Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 1

Glazed donuts and setting up shop for a two-week run on the ice

Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 1

This story is part of a larger series on ice-fishing culture. To read all series posts, click here



January 29, 2019
8 a.m.
-4 degrees
Rhinelander, USA

The ice office is online. My boards are in and I’m warm in the shack, getting down to business. This ice shack — the Snake Chaser — is my office for the next two weeks. And I mean that in no euphemistic sense; I am working out of my ice shack on Boom Lake in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, for the next two weeks.

I’ve already shed some layers and turned the heat down. I have my MacBook, Bluetooth mouse and a Wi-Fi jetpack. I’m settling in, answering emails, going about my day-to-day business.

9:07
The box of glazed donuts that’s been sitting here since Saturday has thawed perfectly. They are delightful.

9:53
There’s snow in the air. It’s swirling with the smoke from the paper mill stacks, which are in clear view from my position at the mouth of Duke’s Bay. There’s a dull blanket of gray over this Tuesday.

9:59
There was about ¾ of an inch of ice covering my holes already, so I chiseled them open with my scoop, checked my minnows and sent them back down.

10:07
It’s been a quiet morning — just the sound of the wind whipping over the shack. I need some Classic Country. None of us are country music fans, but it’s all we listen to in here. I’m not even sure why. It just feels right. Hodag Legends FM 101.3, your home for Classic Country. It’s all we run. 

I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why

10:37
Visitors. My buddy Ryan, who’s been one of my best friends since our freshman year of high school and is a vested member of this ice camp, stopped out to see how things are going. He’s a realtor — he owns Lakeland Realty in Woodruff, Wisconsin — and had a little time before his next appointment. 

11:16
The wind is cranking pretty hard but my flags wont fly. Locked down. Another day on the Dead Sea. My weather app says it’s still -4, and -24 with the windchill, if you believe in that sort of thing.

12:11
Pizza hot out of the oven. Burnt to hell, actually. Not my best effort but not entirely inedible. In the seven years we’ve had this shack we’ve cooked a lot of pizzas, but we’ve cooked fish exactly once.

1:08
The wind is blowing enough snow in my holes to fill them with slush and keep them from freezing. My baitfish are fighting aggressively, but still no action. It’s possible that they are so athletically gifted that even while tethered to my tip-ups they’re still able to avoid hungry pike. 

1:13
My good friend Pete just stopped in. He apparently caught a bowfin out here a couple summers ago that was 2 inches shy of the state record. Better him than me. The bowfin is an ugly fish. 

2:34
It occurs to me that I’m only a couple hours from wrapping up my fourth consecutive fishing day (including three days scattered across a couple weeks leading into this assignment) without a flag. Common sense tells me the last two hours is only a formality in making that unfortunate fact a reality, but my spirit is unbroken. 

2:55
My laptop has reached 17 percent power. Time to test out the generator I borrowed for this effort. 

3:07
This ice shack has been powered by cheap beer and false hope for years. For the first time, there’s electricity flowing. 

3:53

There’s no place that I’d rather be than right here
With my red necks, white socks and blue ribbon beer 

4:55
After an hour-long work call during which I did as best I could to employ the watched-pot theory, my tip-ups neither boiled water nor hooked a fish. It’s now -9 with a windchill factor of -32. But I don’t believe in that sort of thing. There’s a nice sunset out the end window of the shack and I have to suit up and go pull my boards. It’s been a good first day.


Next in the Series 

Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 2

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