Black Ice, Black Crappie

 

A week of frigid weather had locked up the small, sheltered lakes in northern Minnesota. A warm front moved in, just in time for the weekend. Andy, Jackie, and I pointed the truck north. By the time we reached Remote Lake, the clouds had rolled back and the winter sun was shining down on the ice.

 

 

We punched a set of 12 holes through six inches of hard, black ice. Then we got to work.

 

 

There were fish down there. Lots of fish. We deployed small jigging spoons and float-rigged crappie minnows, and fish started coming up the holes.

 

 

Andy landed the first fish. The fish were scattered, 30 feet down in 45 feet of water.

 

 

Jackie got in on the action, hooking a fish on a bobber rig.

 

 

It was a really nice foot-long black crappie, caught on a bobber and minnow.

 

 

Andy put out a tip-up, and before long, his flag sprung up. A chunky pike was caught and released.

 

 

This thirteen incher is a typical Remote Lake crappie.

 

 

The warm sun melted the snow and revealed more of the black ice beneath.

 

 

We had close to a limit.

 

 

As the sun sank toward the pine trees, we stopped fishing crappies and jigged for pike off the weedlines. No fish attacked our jigging lures, but a flag went up late in the day. The fish slowly took forty yards of line, then stopped. Andy carefully pulled in the line and finally felt the fish right under the hole. The hook didn't hold, though.

 

 

Jackie returned from a long hike, dragging something behind her..

 

 

She had found a fresh wolf kill. A six-point buck had been chased out onto the new ice and killed. The wolves completely devoured it, leaving only the head, skin, and backbone.

 

 

Jackie posed with her trophy. Then, we cooked and ate delicious crappies until we could not hold any more.

 

 

The next morning, the lake was shrouded in hazy fog. As I prepped the gear, I saw a big otter rolling on the lake.

 

 

The fish were still biting.

 

 

Andy hooked a big fish on a heavy spoon.

 

 

After a long fight, we sighted it under the black ice.

 

 

Soon it was close to the hole.

 

 

Another nice pike for Andy, this one caught on a light spinning combo and a jigging lure.

 

 

The beautiful fish was released to fight another day.

 

 

We needed a few more fish to fill out our limits, so we concentrated on bigger fish. This 14.5 incher was the biggest crappie of the trip. With sad hearts, we packed up and headed for home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Species List: 
Crappie, Black
Pike, Northern

Comments

Eli's picture

Slabs on the ice. Love it!

Mike B's picture

Ya, Eli got me hooked on ice fishing for crappie. Really tasty fish. I can't believe you guys are ice fishing in short sleeves ... in November. I won't be doing that until the end of April.

Deftik's picture

Wow! We were not far behind you guys ice wise until we got 2 days that shot back up into the 50s, now I probably won't grace the ice until after christmas, as usual. 14.5 inch crappies is nothing to shrug at, I sure wouldn't mind catching those, 12 inches is a nice crappie round here.

Dr Flathead's picture

That 50 degree day was followed up today by a high of maybe 18 or 20.  With a nasty 15 to 20 mph wind all damn day.   Not many in short sleeves on the ice today...Nice action there.  Makes me a bit stoked to hit the river up and target them big crappies.