Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006

There I was driving down the road with my brother Jim who is visiting here from Minnesota. I’m short of time on this particular day because of a whole list of things I still need to do around the house and garage but still want to show Jim around Alaska too. I decided to load up some ice fishing gear and go check the ice on Watson Lake.

We arrived at Watson Lake around 3 p.m. and quickly checked the thickness of the ice with my ice chisel. We found the ice to be about four inches thick so we unloaded the shack and the rest of our gear and headed across the lake. We were all wearing ice cleats and bunny boots so not only were we warm we also had good footing on the ice.

I generally like to fish in about five feet of water on Watson Lake and prefer that depth for several reasons. Number one reason is I use a dark shack and like watching the fish below me as they bite. I also use eggs shells to brighten up the bottom making it easier to spot the fish. The fluttering eggshells also seem to attract fish too as they slowly flutter to the bottom. Being in the shack with a small heater running also makes it easier to keep your holes from freezing up too besides making the sport of ice fishing a whole lot more enjoyable.

I had a very difficult time finding the five-foot hole I have been fishing for several years now so finally settled on an eight-foot spot. It really wasn’t a very good spot as there were way too many weeds in that spot which made it rather difficult for the fish to even spot our jigs. Whenever you snagged a weed it left a muddy film in the water making visibility very poor. I would have moved again if it weren’t for the fact I was out of auger gas.

I checked about eight different holes while Jim and my son Brad fished in the shack. All I saw were some small fish but not one big enough to eat. I returned to the shack just as Brad spotted the first decent trout. The fish bumped Brad’s jig a few times then quickly sucked the piece of shrimp off the jig and was gone before Brad could even react. He then quickly went after Jim’s bait and soon Jim had him hooked. The fight was on as the feisty rainbow made a run as Jim carefully played the fish. Soon the beautiful rainbow came up through the hole and I thought wow that is perhaps the biggest rainbow Jim has ever caught! The fish spotted the other hole and as quickly as he came out of one hole he was in the other one and guess what? The knot came untied and he got away! We had our first customer of the year flopping on the floor of the shack and in seconds he was gone.

Despite feeling frustrated that his biggest rainbow ever got away, Jim tried to find some humor in the situation by saying he always practiced catch and release anyway. I continued to go from hole to hole outside but never had a bite. Jim did manage to land another respectable rainbow a little later but as he put it “That is a nice fish but about 2 lb. lighter then the other one that got away!” Well such is fishing; Brad and I each had one bump but never caught a fish. We were mainly checking the thickness of the ice that day and after finding out that we have plenty of ice we will be planning a full assault on these fish in the next few days.

As I drove home that evening I thought how lucky I am for living in Alaska, besides the fact that we have good ice this year fairly early. (The earliest I have ever ice fished here was October 8th and that year I caught a lot of fish), there is nothing better then fresh fish caught in the winter when taken right home and put in the frying pan.

I will be back on the lake on Monday November 6th trying to get a nice meal of fish and hopefully the fish will be more cooperative. I will be back home from the slope on November 24th and hopefully back on the ice then too. I look forward to seeing all of you out on the ice this winter and if you want to try the sport of ice fishing just give me a call regardless of your age. I have plenty of fishing shacks and poles so if you want a free day of fishing let me know and I will take you with me. See you next week!

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