by Mark Walters
Smiley’s Tenth Annual “Women’s only Fisharee”
I recently took part in a learning experience on the ice. This experience came in the form of watching 12 women ice fish on the frozen waters of Lake Winnebago. My friend Lori Schick has fished in Smiley’s Women’s only Fisharee for all ten years that it has been held.
Shelly Ketlhut manages this 56-team tournament, which is based out of Lakeshore Mart, which is located in Van Dyne and just may be the coolest minimart/baitshop and tavern east of the Mississippi River.
Saturday, February 2nd
High 17, low minus 3
Yesterday I put out my Igloo, Fatfish portable ice shack next to two sturgeon-spearing shacks that Dennis Oelrich was putting out for his wife Laurie and any other woman in this group to fish out of. The location we would be fishing is in the Van Dyne area and we were very limited in our scouting due to very poor ice conditions caused by expansion cracks. Earlier in the week, perch in the 8-11 inch range were being caught here so this seemed like as good of a place as any to set up for the gals party, I mean serious ice fishing experience.
Last night Lori Schick had an “it’s the fisheries” party and the next thing you know its 4:30 a.m. and time for everyone to get moving.
My learning experience began as soon as we hit the ice when the end gate of my 96 Chevy was opened at first light this morning and 12 gals in the age of 25-? set up a bar and began making Bloody Mary’s. (Within a half hour all celery and mix was froze solid).
I soon learned that though each one of these gals wanted to win the contest, which is decided by the team of women that bring in the most weight of any fish, they could catch. In reality, they wanted to talk, fish and enjoy themselves on the frozen waters of Wisconsin’s largest inland lake.
I was the observer and could not even bait a hook. At times there were 9 women in my ice shack and during the entire outing not a fish was caught out of it.
Sammi Meyer is in her mid-20s and impressed me with both her knowledge of hunting and fishing andalsoer gear. She had a Vexilar fish camera and a Mr. Heater, portable heater. Sammi had lots of fishing and hunting stories and it sounds like she does pretty well with a bow and arrow.
Kari Kirsch “Snooki” had everyone laughing and wanted to catch a fish as bad as anyone I have ever seen. Once she lost her minnow and became extremely excited that she at least may have had a bite “I did not have the heart to tell her that it probably fell off the hook”.
Snooki was the only gal out of 12 that would run my Jiffy “Pro Four” power auger when I gave lessons.
Sandy Sullivan lives in northern Wisconsin and sat outside on a bucket the entire morning and never complained about the cold.
Kalynn Roth is Lori Schick’s daughter and the ring leader of many of these 20 something gals and I can see why she is having a hard time picking out a maid of honor for her upcoming wedding, they’re all good friends.
Laurie Oelrich, who gets my award for the best attitude, caught our only fish, which was a perch that weighed 3 ounces.
About 11,when it was obvious the fish were not hungry there was wrestling matches, more beverages were drunk and I had an important revelation. Women on the ice, act a lot like men on the ice and do not look much different.
We ended our experience at the weigh in where some very proud women had some impressive catches. Michelle Wilkens caught a beautiful 25-inch walleye while fishing with her partner Jenny Steinman.
This years tournament winners were Mandy Jo Wilkens and her sister Sheri Smet.
There should be more tournaments like this! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Cedar Country Cooperative