As I have said before, my “New Year” starts the first day I am on the ice. The beginning of each new ice-fishing season is my “New Year’s Day”. This year was a little unusual in that my “New Year’s Day” occurred on the actual New Year’s Day 2015. There had been some ice-fishing in Nebraska clear back at Thanksgiving time, but all of that ice melted and we had to wait.
Our first day on the ice, my son and I planned to do a little more fishing that day than we ended up doing. A little pickup repair was needed before we could hit the ice. Thank goodness I have a nephew that is way more mechanically-inclined than I am and he was available to help us replace an alternator and a battery. By the time we got that done and got on the ice, we only had a little over an hour to fish before dark. We gave it a go, but caught nothing that first evening.
The next day my mechanically-inclined nephew joined us for a little trip to “the promised land”, Nebraska’s sandhills. Shortly after drilling holes, my nephew iced the first fish of the new year!
After snapping a picture or two, I wandered back to my holes, jigged my bait a time or two and heard a commotion and then a “pop”. I looked back towards my nephew and he was sitting on his bucket holding nothing but a rod handle.
Apparently, after catching the first bass, my nephew dropped his bait back in the hole and another bass grabbed it. He set the hook, started to lift, and his rod busted clean off right above the handle. Tadd grabbed for the rod, but the line then broke too, “. . . and there she was–gone”. Of course we had a good laugh about that; looks like someone will be ordering a new rod blank to do some repairs. At the least we were off to a great start, looked like it was going to be a good day.
Those were the last fish we caught for the next hour or two. We kept drilling holes, kept moving and eventually the boys started scratching some bites again. Me, I could not catch a cold.
Daniel pulled a nice fish through the hole, looked like another bass from a distance, but from the grin on his face I could tell it was more than that, much more.
That was a 13 1/4-inch perch, one of the largest we have caught in years. What a beautiful fish!
Yes, my mouth waters every time I catch a nice yellow perch, but when they are that exceptional. . . .
We kept moving, the boys were getting a few bites. Eventually, Tadd said he lost a big fish at the hole, but then he pulled this beauty out!
After some pictures, another big panfish back in the hole to be caught again!
I do not get hung up on magic colors while I am fishing. Most of the time there are about 16 other variables that will make a bigger difference in your presentation before you start worrying about which color is best. However, it always pays to experiment and by midday it was obvious that the baits and colors the boys were using seemed to be producing more interest than what I was doing. You can see there was quite a bit of snow cover at that time. Things can be relatively dark below the ice when there is a lot of snow cover, and I have definitely noticed that light-colored baits tend to work better at those times. If you like playing around with the glow-in-dark colors, snow cover on the ice is probably the best time to use those baits too.
We had planned to link up with a buddy on the ice that day, kept looking for him to arrive, but by midday had not seen him. Funny thing was he was there the whole time; I forgot what vehicle he might be driving and did not bother to look around to see who was there when we started fishing. We just assumed we were going to be on the ice before he was. Anyway, we finally linked up after noon, and discovered the bite he was on in a different part of the lake was better than what we were doing. We moved in mid-afternoon so we could be in position for the late afternoon/evening bite. The fishing then was so good even I could catch a few!
Problem was none of my fish seemed to be quite as big as the boy’s.
At that time it looked like we were going to have a long and prosperous ice fishing season. Stinkin’ weather! You never know what you are going to get in Nebraska. I still suspect that there will be some safe ice in Nebraska for some more ice-fishing this winter, but right now I will tell you that you better be very careful where you go, and some waters probably are NOT going to be safe right now.
If I hear another weather person on TV smile and say what great weather we are having this January, I am going to explode!
There are more fish to be caught, and “I wanna ice-fish, baby”!