LINWOOD — I felt just the slightest tick on the end of my line, but failed to connect on the hook set. I could tell by the way it felt that my minnow was gone, so I burned the bait back up when I noticed my partner sitting next to me, walleye pro Mark Martin, setting the hook.
He started laughing.
“He got yours, then he came over and got mine,” he said as he hauled a three-pound eye up through the hole.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Martin had me down three-zip. Fortunately, I soon got into the plus column. But over the next half hour, Martin caught another and I blanked.
Frustration. Not that getting beaten by Mark Martin is in any way embarrassing. But it had been a frustrating day from the start.
We’d gotten up before the roosters, hoping to get going early, but there were white-out conditions on Saginaw Bay. The pressure crack we’d have to cross to get out to where we eventually wound up — 16 feet of water, just inside a second pressure crack — had opened up overnight due to gale-force winds. So we waited it out.
Long story short, it was 5 p.m. by the time we got set up to fish. (Safety first!)
It was several days before Martin’s annual Ice Fishing/Vacation School on Saginaw Bay and we were on a reconnaissance mission. It was successful; everyone in our party of more than a dozen anglers spread along the second pressure crack caught fish with a couple of limits caught and one fellow catching nine.
We all started out in the same place the next morning and the results were the opposite. Very few fish came to our holes. What made matters worse is that someone had found a path across the second pressure crack — out to deeper water — and it was about 25 yards from our shanty. We were just off what had become a highway for snowmobiles and quads. It became apparent by late morning that we were going to have to move.