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1-24-04 - Mr. Brown goes to town hardcore, drillin' holes.
FAT delicately brings in line by hand after a flag goes off...
A pretty (if not large) Northern Pike is the reward.
Kevin is given the honors on our second hit of the day...
...and it pays off with the larger of two northerns landed.

1-24-04 - The "USUAL" Ice Fishing Experience

Waters Fished: Browns Lake
Fish Caught: 2
Outing Date: 1-24-04
Weather: Sunny with moderate breeze
Air Temp: Around 20F
Water Temp: cold!
Water Level: Normal?
Water Color: N/A
Fish Species: Northern Pike
Pattern Fished: Baits - Shiners & Fatheads
Pattern Color: N/A
Fishing Quality: Hmmmm....

So here's the jist; after our "Extreme Brown Trout" outing with Capt. Mike & Capt. Rich on the 10th, the weather took a turn for the cold and we've been frozen. I think everyone is really feeling the itch to fish right now...for the past 2 weekends I've been nursing a sore foot....it's sore from kickin' myself in the ass for not going to Iowa while it was still "kinda" warm.

So I stop by FAT's house on Friday night to pick up a couple DVD's that Capt. Rich put together of Extreme Brown Trout action + Bay De Noc and others (THANK YOU RICH THEY'RE AWESOME!) and the plan is formulated that I will join FAT and his buddy Kevin for a bit of "traditiona" ice fishing the following morning. 9:30 or so I meander over to FAT's; after some time spent getting ready we finally get on our way and arrive at Browns Lake, around Burlington Area, at about 11:00 am.

FAT gets busy drilling holes! LOTS OF HOLES! Man, it's like an obsession...we started with 6 but by the end of the day I'd say we put over 20 in the ice (which was a good 8-9 inches thick in most places). Kevin and I learned the fine art of rigging tipups...admittedly Kevin got the hang of it a lot faster than I did.

It took a move closer to shore, from about 21 feet to 8 feet, to finally get the action going. By about the time we had reset the 6 tipups Rich saw the first flag go...out came the first Northern Pike I've seen in two years...a "snake" by the local standards.

Meanwhile through this we've been eating Quarter Pounders with Cheese...by the time I make it to #3 (afterall, this is an outting with FAT) the bread is frozen. I pick up a frosty beverage that honestly I would think could stay liquid...wrong...frozen to a slush from top to bottom...5 MINUTES ago it was liquid!

Somehow, between slushies and a lot of good conversation, we could have easily missed the second take had it not been so obvious. We're sitting, talking, when the flag sitting at our feet doesn't go of, but rather moves as if one of us had kicked it slightly with our feet.

#2 will be Kevin's, and at first we're not sure there's a fish. Almost to the hole, and suddenly a much larger northern appears!

By 2:00 pm I think we're all thoroughly chilled, I'm shivering just a bit, and all beverages are frozen solid. Time to call it a day. But hey, for three hours I'll take two fish landed by the group over sitting at home, not fishing.

I promise, the next report will either be another round of ice-fishin' on my home lake (Lake Como) or, if we can manage a nice weekend day above 32F in Decorah, then IOWA here I come (with about another 2 - 6 guys who are just as anxious to get back to the fly as I am!).

  MP 

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