Ice Fishing on Houghton Lake

Mike here.

After helping my brother with a photo project,  I picked up Kim and our dog Maverick and raced home to Houghton Lake.  Tired from the trip, Kim opted to nap, so I ran down to Lyman’s and picked up a dozen blues, a couple new lures and a pack of Number 10 treble hooks all intended to help me limit out on pike, walleye and anything else with fins.

Now, let me digress.  Prior to this year, I’ve ice fished a couple of times with friends and once as a kid.  To call me an ice-fisherman would be like calling me a pilot because I’ve traveled in a plane a few times.  When we moved to Houghton “Tip Up Town” Lake a year ago, it only seemed natural that we’d migrate to the winter side of fishing.

As with far too many things in my life, I jumped right into the deep end. A sled to pull the poles and gear.  A used 4-wheeler and a trailer to pull it.  A used gas powered auger because I almost suffered a massive heart attack with a hand auger I picked up at the Restore when I couldn’t afford a new one or an electric auger.  A new fishing box full of hooks, sinkers, split shots, little yellow floating balls, then little red floating balls, number 14 hooks, then #12 hooks (and now #10), a minnow bucket (don’t forget you need a minnow net), and new swivels later,  Oh, I forgot, a used fish shanty and a Buddy Heater.  I now declare myself an ice fisherman.

Mind you, this transformation to winter fishing has taken several weeks of trial and error.  The first time we went out armed with Grandpa Del’s bucket-o-ice fishing poles, a dozen minnows and our blue hand auger resulted in twenty minutes of cardio, about an inch deep hole, a full frothing sweat, dumping the minnows on the ice and pricing new ice augers at Lyman’s on the Lake (those guys are great by the way), we decided we needed to invest in a used ice auger.

Craig’s list here we come…

Before I continue the story, I should mention that Family Wild strives to invite you and all your relatives (and friends) to Com’on Outside and enjoy the thrills, excitement, and occasional trials and tribulations of hunting, fishing and outdoor art activities.  We hope to encourage you to take to the lakes, woods, and streams and make memories with your children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.  Along the way, you’ll enjoy (endure) events that become the history, story and lore of your family for years to come.  On our blog, we want to share our experiences of joy, challenge, and sometimes frustration (so you know you’re not alone!) with our nature-based hobbies. 

Back to my regularly scheduled blogging, already in progress.  After searching Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace, I finally settled on a used, gas powered auger.  Having read the Art of the Deal, I transformed an asking price of $150 into a trade for my Christmas $50 Amazon Gift Card (the seller said he was giving to his wife) and $75.  Of course, we had to meet in a gas station parking lot off I-75 to finalized our deal.  Having bought multiple items on Craig’s List that didn’t work when I got home, I’ve grown much smarter over the years and asked him to start the auger to prove it worked.

Well, 25 pulls, an exhausted seller, and the strong odor of gasoline later,  he promised me it had always worked and begged me to stay and he would run to his friend’s house to drain the Mississippi flood of gas out of the carburetor and clean the plugs.  I was just thrilled to see others on the planet have similar luck with inanimate objects.

Having bought two small used boat motors this spring, neither or which I’ve since been able to start, you could say I was a bit suspicious. Not to mention I didn’t want to see Kim shake her head in utter disbelief at another Craig’s List investment.  I decided to take the leap of faith anyway, and headed back to the car to explain to her that I was sure he just flooded it. I can still see her shake her head in utter disbelief as we waited for my heroic seller to return.

Long story shorter, he returned and told me his friend called him an idiot for priming the gas bubble four times after he had run it before he left his home.  I then learned, if the motor is cold, you choke it, pump it twice and pull.  If it doesn’t start, pump it once and pull.  If it doesn’t start,  notice your wife shake her head in disbelief out of the corner of your eye, pump it once and pull and it will start.  If you’ve run it recently, pull once, then choke it and pull, then pump the gas bubble once and so on.  The good news, as opposed to the two boat motors?  The auger has worked as agreed and I negotiated the price down like the dad on A Christmas Story buying his tree.

For more on our ice fishing experiences and future outdoor adventures, I invite you to Com’ On Outside with Family Wild for more of our Tip Up Town fun.

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Ice Fishing Houghton Lake w Courtney

Courtney & Dad headed out on Houghton Lake.