1. Catch a togue (Lake Trout)
That may seem odd to you that someone who spends as much time as I do fishing has never caught a togue, but while I have been with tons of people who have caught them and even pulled some through the ice for other anglers, I could never say I caught a togue.
2. Jig more and be successful
I have spent a far amount of time jigging, and other than smelt, I had never felt the tug of a fish back on the short rod bouncing a lure tantalizingly up and down.
3. Catch a Whitefish
This is a fish that had never really been on my radar until I heard incessantly about their culinary assets from my coworkers, which made them a must try species.
Long story short, 1. Check, 2. Check, 3. Check!!!!!
I had my chance fairly early in the season, despite losing a couple weeks to unsafe ice conditions. The first trip of the year I planned a trip with Tim Cyr and it wasn't long after we had our flags setup did one rocket skyward signaling what was soon to be my accomplishment of number 1. Followed by other flags with some healthy salmon.
The same trip I had just settled into a jigging routine, when something almost pulled the rod from hand. Looking into the large hole we had created I saw a nice lake trout slashing at my lure. Looking away so I wouldn't be distracted, I continued jigging and hooked him! As I battled him, the tugging proved too much for my jig pole as it shattered into pieces. Discarding the battered pieces I finished landing the fish hand over hand. We proceeded to have several other fish show up in the hole and managed to hook into another one as well.
As for number 3 I would have to wait until later in the season, so I opted to chase some other species and we managed to pick up some nice brook trout as well.
For our final ice fishing adventure, we decided to target whitefish and togue. With our destination selected over 120 miles from my house, the morning started early as I rose shortly after 3:00 A.M. and started the journey meeting up with the rest of our party as we traveled. After traveling 80 miles into the woods on gravel roads we expected to be alone, but the number of other anglers was quite surprising. Encouraged by good fishing reports we hurried to drill holes and present our own offerings. A valuable lesson of the day was learned in that riding on a tote sled when there is several inches to a foot of water on top of the ice is not recommended. I arrived at our destination soaked all the way through, but too excited to care. Not behavior I would recommend either by the way. Our group wasted little time hooking up and within a few minutes a nice whitefish, albeit too small was on the ice. A quick admiration by several of us who had never fished for them and it was back down the hole. Not wanting to be outdone, a few minutes later I brought my own whitefish to the surface. Check off number 3, but it was too small and was sent back to the bottom so I would not be able to taste it's acclaimed white flaky flesh. I sent my jig back to the bottom to continue my quest. The action was steady most of the day and there were definitely some highlights including Nick Pelletier catching an 8 pound togue, which while he was playing on his jig rod a flag shot up with a 20 inch whitefish on it, limiting him out with two beautiful fish in a matter of 5 minutes. Bud also had a respectable laker in the 5 pound range that saved itself for the end of the day. I also picked up a 20" whitefish which put up a remarkable fight and gave substance to their reputation as the freshwater tarpon. It also lived up to it's reputation in the kitchen as it was very delicious. All in all it was a great trip.