Recently, a friend sent me an email touting a box that can be programmed to not only jig a pre-set pattern with an ice fishing rod but also jerk to set the hook.
I forwarded the email to my brother who lives in the Midwest, with the jab that maybe, if he got one, he could catch fish through the ice.
“Don’t need one!” was his reply, accompanied by photos of some pretty big perch, several over 13 inches.
When I called, I learned they were caught in the same South Dakota lake that gave up a perch over 14 ½ inches.
On the same trip, his buddy hooked a large northern pike in a hole that was freezing and getting smaller.
After many unsuccessful attempts to pull the fish’s head into the hole, my brother put on a leather glove, reached down into the water, and stuck his hand into pike’s mouth.
The pike clamped down onto his hand and he hauled it into the ice house.
But when he tried to release the fish in a hole some distance from where they were fishing, the pike wouldn’t unclamp.
And when he tried to shake it off, the pike’s teeth went through the glove and cut up his hand!
On a more local note, on a recent perch fishing trip my buddy was fiddling with his underwater camera while I was catching fish.
That’s one reason why I often leave my camera home.
I noticed most of the perch I was catching were puking freshwater shrimp onto the ice.
Normally I would have expected to see perch fry.
“Smalley,” said my buddy, “you ain’t gonna believe what I’m seeing.”
Then he told me that he was watching several perch literally “tail-walking” on the bottom.
Positioned vertically with heads up, their tails were rapidly sweeping the soft bottom, dislodging shrimp.
Very interesting fish behavior revealed by an underwater camera.
Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.