fried em up right out on the ice!

Here is Travis giving a little Vexilar 101 seminar:

We fished from 10 am to 3 pm and then me and my side kick Caleb Sauder headed for home. I am pretty well booked up solid for the rest of this ice fishing season, but do have just a handful of weekdays available if anyone wants to get a group of friends out on the ice!