Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Houghton Lake Ice Fishing or Baby It's Cold Outside

North Bay Houghton Lake  
Photo by K. Stephenson

Ice fishing. The words bring a chill to my very bones. Seriously. I have memories from my childhood (I was ten) of sitting on a plastic bucket, next to a hole in the ice, the sweat from cranking the auger turning to ice on my skin. I would get up and wrap my numb fingers around the auger crank handle and start a new whole just to get warm. I didn't have to finish the hole, just crank long enough to generate some body heat. 

My father, having discovered the ice was 14 inches thick, had returned to the parking lot to get the car and drive it out onto the lake (like everyone else had already done) so we could sit in the car and stay warm while waiting for that little red cloth flag to "tip up" and let us know there was a fish on the other end. After thirty minutes in the car, my hands were able to let go of the auger handle. Suffice it to say I was miserable. I never went ice fishing again.

Today there's an easy solution to staying warm on the ice. Dress appropriately for the temperature. Always expect the temp to be 10-20 degrees colder than the weatherman says. Dress in layers, if your too warm you can always take something off. Finally there a whole bunch of different light weight portable Ice Fishing Shanties on the market suitable in size for one to six persons. Prices range from $50-$600 depending on size and comfort. The smallest folds into a backpack and the larger ones come with a hard floor that doubles as a sled for transport across the ice. Amazon has an excellent variety at great prices you can see them here. Check quickly some have only a few left in stock.

Dead Stream Flooding (Reedsburg Dam)
Photo by K. Stephenson

It's that time of year again. Winter has come in hard and fast with temperatures well below freezing. The lake has had ice on the surface for about ten days now. BUT that does not mean the ice is thick enough to be safe. Every year since I moved here, I hear about someone falling through the ice because it's not safe yet. Most of the time it's just a leg but once in awhile tragedy strikes. I have seen an SUV about 50 feet from shore with just the roof sticking out of the ice. A rule of thumb that I use is to check with the local bait shops, Lymans on the Lake or Korbinskis or call the DNR to find out if the ice is safe yet. 

Still most people come up, see someone else is on the lake and decide it must be safe. It was just a few years ago when a group of people drove out on the lake and set up next to each other. It didn't take long before the weight of the people and their vehicles cracked the ice. They barely made it back to shore in time. About two years back a couple of winter anglers were fishing on Higgins Lake when the ice around their brand new pick truck cracked and the truck started tipping sideways. One fisherman made it off the ice right away, the other was in the truck and had to crawl out the window when he couldn't open the door. He made it out of the truck just before it slid into the lake.

The owner ended up with a waterlogged truck and a bill for pulling it out of the lake. It could have been worse but it was still an expensive lesson. Automobile insurance doesn't cover you on the lake.

Tip Up Town badges are available at local area businesses for $6.00. More TUT later.

Again if your interested in a portable Ice Fishing Shanty from Amazon click here.

Until next time...

Stay warm, Stay safe and Stay dry,


1 comment:

  1. Looking for fun things to do while you are out camping? ... Go fishing! Fishing is a great pastime and you never know when the fish will be biting good.

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