Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

March 14, 2014

Bob Gwizdz: Fishing, European style

LAKE ODESSA — Retired Lansing area auto worker Mike Boedeker is pretty well known in these parts as an international ice fishing champion.

When I caught up with him recently after he returned from a competition in Belarus — and, no, the U.S. team didn’t win — Boedeker suggested we get together for a day on the ice. But he added an additional wrinkle: We should fish European style, he said.

Well, why not?

The temperature was just barely in double digits when we made our way across Jordan Lake to an area that Boedeker said had been holding some pretty good bluegills. He handed me my weapon — a tiny rod and reel — about 11 inches long total that weighed mere ounces. A “palm rod” is what he called it.

And when I say “rod and reel,” I’m being liberal with the language. It looked like a miniature symphony conductor’s baton with a closed-face circular line-holder — a little bigger than a silver dollar — on one end and a spring bobber on the other. Made in Latvia, the rigs retail for around $2.50, Boedeker said, though he had spooled his with relatively high-cost, one-kilogram test monofilament line (Stroft, made in Germany; the name allegedly combines “strong” and “soft” together and the line is popular as fly fishing tippet over there). Stroft one-kilo line is about half the diameter of American two-pound test line, Boedeker said, and when I held it up next to some monofilament sewing thread, I couldn’t see much difference.

The drill was simple — lower the bait down to the fish (the depthfinder showed fish stacked from the bottom in 32 feet of water up to about 24 feet) and jig, just as you would with any other gear. But the downsized tackle made it slightly tougher to control the line; I was on my knees (if you saw me, you’d have sworn I was praying for a bite) to fight the wind.

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