Originally, I was going to be camped on the Mississippi River near Lynxville for this week’s ice fishing adventure. That plan was flooded out when 1 ½ inches of rain fell a few days before the trip was to take place.
Instead, I did some research and chose Dead Horse Bay, which is located on the southwest corner of Green Bay. My goal was to catch a really big northern pike and some very tasty perch. My bonus plan was to be camped close enough to the channel of the Fox River to maybe catch a walleye or two after dark.
Saturday, Jan. 27
My stepson Travis Dushek, who is 26, was my fishing partner on this 36-hour, go-for-it adventure. My golden retriever Fire was also along for the ride.
Travis and I met in Coloma at 5 o’clock this morning. He threw his gear in my truck and off we were, headed with very high hopes for a big adventure to a spot we had not fished before.
There are always some setbacks on a trip like this, and the few that we had were minor. Travis had a goal of catching a jumbo perch for his wall, that had to be in the 14-inch range. Travis, I might add, is a completely-addicted outdoorsman. He hunts and fishes more than anyone I know, and does not care about the time of day or the weather conditions.
We did what I always do when going to a new spot, and that is ask the locals for information. Everyone we talked to, both at the landing and on the ice, were really cool. Unfortunately, we were told we would probably not catch a walleye. We were also told that the perch were running small and were not very hungry, and that we should have been here a week ago for the big gator of my dreams.
Trav and I set up in a spot over 7 feet of water, close to some guys that caught some big gators last weekend. I have to admit, the no-walleye info was bothering both of us, as that was our after-dark plan.
We set out three tip-ups apiece, with some rigged for perch and some for gators. While we were fishing, we could watch several groups of fishermen using both tip-ups and tip-downs, and what we saw was what I call a non-bite. In other words, no one was catching any fish.
While looking for information, we were told that if we headed north about 12 miles to Geano Beach, we might catch walleye, perch and northern pike. At noon, Travis and I made the choice to pull our tip-ups and try to find some hungry fish.
The first thing we did was set our tip-ups over 15 feet of water, in an area I have fished with my boat and caught musky, northern pike and walleye. Almost immediately, Travis had a flag and caught a 10-inch perch.
About an hour later we set up my Eskimo “Fat Shack.” The ice was really wet on top so we decided that we would jig, cook and socialize in the shack and sleep in my Chevy Hotel.
Something kind of funny that happened today was that Travis told me that I am now officially past my prime, and of course I agreed.
By dark, I think Travis had four perch in the 10-inch range. I missed a very small gator that was not worth getting my arms wet over, and we had $5 bets for the big gator and the big walleye, and a $2 bet for the big perch. When I missed the gator, Travis said “that’s too bad, at least you could a been beating me in something.”
At dark, Travis was playing music off his phone, we had lights on the tips-ups and were having a good time as I cooked supper.
At about 11 p.m., my comrade fell asleep in his lawn chair, and I could not wake him up. I do not know why, but I stayed up until 2:30 just sitting there, with no music, just hoping for a light to go on one of the tip-ups.
At 2:30 I urged Trav to get in the super comfy front seat of the truck and I got in the driver’s side.
At 3:04 the first and only light of the trip lit up on one of my tip-ups. I tried waking my comrade, but he must a been really tired. Like a dummy, I got dressed and went to the tip-up without a scoop, chopper or gaff. The hole was froze over and I really had to kick to break the ice just to pull the tip up out of the water.
As soon as I did this I could tell I had a good fish on. I foolishly tried calling my comrade, but my old, worn-out, no-longer-in-my-prime voice would not penetrate the cab of the truck from 30 yards away.
I finally got my trophy fish to the hole and it would not fit. I gave another holler for a chopper and gaff.
Next, I kicked the hole open so it was big enough, and yippee ki-ya, I landed me a 25-inch walleye. I no longer cared that I could not feel my hands, and presented my trophy to Travis within inches of his nose.
Next, I asked him to measure it and then take my picture.
In all fairness, I have to admit that the next morning Travis caught some beautiful perch and won the big-perch bet, but this “out-of-his-prime, old-timer” was happy to win the bet for the big fish of the trip.
Not quite dead yet!