Ice fishing season is finished! I ordered a tow hitch for the Subaru a few days ago, installed it last night, and today Terry, my roommate and I headed up to the WI River to try everything out. With only 148 horsepower, the XV Crosstrek is not the best towing vehicle, but with a few downshifts on the big hills we made it to Prairie du Sac without a problem.
The water levels are significantly higher than last year, but I think this is close to normal for this time of year. It looks like you would need waders to fish from shore.
We anchored the boat in 28 feet of water on the calm side below the dam. The vexilar marked a lot of fish, but the bite was slow. Terry lost a small walleye at the boat, and I caught a small sauger. New lifer #91, so I was excited!
Sauger (Sander canadensis) - new hook & line species #91
After a short break, we headed back to the dam and set up closer to the discharge in 24 feet of water. We continued jigging minnows, and I threw out a nightcrawler off the side to sit on the bottom. Smallmouth buffalo and shovelnose sturgeon were a few of my hopeful targets. We were marking large suspended fish on the Vexilar, which I guessed were paddlefish, but the bite was very slow. My roommate had one fish on for a bit, and Terry and I got a few taps, but that was it. The nightcrawler was productive though! I got a 31" lake sturgeon on it, and when the rod bent over a few minutes later I handed it to my roommate and she caught a 40" one. We released both of them quickly after taking photos.
Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens)
Our last fish was quite an excitment. My roommate's jigging pole bent over, and her line shot to the left under my lines. I got my two lines out of the way, and after a short but exciting battle she got the fish to the boat. It was a snagged paddlefish, not a large one compared to others in the water, but still quite a large fish for the average angler. Unfortunately it had two lampreys attached to its belly and half a dozen additional open sores. It came up to the boat fairly easily probably because it was so weak from having its blood sucked out. We got the hook out of its gill flap and quickly returned it to the water. I hope it makes a full recovery!
American Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)
One lamprey fell off on its own, but the other I pulled off and put in the boat for a photo op. He may have lost his head afterward.
Silver Lamprey (Ichthyomyzon unicuspis)