In the meantime, there is lots of hard water fishing in the Grand Lake area and we have multiple species to pursue. Personally, I like fishing for pickerel, burbot and smelt. The last two species can usually be fished at the same time but for pickerel the ice fisherman must find some shallow water and weed beds. These toothy critters hang out at the edge of the weed beds waiting for some unsuspecting forage fish to swim by. Smelt and whitefish,as well as land-locks, are taken by jigging fresh bait in a little deeper water. The burbot will move into the shallows to feed in the evening and a gob of bait or a live minnow right on the bottom will take this freshwater version of the cod fish. Burbot make excellent table fare and I love having a feed deep-fried in batter with French fries. Many ice fishermen think you must use live minnows to catch pickerel but that is not the case. We proved that during the annual ice fishing tournament at the Key-hole on Grand Lake this past week-end.
I have been fishing local tournaments for over forty years in the Grand Lake area and the one held recently by the village of Minto was one of the better ones I have attended. I haven't figured out if that's because we did so well at the tournament or if it's because of all the folks having such a good time out there on a perfect day that had temperatures running up to +7 degrees Celsius. I was particularly impressed with how many kids were there and how many doting parents and grand-parents were on hand for the fishing fun, hot dogs and hot chocolate. The following photo shows the registration booth and the hot dog stand.
so Gary and I took a short beverage break and when we returned later Matt Banks told me that a bigger fish came in while we were gone. I was quite surprised because I knew this pond only held a handful of fish that compared to the one we caught and since only about one- third of the pond was being fished, I felt that the odds of someone getting one bigger were very small. I asked Matt how big the fish was that surpassed ours and Matt replied that it was 24 inches. I made a face and said "That's not right, ours was 25.25. to which Matt replied that our fish was down at 23.75 inches. I was shocked at first and then I could feel my face getting red. This wasn't good. This all unfolded near the end of the tournament so I told Gary to go check it out and he returned and said that it was down at 23.75 inches . By this time I was getting upset and I said maybe I should go talk the situation over with the officials. My son Curtis, who had caught the fish for our team, spoke up and said "You know Dad, we had a great day out here today and Jack is sure to be in the winners circle, so lets just let it go because we don't have the fish and we will look like sore sports" I thought for a moment and then I agreed with him. When I thought about it later I was very proud of my son for taking the high road on this issue and the more I thought about it, the prouder I got! I guess my boy was paying attention to his father when I was trying to instill the virtues of good sportsmanship over the years. Jackson ended up with second place overall and he was very happy with that placing. All he knew was that he was a winner and I got to thinking we were ALL winners on that beautiful day. The following photo shows Gary and Jackson with his plaque for second place.