Spring Lake for Gators
From about 1992 until 2018 I averaged catching between 1 to 3 northern pike per year that was 40-inches or more. Many of these were caught through the ice and a few in June in Canada and I have never hit 43-inches. With the end of winter approaching I decided to head to Pool 5 on the Mississippi River near Buffalo City where I would hike in. There would be three trips and spend two nights sleeping on the ice and try to make some meat and catch a trophy.
Friday, March 8th
High 33, low 22
The trek in would not have been so difficult had it not been for 10-30 inches of snow which had 6-inches of water underneath it. Slush on the ice is the story for most ice fishermen this past winter. I pulled three Otter sled loads in with each trip being a 20 minute, mind over matter/pain experience.
It has been about 6 years since I have fished here and I forgot where to put my camp, I say this because some places you are over 4-feet of water and a stones throw away you have 30.
I started to build my camp over 20-feet of water and put out three tip ups with one over 5-feet of water and one over 14 and the other over 20. About three in the afternoon I had my only flag and caught a small northern pike on the tip up over 5-feet of water.
I then made an executive decision, moved my other two tips ups, and fished in the same same depth as where I caught the fish. I also moved my camp.
I had my pup Ruby along for companionship, built a very comfortable camp, and went to sleep shortly after dark.
Saturday, March 9th
High 34, low 27
A good sized snow and wind storm was predicted for today. From first light until 9:00 I had no action. Then I started having flags and the fish were taking out line and dropping my minnow which was rigged with a steel leader that had a spinner on it for attraction. At noon I made an executive decision and switched all three tip ups over to 20-pound mono filament for leaders and the action was immediate but my fish were still small.
It was at this time that the wind was really blowing and a rain/sleet mix began. At about two I caught a 32-inch northern, and at that time the fishing became incredible. Each tip up was a good hundred yards from camp and walking in the snow/slush was a unique challenge as was landing fish.
The storm was predicted to be a dandy and I have to tell you I was loving life. I had my Eskimo ice shack secured with every rope and ice anchor that I had. Inside my shack I had a comfortable cot, a cook stove, heater, a propane light, a kitchen, and most importantly the gators were hungry and I knew Mrs Pigasauras was not far off.
I had one in the very heavy category bite threw my line, and at dark I had 4 dandies on the ice and let 8 go for a truly incredible afternoon.
That evening I listened to the snow hit the shack and the wind try to blow my shack away from the very comfortable confines of my sleeping bag.
The next morning the fish were hungry again, the three trips hauling gear out really kicked my you know what. In a lot of cases it’s a grunt, a lunge and keep on moving forward.
I had so much fun and was kind of bumming that I would not be returning this winter but good luck came my way when I realized Selina had the following weekend off from her job at the Necedah Kwik Trip and she wanted to go back to Spring Lake and try to catch a big gator!
Live till ya die! Sunset