Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 4

New hope, old donuts and another glorious day on the Boomer

Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 4

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

Friday, February 1, 2019
7:07 a.m.
-13 Degrees
Rhinelander, USA

New month, new attitude. With warmer weather moving in the bigger pike will most certainly be in a feeding frenzy.

It’s already up into the single digits below zero. Today almost feels like cheating. I can’t remember the last time we had this many sunny days in a row in winter.

No action yet, but this is the day.

A little less conversation, a little more action, please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark

How old is too old for a glazed donut to be safely enjoyed? It’s a question we all ask ourselves at some point. On Tuesday I would have said a couple days at most, but after the 6-pack of Glazers from the previous Saturday thawed, they were perfect. I detected low-level degradation after Wednesday’s thaw. And while they were still edible on Thursday, it was clear they were on their way out. This morning, after allowing adequate time to thaw, I was greeted not with tender, flaky donut flesh, but a mouthful of material that felt like day-old oatmeal, with a glaze that had traded its sweetness for notes of old carpet and a faint mustiness of stale beer. It was like taking a bite out of the shack itself.

It’s 2 degrees. ABOVE ZERO. The mercury hasn’t risen above the equator since I don’t know when.

Still nothing. Some unscrupulous guys would start throwing out extra lines in these situations. I have (unfounded) faith in my set. Speaking of which, I set up deeper in the bay today. Large shiners about a foot and a half below the ice in two holes, and a walleye sucker a foot off the bottom on my farthest tip-up. My preferred purveyor of baitfish only had 12 large shiners left in the tank this morning. One was dead and one was too short to ride, so I took 10 and topped off my dozen with a couple suckers.

Activity on the ice surface has picked up tremendously — snowmobilers, fishermen, K-9s and recreationalists of all persuasions are out celebrating the Canadian spring.

Activity below the surface remains at an unsustainably low level.

And it don’t matter if we sit forever
And the fish don’t bite

I think Boom Lake is populated mainly with the baitfish of my failed fishing forays. One of these years we should start catching some nice shiners.

If you measure success by fish caught, this venture has been an utter and complete failure. So I’m changing the metric. I’m measuring my success by the holes I’ve drilled this week, and I’ve drilled some dandies. The StrikeMaster is purring like a kitten and I’m punching perfect 10-inch holes through 2 feet of ice. Three per day; sometimes more.    

A friend was just kind enough to inform me that the barometric pressure is too low and I’ve been wasting my time all week. That may or may not be the case, and an argument can certainly be made that he’s absolutely correct, albeit for different reasons. He says the pressure is supposed to climb up to 89 on Sunday, and that’s the day the fish will feed. I’m concerned, however, that his understanding of barometric numbers is lacking. The average pressure at mean sea level is 29.92 inches of mercury. In Wisconsin, average pressure ranges roughly from just under 29 to a little over 30. If it somehow climbs to 89 on Tuesday, I think the fish will be pinned to the bottom of the lake and I’ll be feeling the weight of three atmospheres. That’s not a promising fishing forecast.

I’m asking myself, what would the world championship ice anglers who battled for gold on this lake in 2010 do in a situation like this? 

Steve, aka Volt, aka Sparky, aka the Southside Sparkplug, just pulled into camp and brought a hot snack wheel (pizza) and a 30-pack of Old Style (liquid gold). He punched his holes and I scooped for him. This whole ice camp began with me and Steve back in 2003, the year I moved back up here. We built a little plywood shack on a rusted-out, double-axle trailer another friend gave us, and fished out of it quite comfortably for about 8 years before the Snake Chaser came into our lives.

I have to give another shoutout to VentureGear Tactical and their antifog glasses. Cold to hot, back and forth, they don’t fog.

Steve’s getting up every 30 seconds to check his tip-ups out the windows. Clearly he hasn’t been here all week. 

I think a lot about what it’ll be like when I finally get a flag.

Pete just showed up on his snowmobile.

I have to assume that anyone who has witnessed me out here on this hellscape all week presumes I’m cooking meth in the shack.

It can’t get any worse, but it’s worth noting: Rock bottom has built more champions than privilege ever did.

I’m trying to stay positive, but hope is eroding.

Well it’s your mind
that tricks you into leaving every time

We’re caught in a trap
I can't walk out 
Because I love you too much, baby

I think the tip-up with the sucker down deep could produce here at the end of the day. Walleyes gotta eat too.

5 p.m.
My workday ended an hour and a half ago. It’s just too nice in the shack to leave. And this is an exceptional batch of Old Style. Really well krausened.

I’m pulling my boards at 5:30. They’ve had a good soak.

That’s enough. 

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


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