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Ice Fishing

Worst...winter...ever

2/9/23 @ 9:09 AM
INITIAL POST
tzeilstra
User since 8/4/08
I think with the rainstorm this morning, we can safely say this has been the worst ice season ever. I mean really...it's brutally warm for all of December, gets cold for Christmas for 4 days, then gets brutally warm again for a solid month. Then gets cold again for 3 days, now it will be warm again for the rest of winter. Awful. Need to put this season out of my head ASAP!
Displaying 46 to 60 of 178 posts
2/2/24 @ 9:53 AM
mendota
PRO MEMBER User since 12/19/01
You guys are killing me.  Finally managed to get out on my lake last weekend, and the tiny pike surge continues.  16 on the ice, top fish was 27".  LOL.  Once upon a time, there were big fish in this lake.

Glad to hear pike populations are improving in the north.  Cannot beat the adrenaline rush when a toad comes in to the hole.....

Back when 30"+ fish were pretty common on this lake, it was not at all unusual for those fish to have some pretty impressive bite marks on them, sometimes very fresh, like it just happened.   Apparently pike are not at all shy about attacking a vulnerable fish, regardless of size.
2/2/24 @ 9:10 AM
SuspendedMusky
SuspendedMusky
PRO MEMBER User since 12/9/08
I would concur with what you guys have said.  This year has been particularly good with many big ones and also tremendous numbers of "good" ones (fat, chunky 25-29 inchers).  Last year was also very good for me for sizable pike.  I didn't break 40", but we came close with 2 at 39" and 39.5", and many others from 30-36".  I know mid-40 inch+ pike are present on the lakes I have been fishing because we have caught 24-26" pike that have 4-5" wide, full jaw imprints across their backs and I found a 42-43 inch pike dead on the shoreline in the spring.

I regard to the same pike being caught multiple times, compare the spot pattern if you took photos of the fish you caught/released.  We have caught the same mid-30 inch pike 3 times in 2 years, recognizable by its specific spot pattern (each pike is unique in that regard).
2/2/24 @ 8:48 AM
northernexsposure
User since 3/15/08
It is funny how our stories mirror each other.  Last year we got 2 over 30” but they were both 38” and it was in a small lake out of the same hole about a month apart.  I believe it was the same fish.  This year our 39” came out of the same hole.  I also believe it was the same fish again. Still swimming for next year.  And the 4 we got in 2 hours this year was on a lake I have fished for over 30 years and never got one over 30”  until then.  That lake is known for big pike though, just never got one until now.
2/2/24 @ 12:01 AM
n.pike
n.pike
User since 4/2/02
That’s awesome northernexposure! Good luck on your quest for a 40 incher. 
We’ve gotten more 30 plus fish this winter than the past 11 years combined up here! Just insane. When I first moved to northern Wisconsin- I was saddened by the pike size compared to Southern Wisconsin. But… things have gotten a lot better for big pike and this winter is off the charts!  My son and I both have a 38.5 inch pike from December outings-which was two weeks apart, same hole, we think the same fish!  (The benefits of catch and release…?)
I has a 34.5, 35.5, and 36 yesterday which was shocking!  In a lake that I would normally catch one or two 23-26 inch pike..
We’ve had a number of other 28-33 inch fish. Just an anomaly this year! But we’ll take it. And the fish are FAT! Been fun. Nothing like seeing that huge pike swim by the first time you get a look at it when fighting what you know is something big!  
2/1/24 @ 10:04 PM
northernexsposure
User since 3/15/08
N Pike, I agree this has been crazy for large northerns.  We have gotten 7 over 30” in five outings.  In mid December we got a 30” & 31” out of a small lake we fish.  Then we hit our good lake for big ones and got a 34”.  Then nothing until 2 weeks ago we got a 39”.  And last weekend we got 4 over 30” in a two hour span, one was 35”.  This weekend we are going back to our honey hole for big ones, trying to break that 40” mark, something I’ve never done except in Canada on open water.
2/1/24 @ 8:55 PM
ThreeFiftySeven
ThreeFiftySeven
User since 3/14/03
Yes, I was joking.   
2/1/24 @ 8:34 PM
Carpio
Carpio
PRO MEMBER User since 11/5/17
I rinse mine and batter them.   I don’t care for washed out fish!
2/1/24 @ 8:17 PM
ThreeFiftySeven
ThreeFiftySeven
User since 3/14/03
U should see what bleach does
2/1/24 @ 4:02 PM
papiman
User since 8/22/22
I use sun drop to soak my fish really makes it white and clean
2/1/24 @ 12:13 PM
ThreeFiftySeven
ThreeFiftySeven
User since 3/14/03
A good 3-4hr soak in milk (after the salt bath) helps remove some fatty tissues too. Some type of chemical reaction. I do it with all fish now.
2/1/24 @ 11:32 AM
Fishlovme
Fishlovme
PRO MEMBER User since 6/22/01
I've had whitefish baked, fried, smoked, pickled, and grilled. I agree with everything others have said, you have to get the fillet as white as possible for a good taste. I usually take the parts of the fish that are bony and pickles those parts then fry the "back strap". I also like making fish chowder with them. Bro Basdahl's (spelling?) Perch chowder recipe is one of the best. I've even added the smoked fillets to the recipe and that was good too. Whitefish is not my favorite eating fish. Not even close, but it's good tablefare if prepared properly.
2/1/24 @ 10:54 AM
vegas492
vegas492
User since 5/21/03
Keys to preparing whitefish....

#1, bleed the fish.
#2, don't let them freeze on the ice.
#3, remove the bloodline.
#4, soak in salt water overnight, in the fridge.  Rinse and put the fillets in regular water for another day or so.  I rinse them twice during a day, morning and evening.

Then you can fry them, broil them, grill them or smoke them.

I've found that they are not like the walleye I prepare.  But they are very good.  My favorite is to smoke them on very low heat, 80-90 degrees or so, heavy smoke for about 4 hours, then I finish them on the grill, slow cooking them at around 200-225 degrees.

I more or less sweat the oils out of the fish by doing it that way.  The results are great.

I have smoked them for up to 8 hours, and those are good too, but then I take some whipped cream cheese (with chives) and sour cream then mash it up into a fish dip.  I add garlic and salt to the mix.  It is a favorite dip, for sure.

If you broil them, or grill them, one of the keys I found is to make sure that the fillet is not cooking in its own juice, because it is oily and fishy.  Make sure they cook on a grill or topper and then let the drippings collect in something below them.

Once I made some homemade spinach/artichoke dip.  I broiled those whitefish until they were done, then I spread that on top and broiled it until that dip was a little crusty on top.  It was amazing.

I hope the tips help!
1/31/24 @ 10:28 PM
n.pike
n.pike
User since 4/2/02
The pike fishing this winter has been ridiculous! 
I am very thankful. Just one of those years. 
3 today over 30! Took me years up here to catch a 30.
The big ones are just very active for whatever reason.
The ice access is so user friendly. I do feel bad for the businesses and people who like to sled. But for ice fishing, this is a dream! And I truly think the lack of deep ice is keeping the fish more active! 
1/31/24 @ 5:40 PM
Junkie4Ice
Junkie4Ice
User since 12/19/11
Do you cut out the bloodline on the backside? It's a pretty thick bloodline and tastes like garbage. Once you cut that out it should be a purely white fillet. Always bleed them out as soon as you catch them and stick them upside down in a pile of snow. Then we soak them in salt water overnight, I do that with all my fish. I've head of people soaking overnight in club soda. Deep fried there's no way to tell the difference between walleye and whitefish if prepped properly. Baked they take on more of a cod texture and taste.
1/31/24 @ 5:31 PM
yamatroller
User since 5/7/06
Just a question about whitefish out of the bay and their mucky taste. Do you guys soak them or anything? For us they are fun to catch but they aren't much for eating. Tried smoking,  baking but just can't get by their mucky taste. I know a few other guys that have gone with guides, caught a pile of them and eventually threw the whole works in the garbage because of the taste,  maybe I am to used to eating fish out of clean water.
Displaying 46 to 60 of 178 posts
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