Say it out loud: “Ice Fishing Vacation School.” Doesn’t it feel like there should be an oxymoron in there somewhere? It’s actually a four-day event where an ice shanty village is erected 6-12 miles off Linwood in Detroit where students learn the fine points of catching walleyes.

From this story in the Detroit Free Press:
_This was the week that walleye tournament pros Mark Brumbaugh, Mike Gofron and Mark Martin chose for their annual Ice Fishing Vacation School. It’s a four-day event in which they set up an ice shanty village at several locations 6-12 miles off Linwood and students learn the fine points of catching walleyes.

About half of the participants were riding four wheelers, the others snow machines, and in recent years snowmobiles were overheating because of a lack of snow on vast expanses of slick ice.
_”What a difference a year makes,” Brumbaugh said, soaked with sweat after he and Martin spent an hour freeing stuck four-wheelers on the first day. “In some places, there’s 2 feet of snow with 6 inches of slush underneath. The ORVs keep bogging down in it. I think tomorrow we’ll bring everyone out on the sleds.”

Another difference from last year that was more noticeable — while the screens of the electronic fish finders and underwater cameras show good numbers of walleyes, the fish were very reluctant to bite.

Eric Plant lives in Traverse City but grew up on Saginaw Bay and has fished it for 25 years.

“I’ve never seen the fishing so bad out there,” he said. “You’d see the walleyes coming through on the camera, and they’d come right up to the minnow and stare at it, but they wouldn’t take. It seemed if you jigged the lure, they’d take right off.”

The fish didn’t seem to show a preference for lures, happily hitting jigging Rapalas,

Do-Jiggers, Mirror Minnows, Buckshot spoons and Cleos in colors that ran the gamut from lifelike imitations to chartreuse.

Local anglers say Saginaw Bay’s near-legendary walleye fishing has been slower than usual this winter. There are still a lot of walleyes, but they are running smaller than in the past five years.
OK, so who wants to sign up for classes?