I can honestly say that I have never had a bad day of fishing. There are good days of fishing and there are great days of fishing. Surprisingly the amount of fish or size of fish has very little to do with it for me. When I think about some of the truly great days of fishing I have had they all have something in common, adventure and good fishing partners. Last weekend I had a great day of ice fishing.
I had gone up to my brother Kevin's house, near Crosby, MN and the plan was to get out and do some fishing. I arrived Friday evening and my brother had made some beautiful steaks with mushrooms and onions. We had a few beers and played some old school Super Mario Brothers before heading to bed. When we woke up in the morning we woke up to five inches of fresh snow on the ground. Kev had recently bought a new tractor with a snow blower on it so I decided to snow blow his driveway before we headed out for the day. His driveway is a few hundred yards long so it took about a half hour but was very easy to do. While I was clearing the driveway Kev and his wife Thia along with Thia's dad Gary and Gary's girlfriends daughter Gabby who is 8 loaded the truck and we were all set to head out for the day.
Kev had looked on the map and found a lake that he wanted to try and we headed out. We stopped off at a bait shop called Oars and Mine to get some minnows and supplies and maybe a little local insider information and they told us about another lake that would probably be worth our time. We changed our destination and were off to find this lake. It took about 20 minutes to get to the lake and along the way Kev realized that he forgot the sandwiches at home. Anyone who has ever ice fished with me knows that along with fishing poles having snacks and food is essential ice fishing gear.
We found the lake and the road leading down to the lake was completely snowed over. It hadn't been plowed once this year and there was anywhere from 15-20 inches of snow covering the road. I didn't even make it off the main road and I was stuck. Luckily Gary had a tow strap in his van and was able to get me out. We thought about going somewhere else but Gary thought we should give it one more try with him leading the way. Gary's van had a higher ground clearance than my Trailblazer and he was able to cut a path that I was able to follow. The road down to the lake was about a 1/2 mile long and we made it down to the parking area. from the parking area it was still another 100 yards down to the lake and the snow was even deeper on that road so we decided to park and walk from there.
Gary had brought his portable ice house and all his gear and we loaded the sled up with all of our fishing gear. Kev, Gary and I started pulling the sled and made it down to the lake, that portion of the pull was all down hill and really wasn't to bad. When we got to the lake the real hard work started. The 5 inches of fresh powder wasn't to bad but with each step we would take you would break through the crust of snow and sink in another 5 inches. It was hell, we made it about 50 yards the first pull before having to stop and each pull after that got shorter and shorter. We wanted to go about 500 yards across the lake to get to a deep hole but only made it about 200 yards before deciding to stop and and set up our house.
We got set up and no sooner had we dropped the first line in the water my sister-in-law Thia had a fish on. After a short battle she pulled a nice Northern out of the hole, we all got out lines in the water as fast as we could and before you know it we were all catching crappies. Lots of little ones, a few that went back in the hole. Gabby caught a couple of crappies but was more interested in witing her name in the snow so planes flying over could read it. Thia got another small northern and then Gary pulled a nice northern up. We were all having a great time and Gary showed us the advantages of using a Vexilar fish finder.
After a few hours on the ice we had 14 crappies and two nice northerns to take home. we all knew we were going to have to drag that ice house back up the hill so we decided to do it sooner rather than waiting til dark. When we reached the shore line we were all gassed and not looking forward to dragging the house up the last 100 yards, up hill. As we stood there dreading the last steps Gary mention that he probably had some rope in the van and from the edge of the lake straight up to the parking area through the woods wasn't that far. The snow in the woods was about knee deep and the hill straight through was a lot steeper but if we pulled the house through the woods with one of the vehicles it would be a lot easier. We tied together all the ropes and tow straps we had and tied it to the back of my Trailblazer, with my brother steering the house through the woods and me driving the house came up the hill and in to the parking lot without and issues. We packed up and headed home and started talking about heading back out for the night bite.
When we got back to Kev and Thia's house we all kind of collapsed into their couches. Kev and I filleted the fish and got a good amount of meat off all those fish. We were thinking about frying them up for dinner but nobody had the motivation to start cooking. We decided instead to head down to the Oak Lawn tavern just down the road. The Oak Lawn is a small little bar just off of Highway 18 heading into Brainard, MN. They have a great menu and actually serve chicken gizzards so Kev and I split an order of gizzards and I had a fried pork tenderloin sandwich with a basket of fries. It was a great day of ice fishing and a great day with my brother.
The next morning we got up at 6 and headed out to a different lake that had plowed roads on it and was easier to get out on. It was an odd morning and there was a heavy fog across the lake. we spent about 4 hours out that morning and only caught one very small perch. I guess we just didn't work hard enough that morning.