Monday, December 9, 2013

Early Ice Trout Report

A few friends and I made it out on the ice in search of Trout for the second time of the season on Sunday.  With morning temperatures in the single digits and wind chills hovering around zero, it was a real wake up when we stepped foot onto the ice.  This year is the exact opposite of last year, as I was still chasing Trout with the long rods until mid December last year!

We started our morning in the Manitowoc Marina, hoping to tangle with some Brown Trout or Steelhead.  I was very surprised to find nearly 5 inches of good solid ice covering the entire marina!  We set lines in a good spread and even tried a little jigging.  

Our morning bite was nonexistent as we never even had a bump until 10:30!  After moving a few Automatic Fishermen in hopes of finding some active fish, one of the recently moved rods popped!  We could see the fish bobbing the rod as we took off towards it; unfortunately the fish freed itself just before we could get to the Automatic Fisherman.  This was unfortunate, as it had been a struggle to get bit this morning and had we been closer to the rod we may have been able to ice the fish.

Due to the poor fishing in the morning, we decided to make an afternoon move up the lakeshore.  Our move paid off as I had a Trout bite my spawn sac as I was pouring Ice Stopper Solution into my Ice Stopper bobber on the first Automatic Fisherman!  At first I just figured that my weight had gotten caught on the bottom or something, since I had only had the spawn sac in the water for 30 seconds.  I quickly realized that I had a fish on as I felt a second tug on the line.  I set the hook with my hands and grabbed the rod off the ice to begin fighting the fish.  After around 10 seconds the fish shook loose.

Despite losing this fish that would’ve made a great story, we were already glad that we had made the move and now had high hopes for our afternoon.  We finished setting lines and took a seat along the banks of the river to keep our noise off the ice.  As we were talking about the Packer’s chances of beating the Falcons we heard that familiar thwack of the Automatic Fisherman arm slamming down on the base!

My dad and I ran over to the Automatic Fisherman to find the rod bent firmly down and slowly taking drag.  Right away I thought it was a Brown Trout as it was not peeling line like the Steelhead typically will.  To my surprise a nice buck Steelhead showed himself below the hole.  This fish came right up to the hole, almost as if it had no clue it was even hooked.  Once the fish saw the hole, it was off like a rocket!  After several good runs in multiple directions, I was finally able to guide him into the hole and scoop the beauty onto the ice!

This was the first buck Steelhead my dad had witnessed being caught through the ice, which he thought was pretty neat!  After taking a few pictures of this Arlee Strain Steelhead, I sent him back down the hole and set the trap back up to catch another one!

My dad was thoroughly confused about the difference between a Rainbow Trout and a Steelhead, so we had a nice chat explaining how a Steelhead is simply a Rainbow Trout that lives in a lake and is completely silver until making their way into the rivers where they morph into their spawning colors.  I also explained to him how males will develop a kype, (Hooked Jaw) and actually return to the lake after spawning where their colors will go away along with their kypes.  My dad found this to be interesting, as he had thought that these fish died after spawning like a Salmon.

With the snow really beginning to come down heavy and knowing that we didn’t want to get caught in Packer traffic, we decided to pack it up for the day and head home.  Although we didn’t light the world on fire with action, we were once again able to land a beautiful Steelhead and enjoy our time on the ice. 

This trip will most likely be the last until after Christmas, as Christmas shopping, family get togethers, and family time will consume my near future.  I look forward to getting down to Milwaukee for some ice fishing action after Christmas in hopes of tangling with a monster Brown Trout!  Good luck to all that venture out in the near future!

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