Battle on Bago 2015

This week, I’m relegated to my tablet, since the pup chewed through my laptop cable. The pictures will come at the end, bear with me.

We returned to Lake Winnebago last weekend to participate in the two day Battle on Bago tournament. We arrived later than expected on Friday, and were set up just as it got dark. We stuck it out in a hastily-chosen spot on the south end of the lake near North Fond du Lac until about 8:30 when the lack of fish and the cold drove us off. Continue reading

Rifle Season Has Come and Gone

And it was a disappointing one. Not that it was entirely unexpected- Forest County was buck only, like much of the northern portion of the state, and the DNR was reporting the overall harvest on opening weekend being down 18%. Willy-nilly tag sales, harsh winters, the presence of coyotes, and the growth in the population of bears and wolves has done in the deer population up there. Continue reading

Thinking About the Thaw.

Sunday marked the end of the season for everything but catfish and panfish. We made it out on Saturday for a few hours, but between forgetting the Marcum and not being able to figure out where the drop off was, we called it early. It was in the single digits, windy, and snowing. To top it off, our luck on Lake Mendota is always abysmal. That said, dragging a loaded sled a mile and a half across a frozen lake and back in powdery snow is one hell of a leg workout.

Super tired of looking out the front window and seeing this.

Super tired of looking out the front window and seeing this.

At the rate the weather is going, we’re going to have decent ice through mid-March. Honestly, it would not surprise me one bit if I was still able to walk on in early April. If we have a cold, long Spring again, the lakes may not be ice-free until mid or late April. Honestly, I’m ready to just be able to see dirt and grass again, even if it’s dormant and brown. I need to till for my garden, I need to get in the back yard and clean up the dog poo that’s accrued since my last scooping back in December, and there’s a bunch of stuff we’d like to get done both on Ditch Boat and in the garage- there’s still deer legs and skins and bits and pieces hanging around from November, as well as a dead coyote yet to be skinned. The coyote is its own funny story, though. But none of that is going to get done as long as the temperature is below 15 degrees. Luckily, it’s looking like we’ll peek over freezing by late this week.

Bunny and squirrel tracks in the snow.

Bunny and squirrel tracks in the snow.

So, we’ll have to wait until early May to get back after muskie, pike, and bass. Early trout opened this weekend, but it’s catch and release. Luckily, this year we were forward thinking enough to put in for our turkey tags early and pick an earlier time. My tags start on the 16th of April, which is the second week of the season. I got Matt his permit at the same time, but I can’t remember whether his is for the week before or the week after mine, and I can’t look his info up for him. Anyway, his are for up on his grandad’s farm, where we saw the flock of toms and jakes last summer, and mine are for down here in the Madison area. I’ll try to get that tom out at Sunny Slope again.

So the plan right now is to wish as hard as we can for Spring, and try to get some stuff in order until then. It’s been Winter since mid-Autumn and I’m ready to see it go.

A Very Soft Bite.

Late Saturday morning, we brushed the snow off the truck, and headed on out to Fox Lake again. Matt had been reading that people were having good luck out there, and we were ready to get fish on the ice again. We stopped back by the liquor store/baitshop, and found a long line of people- there was a Fisheree on.

We opted not to participate, as it would be over just two hours after we got set up. We did notice another one on Valentine’s weekend, from the 14th-16th, over night. We noted it, and called up our fishing buddy to let him know. As we drove on, we saw people were in the spot we used last time. We set up a way away from them, in about the same depth.

There were 20+ inches of ice on the lake. At this rate, we may need an extension for the auger. Holes drilled, we waited.

GE GE

 

It wasn’t long before we had a flag. Shortly after another, and another. And bites on our jig poles. However, we weren’t piling up the fish outside the shanty. The bites were all very, very soft. If we didn’t have such light test, we may have never known we were getting bites at all. And when they did do more than barely bump the bait, we were trying to set the hook and yanking it right out of their mouths. Matt lost at least three minnows that way. Most of the flags on our tip ups, we yanked the minnow out of the fish’s mouth, or it spat the bait. The closest we got was at the end of the night, there was a flag on a tip up with a monofilament snell on the end. Matt set it, and we have the fish for a second before the line snapped- probably a northern, and its teeth cut the line. I suppose it’s better than the times we went fishing with no bites what so ever, but I’m beyond ready to have fish on the ice again.

After the snow clouds cleared away, it was a gorgeous day. And the sun is finally beginning to feel warm again.

After the snow clouds cleared away, it was a gorgeous day. And the sun is finally beginning to feel warm again.

Matt is super thrilled.

Matt is super thrilled.

Sun sinking on our failed fishing trip.

Sun sinking on our failed fishing trip.

Behind the clouds.

Behind the clouds.

The poster for the Fisheree.

The poster for the Fisheree.

This coming weekend is going to be a first for the both of us. It’s sturgeon spearing season up on Lake Winnebago, and his aunt and uncle have invited us to meet them up there. They’re among the lucky few who somehow get a sturgeon every year. I have my doubts, but still- it should be interesting, and at the very least, maybe I can get a picture of someone elses’ sturgeon.

A Chilly January Fishing Weekend.

Another weekend fishing is on the books. There isn’t a whole bunch to report. The Fisheree was fun but uneventful- fishing was slow for us, with just three fish between Matt and I. M’s family was out, and they got quite a few throughout the day, but nobody else’s tipups were taking off. Just as I was heading toward my lines to bring them in, I got a flag and pulled up my first northern, though. We had a good time anyway.

After a slow Fisheree, we decided to head out Sunday as well. We went out for trout to one of my favorite places- Devil’s Lake. So far, I’d only been hiking here, never fishing. But it’s a gorgeous park. We had one fish here- a 13 1/2 inch largemouth early in the afternoon. We marked a lot of fish, but nothing went for our bait. No trout, either. Some pretty picture opportunities, though.

The head of the east bluff.

The head of the east bluff.

Bright and sunny.

Bright and sunny.

One end of the east bluff from the top of the snow

One end of the east bluff from the top of the snow

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The west bluff sloping to the lake

The west bluff sloping to the lake

A visitor's center

A visitor’s center

My bass. I almost lost it- Matt valiantly and quickly reached into the icehole to catch it when it came off the hook.

My bass. I almost lost it- Matt valiantly and quickly reached into the icehole to catch it when it came off the hook.

Snow drifting over the tracks.

Snow drifting over the tracks.

South shore of the lake

South shore of the lake

Our truck and shanty.

Our truck and shanty.

GE GE

Wild Food: Crappie Tacos

One of the best parts of catching crappie is the spelling of the name. After our catch on Saturday, I had a a couple crappie dishes to share with you (Crappie Miso soup, anyone?). These were dinner on Sunday night.

After filleting them, I spritzed them with some lime, dredged them in flour mixed with some cumin, paprika, and chili powder, and fried them in a hot cast iron pan. They were served with some salsa and fresh cilantro and scallions on warm tortillas. Pretty damn tasty, pretty damn fast.

GE GE GE GE GE GE

Ice Shanty Chef Trial One: Mr. Heater Ham and Cheese

Our ice fishing trip on Saturday was a chance to do my first trial at advanced propane heater cooking. Trial one was a take on ham and cheese. I followed the recipe to the letter, and the only place I deviated was putting them in foil packets instead of a baking dish.

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I had these prepped, packed, and ready to go by about 10:30. We met our fishing buddies at noon, were in Fox Lake and set up by about 1:30. We didn’t get too chilly until about 3:30 or so, and then turned on the heater. It was time for a late lunch.

The heater on high. Medium and low are only incrementally less hot than this.

The heater on high. Medium and low are only incrementally less hot than this.

Packets on the heat. They only took about two minutes a side, though.

Packets on the heat. They only took about two minutes a side, though.

Even the name brand, extra heavy duty foil tore.

Even the name brand, extra heavy duty foil tore.

The first batch was kind of singed. The second wasn't as bad.

The first batch was kind of singed. The second wasn’t as bad.

Pros: They were damn tasty little sandwiches. It was really nice to have food that was both hot and solid out on the ice. I was able to stay warm and cheerful all the way until after dark with a warm lunch in my belly. They were also incredibly fast.

Cons: As you can see, they burnt some, and stuck. I even buttered the foil. I will probably end up using some cooking spray next time. Another contributor to the sticking/burning was the sugar-based sauce in the recipe. Next iteration of this sandwich will leave that out.

So, some lessons were learned- the Mr. Heater has three settings: Hot, Burn You, and Surface of the Sun. Also that burning food makes your shanty look very suspicious from the outside. Trial two will be this coming weekend. The 18th is the Lawrence Lake Fisheree, and it looks like we’ll be bringing quite the crowd with us for that (sounds like 10+ people). We’ll also be bringing a grill, so Trial 3 will be skipped for a week, I think, in favor of a high volume of standard grill food, and maybe some not-so-standard snacks and hot beverages. I have some ideas for adventurous hot chocolate as well as perhaps a variation on hot toddies with Fireball. I love both whisky and cinnamon.