Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Written For Outdoor Gazette
November 26, 2007

ce Time Approaches
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

The onslaught of cold weather has done more then improve the walleye bite on the Wolf River and other area fisheries. It has started to provide a layer of ice in the back waters that has ice fishing enthusiasts chomping at the bit. Those in search of bluegill, crappie, perch and pike will soon be out looking for the seasons first hot bite. Small lakes, backwaters, sloughs, mill ponds and even the river itself will have ice quite soon if the cold weather arrives as predicted. That’s good news to area bait and sport shops as ice fishing gear hits the shelves. I watched the change over this fall as Cashes Little Shoppe of Bait in New London changed its display inventory. Boxes of ice fishing jigs were brought out as crank baits, buck tails and bass plugs were packed away for the winter. Tip ups, gloves, fur hats and auger blades replaced sun screen, baseball caps and other summer items. Wax worms and maggots are substitute for leeches and night crawlers in the bait line up as the hard water fishing season approaches.

Although the Wolf River may soon be closed to boat traffic, some like myself will continue to look for the last vestiges of open water fishing on the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. The Fox River in DePere may stay open for a bit, but generally, the open water season is in jeopardy of ending quite soon here in NE Wisconsin. The bay of Green Bay will stay open for a bit also, providing some big water options for trophy fish. I have traveled to Little Bay de noc and Sturgeon Bay many times in the past to troll for a wall hanger, hoping to catch one in the 12 pound class or better. Access will become the main issue as boat ramps can become un-usable prior to the water becoming un-fishable from a boat.

Access is also the main concern as the hard water season approaches. There may be good ice on the fishing spot but dangerous passage in-between. Ice conditions can change quite quickly. Good ice traveled on the way out can be worn thin by the sun or change in current, creating potential danger on the walk back. Anglers this time of year should avoid fishing alone for many reasons. From equipment breakdowns to dangerous conditions, having someone with you can be the difference between life and death. Another important thing is to let someone know where you are going and when you plan on returning. That goes for open water fishing as well as ice fishing. Have a game plan, stick to it and make sure to be in contact if anything changes. Keep your cell phone in a zip lock bag and in a pocket that is easily reachable.

Good equipment is also important. Make sure your wrist strap on your spud bar is in good shape or you may be looking for a new one. If you are looking for something new, I love the Jiffy Mille Lacs™ Ice Chisel. It’s a great tool, especially this time of year. It’s great for checking the ice as you walk and can make a hole for fishing in quick order. No need to carry a hand drill or extra equipment when it’s first ice time. The Jiffy Mille Lacs is the perfect tool. Another word of advise is to make sure to wear good boots and “creepers”. Those are the spikes or grippers that work to improve traction and help you to avoid falls. Actually, one of the greatest risks to the elderly who ice fish, is falling. Proper equipment helps to prevent this situation. Make sure to pack water, snacks and dress in layers. It is important not to over dress and get heated up on your walk out. If you do, you risk sweating and getting chilled once you sit down and begin to fish. It’s best to dress for activity then add layers to keep you comfortable once you start fishing. Of course a portable shelter is the best bet. I’ve always been fond of the Frabill one man options and usually don’t go ice fishing without one. The comfort as well as the privacy are two of the top reasons I like to bring mine.

So folks, December is right around the corner. Ice fishing is soon to replace open water fishing for most part, but, I’ll still be out there if there is any open water fishing to report. I’ll have some info on the ice action too, so keep in touch. For more information on topics such as this and the areas great outdoor activities make sure to check out Doc’s Wolf River Country.Com Joel “Doc” Kunz is a freelance outdoor writer / photographer published weekly by Outdoor Gazette. His work is also seen in many other Wisconsin and Midwest publications. He is a recent READERS CHOICE award winner and a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. His is a Pro Team member of Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Motorguide & Lindy Little Joe.


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