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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fort Peck Ice Fishing

Its been a while since I have posted anything; life happened. However, the Fort Peck trip still took place and many more memories were made. We had a crew this year: Tim, Jeff, Ed, Cory, Greg, Greg's buddy (sorry I forgot your name already), Dana, Sam and I. We had tip ups everywhere and it didnt take long to find fish. We arrived at camp Thursday afternoon and were landing fish before the sun went down. Even though it was 70* when we showed up, the ice was more than good. EXCEPT for one little spot (foreshadowing). We all knew it was there and had successfully avoided it for a couple of days until Fort Peck bit back. Three people at once went swimming. They were fishing close to a crick running in to the bay which was melting the ice from below creating some open water and thin ice. Night time is not a good time to be out on the ice. You can be fishing the same spot on Fort Peck for multiple days but still get turned around when the sun goes down. And thats pretty much what happened. Sam, Dana and I got back from the main lake Saturday evening only to find a camp full of wet guys. We loaded up everything needed for 4-wheeler retrieval and headed right back out. I should have earned a new nickname "Mr.Clutch" because when I went out to the edge of the ice with a whitewater rescue throw bag and threw it, I failed to hold on to the other end and the whole kit and caboodle went out in to the water. Big oops. Luckily we had a couple of them so we were able to grappling hook two of the wheelers back on to the ice leaving one for the morning. Four wheelers float. I have been part of 4 retrievals and they were all floating ass up. Sunday morning Dana volunteered to wade out to the last wheeler to wrap a rope around it. I think it was only 2-3 feet deep but ice cold nonetheless. The 'old guys' had had their fill of fishing excitement and spent the rest of the day cleaning fish and loading up camp. They, as well as Dana who had been there for a week now, took off Monday morning but not before Sam noticed our (his uncle's) buggy leaking a lot of oil. We used one of the remaining buggies that stayed dry to ride the 7(?) miles out to where we were fishing to retrieve all of our gear. Once everyone had departed, Sam and I fished off the boat ramp for a day before we came back. All in all the ice was great, the fishing steady but the swimmers kind of put a damper on things (theres a good pun for ya!). Dont worry, we'll be back next year but with a few new rules we need to be following. Sadly, the big fish trophies were in one of the buggies that got wet and we lost them to the murky depths. Dana got the big Walleye and I think my dad got the big pike?

The first fish. Sticks make them feel huge!

A custom cooler on the ice.
A drinking game I invented called Skibby's Holes. Ask me for details.
We threw a bunch of fish away but kept a few. Catfish are rare to catch and we caught 3 in two days!
Our bay was covered with tens of thousands of these things. 16 years in a row out there and I have never seen anything like it.

Its fishing, not catching.
We fished from camp when our wheeler broke down.

Charlie Russel sunrise.

Waiting for a flag.

A small channel catfish.
A 14.5lb catfish!

Its a team effort out there.