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Josh Hagemeister

Sartell, Minn.

Camp Fish-- "The Finest Most Comprehensive Angling Camp" is busting the surface...again.

Imagine waking up in the morning at Camp Fish.  The sunrise is warming the insides of numerous knotty pine cabins nestled in tall pines, surrounded by 7 lakes, calling loons, and a gorgeous historic lodge. A glance at the lake provides the reflection of a new day full of fishing anticipation.  The shimmering surface is of Long Lake just west of Walker, Mn.--the home of Camp Fish and dreams come true.  Soon the bell tower rings sending the signal of  the beginning of your day.  A day full of immersion into the sport of freshwater fishing and the exposure to fishing knowledge you never new exsisted--the knowledge you need to become the most versitlie, successful,  and consistant angler you aim to be.  It doesnt matter if it's bass, walleye, crappies, pike, musky, perch, or whatever swims--you will learn how to catch them all under any condition using simple and at the same time complex formulas  that tie all the behaviors and habits fish have together. Finally, you realize you are at Camp Fish--a place where anglers of all ages and skill levels can go and get a one of a kind, hands-on, fishing education experience for days or even a week at a time.

Starting back in 1983,  Camp Fish anglers sent vibrations of fishing lures through the waters of the Leech Lake area all summer long.  That was before the ice fishing boom--even the internet!  Wow!  Todays Camp Fish is striving to encompass the entire year--Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Imagine going to "Camp Ice Fish"--living and learning hands on in comfort all of the ice fishing information you can swallow, using electronics, learning fish location, fine tuning presentations from a pool of fishing experts, professional anglers, professional fishing guides, and fishing industry icons.  And don't  forget the three square meals a day, classroom time, seminars, question and answer sessions--and of course--a minimum of  four to five hours of actual fishing time (depending how many times you say "on more minute") to use what was just learned.  Now apply that same concept to all of the open water seasons as well and throw in a few "specialty" weekends or sessions such as "Musky Mania", "Club Walleye", or "Bass Bonanza". These are the hardcore anglers dreams come true--36 hours of nothing but the fish you care about--hammered into your head all day and night---extreme fishing camps. Throw in a little relaxation, a campfire and some story swapping just for good measure.  Sound like fun yet?

A few years ago the Camp Fish "family"  had a reunion celebrating Camp Fish and the relationships and memories that were created for us (staff/family) and the campers.  It was a week long reunion that consisted of well over a hundred of past Camp Fish staff (myself included) fishing the heck out of all of the lakes in the Walker area, visiting old haunts, finding new ones, and simply having a grand old time.  Talkin' smack, sleepin on the floor, and fishing 14 hours a day (kinda like I do now..hmmm.) with old buddies made the week fly by!  The week ended with appearances and speeches by Al and Ron Lindner, Camp Fish staff and campers.  The best part was listening to the Lindners talk about all of the sacrifices they and their familys made to make Camp Fish a reality and also how difficult it was to finally have to close Camp Fish almost 20 years ago.  Al's speech ended with the hopes that some how Camp Fish would be a reality again--along with his endorsement to do so.

Since that hot August day on the shores of Leech Lake, a group of us (Camp Fishers) have been searching for donations, sponsors, and have been working on a plan to bring Camp Fish back to life.  It is coming together slowly but surely.  The old Camp Fish grounds are available, we have verbal financial commitments, and people to help get it up and running.  I have commited time and energy in trying to help out as much as possible (on top of my busy guide schedule)--but I know it's not enough.   Not many days go by that I dont think of Camp Fish.  It was/is that important to me to this day.  So, this morning I decided to at least write a blog about Camp Fish to share with others what is happening.  Any feed back, thoughts, ideas, or advice would be extremely valuable in helping the mission to bring Camp Fish back to life and  teaching the great sport of fishing to anglers once again.  Feel free to contact me at or  Happy Holidays and good fishing of course!  Capt. Josh Hagemeister.

Ice fishing the "Figure 8"




Jigging, twitching, rocking, and coasting are descriptives of the movements an ice angler instills into the bait while ice fishing through a 8"-12" platform (fancy term for hole in the ice).  Not alot of wiggle room in the old ice hole to create horizontal movement which can be extremely important  in the realm of ice fishing with microscopic baits--especially when your talkin' panfish.  That's where the triggering tactic --"the figure eight"  -- which is used to trigger muskies at boat side-- can come in handy while ice fishing.

I'm guessing that 95% of most ice anglers use some form of verticle movement when trying to trigger a strike from a non-commited panfish, or walleye, or bass, or... you get my drift.   They are ultimately forgetting about the obvious--horizontal movement.   I am not sure why more anglers do not try to immitate horizontal movements through the ice--no matter how small the movements are.  It's another one of those small details that will catch more fish.    Turn back the clock a few years.  Jigging Rapalas and  airplane jigs are a common example of the effectiveness of horizontal movement under the ice.   Using a "figure 8" pattern in the hole can put a bunch of bonus fish on the ice when using just about any ice fishing bait.  Heck, why is everyone buying the horizontal hanging baits that work so well but only moving them vertically?   Hmmm, ooops. 

I typically will start out using a variety of verticle movements with the bait and catch the most aggressive fish first.  After the bite slows a bit  ( I have already caught the most aggressive fish ), I begin to key on the other fish (that are still there either visually or via Vexilar) that are not as aggressive and need a little more persuassion.  I start to move the bait around the edged of the hole in a circle pattern and then ease into a full fledged "figure 8" pattern (I'm not using a bobber by the way).  I have found that using a slower horizontal speed works the best probably because there is a  lag time or pendulum effect from the rod tip to the actuall movement of the bait.  The shallower you are fishing (less line out), the shorter the lag time is and visa versa.  I have caught some of my biggest bull 'gills, perch and walleyes using this simple switch-up.  If ya think about it,  the majority of the baitfish population in a body of water is moving horizontally at any given time so why shouldnt you?

Short but sweet and something to think about, give it a shot the next time you hit the ice, if anything, it's good conversation and your fishing partner will probably laugh at the idea--until that fish start to pile up.  Good Luck, Capt. Josh