by Bret Amundson
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
That’s one of the phrases that ran through my head around 6:00 pm tonight. There may have been a few words that weren’t fit to print along with it.
I’d been sick for the last week and a half and hadn’t done much fishing during that time. I live ½ mile off Lac qui Parle and have access to a heated house, yet couldn’t get myself out of the cold-medicine induced coma enough to head out. I’d heard of the crappie bite picking back up, just couldn’t take advantage of it yet.
Even though I finally took a chance two nights ago and headed out for a half hour, I wasn’t nearly as excited to go as I was today. That night I caught 5 quick crappies before they lost interest. I kept two for the frying pan and returned home. While two decent crappies would supplement a tasty meal, it’d be nice to have three more to round it out.
I have access to a few different houses at the Watson Hunting Camp. One house in particular had been producing as of late. It was almost by accident too. We’d placed the house there as a resting location until we found a new spot. It happened to be inside a number of other houses and more had arrived after it sat there for a few days. We decided to take a chance and drill holes there. It was a good move.
I had a long day today of recording interviews for the radio show and picking up a shipment of winter issues. I thought this evening might work out well for fishing and a quick check of the barometric pressure caused a quick spike in my blood pressure. I was starting to get excited to be on the lake. I’d shoot for 4p start and fish until 8.
By 5pm, I still hadn’t made it to the ice. My magazine shipment had just arrived in Milan and I would need to bring them home and get my gear.
Finally the truck was unloaded. I hopped in my pickup and pointed it towards the lake. Only to be stopped dead in my tracks by a low fuel light. I contemplated letting it run out of gas on the lake. Heck, I was only a mile or two from home. Worst-case scenario: I’d have to walk home and get a gas can. Nahhh…I better go fill up.
After a stop at the Watson Corner Store, I was finally headed towards the ice, 1-½ hours later than I’d hoped. (A couple days earlier a 14” crappie was caught at 4pm-the beginning of a hot afternoon bite.) I pushed the boundaries of acceptable speeds on the ice and bounced my way to the house. A group of outdoor fisherman taking advantage of the warm weather greeted me with holes popped near the various shelters in the area. I hopped inside my house, dropped a full crappie minnow down on the rattle reel, grabbed my rod bag and got ready to fish. It was nearly 6pm.
As I hooked a minnow head onto my tiny blue jig, I reached for my MarCum….uh ho.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
I was now more than 2 hours late and I had forgotten my electronics. A few years ago, I vowed never to fish without them. Today I was only in 5 feet of water with a hot bite, so maybe…just maybe; I could get along with out them.
I lasted all of 5 minutes before I reeled up, jumped in my truck and pushed the limits again back off the ice to go get them.
By 6:30, I was finally settled in the fish house. Rattle reel down, jig with minnow head down, electronics working, good music on my iTunes and quite possibly the best tasting cold beverage I’d had in a long time in my hand.
It wasn’t long before I had marks aggressively attacking my jig. In fact, some of the most tenacious fish I’d seen in over a month were appearing on my flasher and instantaneously bending my rod.
It was everything I’d expected. And it almost didn’t happen.
After having to travel home for the 3rd time I almost gave up thinking I’d missed the best time already. Maybe I did, but from 6:30 – 7:30 pm, I caught eight keeper crappies jigging, one on the rattle reel and missed countless others that swiped my bait clean.
If the conditions are right and you’ve got the opportunity to go, do it. Don’t let a few roadblocks get in the way. Your stomach will thank you!