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Lake Joseph burnt me, hurt my feelings, gave my fish to my friends... but I fall in love easily. These watery girls can walk all over me when there's fish involved... which is why I came back the next week to see if she would treat me better.
This time around I went up with Jason and his buddy Gary, oh and of course Bob was with me. Bob and I have been doing a lot of ice fishing together this season and since this was likely going to be our last hoorah with the ice sticks we had to go together.
Jason and I have been talking about fishing this lake together for the entire season. We made it up there and on the ice about 8:30 am and trekked out to meet Jason and Gary off a point pretty far from the launch. As we made our way out we passed holes after holes, as it turned out - those were Jason's and they had already been out hunting. They managed to catch one but for the most part, it had been pretty dead. I was hoping this was going to be different from the last time, but it wasn't looking good.
We setup close by, close to shore in about 60 ft. We marked a fish but nothing committing. Jason and Gary hadn't marked anything in a while so we decided to move. Turns out moving was going to be the theme of the day. We moved up the lake a few times, Jason was able to pull out a second fish from one of Bob's areas but then it all died again. We kept moving. Most of the spots we tried were all just drop offs, that's pretty much the entire area we are in - drop offs on both sides into a flat trench.
I pulled out Navionics to see if there was anything different, even something small. I noticed a small flat that was on the north side. We popped out some holes on the drop off outside of it and managed to mark a fish or two. I did get a few nibbles but I couldn't hook up. It was starting to get late in the day - we decided to hit one more spot and then we were going to be out of ideas. We would likely just perch here for the next few hours and ride out any travelling fish.
The spot was right in the center of the trench. Within a few minutes of being setup we started to mark fish. I could tell this spot was going to be better - the fish were hanging around my Vibrato much longer than any other marks we had seen that day. The first fish bumped my bait a few times before I was fast enough to hook it. The fish wasn't huge but it was bigger than anything we had pulled out through the day as a group.
The blood was pumping, I was happy. Lake Joe had finally shared her fish with me and one of my spots had produced - that's always the best feeling. I dropped down and about 10/15 minutes we had another mark and I was able to hook up with it. It pulled drag and felt great! I knew it wasn't massive but it had some power so I knew it was better than the fish I had previously. As it reached the hole, I felt it get caught on the ice so I knew the lure was outside of the mouth for the most part. As it turned out, it was completely out of the mouth - it was in the meat of the tail. A fowl hook!
For anyone who may not know (because I didn't), if you foul hook a fish, you can't keep it. I'm not sure of the reasoning but my assumption is because it's not sportsman like - either way, let it go.
The last fish of mine came just minutes after that one. This spot was really producing. I'm not sure if the fish were travelling or just hanging in the deepest water they could find. The last fish liked to look at the bait for a bit too. It gave up a good fight, pulling drag a few times before finally coming to see me.
After three fish with out-of-the-package hooks on my vibrato, they needed to be changed. Vibrato hooks come with ultra cheap hooks and they broke pretty easily when using pliers to remove them from the fish. I let Bob fish my hole as he didn't have a fish finder and I really wanted him to hook up too. This was our last day!
As I was packing up Jason hooked up a fish right behind me on his stationary bait. It pulled a bunch of line and took a bit to get up. Boy was it fat! Jason had a setup a bit different. He was using an egg sinker a few feet from a live minnow. After a few minutes of battle the fish was iced and it was STUFFED full. It was loosing its meals all over the ice and they were all shiners. Guess this explains why minnows were doing so well!
We had popped fish off for the last few hours but now it was time to go home. Turns out today only people with the name Jason were allowed to catch fish. I think I might have to visit this lake again in the spring and see if I can find some of those Musky!