To me, there might not be a more compelling fish to pursue through the ice than the tullibee (Coregonus artedi). That’s why I recently took two days to go to Big Sandy Lake, in Aitkin County. Word on the street was that things are good there lately. So, I expected a quick vacation of ice fishing for tullibees. What I got was more like work, with a little schooling thrown in.Continue reading “Tullibees on Big Sandy Lake”
The Best Ordinary Day
Today is Friday, supposedly. It’s normally my favorite day of the week, but this one feels too….ordinary. I’m having trouble embracing it.Continue reading “The Best Ordinary Day”
Yellow Bass of the Fairmont Chain
I was on the phone last night with an old Minnesota fisherman. He asked if I’d done anything interesting lately. I said, “See if you can guess. What are yellow with black markings, plentiful, and taste good when they’re battered and fried?”
“Yeah, well, okay….here’s another hint: they wiggle and flop when you throw them on the ice next to your sled.”
“What? No! I’m talking about yellow bass.”
“Huh. Never heard of ‘em.”
Continue reading “Yellow Bass of the Fairmont Chain”
Fishing For Ducks, Tullibees, and Hot Air Balloons
Last week at this time I was miles from shore on the west side of Mille Lacs, soaking up the sun and having a fine day. You may already know I love ice fishing, and that I also like to get to the “big lake” at least once every season. But this time was different: I was lured there by a cause. Continue reading “Fishing For Ducks, Tullibees, and Hot Air Balloons”
BWCA Entry Point 25: Winter Camping and Fishing
For years I have dreamed of camping and ice fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Biting cold and slush-laden lake tops have kept me home the last two winters. That was fine; I’m not one to press my luck. But the warmer-than-average weather we’ve enjoyed lately had me itching to get at it.
Entry Point 25, with walleyes in Newfound Lake and brook trout in Found Lake, was the perfect setting for my introduction into winter adventuring. Little did I know, however, that introduction would come with a sobering peek into my own psyche. Continue reading “BWCA Entry Point 25: Winter Camping and Fishing”
Ways to Extend Your Ice Fishing Season
Well, the walleye and northern pike seasons ended yesterday here in Minnesota. This always leaves me feeling a little adrift with respect to the remainder of my ice fishing season. Most of my energy is spent chasing those toothy predators; nothing else quite measures up.
But I love ice fishing. I’d rather make use of the time left than hang my head and stuff my gear back up in the top of the garage again. Continue reading “Ways to Extend Your Ice Fishing Season”
Trip Report: Jumbo Perch of Devils Lake
I don’t keep a bucket list. If I did, one of the items on it going into 2020 would have been ice fishing Devils Lake, North Dakota. When that opportunity recently landed in my lap, I couldn’t resist. Continue reading “Trip Report: Jumbo Perch of Devils Lake”
Tullibees and Happy Kids on Mille Lacs
Nobody smiles at 4:40 am. Nobody at my house, anyway. But Friday morning, I woke my kids up that early, knowing they would be smiling a lot that day- eventually. They had the day off from school, and we had a big day planned at Mille Lacs Lake.
Our little Ford Escape slinked down the resort ramp between rumbling trucks and wheelhouses, onto the white expanse. It was a few minutes before sunrise, though we wouldn’t see the sun that day due to thick cloud cover. Winds were moderate and temperatures were expected to rise about ten degrees to near 30 by day’s end. It wasn’t a picture-perfect day, but it could have been worse. Continue reading “Tullibees and Happy Kids on Mille Lacs”
Trip Report: Lake Mille Lacs, January 2019
Easy victories, camaraderie in the outdoors, a warm place to lay my head at night. These are all things I like as much as the next guy. When I pried myself out of bed last Thursday morning, however, I knew none of these things awaited me on Lake Mille Lacs. The lack of all three things, however, pointed toward a high probability of good fishing, which was more than I could resist.
The latest buzz hinted that the west side of the main lake was just becoming accessible, and some folks had gotten out to the mud flats on ATVs and snowmobiles and found great fishing. The ice wasn’t reliably thick yet, it was said to be wet around cracks, and roads and bridges had not yet been extended past the bays. I don’t have a snowmobile or ATV, and I have no interest in being that guy who ends up needing a towing hookup at the bottom of the lake. My plan, if you could call it that, was to drive to the lake and see if it looked reasonable to walk out to the nearest mud flat. If it seemed foolhardy, I knew there was some fishing activity happening near some resorts, which I could fall back on. What I found when I arrived exceeded expectations; there was a well-worn road coming off the public access already, which immediately split off in three directions. I quickly packed up and started hightailing it for my destination, some 2 miles distant. Continue reading “Trip Report: Lake Mille Lacs, January 2019”
Do Something New: Ice Fishing for Mille Lacs Tullibees
As I coasted down the hill into Garrison, the eastern sky glowed with the clean blue light of impending sunrise. A few minutes later, a lone cloud streak in the East lit up like a hot poker. I always enjoy a good sunrise and this one made me feel I was in the right place at the right time. After waiting out what seemed like weeks of below-zero punishment, I was looking forward to spending the entire day tullibee fishing on Lake Mille Lacs, in sun and near-thawing temps. Continue reading “Do Something New: Ice Fishing for Mille Lacs Tullibees”