Fish Stories By Brian G. Schommer I have not been able to tell many fish stories as of late… at least none with any truth to them. I have had a few pals share some with me about ventures out on …
By Brian G. Schommer
I have not been able to tell many fish stories as of late… at least none with any truth to them. I have had a few pals share some with me about ventures out on lakes up north but, as the old saying goes, no pics, no proof. I am going to wage a guess that most of these “stories” are just that. They have posted some photos on their social media page, which look a lot like photos shared over the past few years, so I cannot confirm nor deny the validity of said images. Knowing my friends, there is 50/50 chance that the photos could be legit, which means the same could be said the other way.
Scottish born author turned British politician John Buchan said, “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions of hope.” That hope has been what has kept a lot of ice anglers like me going this year. Another old saying is, “if you are fishing, you are not catching;” which could be viewed as a rough translation of the Buchan quote. I am excited to report my buddy Terry and I FINALLY found an abundance of fish that were hungry enough to provide us with a few hours of “catching.” Photo proof does exist, and they have dated documentation via text messages to various family and friends who know us well. By well, I mean to the extent to know we are both good for a few “stories” with a few embellishments on various facts… and by “we” I mean… ME. This time, we provided the evidence, none more visible than the bags of fresh Crappie and Sunfish filets in the refrigerator. Terry started the day off with a nice slab Crappie of just over 10 inches, soon to be followed by my 12.5” hog. I thought about leaving the decimal point out, but who would believe a 125” Crappie? Most of you are probably questioning the 12.5” but again… I have a picture!
So, I have covered the “who” (Terry and I) and the “what” (successful ice fishing adventure). Next would be the “where” and, if you are a true fishing person, you already know what to expect. “Where did you catch those fish?” a friend asked me when I sent him the pictures. I will tell all of you the same thing I told him… “we caught them in the lake.” A few minutes passed on our text message before I received the reply I expected. “I realize that… What lake did you catch them in?” Side note: I removed a few expletives and unflattering comments regarding my physique from his reply. I waited a few minutes to reply which seemed to make him a bit “antsy” as he continued with a series of “?” texts that cumulated into “??????” and, before he broke down and actually called me, I replied to his question.
“We caught them at Lake j’ai oublié in Wright County.” Again, I received a text of multiple question marks. “What in the heck? Never heard of that lake. Where is it,” he asked? “I told you, it is in Wright County,” I quickly replied. “I GOT THAT PART… WHERE IN WRIGHT COUNTY???” By this time, I was having more fun than anyone should at the expense of a friend. I said, “you seem to be missing the location within translation.” His frustration level took a big jump after that one… “What in the hell are you talking about translation? I just want to know where in “FREAKING” Wright County this lake is?” (Freaking was NOT the word he used). I was laughing so hard that I finally responded by saying “j’ai oublié is French for, “I forgot.” As I write this, the laughter continues, as most people realize, that to be a true fishing aficionado, one must also have a bit of “line spinner” in them. Fish stories often are not totally factual and, truth be told, I never had a conversation with anyone regarding the where we found our recent success. I just held all 71 of my faithful readers attention for various amounts of time (yes, that would be you) on a fish story. Terry swore me to secrecy on the whereabouts of our newly found honey hole. The only truth in the above couple of paragraphs is that it was on a lake in Wright County that we had our success. For those fishing folks who also are not open to sharing their hotspots, feel free to use this one to keep those inquiring “on the line” for a while. Just don’t ask me how to pronounce j’ai oublié. I snagged it off the internet.
With the “who, what and not going to tell the where” out of the way, we are up to the “why.” Why not? I often say, “a bad day fishing is better than a good day working.” “Fishing” can be replaced by several activities that include snowmobiling, golfing, hunting, sleeping… but for now, fishing is the focus. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after.” The comradery and additional experiences provided in most cases outshine the actual catching of fish. Herbert Hoover said, “Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the simplicity of our forefathers.” We are flush with high-tech gadgets that truly make fishing “easier” but, our conversations were mainly about days gone by where we used simple jig sticks, no reels and we drilled our holes with a hand auger. There has never been a time that we miss an opportunity to reminisce about the good old days. My wife recently commented, “you and Terry have spent more time together the last month getting out ice fishing than you have in past years combined.” The smile on her face said it all… this was something that made her happy, too. “We have,” I said, “and I would not trade it for the world.” Even if we would not have caught a bucket of fish, which we did and have photo proof of, the day would have been a success.
“How?” Through the ice (about 20” or so” in about 20 feet of water and I would say about two or three feet off the bottom. Terry always uses his trusty Vexilar and until now, I have always gone old school. Vexilar is an industry leader in ice fishing sonar electronics for those unfamiliar. The unit illustrates the depth of the water and “marks” fish in the proximity. You cannot actually “see” what kind of fish it is (although they have cameras for that) but, it does provide an advantage over the fish. Terry brought his “back-up” Vex for me to use and, it was a game changer for me. Terry and his son Nick have recently acquired a couple “Tickle Sticks” from Fishing13 with inline reels, another newer innovation to the ice angling world. Terry has the Fishing13 inline reel and Nick has the “Gravity” reel by Clam Outdoors. As Nick was not with us, I got to try out his new rig. These light and ultralight ice fishing rods are more sensitive than any ice fishing set-up that I have ever fished with. We did not miss many bites, no matter how light they were. We brought home 10 crappies and 17 sunnies; all better than average keeper size. Terry caught two 11” crappies in addition to his 10” and out fished me by a little… or a little more than a little even. We were more than comfortable in Terry’s Clam thermal portable icehouse with a Big Buddy Heater keeping us toasty enough that I broke a sweat. Another old saying… “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will spend thousands of dollars on fishing trips, boats, motors, rods, reels, bait, tackle, depth finders, portable ice shacks, Ice Castles, sonar…” and the list goes on and on. With that, I see a Fishing13 Tickle Stick Ultra- light and an inline reel as well as a Vexilar in my future. This should be taken this as fair, advance warning, Mary. If anyone has any recommendations on any fishing equipment that I should add to my collection… let me know. I am sure I will use it all as I continue to get out and “Enjoy the Great