Monday, February 7, 2011

late winter sunfish in northern illinois

Plans were made with the attempt to give us the shortest walk to reach a decent fishing destination this weekend. If Neal and I were going to fish then we wanted to pull our cumbersome sleds the shortest distance through the 2 foot snow drifts as possible. This was a small lake that had its main point just a couple minutes from good parking . This is one of the few times we have actually gotten off the chain this winter. We made it out just as the sun began to rise and quickly realized that all the extra snow had wreaked havoc on the above ice conditions. While walking on top of the snow, the weight of your body would cause you to break through down into the layer beneath which consisted of slush and water. It was like there was 3 layers on top of the lake, you had the initial ice cap, a wet slop layer, and finally the light fluffy snow on top. Either way, towing gear was hard work and by the time we made the main lake point we were winded.

sunrise over a small lake in northern illinois
We were lucky to find that the wind had blown a lot of the snow right off the point leaving us with some firm ground to walk on and some ideal tip-up conditions. Could you imagine having to set a tip-up in 2 foot of snow? You couldn’t just leave it on top of the snow, your spool would never hit the water. Digging it down into a snow drift would never allow you to see the flag tripped unless it was super long. Anyways, we set our flags on the perimeter of the “hard” ice we had to work with and decided to prospect the middle for some sunnies.

a few random visitors
It wasn’t long before we narrowed down some good gill holding water and popped up the shelter. We had an action packed day with some above average sized fish mixed in. I fished mainly a size 12 tungsten jig with half a ripped waxie most of the morning. Ever catch so many fish you get tired of opening your bait puck? By mid morning I switched over to plastic tipped with the tiniest pinch of “meat” and by early afternoon I was dropping straight plastics. We sorted out 10 nice gills a piece.

i like big gills with lots of meat on their bones
Flags went a lot slower then we had anticipated. We both soaked 2 jumbo roaches a piece for 5 hours. Neal used a combination of one automatic fisherman and one tip-down arctic warrior. I used 2 tip-ups. We both managed one bass each and this was Neal’s first fish on his automatic fisherman, which put the hook right in the corner of the fish’s mouth. We both enjoyed an action filled morning and my haul went straight into oil that afternoon!
neal's first fish on the automatic fisherman
my tip-up bass
a pile of keepers


  1. Frequently the difficult walk outs pay the biggest dividends. Great day & post.

  2. I agree with John. You paid your dues and the fish were willing to make it a fun day. Enjoyed all the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Blake
    One awesome trip---have you tried millworms or waxworms? I have read some great post lately on ice fishing and this is one of the best.