After bombing out on splake fishing several times last winter, we did some more research found a different smaller lake in a new spot that also had rainbow smelt in it. With some time off coming for dad and my bro and the weather really warm we headed off way up in northern MN on Sunday. We left really early in the morning, the roads were icy and bad and the trip took forever. We had gotten some good tips from a new friend at the DNR and some great pointers here for splake and smelt.
When we finally got to the lake, my dad and brother began to setup the fish house and told me to start fishing right away as I was the reason for the trip (my lifelist scrapbook). We had one hole drilled and I started to fish while they set up the portable and bango!! My first Rainbow Smelt!
We were all super excited because we hadn't seen one before. By this time the portable was set with more holes to fish, so dad fished in the one the smelt came in to try for his lifer smelt ................ then the unthinkable happened (after all the bad luck we had had with splake before) we were hoping that at least one of us would luck into one and I would be THAT one!! Sure enough instead of a smelt out popped a splake, also the first one we'd ever seen!
At first my dad was really upset as he wanted me to catch one, just one, and we'd probably never fish splake again ........EVER!!! Then my brother hooked a nice big smelt, they have very sharp teeth!!
Then my dad got another lifer!
Then my brother broke the world Rainbow Smelt record!!!! J/K
It was starting to get dark, and still no more splake. Was my dad's to be the only one? Would my hopes of finally getting my splake pic for my book be dashed again? Suddenly a tap tap tap and I set the hook! This was a big fish and was ripping drag like crazy, we knew it was a splake because splake are the only full size fish in this lake. It came up under the ice several times and then I got the head turned up the hole and disaster struck ........... AGAIN!!! If you look closely at the picture you can see my jig and waxworm flying thru the air as the fish spit it at me, made a quick flip, and took off again forever. I was feeling cursed. You can see how big he was, this was an 8 inch hole and my dad's hand as he was making a diving leap to try and get to it in time!!
Well at least we had all gotten our lifer smelts, dad's splake, and I lost one. We planned to return before sun up the next morning as we packed out the long hike in the dark. When we got to our room something wasn't right ........... it was Smelty he'd beaten us back to the room! 8)
After very little sleep, we headed back out on the long trip to the lake before the sun would come up, we made it down to the ice and got setup just in time. Again my dad told me to start fishing while they setup. Once again tap tap tap! Then Wham, I hooked up with not a huge fish but one I knew wasn't a smelt, my dad and bro were both perched by the hole, this one wasn't going to get away, and here he is my first lifer splake!
Not long after we'd gotten there and the pressure was mostly off, only my bro remained splakeless! Not for long though!!
Now everyone had caught both the species we were hoping to get, the pressure was off, mission accomplished, we messed around trying different things and explored the lake a bit. Here's my brother and I both happy with our newest lifers!
We caught a few more smelts and a couple small splakes, so we decided to keep a couple of each and try them at home. We were just getting ready to pack it up to get an early start on the long icy ride home, and I suddenly felt a shock rip up my rod to my wrist, I set the hook, and the drag began to scream again!! Up and down and up and down and finally the head turned just right and I pulled him into the hole head first and we plopped him out onto the ice, not as big as the one I lost, but a very sweet looking 16 Incher for another photo for my scrapbook! YES!! I was so happy!
We got one last quick shot of the three of us, it was nice because there wasn't anybody there either day, and I don't think there is hardly any other day either, it's way out in the woods. Anyway we put my brothers camera on video so we could catch a frame of the 3 of us together.
Well that was my story of a successful adventure for a fish that has been one of the most frustrating we'd ever gone after, way up in wolf country on a slushy little lake, the splake finally got it's picture taken! Oh, the smelts were a bonus, and super cool to catch ..................... at first! These weren't hard to catch, they were relentless and quickly became as annoying as drum in the Minnesota river! Good fishing pals, next stop white crappies!!!
PS if anybody wants tips on how we caught either splake or smelt, just ask, and a big thanks to everyone for the tips here that helped bring our adventure to a successful end.