“The days are short in December here in Alaska,” my son said as we prepared our ice gear for lake trout fishing for the next day. “We need to leave here by 6 am in order to have a decent day’s fishing before the sun sets.”
In Anchorage, the sky starts to get light around 9:30 am (which is 1:30 pm back home in the Eastern time zone) and is daylight by 10:30. Just 5 hours later, it gets dark and we had a 3-1/2 hour drive to our fishing destination.
We set out with a Suburban load of food, fishing gear and 6 of my sons and drove in the dark through really scenic mountain passes, towns and rivers, up to Lake Louise. Driving in the dark, we missed most of the scenery. “The lake trout in this lake are huge,” Roger said, “my work partner has a fishing house there, and he said you need a auger bigger than 6” in diameter to pull them up.” Well, we had a manual auger with an 8” diameter, so we were all set.
After a long ride over frost-heaved and winding roads through snow covered terrain, we arrived at the lake. The temps were a frigid -15 F and the “work partners” (Patrick) shack was out of sight… about 2 miles from the end of the road. After a quick cell call to Pat we were gingerly driving all 10,000 lbs of loaded suburban across ice that was making a thunderous cracking sound every 100 feet or so. “Pat said the ice is safe to drive on, and he’s been driving on it for 3 weeks already,” Roger assured us, “He starts driving on it when it’s only 10 inches thick and now it’s closer to 20 inches.” I can’t really say my mind was at ease, but I accepted his expert opinion, and I’m glad to say, we are still alive and well.
After drilling a few holes and setting up our portable ice tent, we jigged with various set-ups with just a couple of strikes, but nothing to show for it. It was starting to seem that we’d get skunked when Andy shouted from outside the tent “I got one!” We all went over to watch and coach as his rod was doubled over and the fish was peeling out line. “I think we better tighten your drag, or he’s going to pull it all out and break it off,” I said. We got it snugged up just right – not too tight that it would break the line, but tight enough to give the fish some resistance and Andy started to gain on him. Meanwhile, just 15 feet away, Roger had dropped his bait into another hole and he soon had a second one on. “Double header!” I shouted. Roger seemed to be gaining on his fish faster than Andy, so a few minutes later, he had the first one on the ice. Andy was still struggling with his BIGGER fish while I just shot videos of both, while I secretly crossed my fingers in hope that he didn’t get away. Soon – “I can see him, just below the ice!” Andy exclaimed. Roger helped to work him through the hole and we had 2 nice lake trout.
After drilling a few more holes in strategic locations, Bruce’s shout broke the brief silence. “I got a bite!” His fish was pulling harder than the first 2 and we again had to tighten his drag as he fought the monster with the little jigging rode. Wow, I thought, in the summer we use those big trolling rods and heavy tackle for this size fish. Bruce’s battle was finally won when Roger came to pull the exhausted trout through the 8 inch hole. Bruce jumped for joy as it barely fit through the hole! “That’s the biggest fish I ever caught, dad,” he told me later. “Yeah, your first fish ever ice fishing too,” I added.
It was a good day followed by the drive back again through the dark, scenic mountains. Maybe some other day I’ll come through here to see the real beauty in the daylight.
P.S. I edited most of the video to shorten it up. The actual fight lasted over 10 minutes!