Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 5

First fish, a beautiful Saturday and a new plan

Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 5

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

Saturday, February 2, 2019
12:01 p.m.
26 degrees
Rhinelander, USA


Today feels like cheating. I slept late, made breakfast and picked up a fresh supply of propane on my way out to the shack. And this is by far the warmest it’s been. I fired up the heaters when I got here and by the time I had my tip-ups in I had a little sweat going and the heat in the shack was overwhelming. It’s just solar gain inside the shack at this point.

Moonlighting, a bar in town, is running a little tournament out here today so there’s a ton of people on the lake. But the Snake Chaser is still standing alone in Duke’s Bay. Guys don’t have the guts to move in on us.

Ryan, his son OJ, and their golden doodle Dex just pulled in. I have no reason to hope for different results today, but I do.

I’m just an old chunk of coal
But I’m going to be a diamond someday

I’m sipping an orange soda. When I come out here on the weekend I always bring an orange or grape soda. Usually orange. 

I had to run to my brother’s house just around the point to use the bathroom. The four-wheel-drive went out in my truck this week, but I was fine until I got off the beaten trail in front of my brother’s. I hit a pocket of heavy snow and had to call back to the shack to have Ryan come up with a tow strap. Embarrassing.

We have nine lines in, searching for a flag.

If you haven’t ever experienced a week well below zero, you have no idea how incredible a sunny 29-degree day can feel. 

2:11  Pete just showed up on his snowmobile with his son Owen, carrying a backcountry minnow bucket — that’s minnows in a small Tupperware container. 

Makin' their way 
the only way they know how …

Brad K. and his two boys just rolled in. I appreciate a man who gets out of his vehicle and grabs a grocery bag with a couple loose beers in it out of the back. Brad’s married to my cousin Elizabeth. He lives on Lake Creek, up above Thunder Lake at the other end of the chain. 

We now have a dozen lines in. 

Tube meats on the grill — hotdogs and cheddarwurst. Biting into a cheddarwurst straight off the grill without the protection of a bun is like dining on a balloon full of boiling grease.

Life is pretty easy at 30 degrees.

All flags down. My tip-ups must be broken.

I’m trying to ignore the fact that I came into this week without having a flag in my previous three days of fishing. And now in the home stretch of Saturday, I’m looking at eight consecutive fishing days without a flag. It’s an unmatched stretch of futility. 

Most guys, if they had five days of fishing without a flag in a row, they’d never go back. They’d never go back anywhere on the whole lake. 

I really thought someone was going to have a flag today. I didn’t think it was going to be me, but I thought someone’s flag would pop. 

Pete’s up! 

We’re on the board with a beautiful 12-inch pike — so small it’s bones are probably still soft. 

She was hotter than a two-dollar pistol 
She was the fastest thing around 
Long and lean, every young man’s dream 

Let it be noted that the courteous ice fisherman, when approaching the door of my shack, yells “Anyone?” Then you count the number of positive replies and bring in an equal number of beers. Thank you. 

Pete’s packing up. 

Ryan’s loading up his 4-wheeler. And there’s a mass exodus of trucks heading for the boat landing. I think the tournament fishermen have to report back to Moonlighting by 5 p.m. 

You want a nice all-day gravy with your dinner after a full day on the ice. 

My boards are all picked up and everything’s put away around the shack. 

I just got a report that some dude named JP caught 17 pike over in the Bass Lake area today. Two more snapped his lines. I have a tough time believing any of it. 

We have a plan. Tomorrow we’re seeking better water. We’ll meet and move the Snake Chaser in the morning. 

I don’t have much else to say. I need to get off the ice.

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


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