Ice Training: a system to get your body acclimated to endure a long season of ice fishing. Some would say my training is simply a great way to get bronchitis. They’re probably right. I rely on this annual tradition to toughen up to handle the next few months I’ll spend standing on the hardwater.
The Regiment: Like a weight lifting program, Ice Training is the result of building on small improvements. Start with short bursts of exposure to the cold. For example, I take out the garbage in a t-shirt and shorts when it’s 8 degrees outside. Then lengthen the time of exposure to dial-up your tolerance. I like to clean the ice and snow off the truck in the morning in my sweats.
Sure, my neighbors stare like there’s something wrong with me. Again, they’re probably right. But when sitting on a 5-gallon bucket for hours staring at a hole in the ice is your idea of fun you probably don’t care what the “warm-bloods” think.
Testing the training: My Ice Training was tested early this year because most of the lakes are already locked-up around Metro Detroit. This is about two weeks earlier than usual which has made for some hot first-ice action on Lake St. Clair. The perch have moved in close to shore and are biting in 3-5 feet of water.
I’ve hit the ice hard this week spending three mornings in the last five days pursuing perch. And I’m definitely not the only one. Lake St. Clair is packed with fisherman. Get there early and move often if you want to avoid the crowds.
Saturday and Sunday morning I parked at Gino’s restaurant on Jefferson Rd. The fee is $5 on the weekends and the parking attendant always has some good tips on which lures to use and where to find fish. Access to the lake is definitely easier this year thanks to this new gravel ramp.
We walked out about 200 yards from the “launch” to the weedbeds. We started in front of the big boat hoist and moved out from there. Small jigging Rapala’s (perch pattern), black teardrops and Chartreuse Hali jigs helped us ice about 50 fish on Saturday and 15 on Sunday but only a few keepers. The majority of the fish were small perch like this.
Two of my buddies managed to land these nice 9” Sunfish on Sunday.
Here’s Sunny #1:
And Sunny #2:
This morning I headed out to the spillway next to the Crocker Road DNR Boat Launch, also on Jefferson Rd. We walked quite awhile to get to a secluded spot and it definitely paid off. Once we found some fish the ice was on fire. For about half-an-hour, my buddy Jake and I couldn’t reel them in fast enough. My double jig rig landed the first two true doubles of the season.
True Double #1:
True Double #2:
Jake’s Dad landed quite a few keepers with a red bead on a spoon. I caught most of my fish with a black and orange tear drop and a Chartreuse Hali jig but STILL couldn’t find a keeper. Spikes and waxies worked best but one keeper was iced with a minnow.
On the way to work I saw more anglers packed on the ice. It won’t be long before the schools are picked clean of sizeable fish. Such is life when you’re ice fishing in the city.
Tight lines to all and enjoy the holidays.