Article and Photos © 2013 by Russ Fimbinger
Day 3, Tuesday, Feb. 12th—Special Note: The final tally on Monday’s fishing report looked like this: many eating size perch were caught in the waters off Pinconning Park. The group fished in 6 to 10 feet of water. A few walleyes showed up on the underwater cameras a caused a blip or two on the flasher units. However, a serious case of “no bite-itus” must have infected the local walleye population. The perch were caught on a Ken’s perch jigging spook in either flor yellow with a red bead or a white spoon with a chartreuse bead. Other producers were Bro Bugs tipped with a thin plastic tail and a waxworm and silver Slender Spoon tipped with a minnow head.
Tuesday brought yet another challenge to this group of classroom fishermen. At daylight the search was on for Saginaw Bay areas where good, safe ice was available. Mark Martins pro staff crew were also looking for fishing areas that held fish, particularly walleyes. With this in mind, the group headed east on M-25 and then veered north to the Fish Bay area. From the Sunset Bay Marina located at the end of Loomis Road, the ice fisherman headed out almost 2 miles to locate potential hotspots.
When the depth finders and GPS lake maps displayed between 11 to 16 feet of water, the fishermen spread out and started drilling holes. Fishing groups formed and the day’s shanty towns were set up. A mixed bag of jigging baits and tips up worked the area, covering the underwater depths from their ice holes.
The day turned out to be a fishermen’s mix of hits and misses. The fish cooperated up to a point, but many of those darned walleyes would work their way up to the top of the hole and then bail. Other would show themselves for graph test, and the disappear. In fact, about a half-dozen keeper size fish did this to stymie the fishermen. That is to say, they were hooked, reeled and then, just as their heads hit the air space at the top of the hole—bingo—they were off and swimming in the wrong direction. As most fishermen know, the ice guys did not say “bingo” when a fish was lost. Other unprintable words were spoken, I do believe. I’ll leave readers to their own imaginations what was really said.
However, there are several success stories to report today. Pro staff member Jeff Sowa is pictured here (with his eyes open) with a nice walleye taken on a jigging rap. Student fisherman Wes Brewbaker, from Midland, is all smiles as he shows off the prize jumbo perch he caught on a minnow/bobber rig. Wes couldn’t decide if his catch was headed for the frying pan or the taxidermist. And the biggest walleye of the day was nabbed by Pro staffer Pat Bentley who brought his walleye to the ice on a tip up. This beautiful 4 plus pound fish fell prey to a big minnow dinner just before dark and right at the end of the fishing day.
Day 4, Wednesday, Feb.13th—The day began as calm as we’ve seen all week, with light winds at less than 10 mph. It was cloudy with the temperature at 30 deg. F. Due to the fact that fishermen had marked sufficient numbers of fish on Tuesday in the Fish Bay area, everyone agreed to fish that area again. The group opted for breakfast at 5:00 a.m. instead of the customary 6:00 a.m. and Andrea Fenton, out hostess and owner of the Village Inn in Linwood, agreed. After a hearty meal the fishermen were ready to head out on the ice at the first sign of daylight.
Most of the group fished in the same areas as Tuesday—here and there in the Fish Bay area accessed from the Sunset Bay Marina. Fishermen tread two miles out and then they spread the underwater grid from there. Two fishermen, Mick and Ron Janose, went the extra mile, so to speak, and fished about 1 mile to the northeast of the group. They reported 12 to 14 inches of good ice (no cracks and no other problems) and had a good day’s fishing. They fished jigs and spoons 1 to 2 feet from the bottom in 14-16 feet of water.
Later in the day as I was driving home, I called Mark to get the final fishing report for Wednesday from the Sunset Bay area. He personally reported 3 walleyes caught and another 3 fish lost at the hole. He also verified that his newest pro staff member, Pat Bentley, caught another beefy 4 or 5 pound fish, similar to the one pictured here. Mark also stated that the father and son team (Mick and Ron) took their limit of fish from their favorite spot, about 1 mile northeast of the main group.
There’s one final thing to mention here. The Ice Armor gear allowed this writer to meet the weather challenges head-on. Note that the weather conditions for all of this year’s ice fishing schools were about as bad as they could get—and that’s no fish story, friends. Howling winds, snow squalls, white outs, and 0 degrees when at Lake Gogebic. Cadillac’s Lake Mitchell brought more of the same, only with wind-chill temperatures at -20 degrees. Then along came Saginaw Bay with winds at 30 to 40 mph and enough rain to hopefully bring the lake levels back up (which is so desperately needed). I was totally warm and dry throughout these miserable fishing conditions. Thanks, Ice Armor. Now I’m a true believer that only the best clothing and gear will get the job done during the worst possible weather conditions. I was always warm and able to fish all day without a care, for sure (we fished for about 10 hours each day).
The 2013 ice fishing schools ended on a rather interesting note. Although the final school officially ended at Noon on Wednesday, several students decided to stay out on the ice and fish for the rest of the day. So I guess you could say these dedicated students decided to stay “after school” to work on their lessons—the excellent skills and techniques learned while attending a Mark Martine Ice Fishing School. Let’s just say these guys were working on a special project, perhaps for a little bit of extra credit. And just like when we were all back in school, the best ice-fishing lessons we learned are still with us today.
Special Thanks to the Following:
The following companies sponsored Mark Martin’s 2013 Ice Fishing Schools: Ice Armor/Clam Corporation, Berkley, Plano Molding, Rapala USA, TTI-Blakemore Company, Northland Tackle, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Navionics, and Mercury Marine.
Frank’s Great Outdoors in Linwood provided bait vouchers for all members of the Saginaw Bay Group.
The 2013 Michigan schools were held on Lake Gogebic in the western Upper Peninsula, Lake Mitchell in Cadillac, and Saginaw Bay near Linwood.
The following agencies were responsible for room and dining arrangements : the Lake Gogebic Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau, and the Bay City Convention & Visitors Bureau. Thank you to Carolyn Maves, Gabby Chapman, Joy VanDrie, and Wendy Scott for all of their efforts and hard work.
To all of the sponsors, agencies and pro staff members, all participants are very grateful.
If You Want To Attend A Mark Martin Fishing School:
Mark and his staff of pro staff members are currently planning the ice fishing schools for the 2014 season. Keep checking www.fishinvacationschool.com for up-to-date information on exact locations and dates.
For more information visit Mark Martin’s website at www.markmartins.net, or contact Martin via email at [email protected]. You can call him at 231-744-0330. Check out vwww.fishingvacationschool.com for the most complete and updated fishing school information.
Be sure to ask about Martin’ Summer 2013 open-water fishing schools.
Article and Photos © 2013 by Russ Fimbinger. Contact the author at [email protected] Content and photos reprinted with author’s permission only.