With the lakes around the Black Hills ready to go for this ice season, I had a couple of friends who had recently gotten new flashers as well as one with a new Clam Conversion Kit auger, but they hadn't had a chance to really test them out on the hard water yet.
I also had a number of new lures and plastics I wanted to try as well as my new Vexilar FLX-28 I had just gotten in the mail a few days before. I received an ice report from another friend who'd been down to Stockade Lake and said the ice was over 6" and ready to go. He'd caught some bluegills and perch and I decided that this would be a good place to put all our new gear through their first trials.
When the four of us arrived on site, I insisted that I be the first one out on the ice as I normally do with first ice. If anyone is going to fall through, I'd rather it be me since I've got my Ice Armor Lift Suit by Clam Outdoors on, spikes on my boots, safety picks around my neck and I've done my homework on ways to get out should the worst happen.
I also make sure everyone knows how to use the Clam Safety Rope that I carry in my sled at all times. The ice was in great condition though and we were headed off to our spots. My friend Steve and I started popping holes with our Conversion augers while the other checked depths.
We gridded out a good spread of holes from 6' to 12' depths and covered about half a football field of ice and started fishing. No sooner were we jigging than the fish started showing up. The first 'gill I caught was just over 9" so I was hopeful it would be a good day. Soon the others were catching good size 'gills and perch as well, all using new tackle and plastics.
The fish, for the most part, were pretty aggressive and responded well to our quick cadence jigging. Using a Demon Tongue spoon from 8 My Bait, I pulled up a number of nice pannies before I switched to my killer jig last year, a red Clam Drop Kick jig, and paired it with a new red Maki Bloodi plastic. The perch really liked that Bloodi.
A red Jamei also worked great, especially on the bluegills. My friends were using Clam Pro Tackle Caviar and Epoxy Drops with Jameis or red maggots and bringing in some nice fish as well as trying some other lures. Even caught a couple of bonus fish with a largemouth bass and a pike.
It was a great morning and I was glad to see that everyone was catching fish on the new tackle and that my FLX-28 worked flawlessly and I was already enjoying its features, particularly its color palette selections and digital depth readout and I'm looking forward to a long season of using the new unit.
When we left the ice, we were all extremely satisfied and talked the whole way back about what worked, how fish reacted and what we wanted to purchase soon for the next outing. Maki Bloodis, Demon Tongues and Caviar Drops were high on the lists. We'll be back out on the ice again real soon. Enjoy first ice everyone. Winter is finally here!