by Mark Walters
This week I went on an awesome trip and achieved a goal that I always have but seldom achieve, and that is to get into some really good fishing.
Here is the scoop, two weeks ago I was driving north on Hwy 35 and was approaching Genoa, when I saw a large number of ice fisherman across the channel on the Mississippi River just below the dam, and fishing near Clement’s Fishing Float.
I made some calls and was told to give Jerry Joseph’s of Genoa a call to get the low down on how to fish my “new honey hole”. Jerry Joseph’s retired from the U.S. Navy, as well as, from Dairyland Power Plant and as I would find one very avid outdoorsman.
Wednesday, February 12th
High 24, low minus 4
First, I would unload my four-wheeler and put a ton of gear into my two Otter Sleds. Then I would drive my four-wheeler across the river above the dam. Then all fishing and camping gear would be pulled by hand through a maybe 200-yard rolling and physical walk to the river below the dam.
Next, I would find Jerry Joseph’s on the ice. At Captain Hooks Bait Shop in Genoa,while looking for my new buddy on the ice, I would hear repeated comments of respect about this man.
As I am about to shake his hand, he catch’s maybe a 12-inch sauger with an ultra light fishing rod and an 1/8 ounce Taylor “hair jig”. No live bait for this guy.
I quickly assess my situation and ask Jerry where he though my best chance would be to catch perch, northern pike, and after dark, hopefully walleye.
After some deep thought, Jerry tells me where he would go, which is a ways from everyone else on the ice who are all targeting sauger in the fast water below the dam. I pull my two sleds to my new honey hole and put out two deadsticks with walleye minnow on them, with the intention of hopefully catching a perch while I do the big job of setting up my camp, as I am staying on the ice overnight.
I putz, enjoy life, and set up my 12x 7-foot Eskimo Shack. Soon after that, Mark and Josh Quinn, who are from Arena enter my world and begin drilling holes and putting out tip ups.
This father/son team has not fished here in a bit, but have fond memories of catching some big gators in years past. I pull a dead stick and replace it with a tip up and a shiner and go back to work. It was not long and I had a flag, I landed a very fat 30-inch northern pike. The Quinns had one tip up that kept going up and land four dandy gators out of it, including a 33-incher.
At dark, everone left but me. I took the Quinn’s hot hole and my day ended with two 27’s and the 30.
Next faze of the day was walleye fishing from the shack. I used a slip bobber and a jigging spoon. It took aobut two seconds to catch my first walleye, it was very small. By the time I quit fishing, just before midnight, I had caught ten, only one was over 15- inches.
I slept in my Otter Sled with my pup Fire.
Thursday, February 13th
High 31, low 15
There were probably 20 fisherman on the ice after sauger and perch today. My pal Jerry was out bright and early. I was the only person using top ups and living on the ice. My first gator was a solid 31-inches, next I caught a pigasauras that was 33-inches and as I was carrying it back to the shack that same tip up tripped and I missed a really heavy fish.
I forgot to mention I also caught some really pretty perch.
Tonight, Selina had a basketball game so breaking camp, getting off the ice, and getting to her game was on my mind. My last fish was another pig that was 32-inches.
It took me three trips through the rolling woods to get all my gear to my four-wheeler. On my last journey, I was running down a slope so as not to get run over by my sled. I had my 70-pound ice shack on my back and my sled caught up to me going down hill and I did not see it coming.
Without warning both of my feet became hog tied, I went down like a pile of bricks and was run over by my sled. I let out a bellar like a whipped pup and hurt my back, left shoulder, re-injured my knee and tore open my left ankle so it matches my right ankle.
I made it to Selina’s game in full winter survival outfit, was in more pain then anyone had a clue, and nothing mattered because I kicked some butt on the ice and made it to the game!
Living the dream! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank