Years ago, I can remember being that guy who used to talk bad about ice fishing. “What idiot would want to sit on ice, in the cold, and never catch fish?”. That was my idea about the sport as that had been my experience. I recall going out to meet friends and relatives by nervously driving out on the lake freezing my tail off and never catching a thing. Never! As far as I knew, those guys just liked to play cards and drink since that was all I ever saw. Little did I know that I would be on the road to professionally pursue a life in the sport.
In December of 2008, I relocated to Antigo, WI after losing my job in Milwaukee. It was a scary yet still an exciting time for my wife and I. We had a young family and moving to the rural north woods of Wisconsin seemed more of a pipe dream for us. Could we really make it work here? Less money, my wife was going to be a stay-at-home Mom, and it was a big gamble. We started by living in a small 300 sq. foot cabin our first six months. My commute to my new job was an hour each way. I promised myself that we would learn to love this new life. I made the decision to make the most of our new situation by learning to hunt and by becoming a better fisherman.
The long winters here made me revisit the idea of ice fishing. Completing my first year of working at my new job, I received a bonus. My boss, when handing me the check, said to consider it a gift for my whole family to enjoy. My wife and I decided to use that money to purchase an ice fishing kit that Clam Corporation had offered. It was a pull sled, a hand ice-auger, and a Clam Tamarack Pop out Ice hub shack. We also picked up a couple of ice fishing poles. That night we went to a local pond near a dam, drilled our first holes ever and caught fish…. as a family. I was hooked. My wife and kids were cold and went home. I decided to stay on the ice till late. Near blizzard conditions forced my wife to come out and get me off the ice. Trembling and numb, I was exhilarated about the experience!
Soon, I found friends to fish with. I learned new techniques, and different styles of fishing the hard water. I learned that it was difficult for me to sit in a shack and wait for tip-ups. Admittedly, there is a thrill when pulling large fish through a hole on a tip-up line. I can completely understand the lure of fishing this way. They enjoy the camaraderie, cards, drinks, and laughs. However, I enjoyed the “hunt” more. Specifically schools of panfish. I soon purchased my first Vexilar FL-8SE sonar system. Wow… it was like video games on ice! Then things really got out of hand. I began entering large Ice Fishing Jamborees and winning a few prizes. After awhile, I became proud of the fact that I could virtually guarantee fishing success for myself on the ice.
Team Extreme Ice Fishing Tournaments entered Wisconsin for it’s inaugural year during the 2013-2014 season. After learning about it and reading articles, I decided that I would become a Tournament Ice Angler. In 2014 I began the Northern Wisconsin Ice Fishing Group (NWIFG) on Facebook where I met other anglers. Through that group, another angler and I decided to team up and hit one of the tournaments together for the 2014-2015 circuit. We did not complete the season as team mates, but we still maintained being friends and pooling resources to work together. Never have I met a group of individuals that I enjoyed being around so much. We all share the same ice love affair and that makes them feel like family.
My hope in this blog is to continue to grow and contribute to this sport. It hopefully will be a platform for me to share my experiences, share techniques, and write product reviews. As a reader, my hope is for you to learn more and become a better and more knowledgeable angler. On that note, I truly feel that my journey has not only taught me to become a better angler, but a better person. The ice has brought new spirituality, happiness, and adventure to my life. May your journey bring you the same. Tight Lines.