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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 1-2-2013

Ice Camp, Living the Good Life!

Hello friends,

As you are about to find out, not everything in life always works out the way we plan.

This week’s adventure takes place on the Mississippi River at Stoddard. My stepsons, Travis and Joey Dushek, would be my companions on a winter camping and ice fishing trip to an area that is becoming respected throughout the region for its perch, bluegill, and northern pike fishing.


Sunday, December 23rd
High 24, low 5

Two days ago, the ice that we are standing on was open water. This would be a quick mission that had us leaving my house at 4:30 a.m. and on a plan of returning the next day (Christmas Eve) after dark.

Joey is now 19 and in the cranberry business, and Travis is 21 and is a landscaper. Both of these guys have spent more time sleeping on the ice then about 99 percent of this states population, both of these guys are also addicted to ice fishing.

Our plan of fishing my perch honey hole changed when a fella pulled up to us at the boat landing, where we were preparing to unload and then make a half mile trek to perch paradise. Our new friend told us that he was out there in an airboat yesterday and that there was lots of open water.

We were told of a popular spot nearby and that is where we headed with sharp hooks and high hopes.

First, the boys and I went for a walk and spoke with several fishermen of which all of them told us that the fish were not biting. Second, just like that I started feeling kind of unhealthy.

One local fishermen told us where he would set up if he was sleeping on the ice and so the three of us plus my dog “Fire”, who there is a very good chance that she will be having pups in late January ( if interested) headed back to the truck and then hauled 6 loads of gear to fish paradise.

As long as you are not looking at my truck you would probably think that our crew of three is loaded with cash. Joey just bought A Jiffy “Pro 4”, which is there propane auger. I have been running one for a year and going back to gasoline would be like going from a bike to a trike.

Joey also just purchased the Vexilar “FL-20”, these toys will help catch this kid a lot of fish for many years to come.

Our home for the night was an Eskimo “Fatfish” which is also brand new and simply put an incredible improvement on the design and big enough for me to raise my next family in.

Back to the fishing, things were not looking so good for the panfish action so we put out a spread of tip ups and set up a very comfortable camp that was rigged with cots, a heater, two propane lanterns and a table.

About this time, I had a deep cough, a fever and every part of me hurt. I tried taking a snooze but just got sicker so I went to a local mini mart and bought one of every kind of flu medication that they had in stock.

After O-Ding on meds I had a slight reprieve, the fish were not biting and so I took a stroll and began talking with other fishermen. The few bluegill that were being caught were dandies, but it was maybe one an hour and that was for the real pros.

At dark, we had some guys give us five gills to go along with the “one” Joey caught.

We had planned a fish fry but failed to catch our supper. Joey filleted the gills and Trav cooked them. I was so sick I could not eat a one.

That night, sleeping on the ice was a killer for me, I was about as sick as I had ever been. For the longest time I put off going outside to release water not wanting to get out of my sleeping bag. When I made the move, I could hardly walk and can now understand how the flu kills 40,000 Americans every year.

The following morning we caught even less fish then the day before and I was thankful to have a couple of strong boy to do most of the bullwork and drive home.

I have now been home 3-days, I am still sick and just found out Joey is too.

Like I said at the start of this column, not everything always works out the way we plan.  Sunset.