I spent Saturday fishing by myself. First on, last off the ice in that particular location. It's a good spot. Pretty close to where I lost the fish a couple of weeks ago. Not the most fun walk when I initially got there at 5:30. I got into some perch. Had fun. Time alone on the ice can be like that. Also frustrating. Whitefish are frustrating. There is little question of that.
My buddy Dave was joining me for Sunday. It is really nice to be out on the ice with
|Dave and the hub.|
Dave and I walked through the slush to get out to where I wanted to be. I shifted the location a bit from where I had been the day before. This was partly due to the conditions near where I had been Saturday, but also because it was close to the edge of a small flat I was working. Edges are good. We were in about 55 feet of water. That thought process paid off.
|Sebile Vibrato- rather alewife like...|
We were getting into some perch, but it was not hot and heavy fishing by any means. Dave and I were having a blast. Talking fishing and Dave had the Grateful Dead Channel playing. Sitting on 10" of ice, staring either at a rod tip or at the Vex screen is a lot more fun with a buddy and some great tunes. It was fun to teach Dave something new too. He had never used a Vexilar nor had he ever targeted whitefish. Around 8:30 I reeled up my jigs and said "Let's see if I can shake things up a little bit by flashing the Vibrato through the water column."
The fish started to get close to the hole. Dave grabbed the gaff. This one wasn't getting away. We had talked about how I had used a gaff with my buddy Matt Lavallee a couple of years before with lakers. I had told him a funny story about Matt just gaffing a laker broadside when I figured I was going to release that fish. It was released into a frying pan instead. But a new gaff style was born: the Matt L!
|Whitefish! Look at the light in the background. I commented|
to Dave earlier about the light streaming through the clouds
"It was just like that when I got my cisco with Thorny, I feel
good about today." Truth.
We took some pictures, had some laughs then got back to it. Dave was almost as excited as me.
Time went by. Perch were playing, but it was not an easy bite. The bigger fish seemed to be suspended and we were getting them thanks to the Vexilar. Without the sonar you would have no idea those fish were there. And periodically we dropped that Vibrato through to see what would happen. No players though.
Dave needed to grab something and handed me his rod. He had switched the reel to reel lefty. I reel righty. Easy to switch a spinning reel back and forth, but not something I am used to. Then there was weight. A lot of weight. We were both looking down the hole, waiting to see what was going to come up, but both knowing what it was. Dave said it first "That's a whitefish!"
Gaff in hand, Dave deftly hooked it near the dorsal. It came right up through the hole. No crazy fight. A solid fish. My hands were shaking as I took out my tape measure. Seriously shaking. There it was. 22". A Vermont Master Angler whitefish. My most serious fishing quest of the past 3 years on the ice in front of me. Reeled up on the wrong side too! (Well, wrong for me...) Then the photos started. And the hootin' and hollerin'... Yep, that box was now checked. For the record, Women Are Smarter was playing. There might be some wisdom there...
So, the nitty gritty of the set up. It was a Berkely Lightning rod, 27" , a Pfleuger Trion with Trilene Ice Braid in
|Mr. Funnyface. Yes, both of them.|
|That's the one.|
We kept fishing, but honestly, we were both kind of out of it. We got some more perch, and I had something bigger on a Vibrato, but it got off. We walked out, popping holes and fishing our way back around 3.
I cleaned the fish and filleted them when I got home. The smaller whitefish had a pretty empty stomach. The bigger one, however, had a bunch of alewives in it and some grey matter which I suspect were insects.
Coregonus clupeaformis. I will be back after you. But first, I have a hybrid to get!