By Richard Schoemann
Well when I was growing up and the Fall turned into Winter and deer season wound down here in Wisconsin we decided to put away the rifles and grab a fishing pole. Not any normal fishing pole though, a jig rod for ice fishing!!! Yes as most people know the Northern part of the United States in winter time gets cold and the colder it gets the more folks get to go out and enjoy a day on the ice.
By mid December the ice thickness is usually fairly safe. By safe I mean it is between 8-10 inches thick and by no means is any ice 100% safe. So we usually start our day out by heading to the local bait shop, in my case I fish on Fox Lake, so I head to a good friends store named Fish Tales!!! I usually look through different jigs and see what’s new, I talk to the other people in the shop to maybe get a hotspot and check with current ice conditions. I grab what I need for bait and snacks and pay for them and head out the door to take the 5 minute ride to the lake. Now I park my truck on shore and pay a $4 fee to access the lake for a very good reason, that is my life is not worth losing over a fish and of course neither is my truck. I head out with my gear on a sled I am pulling, which at some points is a lot of weight . The sled consists of a few important tools for fisherman including but not limited to: an ice auger, jig rods, tackle box, fish finder, bait and snacks. It usually doesn’t take very long to get to a good starting point. On this day I will be trying for crappies. I seek 12-13 feet of water and set up camp!!!
I drill two holes about a foot apart. I put my fish finder into one hole and my jig from my jigging rod down the other. It takes some time to figure out how to use a fish finder for some but to me it came naturally. I use a vexilar fl-18 I love it. I usually fish with plastics on a jig when jigging because it is very efficient and less mess. In a matter of minutes I locate on my vexilar that the fish are suspended off the bottom about 3 feet up. I pick my jig up and wait for the tell-tale wrap on the rod. Whapp,, I got a bite, as I reel it up I realize it is a great feeling panfish. Whooah!!! It’s a dandy crappie, 13” long. Not very uncommon on this lake but the ones I love to keep to eat are usually between 9-11” long. Not saying I am not excited about catching that fish but to me I will release this fish as part of an effort to prolong the fishing experience for years to come. It has usually taken only an hour or so at the right times of the day to get a limit of these fish, which is 25 panfish. If you give ice fishing a try I hope you enjoy it and I hope you enjoy the meals that you can take from any body of water. It truly does take away the deer hunting blues for me, but by the end of March the ice will be gone and it will be time to grab the gun again for those gobblers!!!!! If anyone is interested in trying Fox Lake let me know I would love to meet up with some folks that love the outdoors, good luck and be safe.