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Friday, March 25, 2011
Winter, a time of frozen lakes, blustery winds, and endless nights. Winter is when people sleep and dream of better times to come. For many sportsmen, it’s a time when memories are enhanced by times of great days and greater fish. Tackle is collected and repaired, and days marked off on the calendar until the dawn of a new season.
But for many, winter is the only time to fish. Shanties are
pulled onto the ice, stews and soups are always steaming over a portable stove,
and drink and stories flow freely amongst special friends. Ice fishing is a
I have always been an outsider to this form of angling,
although I have done several shows through the years with various guides and
experts. However, it had been quite a while since I had last ventured onto the
ice, and when invited to Henderson Harbor to film a local derby, I jumped at
the chance. We were putting together a new guide to
I expected to catch a few perch and maybe a wandering
northern pike. I never imagined that the highlight of the day would turn out to
be “chain pickerel”. I didn’t even know that there were any of these fish in
Well, was I in for a pleasant surprise. Curt was an expert in his craft and I soon realized that I had lucked out and was in very capable care. We had barely said hello, when someone yelled “flag” with Curt racing toward the sprung tip-up. He started grinning as the line played through his fingers, and abruptly he reared back to set the hook. Moments later, the most beautiful pickerel I’d ever seen lay flopping on the ice. As the sun glistened of the emerald green and yellow body, I stood amazed at the size of the fish. Well over twenty inches and close to five pounds, the fish had the body of a chunky northern pike. “Curt” I said, “I didn’t know pickerel got that fat. It’s huge!” He sort of chuckled and added, “ They’re all like that. We’ve already taken two larger ones this morning.”
Now I have got to tell you folks: this is a big story! I
have fished pickerel from
Here’s my tip: if you enjoy catching northern pike, then you will LOVE pickerel. They are more aggressive, are a blast on light tackle, and have a wonderful flavor. You better learn how to fillet, because you’ll end up with a mouthful of bones, if you don’t. Keep watching this site for more open water info on this much maligned and overlooked species. I kept two four pound pickerel for that night’s meal, and those fish may have been the tastiest I have ever eaten.After this post was uploaded, I decided to add a video made while trying Henderson Harbor for pickerel during the regular season following my adventure with the ice fishing derby.