School on Ice: Lessons Learned at an Ice Fishing School
Article & photos © 2013 by Russ Fimbinger
Author’s note: Right now I am having the opportunity of a lifetime at a Mark Martin Ice Fishing School as an outdoor writer/reporter. My day is just like any other student at the school: I fish, fish, and fish some more but also take pictures for the group. This means I’m out on the ice at daybreak with my lunch packed and all of my ice fishing gear ready. Additionally, I am “assigned” to have my writer’s notebook and camera at-the-ready for the moment of truth: when any one of the student’s caught a fish and needed a photo. The following report is a first-hand account of the dawn-to-dusk experience at Martin’s 2013 Ice Fishing School held on Lakes Mitchell and Cadillac in Cadillac, Michigan.
Day One—Sunday Jan. 19, 2013. We met at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Mark Martin introduced his pro staff members and each spoke about the best equipment to use and tactics students will learn to catch walleyes, northern pike, crappies, bluegills and panfish. These tips from the expert included the right types of rods to use, the best jigs (teardrops and jigging lures), colors for all and live bait choices. The proper techniques for rigging ice rods and tip ups were demonstrated. Then each student was given a map of Lake Mitchell and the plan was set for Monday’s fishing.
Day Two—Monday Jan 20. A different type of Inauguration Day, for sure! On the ice and ready to ride out to fishing spots at 7:00 a.m. It’s dark, cold, windy and snowing. Temps are right at 3 degrees F with winds blowing 20-30 mph. Wind chill factor is about 20 degrees F below 0. Visibility is extremely limited. As soon as the tip ups are set, the professional landed a nice northern pike about 28 inches long—pictured here. Despite the absolutely brutal weather conditions, the day yielded several walleyes and northerns and nice catches of bluegills, sunfish, and crappies. One fisherman, Eric Plant (above, right) caught 15 nice panfish using a variety of small jigs and baits. Radio media professional/student Christal Frost (above) caught a good mess of crappies (15 fish) using a jig head tipped with a minnow head. When the group came off the ice at 7:00 p.m. results showed a very good day of fishing in spite of the weather—which failed to take its toll on this hearty and dedicated group. The day was a genuine, all-American “inauguration day” of ice fishing in Michigan. Most fishermen reported that the sack lunches were very cold and close to if not frozen. Today’s experience gave an entirely new meaning to the term, “cold lunch.”
Day Two—Jan. 22, 2013. At 7:00 a.m. temps are 4 degrees below 0. Right now fishermen are heading out to their spots. Winds are blowing about 10 mph with lake effect snow falling. More to follow–so stay tuned!
When the first bell rings to start the day at a Mark Martin Ice-Fishing School, you can bet his students are NOT all seated at their desks and ready with paper and pencil. In fact, ice-fishing students had better be dressed in warm, outdoor gear and ready for a field trip to the great outdoors—outside to an ice-covered lake teeming with walleye, pike, perch, and panfish.
Martin’s ice-fishing students come to class well-prepared with bags packed full of ice-fishing gear for their school supplies. The list includes ice rods rigged and ready, minnow buckets chock full, and ice augers steel-sharpened and ready to drill numerous holes in search ofthe day’s lessons. When class begins at first light out on the ice, these new-age fishermen/learners will be schooled in a wide-array of lessons and techniques to improve their ice-fishing skills. This includes lessons on how to use the latest fishing-finding electronics and gadgets galore, to be sure.
When the time comes to decide whether or not you want to attend a fishing school, ask yourself this: do you want to become a better fisherman? The choice is yours. For more information check out the following:
Mark Martin’s 2013 Ice Fishing Schools Schedule
Lake Gogebic, Bergland, Michigan—January 6 thru 9, 2013—completed with much success!
Lakes Mitchell/Cadillac, Cadillac, Michigan—Jan. 20-23, 2013—happening right now
Saginaw Bay, Linwood, Michigan Feb. 10-13, 2013 (safe ice permitting)
Visit Mark Martin’s website at www.markmartins.net, or contact Martin via email at [email protected] or you can call him at 231-744-0330. Be sure to visit www.fishingvacationschool.com for the most complete and updated fishing school information.