An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 1-11-2017

by Mark Walters

Crappie and Perch on Lake Chetac

Hello friends, 

I am truly blessed with many friends and family members that I do a lot of really fun things with. Looking back at that sentence, that is pretty cool. Anyways, this past week I headed up to Sawyer County near Birchwood and ice fished on Lake Chetac with my now 25-year old stepson, Travis Dushek (I was writing about him when he was six).

My good buddy out of Cumberland, Paul Bucher, Ryan Ransom from Black River Falls, Preston Johnson of Rice Lake and Chris Schiefelbein who lives right in Chetac would be the main characters in this annual le’s see how much we can laugh in 48-hours, trip.

Friday, December 30th
High 26, low 15

Some of the important questions before this trip are, is there enough ice to drive a truck on and how are the fish biting? There was nine-inches of good ice on Chetac as of 1/1/17 and that meant atv’s instead of pickups, which on my end means hauling a trailer.

The fish bite question, well it seems like they are always biting on Chetac at some point in the day. Our general goal is crappie, which range from 9-11 inches, hopefully some perch which the keepers are 9-10s and for the die hards in the group, we put out tips and hope to catch a big gator or a tasty walleye.

We are staying at a home on the lake and once we arrived, the big job of hauling our gear out to the spot where we are going to fish for the weekend and setting up camp began.

Chris Schiefelbein had found the fish and so all we had to do was set up my brand new Eskimo “Fatshack”, drill some holes and start fishing. Actually it is not that simple, my job is to run propane lights and set up the heater and kind of set up a kitchen.

At times, especially after dark, all four of us fish in the Fatshack and other then my deer camp or the cabin on Shultz Lake in Canada or duck camp I cannot think of a place where I laugh more.

Travis just purchased a portable sled/shack and he is addicted to being the best and most technical fishermen on the ice.

Anyways, very surprisingly after a night of laughing our heads off, after consuming the better part of two homegrown beef roasts, we only had 13 crappie, bluegill and perch between us.

Saturday, December 31st
High 22, low 10

Something that is really cool about this weekend is that once the date is set, which is generally in early December, the word gets out and by the second day of festivities, there is generally about 15 of us on the ice.

We eat excellent food with many of the guys that cook a meal for the whole gang over the course of the weekend. Today, while he was putting a hurting on the local schools of crappie and perch, Ryan Ransom prepared bacon wrapped elk steaks.

About all I can say is that meal could bring a Vegan back to eating meat. 

In the past, I have written that I am not very good at jigging for deep water panfish. I really do not like watching electronics, but today even I did well on perch and crappie.

On the tips ups, I gave them my best effort, as did some of the other guys and to be perfectly honest, the flags were not flying this weekend. 

We stay on the ice extremely late each day and as I have said so many times, the good eating, the quality fishing, the camaraderie and just knowing that once again everyone that could, showed up for a totally exhausting weekend of fun on one of northern Wisconsin’s premier fisheries.

Enjoy winter, that beats being miserable! Sunset