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Ice Fishin Memories

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Well I'm a 30 yr old fart now, but I got an early start to ice fishing - like many, thanks to my Dad. I was 7 or 8 the first year I joined the crew regularly. Usually four of us; myself, Dad, his bud from Eau Claire(Doc) and his co-worker(Norbert) living in Chippewa Falls. Saturdays we'd hop in the Jeep Wagoneer, stop in Chippewa Falls at the junction of Hwy 29 and Hwy 53 and pick up 'Norb' then head nort, usually one of the Chetek lakes.

The cool part was our fishing 'shack', named Gub and Freida from the previous owners. An old hardshell camper the guys converted to an ice shack. Five holes cut in the floor gave us access to the fish. Stovepipe sections were inserted from the floor to the ice and then sealed with rubber cutouts to somewhat seal out the cold. They had a power auger with a custom extension to get thru 3 feet of ice plus compensate for the extra foot between the floor and ice. I remember one year the auger cutting down right to the floor and still not thru, the guys bounced on the floor a little and she punched all the way thru. She got aweful blue with smoke in there and I wasn't allowed in until it cleared. The heater was lit and another Saturday on the ice began.

I had good manners and pretty much kept my mouth shut and fished, listening to the 3 grown-ups talk. A small radio was tuned into either country or talk radio. She'd get warm and you could fish in a sweatshirt sitting on a cushion - Norb and I would fish where the table/bed would be on a standard camper and Dad and Doc would fish side by side off the main bed/couch. Even back then we all had spring bobbers and I didn't realize it then but were actually state-of-the-art - at least compared to most in northern WI back then. My Dad always outfished everyone, and it was always a question of which color Purist would produce or if it would be a Purple Twurple or some other 'hot' lure.

The best part was lunch, often a loaf of sliced and buttered French bread would find its way on top of the heater wrapped in foil. Then Doc, our 'cook', would fire up a burner on the stove and heat beef stew. A couple times a year, Norb would bring fish from Florida, where he fished the ocean each year. I don't know what they were, but they were the best fish ever!

If the fishing was slow I was allowed to cruise around outside and get a 'fishin report'. I'd spend hours going from one pail sitter to the next - the old guys loved to talk and were more than willing to show me what was working for them. The second year Doc got a black lab and she was my partner for the fishin report treks for year to come.

I'd get back for the last light bite - by then the Coleman lantern was shedding light inside. Then we'd lock up Gub and Freida and fire the Jeep up for the cruise home. Talk about the good ol days.

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Thanks - I haven't done any writing. I did up an article on catfishing and submitted it but it was rejected. It was an informative style article though and maybe I should try an entertainment/story-telling type article instead.

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