As my hardwater season officially ended a week ago, I look back on it to see what new techniques, new locations, new lakes and new experiences I had that I can build off and put towards next season. There are, of course, things I wish I had tried or locations that I'd planned on getting to that I never did, but all in all, it was a good season.
I participated in a new ice tournament series, the West River Ice Fishing League, which is something that many of us here in the Hills have been clamoring for years now. I had many group trips scheduled and all were successful events. There was only one trip where a fish was not caught.
I fished with people and friends who I hadn't been on the ice with before. I had my biggest attendance yet at my annual seminar. There were many good things that happened this season. But, one of my favorite ones involved going after and catching a little fish I'd never caught or targeted before, but had wanted to go after, the elusive Tiger Trout population in Center Lake.
My fellow HSM’er, Oakley, wrote about his time targeting these fish and I'd seen other posts here and there throughout the winter about the fish, so I finally decided it was time to go after them. Along with my friend Matt, we went to Center Lake to try and find them. Lake maps gave us a general idea of where to look for them, but not knowing much about these sterile hybrids made it more of a mystery than anything else. About the only thing we knew about them was they don't get very big since the state record is just under a pound and a half.
We tried a few locations before I finally caught one. It would be the only tiger we caught that morning, but not the only fish. Catching rainbow trout was not hard. They would come in from above the jigs and smash them.
We caught a dozen or so in that manner. What we did discover about the tigers was that they behaved more like bluegills or perch in the way they approached a jig. They didn't come in fast and hard, they rose up slowly to the jigs, then usually swam back down before repeating the process and either grabbing the jig or swimming away.
This was something I was not expecting with any trout. Using a Northland Mitee Mouse jig and an Impulse Water Flea plastic, this got the most attention from both Rainbows and the Tigers and it's what finally bagged me my first tiger.
While not a very big fish at all, they certainly are one of the prettiest, with the stripes, spots, and colors glistening in the sunlight. I'm glad to have finally caught a Tiger Trout and I'll be looking to return to Center possibly this summer and try for them on open water and with its location close to other bodies of water I fish on regularly, it'll be a place to get on the ice at again next season. Looking back, it was fun to cross this fish off my hardwater list from this last season.