Every group of good friends, have that one thing that has become an annual event that they look forward to. For myself, fellow HSM member Colby Gallagher and one other buddy, it is taking the boat out on the big pond (Mille Lacs) as soon as the walleye season is reopened for the “Winter Season”.
The weather conditions leading up to the date, have a lot to do with the ability for this trip to happen, and unfortunately this year, had a lot of ice to deal with.
This meant busting ice, 4-5 inches of it, for about 20 yards at the access we used. After roughly 30 minutes of chiseling through the “tough stuff” there was just a fresh ¼ inch for about 200 yards.
Once we made it free and clear of the first ice pack, we found walleyes staged up in 13-15 FOW. The technique we’ve honed down to being most productive this time of year is pitching various Northland jig heads and different colors of the 3-inch Northland Fishing Tackle's Impulse Core plastics.
As luck would have it, even a 14-inch jumbo perch made for a bonus fish in the boat. There were three of us in the boat and everyone had a smile the entire time! In the end, we only boated 5 eyes, missed several others, but chalked this up to being another epic adventure.
On a technical note, the water temp (32.4-33.6 deg) and scattered ice cover played a big role in the location and activity of the fish. It was obvious that the fish were in a cruising mode and we never marked any large pods of fish.
As the evening set in and the temperature of the air and water dropped, it was proof that one degree can change everything. With the cold temps following later this week and a solid ice pack of smaller waters, I am confident I will be on top of the ice (cautiously) next weekend.