Monday, January 16, 2012

First Ice!

 It is finally here! The first fishable ice. As most of you know we have had a pretty warm start to the winter here in the Midwest. Finally the temps have dropped and the snowflakes have fallen. It was the close of the IL hunting season this weekend and the start of the ice fishing season for me. I climbed into my favorite tree stand one last time Saturday morning, but all I could think about was the ice that awaited me when I got down from my tree. I watched the sunrise and make the snow sparkle.I  Listened to birds start to chirp and watched an owl take flight. The squirrels scurried on the ground in search of food, but there where no deer in sight. It was time to get down and put the bow away till next season, and load the ice shack in the truck to start the next season. As I headed home from the deer woods I called my friends Brent and Jenny. We made our plans to meet at my place at noon to head out to the lake for our first ice trip of the year.

  Noon quickly came, and Brent and Jenny arrived ready to go. We were set out to fish Candlewick Lake in Poplar Grove,IL, this is where I currently reside. I have called Candlewick my home for 2 years now, and she hasn't let me down one bit when it comes to fishing. Candlewick is fully stocked, well managed, and private. Hence the reason I reside here. My normal ice hole has maybe 2inches of ice right now so we headed into uncharted territory for me during the ice season. I had recently seen some great report for this part of the lake when some brave soles ventured out on 2-3inches of ice the week prior. We arrived at the neighborhood boat launch on the west side of the lake, and knew we where in the right spot when we saw a small shanty town. We dragged our shanties across the fresh snow and hard water. Drilled our first hole and dropped the vexilar in, and already we where marking fish. Brent turned and said to me, you take this hole and we will set up 10 feet from you. Sounds good to me was my instant reply. So we continued to drill our holes and pop up our shacks, and see who could catch the first fish. Once again Lady Luck got the first one! Jenny hooked into the first fish of the day. It was a nice 8inch Bluegill. I knew when she had one cause she always lets out a giggle and a shout. The giggles and shouts went on all day between our two shacks. The bite was hot! I originally  started the day fishing with 2 rods and quickly dropped to one cause the fish would hit my magic jig and wax worm as soon as it got to the bottom of the hole. Needless to say we all caught our limits in 4 hours. In Candlewick residents are allowed 30 gills and guest 15 for the keeping. I always like to get a limit at the beginning of the ice season and from there on out it's cpr for me. Brent and Jenny ended up with a total of 30 gills and 2 crappie. I also hooked into a nice young 10 inch Largemouth Bass. Between the three of us we must have thrown back another 75-100 gills that where under 8 inches. All in all it was a phenomenal first trip out.

  The next morning I was going to hit to the woods again for the very last day of the hunting season, but decided to opt out. I had a great year in the woods, harvesting 3 mature Whitetails. I had meat in the freezer and heads at the taxidermist. So why not get back out and fish while the bite was hot.

  Sunday morning I set out to the lake again, but this time was going to be different from the day before. I was setting out to show others the joy of ice fishing. I loaded up the truck with my son Zack, his friend Ethan, my brother, a friend Jimmy, and Jimmys son Joey. It was going to be all about the kids today, and what a blast did they have. Zack and Ethan ended up with 8 gills a piece, little joey landed 6, my brother 10, jimmy 9, and myself I lost track between running around baiting hooks, unhooking fish, drilling holes, and a little depth finder 101 session for my brother and Jimmy. It was a great day once again. Kids got cold after 2 1/2 hours, but seeing the smiles, hearing them tell there mothers about the great day they had, and brag about whos fish was bigger made me feel ecstatic. There is nothing better then teaching a youth the joys of fishing, and I went to bed Sunday night feeling like I accomplished something great. Getting the kids away from the TV,Video Games, and Computers and showing them what the outdoors is all about is something that we all need to do more often to carry on our outdoors traditions. I will leave this post off with a picture of young Joey age 6 with a huge smile and a fishing pole in his hand. Tight Lines everyone and be safe out on the ice this year.

Fishing Report for Saturday and Sunday on Candlewick Lake
Mostly Sunny
Ice Depth-4 inches
Bait-Wax Worms
Jig colors- Green,Yellow,Pink
Depth-7' of water, fishing 4-6 inches off the bottom


  1. Not a bad way to kick off the year!

  2. i hope to be on some ice next week my self, nice bail job on the gills!

  3. Nice work! I've been hearing some good reports from around here, but havent got myself out yet.

    1. I don't remember asking if you do much ice fishing? I know you like to hit the slopes in the winter...

  4. I sure could go for some bluegill soup. Nice job,more to come for sure.

  5. Brian
    Those bluegills are awesome. I know those put up a good fight coming from the bottom. Seeing them makes me wish I was on the lake now landing some just like that on the fly. Glad you had success. Thanks for sharing

  6. Excellent post. Time well spent. Those are some plump looking gills. The kids will remember that for a long time to come. Tight Lines

  7. I've been itching to get out. Seems like this past weekend was the first real weekend for getting on the ice. My friends reported some good fishing on the chain and from some of the local lakes here in the area. I'll be bringing the boy out on saturday wherever we may end up. Well done on the slob gills.

  8. I'm jealous. I am in metro detroit and we still dont have good ice and doesnt look like we will have some for a week or two.... bogus!