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2-15-04 - I didn't even get the camera really fired up until lunch - SWIMV and Chiro obviously enjoyed the food!
Spin, Tom, Cheif, Jacek and FAT are back for 2nds....
And 3rd helpings were on the grill!
After a quick lunch, a stop in Chiro's shed where all the crappie and perch action was going on...yes this is normal Lake Como water color.
Chiro's buddy Tom had the lucky tip-up; it was ON FIRE!
The look of defeat when a fish fails to materialize at the end of the line...
Not to worry, that tip up was ON FIRE! Tom's on again while Jacek and Chromeseeker look on...
This time Tom's luck was better...considerably.
Not quite a 26", but not too shabby!
Another look at that strikingly-colored Northern Pike
Tom wasn't the only one on fire...here's Spin with one of his few for the day!

2-15-04 - WFF Ice Clave Part II - Southern Waters

Waters Fished: Lake Como
Fish Caught: several
Outing Date: 2-15-03
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: Around 20-25F
Water Temp: didn't take it
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Olive, maybe 2 foot visibility
Fish Species: Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Perch
Pattern Fished: Bait including Frozen Smelt, Shiners, & Spikes on Jigs
Pattern Color: n/a
Fishing Quality: arguably the most predatory fish I've seen caught in a single day on Lake Como....from other reports it sounded like a slightly below average day.

This all started with me trying to attend the first annual WFF Ice Clave up north. For whatever reason (I honestly don't remember, it might have been the weather) I ended up not going! Totally bummed, I figured there were other folks down south like myself who may not have been able or willing to make the hike north. And as you all know, I'm all for a fishin' party (i.e. The Brule Clave, The Pet Fly Smackdown, MP's BBQ etc...). Well, I got on the boards and started planning this Ice Clave Part II. We definitely had the sweet setup with our family home on Lake Como; I figured we could ice fish, tie flies, rod build, eat a ton, and overall have a great day. It took some persistence, but in the end I think it paid off for everyone!

Some of you may not yet know what a Clave (aka. Conclave is) - more or less just another way to say a "gathering" of people, in these cases fishin' people. You'll hear of things like the Spey Clave, Spring Clave etc...more or less kind of like a motorcycle rally, but for fisherfolk! As a general rule the big ones are a weekend affair; in this case we technically had a mini-clave. Going right along with with the "Clave" is the "Tie and Lie"; generally a shorter winter gathering for folks to get together, tie flies, and well you can figure out the rest. To sum it up, we had a great gathering no matter WHAT you call it.

So first let me start this report by saying there is NO WAY I could report on everything - as the host it's just a bit difficult to be everywhere at once! I started my day off waking up before the alarm...as early as 7:30 am...admittedly still tired from my day in Iowa! A Mountain Dew and a smoke and before you know it 8:00 am rolled around, and Saltwaterinmyviens rolled in (for the sake of my memory, and to protect the innocent, I'm opting to stick by WFF aliases for this report!). I believe next was Flytrap, so glad he could make it 'cause he really wasn't sure he'd be able to! Not too terribly long after, Chiro and his buddy showed up, and things were already getting started! Sorry guys....I never did get that chance for a morning shower - my apologies to all my guests!

FAT arrived with Chief and Dutton, and soon thereafter Alex & SDHflyfisher. Folks started unpacking the ice fishin' gear. In the chaos of it all, Spin shows up and without even introducing himself he gets right up in my face and asks, "So WHERE'S THE WEEDBEDS?!" LOL what a character!

In no time folks got out on the water...first drilling close to shore but by the time everyone settled in on their spots they were probably 200 yards out...maybe more. Meanwhile some tyin' got started indoors, with Flytrap demonstrating his Buffalo Fly. Earlier and later in the day some other neat tying demonstrations came from Spin (with the Puglesi flies made with "loopy chenille") and Mr. Mad-Dry-Fly-Tier Chiro and that awesome spent wing spinner pattern he was working on (but for the life of me I can't remember the name!). Somewhere during our tying in the morning FMA showed up (surprise surprise, I was glad my fellow Smokin' Tahoe made it, he was another on the "not sure" list!)

I didn't make it out for the morning bite other than to take a picture or two; I remember hearing Chiro whoop it up when he landed his first of a few dink crappie...now the interesting part is that when fishing in shore we'd maybe catch 1 crappie per year. Not too long after some of the guys jigging brought up dink perch...man we only get perch maybe once every other year during summer fishing. What's up with all the "rare" fish today?!

Chiro's buddy was simply on fire...I think before lunch he landed a pike and a 3lb. Largemouth. Spin was really doing well too...brought in probably the only legal (26"+) northern. Meanwhile I was grilling, and around noon folks started showin' up for the full spread of Johnsonville Polish & Brats, along with Spicy and Mild Italian Sausage, all hot off the grill! My hat's off to Saltwaterinmyviens for doing up some of the best grilled onions I've had in a long time!

I did manage to make it back out on the ice (14" thick!) to check out the spread....I know we were legal but with something like 12 folks in attendance there was simply a minefield of tipups out. Chromeseeker and Jacek showed up right in time for lunch and brought more bait....the afternoon would be exciting. The highlight for me was watching Chiro's Buddy's tipup go off! He simply had THE hole. I didn't stay out long, but the first time he lost the pike! As I was walking towards their shanty, the tipup shot of again, right in front of me. This time they fared better, landing a vibrant northern. Ask FAT about Chief & Dutton's Day (all I'll say is Dutton got wet again, and Chief got his first northern!)

Towards afternoon some of us headed back in; I had planned to have some rod building going on and I knew a few guys wanted to see the finishing process (now that I had been enlightened by Dave @ Creekside, I felt confident enough to demonstrate even though I'm far from a pro and we all know it!). Unfortunately I had forgotten to pre-apply the color preserver, so that took up most of the time for folks who had to leave all too soon :(

Not to worry, there will be more rods to build! Meanwhile Chiro was heading out for the evening bite; I suggested he take the camera out and get some shots while I applied coats #2 and 3 of color preserver to the rod. By nightfall several folks had packed up (family obligations); the temperature again dropped like a rock the second the sun slid past the horizon. The day winded down with Chiro, his buddy and Spin hanging out while I started to apply the finish to the rod. Chiro and his buddy (we need to get you a nickname!) headed out to prevent the wrath of their wives. 30 minutes later Spin and I are sitting there, I'm just finishing the rod and we're enjoying the end of the clave, when it hits me...wait...where's the camera?!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!

LOL, turns out Chiro had forgotten about it in his truck when he brought it out to pack up their shanty. So we've figured out that we'll just have to fish together next weekend (like that was a real hard decision regardless of the camera). So to answer that question, the pictures will be here NEXT WEEK!

I have to wrap up by saying that I really enjoyed having everyone out, we've got this already on the books again for 2005. And I do owe GIMP a special thanks for getting the ORIGINAL Ice Clave going up north which lead to and inspired this "Part II"...next year I hope maybe we can con him into coming down here (hey, the Como house is Gimpcessible buddy, so please do come on down next time!). Oh and I do have one nagging question...did ANYONE catch a Bluegill? They're EVERYWHERE in Lake Como, granted mostly small. Where were the Bluegills?

In the meantime, stay warm and watch the forecasts....Steelhead will be here sooner than you think...hee hee!

  MP 

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