Where am I fishing next? Find out here!
(spring, summer fall 2000 logs) (spring, summer fall 1999 logs) (1998/1999 winter logs)
Best of 1998-1999 Ice fishing pictures!
April 8 Lake Louise
Awesome! What a great time we had at Lake Louise this weekend. I went fishing and camping with 5 other friends. The weather during the day was just AWESOME! In the sun, our thermometer read 60 deg! Of course with the beautiful sunny skies during the day, comes the clear cold nights when temperatures hit 20 below! The northern lights were out with a great show as well. Oh yeah, we even caught a few fish!
Well, Martin takes the lead in the big fish through the ice category this year. He nails a HUGE 36 inch, 16.3 pound lake trout. I can't wait to get the photos. I managed four lake trout over 20 inches, with the biggest going 30 inches. I guess the 30 incher was 6 to 8 pounds. It was a bit thinner that the other fish I have seen. I released all of mine. The hot ticket on the lake seemed to be a leadhead jig with a white 3 inch power bait grub tipped with whitefish or herring. I used a larger chartreuse 7/8 oz lead head jig for better control with 12 pound test line. You could drop to a 3/8 oz jig but after battling the 30 incher and looking at Martin's 16 pounder, make sure you can sense the jig on the line you are using. I used 12 pound line but it was a bit scary...oh , yeah I broke my line once but that was my fault. The problem is not so much the fish, but the thick ice. As the fish nears the ice, they tend to just go ballistic and run hard. Well near the surface, we could constantly feel or line wearing a groove in the ice at the bottom of the hole and when the fish changed directions, the line would be stuck in the groove and you would feel the ice chip away as the line grabbed the edge of the ice and broke free from the groove.
The best fishing came in the early morning and late evening hours though we did manage to pick up a few fish during the middle of the day. A few fish were picked up using Krockadiles and the crippled herring spoon.
The lakers were interesting to say the least. While several of the lakers just simply hammered the lure, many of the fish were a bit pickier. We were in about 30 feet of water. So it was important to have a sensitive rod, a relatively heavy jig head on light, but not too light of line. The typical sensation we got on the strike was as follows. First, you'd feel a tick and wonder if it was a bite, but setting the hook yields nothing. Almost always, a few second later, you get tapped again. Of course you set the hook and usually on the 2nd or 3rd attempt at hitting the fish, the fish would be on. I would say that virtually everytime someone said "I think I had a strike," we got a fish. Sometimes it took several whacks at the lure by the fish but once the lakers decided to take the lure, they continued to attack it until they were hooked.
But to put the great weekend into perspective, We put in approximately 100 man hours into the fishing for Lake trout this weekend for Lake trout and the total tally was 8 fish. It certainly wasn't fast fishing. Of course we probably could have cut out a lot of dead time but not fishing during unproductive hours, but it was so nice out we fished anyways. But that's why we go with a group of friends. The weather was nice, we hardly saw another soul, we caught a massive fish (at least by my standards), and boy do I have a tan!
The other fishing we did was for Burbot. Now, you can't keep any on Lake Louise so we had to hunt around for lakes off of Lake Louise that seemed to hold good numbers of burbot. We found a few small lakes in the area and managed some nice burbot. I may even head back to give it another shot before the end of the year. I hear the ice goes out the first week of June so I'm hoping there will still be safe ice come the end of April or the first of May. We'll definitely be back!
April 1 Mat-su Lake
Tried something different and headed out for a bout of night ice fishing. We went to a spot where we have caught trout and burbot at night. Well Doug and I tried for about 4 hours but ended up catching only two tiny burbot...bummer! We were using herring for the Burbot on one rod and single eggs and shrimp on the other rod for trout. This lake produced well for us last year, but the ice fishing jinx appears to be firmly gripping me this year. Well, I can't wait. This weekend is the long awaited Lake Louise trip. Hope fully someone in our group will score a monster fish! We are hoping for a 15 pounder but we'll be happy catching a few decent fish I am sure. I evened order whitefish for bait from Fairbanks and flew it down. I'm taking this trip as seriously as possible! Well we'll see, whether we catch fish or not, I'm sure we'll have a good time. We've got at least 6 people going and we plan to set up our tents right on the lake! Last time, Erick and Martin caught fish inside the same tent they were sleeping in! Too cool.
March 25 Big Lake & Susitna Pike Lake
Of course we had lots of warm weather and it was hot! Of course we got a couple of feet of snow the next day. Still when I got to Big Lake, there were puddles of water that reached up to the doors of a F150 pick up. I didn't want to venture it alone. So I kicked open holes that Doug and I had opened the week before. Maybe an eight of an inch of ice covered the holes. Using a jig and shad body, I managed to land two medium dollies of maybe 18 inches. Of course I released all of them. The lake is melting in a hurry. Still there is lots of good ice on the lake. I think the roads are just the low spot so all of the water is accumulating there. I think I've made my last ice fishing trip to Big Lake.
The good news is there is still more fishing to be had. A buddy of mine crossed the Su and hammered a few pike. Their biggest of the day was 12 pounds but they broke their line once and had a metal snap swivel bend straight. Sounds like the pike are still feeding! Shallow water seemed to produce better than deep water.
Finally we are starting to plan our trip to Lake Louise. Should be a blast. Up north winter still should be firmly in place.
March 18 Big Lake
Martin, Doug, Erick, and I head out for Big Lake to see if we can't catch a few of those big dollies we have been seeing through the ice. Well, I know why they call it fishing since we sure didn't go catching! Boy oh Boy, has it ever been frustrating this winter at Big Lake. Its not because we are simply not catching fish, but I swear we are being taunted by the Dollies!
All this year, but especially the past several weeks, we have been going to Big Lake and not catching a thing! But to make matters worse, we always seem to see several fish that are at least 7 pounds if not bigger cruising through our holes. About half of the fish swim lazily by the lure without taking a look. the other half comes screaming full speed up by the lure and either stop and swim away or nudge the lure with the side of their head and swim off. Very few have clamped down on the lure. Most of us watch down our holes and watch our lures. If we didn't I bet we would think there were simply no fish in Big Lake. But, when we look down, all the large fish appear very lethargic. The one or two I have had hit the lure, I would have certainly missed it since they come in, gently sip the lure in, then spit it out instantly. None of the savage hits we are accustomed to at all!
On this trip the best fish of the day was a 6 or 7 pound burbot that hit in the middle of the day. I also caught a small dolly in the 16 inch range. Both were caught on a small glow in the dark lead head, with a small glow in the dark plastic squid trimmed down a bit. The spoons don't seem to be working as well these days...well I guess nothing is really "working" right now. I know I am going to have to change tactics. I think I am going to switch over to much lighter line ( I use 10 pound and 6 pound test right now) or try the new fluorocarbon lines. I have a harder time tying knots but if the fish see the same thing we do, those fluorocarbon lines are amazing. I blood knotted a fluorocarbon leader to my mono and when you peer down your hole, you can see the mono fairly well then nothing...the lure just looks suspended in the water. Well I'll give it a try. Normally under these circumstances I would go to a finesse tactic but I have a hunch that I might be able to trigger a more vicious strike by scaling up to much bigger baits. Well, I'll try both. With the heat wave, the ice roads ion Big Lake look like they normally do in mid April. Definitely exercise some caution when you go. The ice is still thick and clear once you get through the old snow and over flow layers. Should be good for a while yet.
I had a report that some of the likes across the Susitna River were producing well. We've done really well in the past in the spring on lakes on the west side of Susitna. I may have to give that a try.
March 11 Big Lake
Rick Doug, Connie and I headed out to Big Lake to see if we couldn't catch a few fish. The day starts off pretty well. We are fishing in 15 feet of water and immediately we can see scores of smaller fish below the hole. After seeing two fish about 20 inches cruise by the hole, I land a medium rainbow of about 14 inches. Shortly after I hear some commotion from the fish house. Investigating I found out that Rick and Doug were both trying to get a large Dolly estimated at around 7 pounds to hit. I guess it checked out both Rick and Doug's hardware but ended up swimming away. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. we are still planning another trip to Lake Louise but we'll have to see.
March 3,4,5 Lake Louise
Well its a bummer for me, but Erick and Martin headed out to Lake Louise while the rest of the grouped worked. Lucky dogs. It was our group's first trip out to the area for some winter ice fishing. While the fishing didn't sound hot, I guess they did catch their share of lakers and burbot. Remember in Lake Louise you can't keep the burbot! I need to get more details but here's the gist of what I heard.
Well the folks at the lodges apparently seemed surprised to see fisherman this early. The folks thought it would be much better in April. Still, using mainly rubber bodied minnows and spoons they hit a few lakers with he biggest going 27 inches but that's a good fish through the ice anywhere! Its just that you hear of monster lakers. They were told by some folks they met that they were a month early for the good fishing. Erick and martin also learned to best bring a map when fishing an unknown lake. I guess they had a hard time locating the right depth as they found some areas in the middle of the lake that were too shallow to fish. they dulled an auger blade in the process and it made for some tough drilling after that episode.
Still with the 27 incher they also landed some good fish in the 22 to 24 inch range as well. I guess the snowmobile riding was also a great time. Well we're not in any hurry to get back yet but come April, I bet we make another good trip to see what we can't do. more lines means a better chance of finding the fish.
February 26 Sand Lake
I know I am getting too busy when I fish in town more than once a month for the stocked trout and landlokced salmon. Still as always fishing is fun. The fish were actually tough this day. The fish would just tap your bait and instantly spit it out. they ignored single eggs completely and only hit shiny spoons and bits of shrimp. They seemed aggressive but I didn't even detect a bit until I started to look down the holes. Well you can still learn from the little ones.
A few of the guys headed out to lake Louise for the big Lakers. dang it! I wish I could go! Maybe I'll sneak out Friday after work.
February 20 Flathorn Lake
I actually rode my snowmobile! WOW! It's been way too long. This weekend I went out to watch the Iditasport races. Its a human powered 100 mile race. Crazy people. I got to fish for about 2 hours on Sunday as I was awaiting some of my friends to get the next check point. Although I only caught one pike of about 4 pounds, the group next to me had 15 tipups out and they had landed 7 or 8 fish in less than 2 hours. No big ones though. The action was consistent. I had four or five good hits that I couldn't connect on. Still it was a good time. Herring on single hooks was the ticket.
My single fish has a funny story to it.I am laying on the ice with a sleeping bag as I had been awake for nearly 70 hours on one or two hours of catnapping. I'm drifting off to sleep and I see the pole bouncing up and down. I fling my sleeping bag off of me and I charge for the rod that is 30 feet away. I get there, set the hook, and oh yeah..FISH ON! I battle the fish, it pops out, I look up and I almost mash my face into a video camera...huh? A Korean film crew was out shooting a drama/documentary on Iditasport. The cameraman frantically waves over a very attractive Korean actress and we take a bunch of picture and video of her and I holding the fish and etc. Too cool ....I think ....until as they are leaving I glance at the camera and see a reflection of me. Oh Oh!.....After three days of no sleep & wearing a helmet over hair that is two months overdue for a haircut, I looked like some Space Alien with tentacles coming off of my head. Major "Hat head"! So my few minutes of fame is going to be pretty sad looking. Well I only know a few people in Korea....
February 13 Jewel & Sand Lake
Well, made my annual pilgrimage down the street to hit a few of the lakes in Anchorage. Doug and I were bored and neither of us had fished in such a long time that we were desperate to go fishing....even if it was in one of our bathtubs! Well, we had a a hard time making ice indoors so we decided ice fishing would be easier if we just drove a mile down to the local lakes.
First we stop by Sand Lake, and to our surprise, there are 5 or 6 people on the ice fishing. Immediately Doug nails a nice 14 inch rainbow. It is the blackest looking rainbow I have ever seen. It looked healthy and in good shape..just black! While we saw a few fish being pulled up, we decided to head home. Yeah right, after 1 hour of fishing. As we drive by Jewel Lake, we notice a few folks fishing and its a very rare day that with rods in hand we pass up a fishing spot! Oh yeah, did I mention Douggie was supposed to be home by now since he was supposed to be celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife! Yup, Douggie is a true fishing buddy...I wonder how I'm going to get invited over to dinner at his place the next time though.
Stopping at Jewel Lake, we fish for 15 minutes and not a nibble. A few folks fishing 40 yards from us were hauling up the little landlocked. Well they must cruise around the lake since once they showed up under the hole, it was consistent action with light line small hooks and shrimp. The landlocked king salmon are no more than 8 inches long but they are good eating! Afterall they are just little salmon..right? I also caught a couple of rainbows with the big one pushing a whopping 12 inches or so. Still I had a great time. there is something about watching the bobber move and dance around the hole...finally it gets sucked under, you set the hook and you feel the fish. Okay so you yank and half of the time the poor fish comes flying out of the hole. Its kind of like halibut fishing. Fishing for halibut I enjoy the fishing, the nibbles, the tap, the initial bend in the rod, but reeling them up 300 feet isn't the most exciting part of the fishing.
hey the Big news! I got my snowmobile up and running. This weekend I am going to help a friend in a 100 mile bicycle race across the frozen rivers and trails. fortunately for me, my snowmobile is much faster than his Bike AND there are some great pike lakes along the race trail. I plan to jam up the trail, fish until he comes by , make sure he's okay and off to the next spot. I hope this works out!
January 23 Mat-su Valley Lake
Well, I finally said I was going somewhere else, and I did. I went fishing near Wasilla with a friend Patrick and his nephew...Patrick. We punched holes near some ice houses and for the first half hour, we didn't even get a nibble. Then after a while, we all started getting hits. Once the action started, it never stopped the entire day. The lake is not stocked so we limited what we kept. The rainbows we caught all day long weren't huge, but they had some intense coloring to them. they definitely looked "wild." We used roe, and the trick was to feel the bite, determine if the fish biting was 4 inches or 14 inches long. It was actually pretty hard to tell. You'd get tapped lightly lift up your bait to get rid of the pesky minnows, and all the sudden your rod would double over with a nice 14 inch rainbow. We had three holes punched ranging from 4 feet of water to about 12. the shallower holes produced larger and more fish than the deeper holes. We had a great time. I need to do more of the non-trophy fishing and more "catching" every now and again!
January 9 Big Lake
Well, guess what? We went back to Big Lake. With the football playoffs in full swing, Big Lake is the choice by default since its the one place we can fish and watch the playoffs game at the same time! Tell me we aren't spoiled! Well the Viking win to play another day! That alone made our day a success.
I fished in Erick's house and he had moved it in shallow for the day. Once we punched holes we were surprised to see that we were much shallower than we had expected. We ended up fishing in about 8 feet of water. Still the day was interesting. From morning to later in the evening we saw perhaps 6 or 7 fish that would have been bigger than 20 inches. I missed two of them. Erick landed two of them. Luck would have it that he would hook the two smaller fish he saw and the two fish measured in at 21 and 22 inches. We both saw fish that would easily have surpassed 25 inches.
The dollies in particular were lethargic. For the most part, the big char would come lazily by the hole. In almost all of the cases, they were definitely interested in the lure selection. they would swim by it and even whack at it with their mouths closed. But they just would not take the lure completely. Erick and I were joking that had we not been looking down our holes, we would not even have felt the few fish that we did get hits from. Its just simply amazing that a 5 pound trout can take a lure 8 feet straight down, and you can't detect the strikes. Erick's largest fish was a good example. Erick was jigging the bottom with a large 6 inch doctor spoon. Something felt "odd" he looked down his hole to notice that he couldn't see his normally easily visible big spoon. Then he saw his line off to the side and instinctively set the hook on a a nice 22 inch Dolly.
The other excitement for the day was Erick watching a BIG burbot take a major league whack at his lure. He battled it for 3 or 4 minutes then the hooked just pulled free. With Burbot, I recommend setting the hook as hard as your line will allow. I have seen too many fish that were simply clamped onto the bait or lure. They battle for awhile, but they are just holding on to the lure, and not actually hooked.
On this day, the preference appeared to be for bigger shiny chrome colored spoons. The Do-jigger and the big doctor spoon worked for Erick. I did get hit a couple of times by the bigger dollies using a rubber shad body on a leadhead jig. however, the fish were just sipping this lure and I missed both good fish that hit the jig. While Erick caught and released two decent fish, I still had a great time. There is something about watching a BIG fish swimming just a few feet below you. We easily saw 6 fish that would have been good fish on Big Lake. Had we not set up in shallower waters where we could see the fish, it would have been a boring day for me. As it turned out, I had a great time.
January 2 Big Lake
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Like much of our groups fishing, this Big Lake fishing is getting to be an obsession. A part of us tells us that Big Lake is not producing so we need to go find another lake. The other part is saying, well a big one has to be caught soon! Well fortunately for me that latter half won the argument this day. Besides Martin's father was in town from Minnesota and the Viking were playing on TV so we had to go to Big Lake so we could watch the game in Martin's ice house! 20 below out, hot coffee, beer, food, TV, the Vikings winning, and you are fishing through your living room floor! TOO COOL!
Martin's ice house is in 30 feet of water. Martin pulls up the first fish, an 8 inch silver salmon. His father Tom, ends up catching an identical silver a bit later. Deep water landlocks? Hmmm....usually they are shallower fish. Well the action was just slow slow slow.
Erick decides he needs to set his ice house up in shallower water of about 12 feet. In shallower water he and I can see the bottom and fish very clearly. After an hour of nothing, we notice a few fish in the 4 inch range, then a a couple of dozen fish swim by in the 6 to 8 inch range. The next thing you know, Erick sees a BIG one. Its just going crazy creating a disturbance around our lures but no take. I look down the hole, I see my lure, I see a big flash, I feel a tug, set the hook and I have a good one on! Unfortunately as it turns, I see the lure embedded lightly in its fin underneath the fish. BUMMER!!! After ripping out 10 yards of line, the line goes slack! Dang it! Well that was exciting! About an hour later, a fish the exact same size, comes through the hole. It was probably the same fish. But this time, there is no mistake. It swims into the area, takes one look at the lure, and simply smashes the lure and heads out of town! Oh yeah! After a 10 minute struggle I manage to ease the 26 plus inch Dolly out of the ice! Yippee! Not a monster, but its the first big one of the year for our group. We consider anything past 25 inches as a "big fish". It was a long time coming but "Perseverance pays off!" Boy, I say that a lot in my logs. Pictures as soon as they get developed! We released the fish after a few pictures so it can be a trophy next year!
The fish was caught on a HT medium weight 20 inch ice rod, System 2 5/6weight fly reel. 10 pound stren, 5/8oz Chrome w/red stripe Krockadile, 2/0 gamakatsu siwash single hook.
December 19 Big Lake
The chase continues for the elusive BIG fish. However, this year, we are just not seeing the same numbers of fish that we have seen in the past. We are picking up tiny dollies and the small silvers are out in force but we are just not seeing good action. Four of us went out and none of us caught anything to brag about. This is getting a bit out of hand!
December 12 Big Lake
Like a broken record, we continue to hammer Big Lake in hope of the BIG fish! Well, its just not happening this year. Went out and landed one nice fish in the 22 inch range using a krockadile. I also got two major hits on a rubber shad body on a leadhead jig but that was the only fish taken between the two of us all day long. Well, as we keep saying, its not the quantity but the quality of the fish.
December 5 Big Lake
I need to add a bit of variety into the ice fishing routine! Especially since we are not having the best of luck. Still, Martin towed his ice shack out Sunday so we followed along and fished Big Lake again. Doug and I met Martin and Rick on the ice around noon. We were fishing off of one of the islands on the lake in about 10 to 15 feet of water. We had some decent luck with rainbows with Martin, Rick, and I catching nice rainbows up to 20 inches on our typical selection of spoons. After things slowed down, Doug and I headed to another spot where Douggie manages a nice 22 to 23 inch Dolly on the "do-jigger" spoon in about 15 feet of water. I managed a couple more smaller rainbows and dollies but that was it. Everyone I have talked to seems to think that the Dolly action has been slow...especially for the larger fish. As a general rule, I think the Dollies are about in the spawning stage so I can see them being concentrated elsewhere. I haven't seen a brightly colored dolly in spawning colors come up as I have in the past. Still last year, Doug and my big char came in mid December so I should keep trying.
Knowing there are lots of productive lakes out there, its hard to put in long hours for few fish. What makes Big Lake a bit special is the size of the possible fish. Just like when fishing the big Kenai River Kings, trophy fish are few and far between and you have to be willing to put in the hours for the single hit. On the other hand, there is something to be said for catching a few fish. Maybe next week, I'll split the time between a few different lakes.
November 27 & 28 Big Lake
Big news is Congrats to Martin & Lynelle for their new beautiful baby girl Grace!
For some reason, Big Lake seems to be the preferred spot even though we haven't been having too much success. Of course it helps that its 30 to 45 minutes closer than many of the lakes we fish. It also helps that Erick put his ice fishing house on the lake, it also helps that we can now drive onto the lake so a warm truck is 5 feet away! Hmmm...sounds like our group is getting older and lazier!
Well I headed out Saturday with Erick, Doug, and Rick. I managed one smaller Dolly and one smaller Burbot for the entire day! Man oh man was it slow. Erick hammered a few nice rainbows including one that must have gone 20 to 21 inches.
Erick the hardcore fisherman, overnighted in his ice house and caught two really nice rainbows before calling it a day around noon. The hot ticket seemed to be the do-jigger spoons and the Krockadile spoons in chrome. Erick made one interesting modification to his spoon that seemed to work well. He heated up a single hook and slipped on a orange plastic bead onto his single hook for the spoon. It seemed to attract hits but maybe the best thing was that when he got tired of jigging, the fish would seem to hit the plastic bead even when the spoon was sitting still. It didn't seem to hinder the action of the lure too much. I think it may be a good modification. I'll try it out on a spoon or two.
November 25 Big Lake
While everyone was busy preparing the massive Thanksgiving dinner, Doug and I decide to sneak out to Big lake and see how the fishing was. Afterall, too many cooks, spoils the pot! As it turns out, I first run into David, then Tom. Two guys I know more from the internet! too cool. Unfortunately it was pretty slow. I managed one rainbow in 20 feet of water on a krockadile that was pretty cool. the fish whacked my lure hard, then all the sudden slack line. As I furiously reeled up slack, the next thing I know the rainbow comes flying out of the large "window" we cut out of the ice on the other side of Erick's shack and is flopping around the inside. Hmmmm.....okay, a suicidal rainbow? Looked perfect for the pan. It was neat but not much fun. Bang, the fish is on, and before I can do anything, the fish is flopping around the ice shack.
Well it turns out to be a really slow day. both Tom and David manage a couple of fish before we left, but nothing too hot or heavy. We were all pretty much "sight fishing" and it seemed like the fish were there but still lethargic. You would see a few decent fish cruise through, but only glance at the lure before swimming off. The water continues to be murky where we fish. I know in the past the water has been much clearer. I wonder what gives? Well the good news is that the weekend is close so more fishing soon! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!
November 20 Big Lake
Well I was of on a business trip but a few of the "group' made it out fishing as usual. The news of the week is that the ice roads are in on Big Lake! Wow! I don't think the roads were in until early December last year. Reports from my buddies said the ice had accumulated to about a foot now and that's getting close to being "drive-able". Well whoever the brave soul was, we appreciate it. We won't be driving on it for a while yet, but plowing the roads and removing the snow from the ice surface is a great help in getting the ice thicker. Snow is a great insulator so by removing the snow, the area of the exposed ice freezes MUCH quicker. My buddies said they saw a few cars driving on it already! Usually they use 4 wheelers to clear the snow, but it looks like full size cars are already driving on it. I'm still waiting a bit before I take my car onto the ice though!
Well the reports are in and it sounds like my friends did pretty well. They both tagged nice Dollies and rainbows with the bonus Burbot! They set up in 15 feet of water and were jigging the traditional spoons we used. I think they mentioned that the burbot was actually caught on a leadhead jig with a rubber shiner imitating body. Other reports from fishing friends show the fish to be there, but not as active as I would have suspected. It sounds like everyone is catching at least a few fish.
November 13 Big Lake
Just when you think you have things figured out, you get a lesson in reality. Well after seeing so many fish at Big Lake, you know I was going to go back and give it a try. Took a friend and we fished pretty hard for 4 hours between 10am and 2pm. The results...not good at all. While we hooked and landed a few, the fish looked absolutely lethargic. it was still fun since we could see the fish cruising along, but none were too interested. We had several times when you could noticeably see the fish pick up their swimming pace and sure enough we would start getting hits. Arggghhh! I'd kill to figure out what triggers the change. We used typical hardware in 15 feet of water. The ice is getting thicker on Big Lake. where we fished there was at least 6 inches. With a few more cold days, its going to be a whole lot safer. Still just because the edges are safe, doesn't mean there is the same amount of ice at another spot. PLEASE be careful if you go icefishing. I saw a few ice boats and even a snowmobile cross the lake. Too early for me to think about anything other than walking around the edges...very carefully!
Some other observations for the day is that the water seemed really dingy and murky. Almost a brown/yellow sediment floating in the water column. I talked to a few folks and they say its there one day and gone the next day. Hmmmm... I know the smaller lakes had the same murkiness but they have already begun to clear up. Maybe the lake is going through some kind of turnover. the fishing could get better once its all done! The water should be a bit clearer for better fishing.
November 11 Mat-Su Lake & Big Lake
Ice fishing is now in full swing for our group. But for whatever reason, I was the only one of our group to get Veteran's day off. So, I went off by myself to a lake in the valley and Big Lake. Well the action wasn't hot but I had a most interesting day. Still its always more fun going with friends.
The day starts off early at a small lake. I wanted to go check it out to see if I couldn't catch a few stocked fish for the pan. It wasn't fast action but I managed my limit of 5 rainbows and 2 Dolly's that I shared with a few friends. The fish appeared interested in my lures but would never really smack it. I caught almost all my fish on either single eggs or a lure with a single egg added onto the hooks. This particular lake is a very small stocked lake with fish generally in the 12 to 16 inch range. We've caught a few nice fish pushing 20 inches though. I like looking down into my holes as often as possible. with the thin ice you can really see a lot of area under the ice. I was fishing a spot that was under 10 feet deep so I could see everything clearly. the most exciting time came when I was peering through the hole and all of the sudden it looked like there was an explosion under my hole. Sediment was kicked up so bad I could not see a thing. I felt a tap set the hook and...NOTHING. But as the cloud of dirt settled, I could slowly make out the shape of a HUGE rainbow. Now I know everything is magnified under water but I saw and hooked a couple of nice fish in the 16 inch range and this fish dwarfed the others. It turned on its side and you could easily see the dark red stripe down the side. this rainbow was an old timer for sure. Battle scars, torn fins, and big hook nose jaw. My best guess is that it would easily have surpassed 24 inches. Now this is in a stocked lake! But the fish just looked at the lure and eventually it just swam off. Oh well....
Big Lake was a similar story. I punch holes in a favorite spot and for whatever reason the water was a bit murky and by the time I got to Big Lake it was late afternoon and getting darker. I punch a hole, peer down, and I can see what looks like a log jam. Huh? What's with that??? As my eyes adjust to the darkness I realize that those aren't sticks, they are fish! WOW! By far the most fish I have ever seen through one hole at Big Lake! Also proof that in some cases the auger noise does not affect the fish ( I was using a hand auger) I drop the single hooked spoon down the hole and immediately a mid size fish whacks at it. The fish was 18 inches long meaning the big fish were even bigger!!! I hammer a few smaller Dollies and a couple of nice rainbows. But still the day is one of missed opportunities. I missed the three largest fish I saw on this day. The huge rainbow at the first lake then two more at Big Lake. Though the two fish I missed at Big Lake were a bit odd.
First I punch another hole in under 10 feet of water so I can see better in the darker murkier waters. It pays off, I can clearly see all the fish hitting and coming into my lures. Then what I thought was HUGE Dolly comes cruising in and whacks at my lure, I tug and nothing! Dang these single hooks! But as the fish turned and I got a better look.... it turns out that the massive Dolly was in fact a spawned out silver salmon! No wonder it looked so huge! But I was most upset at the biggest fish of the day I missed. Getting ready to go home, peering down slowly lifting my lure higher and higher off the bottom so I can still see it. Just as I am about to leave, I see a massive mouth come up under my lure and just inhale it! I jumped up because it looked like this "huge mouth" was going to smack me in the face. I yank back, I feel good weight..then nothing! I look back down the hole just in time to see a big burbot ( bigger than the salmon I saw by far) cruising away. DANG DANG DANG! That would have made some great table fare! Oh well, that's fishing!
My best lure for the day was my trusty Krockadile in chrome and the "Do jigger" spoon also in chrome. Well if they want to make the fishing tough in Big Lake, they have definitely succeeded by making us use single hooks. I am convinced that the trebles have a considerably higher hook up ratio while vertically jigging than single hooks. However, the flip side to that is that I believe that the single hooks keep the fish on much better than the treble hooks once the fish is hooked. The gap is wider and there's no leverage for the fish to use. I also find releasing fish is much easier. For the purpose, its a good regulation in my opinion.
November 7 Mat-Su Lake & Big Lake
Well we had to get out and see what other lakes were available to fish through the ice. We found two lakes that were safe. The first lake was loaded with Pike. Unfortunately the biggest pike we caught was maybe 2 pounds. But the action was slow but steady for most of the day. The pike were aggressive smacking jigged baits pretty hard. The tip ups we had worked well but you had to downsize the bait so the smaller pike could swallow them. . This particular lake had a good 6 inches on the edges but thinned out to about two inches in the middle. BE CAREFUL if you go ice fishing!
On the way back, we decided to go drop by Big Lake to see how the lake was doing. Pulling up to the shore, the lake looks pretty solid. Inching onto the ice with a big axe, we quickly realize the ice is at least 6 inches thick on the edges. Good enough for us! So out comes the fishing gear as people watch in amazement as we venture out onto the ice. Its absolutely no problem as long as you check the ice and know what you are doing. If you are unsure in the tiniest bit, DON'T GO OUT ON THE ICE! Well we lower the our typical selection of spoons and we have a few hits immediately. Then I managed three dollies like 12 inches long and one landlocked silver about 8 inches long. I'm hammering the fish today but they are all tiny! Oh well...at least I am fishing! I caught all of my fish on a medium sized "do jigger". Remember after Nov 1, Big Lake is single hook artificial lures only! The limit is one dolly over 20 inches. things have changed so be careful and read up on the regs!
October 31 Mat-Su Lake FIRST ICE FISHING!
Another new section to my log books! Wow! I'm actually getting a few years worth of information out!
As promised, I am back fishing! And to top it all off, I went ICE FISHING in October! I love this place! Well Erick and I trounce out to a favorite lake of ours in the mat-su valley. This particular lake is small, well shaded, and protected from strong winds. A perfect combo for early freeze up. We get out there and sure enough, the lake has a solid 4 inches of good clear ice. No problems walking on it. Still, we exercised a lot of caution until we deemed it safe. If you go out ice fishing, especially early, make sure you play it safe. never go alone, and bring extra clothes and something you can use to pull out someone if they happen to break through. Fishing is a blast! But its not worth dying over! At any rate, I know the lake we were on is safe, but they all differ, a lake right next to the lake we fished was still open.
Well, the fishing was not as hot as we thought it would be. We chop holes (we used an axe) and both Erick and I hit nice mid sized dollies right away. Ooooh, this is going to be great.....errrr....maybe not. After the first two fish, we went fishless for a couple of hours. Then we managed a couple of nice eating size rainbows and a couple of Dollies. Following the typical pattern, the Dollies were all caught jigging spoons and the rainbows came on cocktail shrimp and single eggs suspended under a bobber. I managed two of the dollies on an all chrome lure called the "Do-Jigger" made by the same company that makes Swedish pimples. They are flatter and work great. They are my number two lures to the luhr jensen Krockadiles. Well, it looks like the ice fishing season has officially begun. BUT BE CAREFUL IF YOU GO! SAFETY FIRST!
I want to reformat everything so it looks better but I just don't have the time. Well I suppose better to get the info out so it helps people versus making it look all fancy! Any suggestions? let me know!
Where I am going Next!
Well, Big Lake is just not producing but seeing large fish always seems to have us coming back. I think the fish are just getting plain tired of winter. We're planning a trip to Lake Louise in April. The action should be good. I've heard good reports about the pike as well. Get your ice fishing in now! With the warm weather, break up may come here sooner than you think. then we'll have to fish the open water for Massive rainbows, with Kings not too far behind...bummer! Ha HA! Good luck!