The Old Timer's Ice Fishing ClassicBy Jackie Vogen - March 1, 2008
An ice fishing trip was planned on Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin in February. I was contemplating on making this trip as I hadn't been ice fishing in quite awhile. Now over on the "Women and Fishing" site there are many ladies that enjoy ice fishing and their stories always tend to inspire and motivate me. So, with that said, I decided to try my hand at something that I hadn't done in twenty something years. The first thing I did was to watch a video clip on Lake-Link's Angler's Page, "Surviving When You Fall Through The Ice": http://www.lake-link.com/icefishing/icesafetyvideo.cfm. This video is very instructive and gives you some insight on what to do if the ice breaks. I highly recommend this video to anyone who is going out on the ice because safety is always first.
Anticipating this event, my husband and I woke up early, packed our food and gear in the truck and pulled out. We stopped at one of the local convenience stores in town, picked up a cup of coffee, and I purchased a scratch off ticket. Upon paying, the clerk wished me "good luck" in hopes that I was a winner. Strange as it may seem, a thought crossed my mind; I hope I'm lucky enough not to fall through the ice. I then tucked away the scratch off ticket in my pocket along with a prayer in hopes that it wouldn't get wet. We drove over 200 miles to reach our destination; Quinney Road Boat Landing. Here we met up with part of the group. Years ago when I went ice fishing with my husband, we would walk out onto the ice, but today we convoyed out about 1.5 miles onto a frozen body of water. As we drove out I noticed a row of small evergreen trees that lined the road on our right to help guide us. We now pulled up to our group and I noticed many ice shelters scattered across the ice. I was anxious to meet everyone, but first things first; we needed to dress for the cold and we put on our warm clothes. I already had on my long-underwear under my jeans, so I only had to put on my bibs, hat, hooded coat, wool socks, ice fishing boots and gloves. Was I dressed for the occasion or what? Now I was finally ready to meet many of the old timers for the first time and I was looking forward to finally being able to put a name with a face. As I was making my way through the snow covered ice in my ice fishing boots, I found it somewhat difficult to maneuver with every step that I took. Plus, my heavy and uncomfortable clothes only added to the awkwardness. Knowing that first impressions are lasting impressions, I now became concerned with my overall appearance. Picture this if you will, I looked like Ralphie's little brother, Randy, from the movie, "A Christmas Story" as I waddled towards everyone with my arms extended outwards. Oddly enough, it did make it a little easier to shake hands with everyone.
We were fishing in 17 ft. of water and drilled holes that were approximately 22 to 24 inches thick. We were marking fish, but they weren't very active. The fishing was good, but catching wasn't the best. We had snow flurries all day with intermittent whiteouts. Although the fishing was slow, it still was a very rewarding experience.
We had some of the finest fishermen in our group that day. We were very fortunate to have "The Bago Master Fisherman" join us, also known as Fish-A-Holic. The big surprise that day was when a huge gust of wind blew in and almost blew over the ice shelters. It was Hurricane, our "elder statesman" of the group. We weren't expecting him that day, so he pulled one over on us. I've heard rumors that Cane is 110 years old and carries a big club, but let it be known, this guy looks great for his age. Another great moment was the expression on Crazyhunter's face when he spotted Cane. Now Crazyhunter told me that he's always been crazy, but it's kept him from going insane. Funny, sounds like lyrics from a Waylon Jennings's song. This guy is really level headed; guess I'll never understand why he thinks he's crazy. Anyway, Crazyhunter and Cane spent the day together in an ice shelter like two peas in a pod, and told stories all day. Then there's JayLane. He once told me that he has a cabin on BlueJay Lane, but he changed his user name to JayLane instead. Don't be mistaken though, just like a Blue Jay, he's always a familiar sight at the outings. He may be a little older now, but he's still runnin' against the wind. Then there was Dairymon and his wife. This guy not only had one of the most impressive ice shelters on the ice that day, but all day he kept talking about a new snow blower his wife was going to buy for him. In fact, he was so excited about the snow blower, I don't think he even found time to fish that day! Many thanks to our official chef, "Barefoot", who showed up with his mobile wagon, complete with a grill, chairs, tarp, and a crew to handle the set up. Everything was going great, but just when you thought things couldn't get any better, my good friend, Mrs. Perch, brought out several of her famous homemade pies, and on such a cold day they really hit the spot. Let's not forget about Perch, who I noticed was watching his van pretty close. I wasn't sure if he was watching for a tire to drop or if he was protecting the pies from Barefoot. The pies were so delicious that we renewed Mrs. Perch's pie contract for another year. Lastly, a huge thanks to my wonderful husband, Dropshot2, for making this trip with me. With my husband by my side, my day was complete.
As I sit and think back about our ice fishing outing, something more powerful than ice fishing happened that day. Many of us drove hundreds of miles, we came as strangers, but left as friends. It's really amazing when you think about it. Yes, our annual winter gathering was a success. By the way, if you're wondering whatever happened to my scratch off ticket, let me explain. The ticket stayed dry and didn't have much value; however, I didn't need a winning ticket to tell me what I already knew. I walked away that day as a winner and that's something money can't buy.
I love what I'm learning and I'm learning what I love to do. I LOVE TO FISH!