Grand Rapids Fishing Report: December 2015

Even though the warm weather dominated November, the chill is transforming our plans. Now we start digging out the equipment and going over the checklist.

  • Make sure the flasher battery has a charge.
  • Change the line on the rods
  • Setup the shelter in the garage and make sure the mice have not nested in it
  • Add fresh gas to start the power auger
  • Trip to the bait shop to see what they have new this season
  • Attend an Ice Seminar.

If we are lucky, we might get some walk-able ice just before Christmas. The Ice Guys and I will be driving down to boat ramps on the small lakes, poking and measuring skim ice. We look at lakes like Baptist, Englewright, and Little Whitefish. Calls and messages will come from Pickerel, Cranberry, and Blue. Somewhere a story will pop about one of the guys sneaking out and getting a half dozen gills. Everyone will swear that those early ice gills are the best. And yes we will drive an hour to check ice, with a truckload of equipment that we won’t need until January.

Text messages, evenings in the forums, posting on the ice map ( ice) will be the passion of anglers all around West Michigan, who normally have little use for computers and smart phones the rest of the year. What started for most of us as a cool thing to do with Dad or Grandpa, is now a passion that others will shake their head and never understand.

That first ice is dangerous. It will break easily. Move slowly until you are sure of the ice. Safety ropes, picks, PFD’s, a spud to poke around and some dry clothes to change into if you do get wet. Hypothermia is the real danger if you do get wet. I learned the hard way that dry jeans do not slide on over cold, wet legs, standing nearly naked on a boat ramp. I have fleece pants, a hooded sweatshirt and slip-on shoes that I can change into to drive back home. And probably the most important NEVER GO ALONE. It is not enough to just tell someone where you are going; they will never be able to help you as a partner can.

If you get out on safe ice, head for those mid-depth weed beds you found in the fall. The fish are still feeding like there was no ice. The weeds generate oxygen, small organisms feed on the algae and plankton around the weeds, small bugs feed on them, and is the food source the fish you are targeting are feeding on. Walk and fish carefully if you get the chance to find hard water; take along a partner you will have a better time even if nothing goes wrong.

And don’t be shy about putting a few of those new toys or gift certificates on Santa’s list, a magnet on the fridge might give the family a clue.