PINCONNING — Last ice is traditionally some of the best fishing of the winter, but you couldn’t prove it by experiences on Saginaw Bay this year.
I went twice recently, both times with guys who had gotten them where we went. In each case I was a day late. Or maybe a day early?
I fished both times with Greg Sochocki, a Bridgeport baker with whom I’ve chased all manner of fish and game over the past couple of decades, often with great success. This time, not so much.
For instance, we went out one afternoon to an area with about five feet water under the ice where Sochocki’s cousin Mark and a couple of buddies had spent the morning. They had three between them (but said they’d missed others). I was encouraged; if it had been slow that morning, then it would certainly heat up that afternoon, right?
Well, not exactly. Sochocki and I stayed until dark, fishing two rods apiece. I had my first and only bite at 8:05 p.m. (on a jig head tipped with minnow I was pounding on the bottom) and landed a just-legal ‘eye. And though I did my best to get back down as soon as possible, it was to no avail. The fish appeared to be a stray. Sochocki blanked.
At dark, Cody Deatsman, who was fishing maybe 20 yards away (and had two fish when we got there), announced that he’d filled his ticket, catching three fish on three successive drops right at the end. So we were close to some fish for some of the trip, but, obviously, not close enough.
Sochocki and I went back a week later, arriving at sunrise. We set up in the same general vicinity as our previous trip, but couldn’t make anything happen. At 11 a.m. we’d seen just one fish, a ginormous smallmouth that one of Sochocki’s buddies caught on a tip-up. So Sochocki went on a reconnaissance mission on his quad, then called on the phone. He’d gone to an area that had produced for some buddies in the past, about a mile and half away, in nine feet of water. He drilled a hole dropped a bait down, got a hit, missed it, re-baited, and caught a 13-inch perch. Let’s move, he said. We did, as did his buddies.