Whether you watch professional football or not, almost everyone knows about the biggest game of the year. This year, the Super Bowl is on February 7. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Bills and the Green Bay Packers (my favorite team), both lost in the conference championships so they will not be playing. So, this year, if you want to avoid the gathering of Super Bowl parties, consider going ice fishing instead. The past few years, I have done both.
This tradition of double-dipping started four years ago when my friend invited me to ice fish the private lake behind his house before watching the game at his house. He was going to cook some pork shoulders in his smoker most of the day so he said to come over whenever and we could fish. I got to his place around lunchtime and he got out his newest toy, the wireless thermometer. With the range of the thermometer to the receiver, we could go out and fish while he could keep an eye on the temperature of the pork. We spent a couple hours hopping around the ice trying to stay on the fish before the pork was ready to come out of the smoker. We packed up and headed to the house. As it grew closer to sunset (and kickoff), more guests began to arrive for the party, and I was feeling the draw of the ice for the last-light bite.
I decided to head back out and my friend declined on going with me as he had to keep getting food ready for the game. To this day, I think he regrets that decision. I went out to the spot where we had started earlier and right away started marking fish on my Vexilar. It wasn’t long until I had a mound of fish on the ice next to my hole. That was probably the best ice fishing that I have ever encountered. After catching a fish, I would drop my jig back down the hole and would watch fish come up on the Vexilar and hit the jig as it fell. I was frantically texting my friend to tell him to get out on the ice because of how good the fishing was. He still said no due to his responsibilities as party host. As the sun had set and I was losing light, it was getting tougher and tougher to see my rod tip to detect the faint bites of crappie. I started to use the light of my Vexilar to put my rod tip in front of so I could watch for bites. Eventually, that became too hard and I had to call it quits. I returned to his house with a bucket of fish and a mile-wide smile.
I have since purchased a shanty that is easier to transport and set up. I also have gotten a couple lanterns so that I can keep fishing as total darkness falls. The final piece of the puzzle is bringing a heater that runs on the one-pound propane cylinders. This keeps my hands from getting too cold and it keeps ice at a minimum on my line and rod. When fishing at and after dark, experiment with moving the lantern around to different distances from the hole. Sometimes the light being close to the hole will bring small fish around the hole like a light attracting bugs in the summer and the bigger fish will follow them in. Other times, the fish will shy away from the light. Buy some jigs that glow in the dark and “charge” them with either your lantern or a UV light designed for charging jigs before sending the jig down after catching a fish or if you think it has lost its glow.