Saturday, December 18, 2010
Augers and Bird Doggers?
Lame title, I know, but Cast and Blast didn't fit since there isn't any casting involved with ice-fishing. There wasn't a lot of blasting either, but we did see plenty of birds.
Scott, Ryan and I met up in northern Montana, to do some early season, warm-water (species, definitely not the water) ice-fishing, combined with late season pheasant hunting. It was an "in-between" proposition, as there wasn't an abundance of ice, but almost too much snow for decent bird hunting.
We were able to get on the ice with a four-wheeler, a machine that is quite handy for towing the abundance of gear required for comfortable fishing when the temperatures are below zero. But, with only six to eight inches of ice, we weren't overly confident driving around soft spots or cracks that would heave when driven over. The fishing was decent; the pike and perch were almost a nuisance, although some of each made their way into the bucket, to be cleaned at home once they thawed. The walleyes were harder to come by, although Scott had a good flurry of action when Ryan and I were chasing birds.
Chasing we did. The birds that have survived the past two months of the upland season in Montana are wary ones. We had decent dog work with Ryan's Griffon and my two setters. It was mostly hens that sat tightly, but we did kill four roosters the first day. We had our best luck in heavy cattails, cattails that were misery to walk through after being socked full of knee-deep snow. The second morning we had a strong wind and a temperature at a nice, round number of zero. Needless to say, we couldn't put up with that more than a couple of hours. It was also tough to compete with the sanctuary of a nearby farm yard that was absolutely loaded with birds.
But, we had enough success to feel good about our winter cast and blast. Two days later, when the fish finally thawed and the roosters were cleaned, a meal of flaky, white fillets and tender pheasant breasts was enjoyed immensely.
(I apologize for the lack of good photos. My Nikon is in the repair shop)