Ice Fishing with Friends

     My buddy Pat invited me out ice fishing on Sunday.  He was going to Squaw Bay on Lake Monona with his friend Brian and son Lee.  Now let me give you a little bit of back story.  Pat and I have a history of ice fishing.  We always have a lot of fun, but to be honest we don't catch many fish together.  The fishing is always eventful.  Lost skimmers, freezing temps, puking kids, just not lots of actual fish.
     As we headed out on the ice we knew we were in for a tough bite.  Middle of the day ice fishing can be really slow.  Plus being on a heavily pressured metropolitan lake didn't help our chances.  As Brian started drilling the ice, Lee took to cleaning out the holes.  Now for those of you that don't regularly take kids fishing.  Cleaning out the holes with a skimmer just may be the most fun thing you can do on the ice.  
     The weather was overcast, but at least the wind was calm.  This time of year the bluegills seem to get rather finicky.  We targeted shallow weed to mud transitions.  Through trial and error we found that dead sticking ridiculously small jigs was the only way to catch to these fish.  While rigging the rods, Lee reminded me that despite all the times we had been out ice fishing, he had still not caught a fish through the ice.  I was shocked when I heard this because Lee is one of the best youth anglers I know.
     As we hoped from hole to hole, Pat and Brian started to pull out the bluegills.  Suddenly we hear Lee say, "I got a bite!".  When I looked up from my bucket I saw his Frabil ultralight bowed over and bouncing wildly.  He was smiling ear to ear as he hoisted it up.  A nice bluegill, his first through the ice.
     It ended up being a great afternoon on the ice.  This time of year in Madison the fishing can get tough as the local bluegill population starts to feel the angling pressure.  Remember that it is important to have fun, and that downsizing your jigs can help ensure panfishing success.  Please remember to limit your catch, not catch your limit.  Also if you get a chance, take a kid fishing, you won't regret it.
     Tight Lines.


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