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Monday, December 22, 2014

Livewell Blog: Odd Times on the Ice

While this winter, may be a little weird to some, this is the greenest my lawn has ever been! There are lots of fun things going on in the fishing world currently and you want to hear aboot them, right? So, if you have some questions, ridiculous or not, send it to me via Twitter: @dropshotbob with the #livewellblog hashtag, or for questions that cannot be contained by 140 characters, by email at I will try to do my best to answer them to the best of my abilities, hopefully you find some information that you can use on the water, as well as a little humor.

What is proper etiquette when a buddy invites you to meet him up north & spend the weekend using his Ice Castle? 6 pk of beer? Case?

How big of a partier is your friend? If he is the kind of guy who worries more aboot catching bottle bass than actual fish, a case plus a bottle might be in order. I don't think you need to bring him a case of craft beer or anything, just whatever kind of cheap domestic he prefers. To be honest, if he knows you well enough to invite you up fishing for the weekend, you damn well better know what kind of beer he prefers. If someone invites you for several days of fishing in a confined space in the middle of nowhere and you don't know them well enough to know their beer preference, you shouldn't go. Otherwise your organs will be harvested for the North Korean black market (yeah, I said it, you whiny little douches, come hack my blog, your gibberish might provide some actual good content that people will read).

Now bottle choice is dependent on your tastes. This is where you get to show off with your “fancy taste buds” all the while knowing that you would never buy a bottle of Maker's Mark or Buffalo Trace for yourself, that crap is expensive! Best to save those purchases for deer camp and the occasional fishing trip, you know, when it is time to experience the finer things in life like sitting in the middle of nowhere in silence.
Now, if your friend isn't a huge party guy, but just enjoys having a cold beer in their hand to help balance out the weight of the fishing rod in their other, then it is time for craft beers. In this case, a 12'er of something nice would be fine. I don't expect you to know your friend's preferred IBU tastes (that's something that even married couples don't know). There are a couple other things to keep in mind when arriving at your destination.

1.Always bring something for yourself. Yes, your buddy said don't worry aboot beer, I keep the fish house stocked all the time. Do you want to risk having to spend a weekend drinking Old Milwaukee or Doe Pee? Yes, Doe Pee is the actual name of a beer, look it up.
2. Snoeshoe Grog is always a necessity on long fishing trips. It has been proven to be the only cure for the venom of the vicious snow snakes, also it doubles as a mouth wash in the mornings and helps mask the nasty fart air that can accumulate in fish houses after a few days.
3. History. If you aren't headed to a premier destination like LOW or Red Lake, know how good of a fisherman your buddy is. If he is constantly catching big fish, then it is fine when he says that you are gonna bring the wheel house to some little lake off of a minimum access road. If he barely knows which end of the fishing rod to hold, maybe it is time to bow out before spending an entire weekend parked on a duck slough that has never even held fish.

If I invite you to come with on a weekend of fishing, pack some High Life. It is the champagne of beers after all. Also, it is widely known that when a High Life is opened it beckons the Crappie Gods to favor your fishing.

What's the oddest thing you've done to pass the time when fish weren't biting?

Oddest? What are you trying to say? I am not odd, everything I do on the ice is part of a grand plan in the long run. For instance, I have found that if I have stopped marking fish, I pull my phone out and check Twitter and fish will immediately arrive. I am convinced they are attracted to the cell signal being used, it makes sense in my head, trust me. Nothing is too odd if it somehow makes the fish appear and bite. Believe me, if it happens once, you immediately store it for future reference, if it happens twice, you will be doing it on the majority of your fishing trips.

Fishing for as long as I have, and knowing all the crazy people I have met along the way, there are some stories. I will try not to use any that are too incriminating or ones where the statute of limitations has not yet run out. Crap, I am really making it so that I can't tell very many.

We invented full contact tip-ups one year. The rules were simple, everyone places a couple tip-ups out and we sit together in lawn chairs. When a flag goes up, everyone has to fully chug a beer before sprinting to touch the tip-up. First person there gets the fish. There are only two rules. No ice cleats allowed and try not to put anyone in a coma.

One night in a fish house near Bemidji, we decided to crank the heat as high as we could to see if we could peg the thermometer hung on the wall. Once it hit around 120, we decided this was a stupid idea and we all had to go outside to try and catch our breath.

Another of my favorites is to put on an airplane jig to try and catch my buddy's line when he isn't paying attention. Depending on the intelligence level/blood alcohol level, you can keep this funny little game going for quite some time. And if your co-angler is seriously impaired, you can do it multiple times in the same trip!

Probably the oddest/funnest event was at Eelpout Festival one year. Remember, I have said previously never to go to Eelpout Festival, as crazy and dangerous things happen. A friend of mine bought a crappy spare bit for his auger and decided to have a little fun with it. So while we were setting up the fish house and getting things unpacked, he set to work. He drilled his auger halfway through the ice and left it there. He then drilled a hole next to it with another auger and started scooping water into the half hole. We all thought he was insane/drunk already. The next day, he woke everyone up excitedly saying that “it was ready!” (There may have been bottle rockets shot off inside the fish house). We piled out of the fish house to watch him start up the auger, sit on top of the power head and hit the throttle. It only took aboot a half dozen revolutions before he was thrown clear of the machine. He didn't die, so of course we all immediately grabbed a beer and had to try it for ourselves! How no one got brain damage from those auger rides is beyond me. I am pretty sure that is the same year my brother and I got drunk and started sword fighting with fish.

See? Nothing odd to going on here, all part of the master plan.

Is it sometimes/never/always ok to tell your wife that you are going fishing when you know damn well they're not biting?

ALWAYS! You know damn well they aren't biting? Yeah, well you better go prove it. Is your wife the author of those weird fishing solunar tables? No? Then how the hell would she know anyways? She may think you are a crappy fisherman when you constantly come home without any fish, but there are much worse things your wife thinks aboot you during her every day routine. Bad fisherman is the least of your concerns.

Or, you could do your best to convince her you are a huge conservationist that wouldn't dare keep a fish, lest it throw off the ecological balance of the lake. You could begin citing her scientific studies showing the growth rates of crappies in lakes with a strict size limit, maybe throw in a few Aldo Leopold quotes. Seriously, try this and let me know how it goes. She will pretend to listen for approximately 30 seconds before she walks away. Unless your wife likes to fish, she could care less what your reasons are for going. This is your guy time, just smile and ask nicely. Though, it might be a good idea to check the calendar first. If you ask her to go fishing before you see in big bold writing that you are scheduled to be at a birthday dinner for her mom, you might never get to go fishing again!

So the fish may not be biting, darn! I bet the ice on the lake will at least keep your beer cold. Plus, I am fairly certain the FDA just approved ice auger exhaust as the cure for the winter blues.

Is it ok to tell your wife that a buddy really needs you there fishing tonight when he is using the same line with his wife?

This is a tough one. You have to be very careful on the wording of why your buddy NEEDS to go fishing with you. In fact, avoid the phrase 'needs to go'. Trust me, the wife will want to know and if you use phrases like, “he just NEEDS to get away from the family” or “he NEEDS some time to talk things out” your wife will think the worst. Then a whole phone call/texting chain starts, and no one needs that drama.

Alright, so you need to give her a backstory. Start with something along the lines of “Travis just picked up this new sonar, and he wants to see if the frequency from my Marcum interferes with his new Humminbird and he wants to do it before the time frame in which he can return it runs out. He got it a few weeks ago and it has this cool new zoom feature that everyone is talking aboot...” She is now tuned out. So, as long as she doesn't need you to accompany her to some party or do something you have been promising to do, you should be free and clear.

If you coordinate this story, both wives will tune out and their next conversations will only be aboot whether you guys had fun together. No questions of how things are going in their relationship, etc.

Something your wife will never admit to is that she loves your fishing time also. She gets her time away from you to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and binge-watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix without you constantly asking questions aboot the plot line; not that this has ever happened to me (seriously though, why did it take Lorelai and Luke so long to start dating?!?).

Note: get your honey-do list in order before you ask to go on a multi-day trip. If you tell her you plan to head to Lake of the Woods for three days, but still haven't cleaned out the garage like you told her you would do six months ago so she could park her car in the garage during the winter, all the stuff from the garage will be laying in the driveway when you get home!

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