Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 10

Slow fishing, snow ramifications and one last day to myself

Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 10

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

Thursday, February 7, 2019
7:21 a.m.
18 degrees
Rhinelander, USA

We got a couple more inches of snow overnight and there was a light mist in the air on my way to the shack. Luckily someone plowed a road to a group of nearby shacks yesterday, so I didn’t have to get into any heavy snow until the last couple hundred yards. We’re supposed to get up to 11 more inches of snow today, followed by strong winds. Traversing the lake is going to get increasingly more difficult. 

I haven’t even drilled holes yet but I keep looking out the windows to check for flags. I stopped for minnows on the way in, and then at Menards to replenish the Snake Chaser’s propane supply. By the time I got out here, I just wanted to fire up the heaters, check my email and get to work. But I’ll get my tip-ups in soon. 

The temperature in the shack has risen 55 degrees in the past 20 minutes. It’s now pushing 75 and I’ve already turned the heaters down. 

7:49 I’m going to time myself today. Start to finish — drill three holes and get my lines in — from the time I step out the door until the time I get back in the shack.

It’s go time.

I hit stop on my timer when I set my buckets down outside the door — 16:33. That’s a respectable time. I took the auger out and drilled three holes. Brought the auger back and got my tip-ups and minnows. Scooped my holes, checked my depths and sent my minnows down to work. I wasn’t running around, but I was moving purposefully.

My tip-ups are set in an offset line stretching out about 80 yards from the shack. I’m fishing the hole where I had flags yesterday and two new holes nearby. Two are in about 8 feet of water and one is in 6. I haven’t changed up my rigs much this week, only slight variations after the two break-offs. For the most part it’s 9-inch braided wire leaders with standard #6 trebles hooked to the largest shiners I can pick out of the tank at the bait shop. 

There’s a guy tending a flag about 200 yards out from me. Looks like he came up empty. Better luck next time, Sir. 

There’s a guy plowing back and forth across the main lake. It looks like he’s clearing a runway.

Flags were popping Tuesday morning before the storm moved in and I was thinking this morning might be the same with more snow on the way later today, but nothing so far. 

Country Radio Linda is dialing up some gems today. 

Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin’
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

The wind is picking up. It’s rocking the shack a little. All flags are secure in the set position. 

I’ve already seen a handful of shacks getting pulled out onto the lake this morning. People are wrangling for position for the tournament this weekend. 

There’s been a lot of texting back and forth this morning trying to find someone who might come out and plow a good road for us. So far we’ve come up empty. 

I just walked out and flagged down the guy plowing massive swaths of the lake. Hell of a nice guy. He was more than happy to plow us a little spur road and space to park. Said he’s just out here for fun and he’ll be back out tomorrow to clean it up again after the snow. He didn’t want any money, but said he likes Miller Lite. He won’t have to buy any for a while. 

The snow is picking up. I’d be driving my truck to land and walking back to the shack before long if we hadn’t just been plowed out. 

Pete just pulled up, taking a quick break from his morning errands. Brought me a cheeseburger.

I’m getting about two hours and 40 minutes out of a 1-pound propane cylinder running on low in my little Mr. Heater. Once the shack is up to temperature that’s about all I need to keep it comfortable in here without a jacket or hat.

It’s snowing hard. I’m starting to believe the predictions.

Still no action. Afternoons like this always seem to be slow. 

The opposite shorelines have completely faded into the white. 

I think we hit a little hole in the storm. It’s still snowing but not nearly as hard and the clouds have lifted slightly. Good opportunity to set up the generator for some charging. 

It’s picking up again. I need to go clean off my tip-ups before I can’t find them. 

With all the snow and temps above 20 there’s no worry about my tip-ups freezing in too much, but I’m testing out my new Therma-Seat hole covers. I used one on my closest tip-up and left the other two open. Those two are filling with slush and icing over the top, but the covered hole didn’t need any scooping at all. 

There’s a truck stuck a little way from the shack. I’m heading out to see if they need a hand. 

Out of gas, just my luck
Four bald tires on my pickup truck 

No luck. There’s a big berm along one of the roads across the lake and this guy hit it blindly and couldn’t get through. He took my shovel to dig out while I started my truck and scraped the windshield, but neither of us had a proper tow strap and both the ratchet straps he had snapped even with my limited traction in 2-wheel drive. Good karma to go give him a hand though. It’s not fun being stuck on the lake. 

Ryan and OJ just stopped to say hi. 

As Thursday winds down I’m a little sad I won’t have another full day out here to myself. It’s my day off but I’m still planning to come out after an appointment in the morning. I think a couple other guys will be here in the afternoon though. And it’ll be a full house over the weekend. I’m going to miss my little writing place. 

I should pick up and get out of here before I’m snowbound but I don’t want to. Snowbound doesn’t sound so bad right now. 

I’ve had a lot of assignments in my 20 years of journalism, but for the past 10 days I’ve been living one. I’m grateful for the opportunity. This whole project has forced me to think a great deal about what I’m doing out here and why, and my appreciation for all of it has grown significantly. I hope the stories I tell do all of this justice. 

I guess I’ll go pick up my boards. 

I just had a pretty strange experience. I went to my farthest tip-up first, the one where I’ve been having the most action. The flag was down but my minnow was gone. You don’t usually lose minnows without the flag tripping, but OK. Then I went to the next one and the whole treble hook was gone. It came out of the snap swivel on the end of my leader, but the snap wasn’t broken. I think maybe the heavy snow held my flags down and gave just enough resistance to allow a fish or two to get a free meal without tripping a flag. Strange. 

The propane cylinder in my little Mr. Heater just ran out. I guess it’s time to head out. 

No, just a little while longer. It’ll be good to have a fresh cylinder in the heater ready to light right away in the morning anyway. I wish I had a beer. 

True, not another minute on this earth can be borrowed
There's no way to know when I'll live my last tomorrow 
But every day I get, I'll share with you

I just found a loose Busch Light. Cheers to you, old girl.

Goodnight Snake Chaser.

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


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