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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 1-13-2016

by Mark Walters

First Ice? Fishing trip!

Hello friends,

Generally in Wisconsin, ice fishermen hit our frozen lakes between mid-November and early December. For most Wisconsin hard water enthusiasts “first ice” was not until after Christmas.

My first ice, fishing getaway was just completed and by all accounts it was extremely successful. Please read further for details on how to have a really good time in Wisconsin when there is ice.

Friday, January 1st
High 27, low 16

Sawyer Counties, Chetac Lake, covers 1920-acres has an abundant supply of 8-10 inch crappie as well as northern pike, walleye, perch and bluegill.

Paul Bucher is my good buddy from Cumberland, who I try to have one or two fun outings a year with. Preston Johnson lives in Rice Lake is a lot of fun and a hardcore fishermen. Chris Schiefelbein lives on Lake Chetac and is very into catching fish and socializing with his pals. Chris was our informant and found the fish for us the first day that there was somewhat safe ice on Chetac.

Joey Dushek is my 22-year-old stepson, who is the young guy in the group and like the other guys is very good at catching crappie in 26-feet of water with electronics.

My official position is that of head Fun Master, that comes up with a date each year that everyone works around for this trip and I kind of suck at catching crappie in deep water.

So we are staying at a really nice home on the water, whose very kind owners are snowbirds (thank you). We are using four-wheelers to travel and there is 4-5 inches of ice so we are fishing in my Eskimo “Fatfish” which is about 13-feet by 8 feet, and literally a cabin on the ice. For this trip we are breaking in a brand new “Fatfish” that is insulated and everyone is impressed.

After a 3-three hour drive, and settling in, we hit the ice about 1:00 with a plan of fishing until somewhere around midnight.

Today it is Paul, Joey, Chris and myself in the shack with plenty of friends in nearby shacks. The crappie action is steady but it is not a slaughter. Most of the action is about 6-feet off the bottom in 26-feet of water.

We also have tip ups out that at first are set for gators and as day became night we switched over for walleye. Over the course of the weekend we caught five snakes and no walleye.

Our comfortable abode is lit with propane lights that run off 20-pound cylinders and later in the night Paul Bucher heated up scalloped potatoes and ham.

At dark we had about 35-crappie between the four of us that were all in the nine-inch range. Mr. Schiefelbein likes to call them “lobsters of the lake”.

When we pulled tip ups and headed to camp we had about seventy extremely tasty crappie between the four of us.

If you were outside of our shack and listening, you would pretty much hear non-stop laughter.

Saturday, January 2nd
High 32, low 19

Today, Preston joined our ranks, I probably should have charged the battery on my Vexilar, (it showed the pretty colors but not my jig) we caught a lot of fish and we laughed a lot.

At one time I had a flag and missed a small fish right at the hole. Chris “Bein” was watching the experience and as usual verbally abusing me. Low and behold I had a line hooked onto my tip up and though I had to pull really hard I broke it off from the tree that it “must have been snagged on”Chris starts pulling in the other end and there is about a 24-inch snake on it and all the line from someone’s tip up.

No ones flag went up so we figured it was a fish that had been hooked a day or two earlier. When we showed the guys the set up Joey claimed it was his rig and I may have put the entire spool into a very large mess.

Joey’s flag never went up and there was some debate as to why that may have happened.

Well after dark I burned a precooked hot dish that had kind of froze and even my dog would not eat.

This trip is so much fun that we must return next year!