Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Breaking the Ice 2013: Plan "C" Jacks Lake

With work and family obligations at an all time high over the holiday season my first trip out on to the ice was later then I had hoped, and was almost postponed again when this recent warm front hit us.

This year as always  "Plan A" for first ice was to head up to Ottawa and meet up with a group of fellow ice members. The aforementioned obligations got in the way and the planned trip never took place. (sorry guys)

"Plan B" was to head up to Lake Simcoe this past weekend in search of those world famous jumbo perch. As of Thursday we had a local report of good ice (6inches) and great fishing (buckets'o'perch). So on Thursday night I packed all my gear and made plans with a buddy to hit the ice on Saturday after a day long Tattoo appointment on Friday. Being diligent I monitored the local boards and some of the videos posted by local crazies (you know who you are). As of 4pm on Friday afternoon all looked well for Saturday morning.

Bright an early on Saturday Aaron (aka Airs24) and I jumped in his ride ready to make the 1hr 20 minute drive to Simcoe. As we hit the road I continued with my due diligence and started to review some local reports.. to my surprise things had drastically changed, and not for the better. Ice condition warnings were posted all over the boards stating simply "Stay off the Ice". Being smart ice anglers this made us turn around and make some alternate plans.

Plan "C" was to head to Apsley and give Jacks lake a work out. This lake is always frozen by early Jan and cars and trucks are usually driving all over it come the end of the month. Not wanting to waste too much more time or gas we made the call to a local lodge to see if they had any update on conditions. Reluctantly the let us know that yes their are guys fishing and that their was about 6 inches of ice in the main bay. To back up this I also made a call to the local bait shop (Stone's) and they confirmed what the lodge owner said.

Things were looking up, next stop was the bait shop to load up on pin-heads (Jacks Lake crappies eat these up) and then onto the Ice. When we entered the shop a startled owner asked "where you guys headed" and we proudly said "Jacks Lake". He then proceeded to explain  that this morning he sold some minnows to a guy headed to Jacks only to have the man come back a hour or so later stating that the ice was not good and that he turned around. They also stated the local OPP (police for you non Canadian readers) were at the launch turning guys around.. after this he promptly filled our bucket with minnows.. and we made the decision to keep on

Once we arrived on Jacks Lake we were pleasantly surprised to see well over 20 anglers out on the ice fishing. Not one to be careless we awaited a husband and wife team that were just leaving the ice as we pulled up, once off we stopped them to check on conditions. They explained that they had 6-8inches in the spots they were fishing (over 20-30ft of water). They also mentioned the fishing sucked, but that has never deterred us.

Now confident that we would be able to stay on top of the ice, we unloaded our gear, strapped on our ice picks and began the trek out in search of crappies.

We started off fairly shallow in 24ft of water, looking for a weed bed that in past years has always held fish. Usually smaller crappies 8"-10" but in larger quantity then in the deeper water. We pounded hole after after but where unable to come across this fabled weed bed. Using our graphs we watched for changes in structure and for any fish movement. Our first 3 stops resulted in zero fish marked, and no weeds (?)

As we continued to move parallel along the shoreline we were stumped as to where the weed bed vanished to, and even more importantly where the fish were? A decision was made to start working in shallower and to try to find spots under the 20ft mark. This is unusual for Jacks and not something we had tried previously. Once we hit the 17ft mark we pounded more holes and began a search and destroy mission that turned into a search and not find mission.

After working these holes for as long as we could stand, it was time to test out deeper water. Using the navionics app on my IPhone  we looked for the drop and started to drill holes in 30-35ft of water. When the fishing started we noticed one change and that was we were actually marking the odd fish, nothing constant, but we could get fish to rise up off the bottom and a few would cruise in around the 25ft mark.. now this is exciting.

Once we started to mark fish it was not long before I iced my first 2013 fish.. a perch and not exactly jumbo. He was sent back down the hole as a sacrifice to the gods of fishing, apparently they also thought he was kinda small and they were not appeased.. this was the only fish we landed today.

All in all my first ice trip of 2013 was not what most would consider a success, but to actually be able to get out on the ice, stay above the ice, and land my first first fish in lucky 2013 has me marking this day down as a "plus". Sure the fishing could have been better, but I got to spend 5 hours on the ice fishing with a buddy in weather well above freezing, and I got to break in 3 new rods.. to me that is a good day

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