20 Minutes on my Knees

And Nothing to Show for it!

This is kind of a fishing report with a story from my ice fishing day on Lake Lansing yesterday January 24, 2016. It includes two videos for evidence or documentation.

We’ve had no ice in Southern Michigan this season until the past couple weeks finally. I heard Lake Lansing had 4 to 6 inches so I went out with my spud and sled yesterday to try my luck. I’ve never ice fished Lake Lansing before though I fish it a few times a year in the softwater season.

It was a fairly pleasant day to start with, light winds and some scattered sunshine. There were a decent number of anglers already out, mostly in front of the beach access area and a couple out from the North boat ramp where I accessed the lake.

I went my own way trying to find weeds around the edge of the big sand point in the NE part of the lake. I had my handheld Lowrance GPS with a Lakemaster map card so I was picking spots from that. They dredged Lake Lansing quite a big awhile ago so not all the map contours matched or were as accurate as most maps are so I drilled a few holes where I thought it would be 5 to 10 feet deep only to end up on top of the sandbar.

The water was very clear so I could see my jig on the bottom, and the various rock and gravel. I worked my way out past the shallow drop into 8 to 10 feet but wasn’t finding any of the scattered weed beds that sit on part of these drops during the summer. I wasn’t getting any bites.

I worked holes out past 10 feet with no success so I walked towards a couple point out from the beach. I didn’t want to go join the gang, hoping to find something good on my own so I stopped in deeper water outside and worked my way shallower. Still no bites.

I wasn’t seeing much caught either. I decided to towards the big sand point across from beach because there are weed beds on the end of that and along the sides. I stopped part way out at a small hump that I thought would be close to 10 feet. I found some old holes already on top of the hump and being already a little tired from hand-drilling 8 inch holes (that’s that auger I have) I punched out a couple of these holes.

Tiny Lake Lansing Yellow Perch caught on a tiny Skandia Tungsten ice jig

Tiny Lake Lansing Yellow Perch caught on a tiny Skandia Tungsten ice jig

At first I was getting no bites. I was about to leave but it looked like a small two-person shanty had been on this spot so though it was only 5-6 feet deep and I could just about make out bottom – a little darker soft bottom with some fine gravel and sand, sparse weeds – I switched to a tiny #12 Skandia Pelkie Tungsten jig in pink. I added a live spike to the tiny hook.

I had to really pay attention but I got the subtlest of bites and pulled up a tiny 3 inch perch… I could barely feel or see them bite but I caught 4 more all the same tiny size. Not what I’m looking for. I tried a different hole and then dropped the camera to see very little weed cover and no visible fish in any direction. I must have been near a small weed bed with tiny perch hiding in it, and every couple minutes one would sneak out and bite my spike and jig.

Time to move. I tried a couple holes along the South side of the sand bar and up on top of it with no bites. I watched some anglers catch a small pike on a tip up South of the sand bar. They were getting a few bites but nothing to write home about.

I then headed towards one of my favorite summer spots – some sandsucker holes along the East shore. I found some more holes about where I wanted to try – at the end of the sandsucker hole where there are usually weeds – so I punched them out and cleaned them up. Note to self: definitely remember to keep that spud on a wrist leash so you don’t put it through a hole to the bottom of the lake! Thanks to whomever taught me that little trick.

Tiny Lake Lansing bluegill caught on a Dot ice jig and spike combination

Tiny Lake Lansing bluegill caught on a Dot ice jig and spike combination

The first hole I cleaned has some weed in it and I started getting super light bites again. I pulled out 2 bluegills about the size of a small potato chip and then that bite was gone too… I couldn’t buy another bite. I tried red mousies for something different. Still no action.

I want back to a spike again with the tiny #12 ice jig and was slowly shaking it, then pausing it. I lifted up and felt a ‘snag.’ I set the hook and for a moment nothing happened. Then my 2 pound test line started screaming off my little spinning reel! What have I hooked?!?

It felt like something was snagged on something else like a piece of wood or a heavy line maybe. Nothing was moving and I couldn’t pull in any line. Then off goes my drag again, screaming with a heavy shaking on the other end. Whatever it was was running right up under the ice. I had to bury my rod to the reel into the hole to keep my thin line clear of the ice but it felt like I was still caught on something so I expected my line to break any moment.

But I wanted this big fish in bad! Every few minutes I would gain some line. It would feel like it came partly loose of whatever it was caught on. I would reel in a few feet of line. And then it would stop dead and come no farther. Then the reel would start screaming again and off something would go with my tiny jig!

I literally knelt on the ice for over 20 minutes – I’ve never fought a freshwater fish this long on a light rig! No matter what I did I could not gain that last few feet up under the ice. The big fish literally made 7 or 8 long runs under the ice stripping out line. I tightened the drag and loosened the drag multiple times. I just could not get the fish all the way to the hole. There was no one nearby I could call to, or have as my witness. I wanted this fish in BAD!

It finally happened after over 20 minutes, my line suddenly went slack with no warning or pulling hard as had been happening for so long my arm was getting tired. I reel in a cut or broken line. No jig. No idea what I had on for so long!?! Talk about anticlimactic and a disappointment. Now I’ll never know!!!

So I got out my Seaviewer underwater camera and dropped it down the hole. Nice weeds. And a nice big toothy pike sitting just off the side of my hole! Yeah, if I was a little panfish in Lake Lansing I would have scattered too. That explained why the panfish quit biting but I didn’t believe this was the fish I had on and lost. Here’s some underwater video of that pike in the hole.

I have fought lots of pike and this fish did not fight like a pike. It didn’t fight like your average bass, even a great big one either. It fought odd, right up against the ice and steady powerful pulling without a lot of speed…

As I was watching the pike swim away another big fish swam into view and then I got my revelation – carp! The Common Carp. Not flashy in cold water but very powerful. I ended up seeing 3 different carp in this hole just in a couple minutes of watching and one was the size I could see fighting a looonnngg time on a really light ice rig…

I’ve never caught a carp through the ice before but how hard is it to believe a carp would have no problem sucking in a little grub on a tiny jig on light line? I could see it and that made a lot of sense. More than a pike or bass. The only other large fish I can think of in Lake Lansing that might have fought the way this one did would be one of the uncommon Channel Catfish but I would think a catfish would stay down along the bottom more.

As if to cement this in my mind I drilled another hole about 20 feet way and dropped the Seaviewer camera down and the first fish I see is another bigger carp. The kind that could definitely take you to your knees for 20 minutes on 2 pound test line!

So mystery solved? Or not? What do you think?

A respectable Lake Lansing crappie caught on a small jigging Shad Rap from the same hole I saw a big pike on video

A respectable Lake Lansing crappie caught on a small jigging Shad Rap from the same hole I saw a big pike on video

After this anticlimactic moment of clue gathering I decided since I was not catching much in the way of panfish why not try to catch that big pike? I got out a Jigging Shad Rap and went back to the other hole. I was slowly jigging it up and down doing a nice figure eight when it got hit. I put some muscle into the hook set and practically popped a nice crappie out of the hole! My first ‘keeper’ of the day. I let it go since I already decided I wasn’t cleaning fish tonight.

That was it though for the Jigging Shad Rap. I went back to another jig – a Dot jig in white and pink and glow. I caught another tiny bluegill and an anemic 6 inch crappie before I decided this hole wasn’t going to load the stringer so to speak.

I moved over the about where the outside edge of the sand drop should be and cleaned out another hole already there. This hole was Hot! Though that is a relative term for this day any hole that produced lots of bites was hot and I started getting bites immediately. The only problem was all of them except one where more potato chips… tiny bait-stealers. I had to use a light spring bobber just to see most of the strikes. I did manage one respectable pumpkinseed. That was it.

A decent pumpkinseed falls for an ice jig and mousie on Lake Lansing fishing through the ice

A decent pumpkinseed falls for an ice jig and mousie on Lake Lansing fishing through the ice

I dropped the camera in this hole too afterwards and could see lots of weeds but no fish at all. Lots of tiny creatures swimming in the water. No pike though so that explains the better bite in cooperation and trying. I imagine anywhere in Lake Lansing around weeds small panfish need to be careful so that probably explains why I couldn’t see them – they’re hiding in the nearby weeds.

I’d been out 8 hours now with some adventure and the wind was building and building so I called it a day. Another fun day on the ice despite the limited success. It just means I have plenty to still learn for the next time out there. Plus, I know the ice is safer pretty much everywhere on the lake. At least I didn’t find any real thin ice. There were wind skaters, ice skaters, hockey players and ice boats running all over the lake too to I think it’s pretty safe out there as long as it stays could. You could hear the ice building throughout the day.

Filed Under: FeaturedIce Fishing Video

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About the Author: Dan Kimmel is an avid angler, outdoor photographer and outdoor writer who becomes a computer guy in his downtime running web sites like this one, GreatLakesBass.com and AnglerHosting.com among others.

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