Minnesota Farmer

Hard water fishing
February 3, 2010, 8:51 pm
Filed under: fish, Fishing, Minnesota, snow, walleye, weather, Wildlife, winter

Folks in the north have a pastime that sometimes draws astonished stares from folks down south, we go ice fishing.  No, we do not go fishing for ice, we go fishing on the ice.  When the weather gets cold and the ice gets thick enough, we take our fishing gear, auger a hole in the ice, put up some kind of shelter, and drop in the line.

Sunday, my son, Paul, and I, joined a group headed for the Lake of the Woods in the northern most part of Minnesota.  Our trip took us to Border View Lodge <www.borderviewlodge.com> near Baudette, MN.  This huge lake on the border of Minnesota and Canada bills itself as having the finest walleye fishing in the world.

Walleye is the Minnesota state fish and well worth the effort to catch.  We also caught sauger, a smaller cousin to the walleye, perch, mooneye and burbot.

After a hardy breakfast, the folks at Border View loaded us into home made “Bombardiers” and took us to our “house” on the ice.

A Bombardier is a tracked vehicle made for transporting groups of people on the ice.  They may have a van or large car body, or maybe a home made contraption of aluminum, plastic and foam insulation.  Benches on the side of the larger one at Border View held 12 people plus the driver.  This fully floatable contraption is the safest way to move on the ice.

inside the Bombardier

With temperatures between 0 and freezing we were cozy and warm for the trip to and from our ice house.

Monday, a slow day.

slow day on the ice

You are allowed two lines in an ice house, and since the fish have to come to you, it can be real slow when they are not biting.  We had a heater, food, bait, and only a little action.

Paul's burbot

A burbot looks like a cross between catfish and an eel.  It’s slimy and has a habit of wrapping itself around your arm when you try to take it off of your hook.  They are exciting to catch and come in large sizes.  They are not bad eating once you get past their appearance.

my mooneye

My mooneye was the only one caught by the group.  We put it back.

A nice little sauger

The few little sauger we caught the first day went right back in the water.


Our trip out was considerably longer on Tuesday.  At at top speed of almost 30 mph it took just short of an hour to get to our shack on the ice.  Because Border View had fewer houses in this area we were joined by Greg for the day.

Greg and Paul

Now three in an 12 foot by 12 foot fish house can get to be a bit cosy when there is action, but it is company when things are slow.

The day started out well, with Paul pulling out small walleye and sauger from his corner of the house, but when things slowed down he decided to take one of his lines to the other corner of the house.  As Paul headed across the house I noticed that the rod he had left on the floor was heading for the hole.  That was when the excitement started.  With two fishermen giving me directions I started working the line to bring in a 23 inch walleye.  It was a case of, yes, Paul set the line, but I got to it first, and it was my rod and reel he was using.

yes, 23 inches

It was a beautiful fish, and it was right in the middle of the “put it right back in the lake” slot.  We took pictures and we sent her back back for someone else to enjoy.

Paul, the fish and myself on Lake of the Woods

It was a good day on the ice.  We didn’t get our limit, but we had fun.  I’ll be back again.



1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

this is really cool. would like to try it out someday

Comment by msaudreyc

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