Necessity was the mother of invention when I did not have the right ingredients for a snowed-in pecan pie. It also served me well on a recent ice-fishing trip.
Last Thursday, Bob May and I fished an interstate pond that used to be good. However, the last two years it has been fished very little, the result: stunted bluegill. We pulled up and headed for an 18-acre lake in northern Madison County.
There was almost too much ice, about 12 inches. Drilling holes was a real calorie burner, and we drilled a lot of holes because the fish weren't biting. After two hours we gave up. On the way off the ice, some locals gave us a better idea of where to fish this deep pit.
"The bluegill in here are huge, you just have to find them," said one elderly gent.
Our plan Friday morning was to give the big pit another try, this time with Don Zalorcar and his gas-powered auger.
I have a regular routine each morning of fixing coffee, a protein shake, whole grain toast with honey/cinnamon and using the bathroom. I allowed time for this, but then Bob called to tell me we were meeting a half-hour sooner than we earlier agreed on.
Knowing I would feel the call of nature in the middle of a pit with houses around it, I devised a plan. I suggested we stop by this small lake on the way. A friend had the only waterfront home. I directed my two friends to go check the ice while I used the bathroom.
The ruse was that this pond does not freeze well because of active springs, and I had never done much good on bluegill in the times I fished it.
After using the bathroom, I went out back to see Bob and Don out on the ice.
Bob said, "We have a good 7 inches, bring the throw bag."
I informed them they had drilled holes in the wrong place, and that there would be few fish there.
"We just checked two holes with a fish finder, and they are stacked three feet off the bottom," Don said.
Indeed, the fishing was fast and furious. I caught a fish while the heavy lead depth finder was on the bottom hook. This allows me to accurately set my bottom hook about four inches off the bottom.
Twice, I caught two fish on one line. The action was so fast that I could only use one pole. Often our lines would twitch on the way down with the baits several feet off the bottom.
These fish are fed bread off the dock as long as there is open water. For this reason, I think the commotion of drilling holes may have attracted them. The magic depth was 10 to 12 feet.
In three hours, we had filled a five-gallon bucket with mostly bluegill, a few as long as 9 inches.
We gave up our plans to go north. They tried to hurry me, and look what happened.