The fifth hour on the ice led us into conversations I could never have imagined. Ice fishing has a way of helping to bond friends, cold beer doesn't hurt either. Sitting in a 7 ft. x 7 ft. popup shack is more entertaining than one would imagine who's never been. A flag can and will pop up at any moment, so dozing off isn't a valid option. And being in such close proximity keeps it lively. If you're on a semi-trafficked lake, other fisherman will be sure to holler "flag!" from across the lake should they see no activity from your camp after 60 seconds of a tip-up rising - it's the neighborly Maine way.
Tending traps keeps a guy fairly busy. If one particular spot shows more promising fishing than another, we drill holes closer to that area. Should a certain depth be more successful, we'll adjust our other lines. Hooked bait also has a way of disappearing via tricky fish and fishing with an empty hook produces few fish. If nothing is working - we'll adjust everything. If that doesn't produce fish, we drink more. I can't say that tends to help us haul in large fish, but the cold at least stay at bay.
Today we throw out 10 traps and test lake depth with a sounder, hovering our shiners 2 feet off bottom. Our goal is to find a perch school or a hungry trout. Before an hour's time, we enjoy a nice fight with a handsome white perch. Hoping this single catch is a promise of future activity, I drill an additional hole nearby and move my farthest trap to it. Within the afternoon, we release three white perch as well as haul in three keepers. As we head home for a small fish fry, I anxiously describe my famous recipe to our fishing party. Perhaps I'll share it with you soon... Cheers!
Cold-weather fishing setup
L.L. Bean plaid
Satisfaction of completing setup
Changing out the shiners mid-afternoon
Freshly scooped out auger hole
Our third flag of the day rocks gently back and forth as a perch waits