Fishing crappies on a new lake can be very challenging but it can also be quite rewarding. As my partner (Nick Kalies) and I found out this past February 12: when we fished the Super Trap Attack Qualifying Tournament in Reedsburg, WI. We fished Red Stone Lake, which is a direct opposite of all the lake I fish and guide on. It a good sized lake with the only structure is few spots of flooded timber. So this was a new experience for the both of us. We studied the lake map and came to the conclusion that we would fish a deep break line in 15-20 feet of water.
The day before the tournament we pulled up to this spot we circled on the map and there was nobody around. We thought we were in the wrong area but we drilled our holes any way. We drilled 10 holes to just check the depth and the first hole we drilled would be the hole which dreams are made. I checked the depth with my vexilar and it read about 13 feet. Thinking nothing of it I checked the next hole which read 18 feet.
So I went back to the first hole and put the vexilar back in it. I t still read 13 feet but at 18 feet there was a little separation between the red flashers. I put my Swedish pimple down the hole and the whole screen light up like the sky on the 4th of July. My bait was not even half to the bottom and my line went slack. I set the hook and reeled in a nice crappie. I put my line back down and same exact thing happened, another nice crappie. The screen is now full of fish at least 7 feet thick and I had to do what all fisherman hate to do. I had to get up and move from the hottest hole I have seen all year and hope no body else stumbles across it. And hope that these fish will hang around for one more day.
We then went to the other spots we circled on are map of the lake were there was low traffic. Thinking that we have the system down, all we ended up doing was giving our Jiffy Ice drills a good workout. We probably drilled 300 holes by the end of the day. We caught fish here and there but were not thinking about catching fish. We were playing defense for the following day, staying away from the lucky spot not to draw any attention to it.
The morning of the tournament we head over to the lucky spot and we were all alone. Of the 148 teams we were the only team in the area. So we had 15 minutes before we could start fishing and we had drilled all our holes. I put my vexilar down the hole and I thought it was the 4th of July, again. The screen was filled with fish and we had 5 minutes before the horn sounded. It seemed like a hour before we heard the horn sound.
When the horn sounded I lowered the Swedish pimple down and before it got half way to the bottom my line went slack. It was one after another of 9-10 Ĺ inch crappies and a couple of 11 inchers. I had 15 in the bucket and now it was time too hopefully get a few more 11inchers to win this thing. As the day went on the fish slowed down but they were still all over the screen. So I switched to my good tear drop and tipped it with several spikes. When I lowered it down my line went slack and when Iset the hook I knew it was the biggest of the day. I fought him for while and I finally got him up to the hole. He made one more dive towards the bottom and my line went slack. I look back down the hole and see this massive fish looking up at me. It had to be close to a 50 inch Musky.
By far the biggest fish I have ever seen, and he was close enough to touch. Not only did he take my biggest crappie he also took my lucky tear drop. So I had to try tying on another tear drop after all of this. It must have taken me 5 minutes to finally get back to fishing. I finally got my line back down and caught 2 more 11 inchers back to back. I went to put my tear drop back down the hole and there that monster was again. He was staring up at me; he was inches from my transducer of the vexilar. It finally swam pass the hole and the width of his back took up all of the 8 inch hole I was fishing. When he finally passed through I could get back to fishing. The fish were spooked out of the area for a couple minutes but came right back. I pulled a few more crappies in and there he was again, a foot under the ice looking up at me.
Thank goodness it was time to check in, because one more time I would have had a heart attack. Nick (my partner) was fishing in the holes around me and never saw him once. At weigh in time Nick and I had 43 crappies to choose our 15 biggest. We had a combined weight of 7.14 lbs losing by less then 6 tenths of a pound. I donít know if that crappie was big enough to make up that difference but I can say he was.
Through out the days leading up to the tournament, I thought the challenging part was going to be locating the fish or finding fishing spots that were not crowded. I never imaged I was going to have to compete against the 50 inch Musky. This kind of stuff can only happen when youíre fishing.
We finished in second place which will qualify us for the Ice Teamís North American Ice Fishing Championship in Alexandria, Minnesota. It is a two day tournament, one day for Bluegills, and the final day for Crappies. It a purse of $150,000 and will include nearly 100 qualifying teams. I just hope there is not any Muskyís in that lake.
Note: This article was co-authored by Jim Dicken and Mark Miller.