Posted 3/23/22

AN OUTDOORSMAN’S Journal PROUDLY SPONSORED BY STANLEY TIRE BY MARK WALTERS Chequamegon Bay/True Adventure Hello friends This week’s column is about winter camping on the ice in what at first was …

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Chequamegon Bay/True Adventure

Hello friends

This week’s column is about winter camping on the ice in what at first was brutal weath er conditions on Chequamegon Bay which is Lake Superior at Ashland and north. Along for this trip was Rick Miotke of Baraboo, Doug Cibulka of Portage, Jeff Moll of Niagara, and Greg Steinhauer of Waunakee. All of these guys are between 56 and 63 and are tough as nails.

Friday, March 11th High 14, low 6 windchill minus 23

Due to the fact that there is two feet of snow on top of the ice, driving a truck or an atv on Chequamegon Bay is not advisable as you break through the crust to your axles, hit a slush layer and are very stuck. This meant that Jeff Moll’s 1996 Artic Cat “Bear Cat” and my Polaris “Classic” would be hauling man, gear and dog about two miles from shore out on the bay.

There was a sustained 23 mile per hour wind today that made everything from trips out on the ice, building camp, and setting tip ups seem like you were in Siberia, any exposed skin was in trouble in the blink of an eye.

This would be my 8th and last winter camping trip of the season and I was really excited as we would be targeting brown trout, splake, northern pike, and perch with a hopeful bonus of walleye or coho. Jeff, Doug, and I did this trip last year and kicked butt on browns, splake and gators.

We built camp, had three hours of daylight left, fished hard and caught very little. Chequamegon Bay is generally very reliable in mid-March but due to the fact that up to this trip no warm run off was coming into the bay, the hot bite was not happening.

Saturday, March 12th High 19 low minus 7

At first light this morning the wind was horrible, the air temp was the same and my planned warm weather ice camping trip was not meant to be. For the first time my snow machine would not start and I could not pull out the pull cord. Fishing was slow but steady on this trip, Doug Cibulka would have the most luck/action using tip ups and live bait and he caught our first brown trout which made us all very happy. Doug also caught a 26-inch ga- tor, not a big fish but a start and he was winning the $5.00 bet for both species. Doug’s gator was froze solid in literally sec- onds!

Jeff Moll caught a 17-inch splake, very good eating fish, and Rick Miotke iced a 10-inch perch. There were some smaller gators caught but that was our catch on a truly brutal day.

Sunday, March 13th High 35, low 14

Rick Miotke had lodging in Ashland and each morning would show up on Moll’s Bear Cat and was a strictly business type of fishermen. All of his gear is well thought out and the best, and Rick fishes hard.

On the other side of the coin, I served supper, shrimp hotdish, at 3:30 a.m. this morning and my former Poynette High School buddies and I told story after story about our days when we were kids, all of us were friends and were wild and crazy!

The fishing got a bit better today with the warmer weather but was still slow. Rick caught a brown and a 27.5-inch gator which put him in the gator lead. Doug caught a 21.5-inch splake. A few small perch and several smelt were caught and about an hour after dark I had a light go on with one of my tip ups and I caught a 23-inch walleye.

The walleye got us in a happy mood and soon the Sunday Night Festivities began and low and behold Greg served us lasagna just after 3:00 a.m..

Monday, March March 14th High 43, low 29

Rick is the President of The Baraboo River Chapter of KAMO and had a meeting tonight, so we had to break camp and get him to shore on the first trip. Just before we said good- bye, Doug C gets a flag and we all watched him catch a 31.5inch gator which beat Ricks in the last second.

Greg was the last one on the ice and caught a 22-inch splake which was our biggest but the contest ended when we took Rick in, so Doug won the brown, splake and gator bets. Rick took the perch, and I was all smiles with the walleye.

Trips like this with five guys that are no longer kids are serious tests of the aging process and we did incredibly well with next to no sleep and in very ad- verse conditions the first two days.

I will miss the ice!