Ice fishing is a Wisconsin tradition
Mild temperatures and little breeze made ice- fishing on Delavan Lake on 02-08-09 a pleasant diversion. With heavy snow and lots of sub-zero days, his winter has otherwise made it hard for many people to get out.
Ice fishing tips
-- The best fishing is in the early morning or evening.
-- Fish with a light line.
-- Use a small hook. Fish don’t take large, aggressive bites in the winter.
-- Fish with lively bait to attract fish.
-- Don’t sit too close to the fishing hole. Fish might get scared of your shadow.
-- Use a long fishing pole to sit away from the hole.
-- If you’re not catching fish, move to a new hole.
-- Bring friends, food and drinks to have a good time.
-- Wear insulated boots and warm clothing to remain comfortable.
-- Change your bait if you’re not catching anything.
Ice fishing lingo
Drill: An ice auger used to make a hole in the ice.
Scoop: A ladle used to lift slush and ice chunks out of the fishing hole.
Bucket: A device used to carry fishing gear and to sit on.
Spring bobber: Coiled wires at the end of the fishing pole to give the rod tip more bounce.
Crampons: Metal spikes strapped on boots to help fishermen walk on ice.
Tip-ups: Unmanned fishing lines attached to a flag. The flag goes up when a fish is on the line.
Chaps: Shin and knee guards worn while kneeling on the ice.
Hard water: A frozen lake.
Soft Water: Open water
Shack: An ice shanty.
Vexilar: An electronic device used to find fish.
Black ice: Clear ice you can see through.
White ice: Frozen slush and snow.
DELAVAN Todd Macomber and his buddies admit it seems crazy to hunker down on a frozen lake and stare at a hole in the ice.
It’s below zero on some days. The wind blows. The fish don’t always bite. Yet they sit on a bucket and hope they’ll catch dinner.
“It’s stupid, I guess,” Macomber said while fishing on Delavan Lake. “Nothing better to do in the winter.”
But ice fishing is a tradition in Wisconsin, where die-hard fishermen find relief during the long winter. Although it seems unbearable, fishermen flock to lakes daily to enjoy the outdoors.
“There are some hardy souls out there that go virtually every day regardless of the weather,” said Don Bush, state Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor in south central Wisconsin.
“It can be some pretty brutal fishing at times.”
But Macomber and his pals prefer hard water. They say it beats watching television. And they have a good time.
A few beers, a grill and a tummy full of brats and burgers will get them through a cold day. Maybe they’ll even fry some fish.
“On a good day, when you get a lot of fish, you can fillet them right here on the ice,” Mike Brickson of Janesville said.
Mike and Joyce Cummings of Delavan have enjoyed ice fishing together for 15 years.
They recently competed in the North American Ice Fishing Circuit qualifying tournament on Delavan Lake. Sixty teams of two participated in the competition, a testament to ice fishing’s popularity in Wisconsin and other states.
The Cummings mostly target pan fish such as bluegill and crappie. They fish until they have enough for a meal. They hit the ice a couple times a week.
Sitting by her fishing hole, Joyce was layered in long underwear, jeans and wool pants below her waist. She was wearing a long underwear top, a turtleneck, a long sleeved T-shirt, a second turtleneck, a sweatshirt and a jacket above her waist.
“I can hardly move,” she said. “The only thing that is cold is my fingers and my toes.”
She had only been out for an hour, but the fish weren’t biting. She continued to stare at the hole in the ice, waiting and waiting.
“I’ll sit in one hole all day and not move at all. I don’t care if I don’t catch anything,” Joyce said. “It takes a lot of patience. You just have to keep thinking every little time you jig there is going to be something there.
“You just change your tactics, you change your lure, you go high or you go low.”
Mike has been ice fishing since he was 10. He said the only secret to ice fishing is luck. He travels to North Dakota and other places to fish.
Ice fishing is his getaway from the stress of everyday life. He enjoys talking with people on the lake. He loves the slow pace, peace and quiet.
“It beats work,” Mike said.
Later in the morning, Macomber couldn’t find fish after having some early success. He decided to take his auger and drill a bunch of new holes. He planned on fishing from hole to hole until he got a bite.
“I caught three fish in 15 minutes and haven’t caught a fish since,” he said.