February 02, 2015
By Matt Straw
We drove to Mille Lacs, caravanned across the ice, and fished most of the day in fog of varying density. Sometimes you could see other groups of trucks on the ice, a mile or two off. Sometimes you couldn't see all the people in your own party.
Happens when the weather is unseasonably warm around here. The snow cover breathes in the warming air and darkness rules under the ice.
Finally, in the late afternoon, we could see the fog line being herded north by a southwest wind. The sun flared out and bam — Ross Grothe drove a double off the left-field wall with this plucky specimen from 30 feet of water.
Changes in light will do that. When you can see it coming, stick around. Whether it's changing from cloudy to bright, or bright to dark, doesn't matter. All manner of predators respond to sudden light changes after prolonged exposure to one kind of light. I've seen muskies, steelhead, browns, smallmouths, walleyes, crappies, pike — all manner of species can turn on when the light changes.
Doesn't count when it's partly cloudy and the sun keeps popping out then hiding again. Has to be at least a matter of hours that the sky is controlled by one or the other — clouds or sun.
Ross used a 1/4-ounce Acme Kastmaster to draw this one up out of its comfort zone to strike. Note the color. Hard to predict what a change in lighting might do to color preference. In this case, gold-and-green was the logical choice. It's a perch imitation and we're also catching perch where Ross caught this beauty. And gold has been the color for a couple weeks. Sticking with the go-to colors can't hurt. Nice call, Ross.
We were accompanying Tony Roach and a few of his clients to a spot some 10 miles from shore, but this time we enjoyed the luxury of driving our trucks out there.
We tipped spoons with minnow heads. Most of us were using gold or rainbow-trout Northland Macho Minnows. Fatheads worked best on smaller spoons. Fishing was great, but bigger fish were eluding us all day in the fog. Deadsticks didn't work well, and when we did mark fish, they generally rose to the spoon and jammed it pretty hard, telling us they were fairly scattered. Then the sun came out and Grothe came to the plate.