One of the most intriguing aspects of fishing is that you can’t really prove anything. When you switch from a purple bait to an orange one and start catching fish, is it the lure color change that made the difference? Or did the fish just move in? Or did they just turn on? There’s really no way to know.
I was discussing some of this with my buddy, Christian LeSage, the other day on a small Mid-Michigan lake — which shall remain nameless, as is my custom when dealing with bodies of water that aren’t large enough to take a lot of additional fishing pressure — when we saw an appreciable rise in our fishing fortunes.
We were fishing for panfish — mainly bluegills, though the lake does have some decent crappie, too, and LeSage caught a couple right off the bat, just a few yards away from me, while I was catching nothing but ‘gills and sunfish — which in my mind make up about 90 percent of Michigan’s ice-fishing effort. We started out relatively shallow (say, 9 to 10 feet) without success and then moved out a little deeper (13 to 15) where we started catching them. It was a slow bite and after a couple of hours, we both had a mere handful of fish on the ice, moving from hole to hole in the same general vicinity. And when it really slowed — I think I went more than 30 minutes without a bite and then when I started catching them again, they were tiny — we decide it was time for a change.
LeSage, a fisheries biologist with the Department of Natural Resources out of Lansing, who has a power auger — which is less a luxury this winter than most years — went on a rampage. He drilled more than a dozen holes in every direction from where we were fishing, in water anywhere from 20 feet deep to as little as four. We moved around. I went out deeper, LeSage went toward the bank, and we began prospecting, LeSage scored first, pulling four nice bluegills in arrow from a hole in six feet of water. I didn’t do anything out deep.