Minnesota Farmer


More hard water fishing
February 5, 2010, 11:57 am
Filed under: cold, fish, Fishing, Ice, Minnesota, snow, travel, walleye, weather, Wildlife, winter

We never saw Border View Lodge in the daylight.  We arrived Sunday night after 7 p.m.  We left every morning before sunrise, and returned just as the sun was setting.  That said I can tell you that Border View was a really great place to stay.

Our rooms were in one of the “Lodges.”  Our room had a queen size bed and a double bed, a chest of drawers, an open shelving unit, two chairs and a sink.  We also had a shower and toilet room.  There were 4 rooms on the main floor with more upstairs.  The lodge also had a large sitting area with a full kitchen and gas fireplace.  The whole building looked to be less than 5 years old and very clean.  Most buildings were non-smoking, but they had a few buildings just for smokers.

There were several other housing units set up for families and groups.  The main lodge had a store, large dining area, bar and kitchen.  Breakfast was a small buffet line and evening meal was ordered off of the menu.  You could get your catch of the day for your evening meal or maybe just a few fish for appetizers.

Our housing plan gave us two meals in the main lodge plus a lunch packed for noon.  Being a non-coffee drinker I was able to get a thermos of hot chocolate for the noon meal.

Gear for ice fishing could be purchased at store, as could your fishing license and souvenirs.

Ice fishing takes less complicated gear than does lake fishing.  A rod of about two feet in length with a small reel on it or a “stick” consisting of a one half inch to one inch dowel with a 4 inch nail on one end (point out to push into the ice) a small screw eye to run the line through and two pegs to wrap the line on are all you need.  We used small hooks or jigs of either gold or silver, hung a minnow on the hook, dropped it to the bottom of the lake and waited for the fish to bite.

When we used the “stick,” we would place a split shot weight just above the hook to help get the line to the bottom, hang on a bobber, and wait for the fish to latch on.  With the rod we used a similar rig without the bobber.  Every few seconds you would “twitch” the line to make it move,  then either lift the line to entice a fish to bite or jerk the line a bit to hopefully set the hook.

Winter fish move very slowly.  The warmest water in an ice covered lake will be at the bottom away from the ice.  Although a large fish will give you quite a tussle it is not as much work as when the fish are warmed up and active.  When using the stick, the line was just pulled up hand over hand, a feat that would not work well in the summer.

We were fishing in about 30 foot of water with about 30 inches of ice and a good snow pack over that.  It was dark on the bottom of the lake and the fish seemed to be operating by feel.  They would take the minnow in their mouth and if it felt right they would swallow.  Most of the time they just spit it out and we never even got a chance to catch them.  Sometimes they would steal your minnow and you never even knew they were there.

Small hooks and jugs were the order of the day.  It was difficult to entice anything to bite, and they seemed to want their food small and slow.

How did that get there?

The lodge provided all of our bait and advice if you asked.  If the fish were not biting we would try different things on their advice.  We had our best luck hooking our minnow through the mouth, but at times a tail hook worked better.  If you really were desperate you could hook multiple minnows on the same hook.

Our best fishing time seemed to be in the morning.  We would get our lines in the water as soon as we were delivered to our house.  Usually the best luck was on the south side of the house but we caught fish in all of the holes.  Most of the action seemed to start about 9 a.m., but most of the bigger fish seemed to be caught closer to noon.

Waiting for a bite

We spent a lot of time watching our lines.  When fishing was good you could count on a bite every 15 minutes or less for someone in the house.  When it was bad, you couldn’t wait to go home.

An eight inch hole is big enough for what waits in Lake of the Woods.  However, when you have a 10 pound walleye or burbot on the line that hole seems awfully small.  One of our party hooked onto a 30 inch, ten and a half pound walleye.  When it came up it was laying sideways to the hole.  After a bit they got it turned, but it seemed to fill the hole as they lifted it.  Most of the walleyes would flare their gill plates as they came out of the water.  When this monster did so, he also spit his hook.  There he hung on his gill plates, with no hook in his mouth.  Now a 30 inch walleye has a mouth full of teeth that does not invite you sticking your hand in.  They had a pliers handy for pulling hooks out, but the first attempt at pulling that walleye out of the hole slipped, and it took a second grab to get  him out.  Needless to say there was a lot of excitement in that house.

The folks at Border View practically guarantee you fish.  That said, they can not say what size or species you will get.  They do their best to keep you happy, but when the fish are not biting what can you do.

There are sleeper units for those who want to spend the night on the ice.  Night on the lake can be a bit spooky.  As the ice gets colder it cracks and booms.  Any vehicle moving in the area creates a chorus of creaks, cracks and groans.  Fishing is not always better late at night, but they can be caught.

A nice fish on Lake of the Woods

If you like fishing, give hard water fishing a try sometime.  For the first time ice fisher, a lodge like Border View is a great place to start.

Michael

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1 Comment so far
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Great Read Mike

Comment by Eric from Border View Lodge




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