This was the first time I'd been able to get out since my wedding the 16th of Jan. It's amazing how much time weddings take away from you! The forecast was saying we would be getting to around 30 degrees this day so we decided we'd leave the shacks at home and take a drive south to a lake near the Missouri border. Luckily I'd purchased my license on my phone the other day so I did not need to make a stop the night before to get one. REMINDER, if you haven't purchased a 2016 license you're 16 days past due on the date of this post, stay legal! We made a stop at WalMart on the way down to grab some cold medicine since I couldn't think straight due to a head cold.
Got to the lake around 9 AM after an hour and a half drive. Got our game plan together on where we were going to pop some holes and got our gear on, at this time I was wishing I'd built my Smitty Sled because this was going to be a bit of a walk carrying my LX9, bucket, tackle box, and gas auger. We set up around some trees in the creek channel and immediately had interested fish, the lake is full of decent sized bass and fat walleyes so we knew what we'd be looking at. After about 5 changes of lure and bait Zach had his first hook-up, got it to the ice and it was a nice fat 14" walleye, didn't get to take a picture due to the fact my fingers were freezing at this point. The wind was cutting straight through us from the South West and we were on buckets, gloves only came off to re-bait or change lures. After about 3 hours of nothing after the first walleye we decided to change spots and target some nice fat gills. We make the trek back up the hill and loaded the gear in the truck.
We got to the spot we were planning on fishing and someone had popped holes and set up an old green Eskimo shack over the brush pile we had planned on. I punched some holes about 20-30 ft heading North away from the people and put the 9 down the hole. Immediately had 4 marks so I dropped down with the spoon I'd been using in the North part of the lake, no takers after 10 mins and I noticed the fish were acting differently, shooting up and eyeballing the lure then shooting right back down to the bottom. I immediately knew I was sitting on the gills we were targeting. It was at this time I switched over to my brand new 28" TUCR Precision Noodle Rod, I am in no way affiliated with TUCR and don't receive any kick-backs from them but man am I glad I purchased this rod, I took my Frabill 261 reel off of my ultralight setup and banded it on, what a nice light in the hand rig! I had 3# Northland Flurosilk on and a Brantner tungsten in Wonderbread color. Got my first bite and the fight was on, I was a little worried about the rod not having enough to deal as the tip was doubled over but was impressed with the backbone it had. Got the fish to the hole and had a solid 8-9" gill the was almost 1.5" thick, just a toad of a gill.
I couldn't stop smiling after the fight, it was just what you want when you hook into some tank gills, lots of runs, angling the rod away from them to pull them back and then changing directions when they decide they're done going that way. Dropped back down and had another one on in less than 30 seconds. Started piling them on the ice after that, ended up losing 2 of my jigs so I'm guessing either some bass or a good sized gill got me. Zach punched a hole right next to me and we started getting to work on our limits. For those who don't think that Marcum's and Vex's play nice, here's your answer. No issues and we never marked each other's lure once.
It was about this time it really started to get cold and the wind was picking up and we were needing to make the trek back home, luckily we had only parked about 50 yards away so the pack-up would be quick. I ended up with 20 gills after the front moved in and shut them off and it was literally 5 minutes between bites towards the end. Got in the truck and started to thaw out for the ride home, you don't realize how much the cold and wind takes it out of you until you have to pack up and head home, I about fell asleep 3-4 times on the ride home, haha.
Got home and knocked out filleting the fish and bagged them up to fry the next day, I used our usual cajun seasoning and Ritz Cracker breading which I pulverized in my Ninja Mixer, works great and you get a nice fine texture. I had picked up a Cajun Chef Batter Pro Bowl, if you don't have one of these I'd highly recommend you pick one up, they work great! Fried everything up and made fish tacos myself, the wife had them with her usual lemon juice. They came out super flaky and tasty! Great quick trip to put some meat in the fridge!