Well, I’m 0 for 2 with sleeping well in Brewer’s shanty. Winter camping is tough. It was warm most of the night, then all of a sudden a wind gust came and just about blew the shanty out of the campsite. Brewer and I woke up just in time and held on to the hut until the breeze died, then we had to secure it to Brad’s truck. Then it snowed for the rest of the night.
It’s about 6 AM now and still dark. Boh and I are cold, and we might as well get up and check the tip ups. Come on Brewer, wake up buddy, time to fish… Brewer slowly rolls out of his cot, but with a quick reminder that we are fishing in the big leagues today, we are both up and on the ice in no time, checking for flags.
We get about half way through our spread when we walk up to a tripped tip-up. The flag is up, but the pin is not spinning- indicating that the fish has either dropped the bait, or it is still hooked just not moving. We carefully lift the line to see if we can feel any tension. O yea, something heavy is on there. I feel a very faint movement against my tugs. Was that a head shake? After bringing in a few more feet of line it is clear that something happened, but we still aren’t sure if we have a fish on or not.
A few more minutes go by with Brewer and I going back and forth from “It’s a fish. No it’s not, its not moving. I think it just moved its a fish!” But when brewer shines his light down the hole we see a big log coming to the surface. Damn, I could have sworn I felt that thing moving.
As we are pulling the log out of the hole, Boh is the only excited one because he’s a lover of big sticks. He’s ecstatic actually and immediately begins nawing on the waterlogged tree limb. But Brewer and I notice something. Theres another tip up line tangled in the log. We turn our heads to the next closest tip-up, and the flag is tripped! Something fishy has gone on down there last night. I Go over to the other hole and see if I can feel anything on that line. It looks like a fish took this bait, and ran us into a log jam and another one of our tip ups. What a move. But I can still feel him! He’s down there still, at least I think that’s him, or is it that log I still can’t tell. Brewer tells me to stop pulling, and is now bringing in all the line from the other hole that the log came out of. Another minute of uncertainty goes by as he’s bringing up the line. Then the weight of a good fish is felt, followed by a big lethargic head shake. We have a fish on buddy! As the excitement builds, we see the white mouth poking out of the hole. “Big Laker! Big Laker!!” Holy shit! What a way to start the trip. Brewer is holding up a 30” Lake Trout, and the sun hasn’t even come up yet. Good work Buddy! Brad is still sleeping in his truck and is in shock when we open the door and he wakes up to the sight of a ten pound trout. Time to get up and do some fishing Brad!
The first light over Hell’s Creek and I can finally see the bay we are fishing, and get an idea for how big this place really is. Brewer and I get out a few more tip ups and set up his jaw jacker, and start jigging for anything that swims.
It does not take long before we notice another flag, this one a little shallower, about nine feet of water. Brewer is the first to the hole and brings up a nice 14 inch Walleye. We’re on em now.
I tell Brewer that the Jaw Jacker is mine when it goes off since he got to pull up the Laker and the Walleye. He agrees without hesitation. And only a few more minutes go by until the jaw jacker goes off. Fish!! As the rod springs into a fish, I watch the rod tip straighten up, then bob twice, then straighten out again. As I’m running over, about to pick it up, the fish goes on a big run and almost pulls the rod through the hole. As I’m playing the fish, Brewer comes over and tells me to be careful, “I didn’t switch out the lines, you got four pound flouro on..” I see my leader now so I know the fish is just below the ice. It’s a pike! I see him clearly right before he goes on another line screaming run. Great, one wrong move and the Pike’s razor sharp teeth with cut this thin line no problem. This fish is fighting like a champ right now, and every time I get him close to the ice, he turns and peels out line away from us. He does not want to come up. But he’s tiring now, and as I wiggle his nose up the hole Brewer is right there with the gaf and we get him first try. As the 28” Pike is flopping around on the ice, the boys are cheering and the dog is licking the slime off the fish. What a morning, it’s about ten O’clock right now and we have already got a Laker, Walleye and Pike. We could go home happy.
No bites since that pike, so we decide to move across the bay and fish a little cove on the far side. We have been hearing reports saying that’s where the other folks have been doing good. Plus, we didn’t drive all the way over here just to fish by the boat ramp. Let’s pack things up and move on.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse. I think it’s hovering around zero degrees with a constant wind speed of about 30 MPH. Walking outside of the shanty is like entering a frozen wasteland right now. The wind is carrying the fresh snow across the entire bay in long wavy lines. Looking into the wind immediately causes your eyes to water, then the tear freezes before it can fall off your cheek. All of our tip ups are either completely iced in or have about a foot of slush and snow stacked on top of them from the wind. It’s getting pretty crazy out here, and we’ve only landed a few small perch on this side of the lake. Let’s get back to camp and warm up, and set the tip ups over night where we did last night and hope for some more big fish come morning.
Walking back across the bay and I can barely see Brad ten yards ahead of me. With a combination of all the elements, it’s a complete white out. I can see how people get lost in this kind of weather. If we weren’t following a line of tip ups from another group across the bay, we would be having a much harder time finding our way back. Boh is following the the small wind drifted patches of snow all the way across, hopping over the bare ice as to avoid freezing his paws any more than needed. I am walking behind him now, amazed that he knows the difference. That the bare ice will not only be colder, but harder for him to walk on than the insulated snow.
We made it back to camp and got our tip ups out in a similar spread as they were last night. All we can do now is wait. We get the hut set up for the night again, and secure it to Brad’s truck right away this time. It’s still blowing hard, and it’s going to be a lot colder than it was last night. I just hope we wake up to another big Laker tomorrow.0