What did I just say about sunrises and sunsets on Mille Lacs? This, alone, makes a day on the ice worth all the effort involved. And that's Shoggie out there (guide David Shogren, 218/765-3197) giving it his best shot in "magic time" — made all the more magic by the infusion of warm color into ice and winter sky.
And, as you can see, Shoggie did alright in the fading light. The stick he's using is a new Tony Roach Signature Series rod from Wright & McGill. Since the rods were built to Tony's specifications, and since Tony is a stalker (as opposed to a "sitter" who stays in a shelter or house most of the time), these rods tend to be long — ranging up to 48 inches, with a 50-inch lake-trout version coming out next year.
Right now, Roach Signature Rods are available in 5 lengths and three powers, from light to heavy. In yesterday's post, the near parabolic bend of the medium version was evidenced in play by a photo of Tony bringing a nice one up on top of the ice. We were all using medium versions, and here you can see the bend right down into the butt section.
So where's the backbone, you might ask? In the resistance found throughout the stick. I found the blend of properties to my liking. I had no problem setting hooks, but walleyes definitely had a problem trying to get the bend out of that rod. Early in the morning I practically fumbled one into the hole on the hookset, my fingers frozen from retrieving the minnow net from Tony's aerated bait bucket. With the barest grip on the handle and no pressure applied, the walleye couldn't free itself from the tension of my new Roach rod.
So buy the heavy versions if you're a stickler for backbone, or the walleyes you're chasing might top 14 pounds, but you'll miss a certain feeling of amazement. I, for one, was amazed at how much control I had over the fish while experiencing a perfect smoothness throughout each contest. Hard to describe, actually. Fighting fish with these rods just felt good. During the end game, with a heavy one right under the hole, I never got the feeling that a bob or swing of the walleye's head could relieve pressure and allow the hooks to fall out. Yet the speed of the blank guaranteed a feeling of control over presentation that most long rods don't deliver.
More on these rods, magic moments, and ice-bound walleyes tomorrow...