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 firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.minnesotaguideservice.com Happy Holidays and good fishing of course! Capt. Josh Hagemeister.
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 www.minnesotaguideservice.com
Last Saturday I spent six hours on three different lakes "looking" for a "hot" shallow water crappie/bluegill bite that my customers could benefit from. My helpers were my eager seven and nine year old boys geared up with their polarized fishing glasses. The lesson of the day was: find fish first..and then fish. It amazes me how many anglers simply throw the anchor without doing any research first and wait...and wait...and wait--for possibly nothing. For my boat, its find a likely looking area in the shallows, putting down the bow mount and trolling through the shallows looking for large pods of fish using my Maui Jims. Works like a charm too.
I think the boys where more excited to look at the fish than to catch them. Only once did the younger boy ask when we were going to fish. It was then that the older boy chimed in "we have to find them first" --Good answer. After spotting numerous northern pike, bass, and only a few small groups of 'gills, it was apparent the first lake I chose wasn't going to happen. We basically looked for 30 minutes, fished for 10 minutes, and then left for lake number two.
When we arrived at lake number two, the same process began with many pods of active fish being located. A nice mix of Crappies and Sunfish. My rule is to find 3 seperate pods in different locations before we start to fish--that way I have a plan A,B,and C, -- in case the wind changes, another boat moves in too close and ruins the bite, and or we catch all of the active fish out of one pod--things like that. After a couple of more groups of fish were located, the fun began. We must have caught 60-70 fish the first hour between the 3 of us. It was then that I had to remind the boys that we were "scouting for spots", so we brought up the anchor and headed to lake number three...only to start all over again. They were actually excited to see if we could find even a better spot!--See how this works, they did not start to complain about having to leave, because they have already learned that a better bite can always be found somewhere.
At lake number three, we did find a better bite full of bigger fish. It was a perfect six hour lesson for the boys and a successful scouting mission for the guide service. The boys learned to always keep looking for a better spot/bite, that changing lakes can make a big difference (even if water temps are the same), and most importantly--find the fish before you start to fish for them--even if its simply using your polarized fishing glasses, the trolling motor, and some stealth. Good Luck, Capt. Josh, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service. www.minnesotaguideservice.com
It's hard to believe I was standing on the ice in a black t-shirt thinking about taking it off because of the heat. With 12" of ice left on the small lake my boys and I were standing on (actually lost 3" since Monday), 10" was solid, the top two inches--Junk. But still plenty to walk on. Plus the fish are hittin' good just under the ice.
It's as easy as waiting for the kids to get off the bus at 2:30 and hittiing the ice at 3:00 for a couple of hours. And man have we caught some nice fish including some 11 inch gills and 15 inch crappies which have all been released. Using what? And Where? Basically, a small chartreuse/oragne Genz Bug tipped with a waxie while doing a little hole hopping between a dozen or so holes. What depth? Seven feet with old weeds, approximately four to five feet below the surface with some of the fish only 3 ft down cruising under the ice. With the ultra clear water, it's easy to look down the hole and see the fish swimming below. What about the dusk bite? Im sure it's good, but that's bed time, so that has to wait. Bummer.
My theory anyway is if you can catch them during the day, why fish at night? Most of my fishing clients are day time anglers anyway, so I practice my skills during normal business hours. But I do have to admit, fishing at dusk is killer and quite fun for that short window of opportunity. Anyway, hope to get out on the ice a few more times this week, and then I will have to drive north a few hours and then...boat. What a short winter. For updates, pics, fishing info, and guide trip results/stories throughout the summer, follow Minnesota Fishing Guide Service on www.facebook.com and or www.twitter.com (MN.Fishing Guide @MNFishingGuide) throughout the season. GoodLuck, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com