Saginaw Bay gives up it bounty on its own terms, and last weekend was no different. With winds blowing 35+ miles per hour on Friday it was a no brainer to stay off the ice. Yes, there were lots of people going out, but why chance it when the forecast for Saturday was perfect for staying on the bay all day long.
We hit the bay running Saturday morning with my two Jason Mitchell Thermal X shacks from Clam towed behind the Bearcat. With one small four-foot crack to jump outside of the state park, there was deeper water ahead to check out. At the first stop we only marked a couple of fish between us and it was off to the next spot. At the second location there were quite a few more marks on the Vexilar’s, but still no takers and we moved once again, heading further east. At this point we started changing up lures left and right.
It was like the previous week when we fished the river, constantly changing up baits trying to get the fish dialed in. One rod with something big or loud to draw fish in, and below it the second rod rigged with something smaller to give the walleye below an alternative. That mid-day reputation of there being a tough bite on the bay continued until we made our final move to get set up at the fourth spot to get hunkered down for that late afternoon bite.
I used my Jiffy 46X-treme to drill our 10″ holes, this time cutting 12 inches of ice. At one previous spot I was close to bottoming out the auger, the ice was that thick. The STX blades on this auger are outstanding and it was drilling near the bottom just like when I first start cutting on the surface. Start to finish, this propane auger is a beast when it comes to Great Lake walleye fishing.
At five o’clock the light switch got flipped. Just like the previous week on the river, Clam Pro Tackle’s Leech Flutter Spoon caught the first fish after missing the first bite attempt by a walleye. I had tried the Glow Watermelon that worked last weekend earlier in the day, but I was working on the various colors and sizes throughout the day and at this point, I had a Glow Chartreuse Pink spoon on. The Glo-Ring from Vexilar, what can I say about this additional tool, it simply makes charging lures easy, which helps increase catch rates.
The first hit, and then first fish and second fish came on the Leech spoon. Before I could get it back down, my second St. Croix Avid ice rod had popped for a third hit. It happens to the best of us, and it happened to me. You get the walleye out of the hole, it comes unbuttoned on the ice and wiggles its way back to the hole and down she went before I could get my hand around it. I caught one more and my tourney partner Cliff caught three during this time period to give us a quick seven fish in 20 minutes before calling it quits for the evening.
After packing everything up in the Clam/Jason Mitchell Thermal X shacks, we headed back to the state park. Following the track on the GPS, we got back to the crack we had crossed earlier in the morning. Two sleds were eyeballing it to make sure it was safe. One went across, then I crossed and then stopped. Just wanted to make sure the third sled had made it safely across. After he did, we all gave the thumbs up and continued on our way. Never say sportsmanship is limited to the field, it applies to all facets of life and certainly in the brotherhood of ice anglers today.
Once back to the home bunker, it was time to clean the fish. The fish were semi-frozen of course and pretty cold to hold. I busted out a pair of Vexilar’s latex gloves and that problem was solved. If you are looking for an awesome fillet knife, take a serious look at the knife from Church Tackle, it is razor-sharp and takes the meat off the skin better than any knife I have ever used.
Quick product note: This was the first time I had the Jason Mitchell Thermal X shanties on the ice. With the extra 50% insulation that Clam added to their thermal shacks this year, I never felt the need to turn my heater on until 4 pm. Could have easily fished two people in the shacks, but was awesome for using it as a one-man big water setup.