Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 6

Cutting through the fog and leading the Snake Chaser to fish

Two Weeks on the Ice: Daily Log 6

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

Sunday, February 3, 2019
9:57 a.m.
35 degrees
Rhinelander, USA

There’s a heavy blanket of fog over the lake and I’m waiting at the landing for Ryan. I’m jumping in with him for a quick scouting mission and then we’re going to move the Snake Chaser to new water.

We were hoping to slide into Coop’s Bay, and it’s wide open. There’s a shack outside the bay but there’s plenty of room to get in where we want to be. Just have to make sure everything is picked up and secured in the shack and then we can hook up and go. There’s about 5 inches of crust on most of the lake and you can still drive pretty much anywhere with 4-wheel drive.

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’

We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done

We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there

I’m east bound, just watch ol’ Bandit run

12:29 p.m.
It’s 39 degrees and heavy fog has given way to haze. The shack is deep in Coop’s Bay and my boards have been in for about an hour now. We’ve fished these waters many times. 

At 1:35 p.m. on Saturday of the 2016 Rhinelander Lions Club Fisheree, known by many simply as the Jambo, I pulled a 32-inch musky through the ice here. I released it immediately of course, but it speaks to the quality of these waters.

Out near the weed line at the mouth of the bay the water is 6 to 8 feet, but deeper in the bay we’re fishing some holes with as little as a foot of water below the ice. It’s unconventional by some standards. Pete says I’ve lost my mind. I think he’s still just riding the high from that 12-incher he landed yesterday, thinking he’s better than me. 

Turk, his wife Amber and their little boys Woodson and Ledger just stopped in. It’s a nice Sunday in the shack. Full house. 

It’s up to 40 degrees. Canadian spring is in full effect. 

I haven’t had a flag since early January. This has to end sometime. Right? I have one board out by a downed tree near the corner of the bay in about 8 feet of water. Another is right in the middle of the bay in about 4 feet of water and the third is way back in the bay in a little 6-foot hole. 

I’m up! Out by the tree. After eight days without a flag, the ninth wasn't meant to be. In a fitting end to my streak, whatever was on the other end of my line broke it. Musta been a pig. Snapped off my 20-pound braided line. The spool was jerked hard to one side of the hole and the business end of my rig was gone.

I’m feeling so many emotions. 

Baby, baby don’t get hooked on me. 

Ryan’s fishing! The shack unloads. His line is spinning. He makes an aggressive set and loses it. Some guys are saying he was way too aggressive. He horsed it

We’re outta practice. We all went to Ryan’s flag and no one brought the tools, minnows or a scoop. It ain’t like it used to be. 

Pete’s up!. 

0 for 3. Took some line but left the minnow. Probably just gumming it. We haven’t had a three-flag day since we moved back into the main lake last Sunday.

What kind of onions do they use to make Funyuns? Some people think it’s a sweet onion like a Vidalia. I’m not convinced. It’s definitely some kind of yellow onion. That much is obvious. And what about the Steakhouse flavor they used to make? What cut of beef did they put in those things? 

Lee just pulled in with his dog, Ranger, a wiener lab. Strange looking animal — Labrador from the ribs up, and all wiener from the shoulders down. 

Guys are talking about us. They’re moving in on us. Everyone’s got eyes on the Snake Chaser. 

Dollar on the next flag. We’re all in. 

After telling me I’d lost my mind for fishing so far into this shallow bay, Pete’s drilling holes even farther in. How quickly the naysayers become followers. 

What Pete’s just done is one of the weakest moves I’ve seen all year. 

Another interesting note about this bay: My buddy Tony caught two mud puppies here. Most guys could ice fish for three lifetimes and never have the unfortunate pleasure of catching one mud puppy. He caught two in one day. One of them wrapped right around his wrist. Turk wanted to keep it. 

Steve’s picking up. More concerned about getting in some Super Bowl pregame than winning the $4 we have on the line.  Not everyone’s cut out for this lifestyle. 

If you eat enough blue cheese burgers you’re gonna come across some bad ones. But that’s usually in Minnesota. 

If you’re gonna take a group photo around the ice shack, it always looks good if someone’s holding a can of white gas. 

I’m fishing!

I pulled 14 inches of thick, hard-fighting pike out onto the ice. Good lookin’ fish — my first since my first day fishing this year. Someone’s got the hot hand.

This is the kind of day guys dream of. 

I told you so, oh I told you so
I told you some day you’d come crawling back to me
and asking me to take you in 

I think guys are pretty happy for my leadership.  

New moon tomorrow. Most guys are going to their offices. I’m gonna be stackin’ pike like cord wood. 

It’s 7:11 p.m., Adam Levine is prancing around the stage at the Super Bowl halftime show and I’m on my couch looking at a few fishing photos Ryan sent me. People are talking about what I did today. 

Sometime around 5 p.m. I was picking up my tip-ups and one of my flags popped. Same hole where I got broken off earlier in the day. After a good fight and some skillful fishing on my part, I landed a musky that measured somewhere in the 35-inch range. Some say it was bigger. Regardless, it was a glorious exclamation point on the end of my drought. 

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


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