Monday, February 18, 2013

Ice Fishing Whitefish Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin

The cold dry weather has me itching to go ice fishing. This is supposed to be the heart of my ice fishing season here in Central Illinois but the lakes are anything but safe for walking on... so to scratch my itch I headed up North to Sturgeon Bay with my older brother and my dad...

We left Peoria about 1 pm on Friday afternoon and arrived at the Comfort Inn in Sturgeon Bay at 8 pm...after checking in we headed to Woldt's Corner right by the hotel and feasted on the Friday night fish fry....they had a bluegill special which I cant say I have seen at a restaraunt before, but I stuck with the perch...


We then headed to Walmart and got our fishing license and off to bed....The next morning we grabbed a waffle and some eggs in the hotel lobby at 6 am and met up with Brett Erickson and Tom Brown III and also Steve Ryan and his buddy Bob...by 6:15 we were headed to the boat launch to gear up for the day of whitefish fishing!!

Brett brought his 4 wheelers, but we also took the truck out about 3 miles onto the bay....kind of eery, but very cool....had to get a pic of the truck in 80' of water....




It was much colder than the weather forecast had predicted, but we had some good big shelters to fish in...the day started at 2 degrees, and warmed up to about 12....


Whitefish is what we were after, and we fished for them anywhere from 50' to 100' deep!! Just basically used jigging rapalas and bounced them off the bottom imitating gobies....also about 10 inches above the rapala we had a swivel and a single hook with a wax worm on it...about 50% of the fish came on the wax worm!!

It took a couple hours to get the hang of the jigging technique, but once we got the hang of fishing in deep water we started putting some very nice fish onto the ice in a hurry!! Here is Chad's first one:


When I went to check on Bob and Dad and bring them a 10 am pre-lunch sandwich, they already had a pile of fish on the floor:


So that prompted Chad and I to kick it into gear and find a hot spot...we drilled quite a few holes and finally found a zebra mussel colony in 60' of water that had a pile of fish on it...



Brett and Tom were bouncing around all over picking off a few fish at each spot...




Steve was bouncing around alot too, we all stayed withing a couple hundred yards of each other looking for the whitefish highways...you see there was alot of depth variation and there was whitefish in just about every spot, but when you found a highway they were traveling through you would find 100's of them....


Joe caught the first Burbot...they were a very nice bonus...very cool!


Then we feasted on jalepeno deer brats and sirloin burgers for lunch!! The sun came out and there was no wind so actually 12 degrees felt real nice and we had a blast just hanging out on the ice... the rest of the afternoon was alot less serious and alot more casual ice fishing...the limit is 10 whitefish per person and we were fast approaching our 8 man limit....



Not only did we catch alot, but we caught some absolute monster whitefish!! I dont usually post pics of myslelf, cause Im usually the one taking the pics, and I definitely dont like posting pics with such a cheezy smile, but this whitefish was just too big not to showcase....


Here are some group pics from the day.....




We  cleaned all our fish out on the ice and headed in about 5 pm...We headed up to Egg Harbor and feasted at Casey's Smokehouse BBQ....I stunk pretty bad like fish, and Chad was wearing sweat pants and Bob his heavy boots, but we were hungry and smoked BBQ was just a few miles away and way too close to go to the hotel first....


The next day we did it all again, but didnt catch quite as many whitefish, but did get several more burbot....




We cleaned up the fish and were on the road back to Peoria by 3 pm....by 11 pm I was showered and fast asleep in my own bed....I still stink of fish though, I dont smell it, but everyone I was with today asks me if I been fishing recently....haha, kinda funny....

This was our guide Paul Delaney... He runs Late-Eyes SportFishing Guide Service and fishes all of Door County waters year round!!


Let me just say the Paul is first class top notch fishing guide... He not only knows how to fish, but he knows how to teach and have a good time while doing it!! You book a trip with Paul and I guarantee you wont be disappointed and you will learn tons....

Ice fishing Sturgeon Bay is on my mind.....I can't get it out of my head.....I am hooked and definitely going back every year, but might even try to sneak back in March of this year yet! Potentially they will be ice fishing for another 6 weeks up there....

So anyhow everyone has told me how good whitefish are to eat and I just simply had to find out for myslelf.....this morning while scaling 35 whole fish to take to the smoker, Brook cooked me up some blackened whitefish in the skillet for breakfast....That sealed the deal for me, I am going back ASAP...I know I will run out of whitefish meat within 2 weeks and need to go back and load up on some more....Anyone want to go?

Oh yeah, Echo Valley meats in Bartonville is smoking and packaging 35 whole whitefish for me and it only costs about $60....I had to scale and wash them first, but I cant wait to get them back on Friday....I also prepped and vacuum sealed 30 whole whitefish for grilling and filleted another 20 or so for frying....

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