Despite the recent plunge in temperatures, fervent Wisconsinites have not let the bitter cold deter them from indulging in their beloved winter pastime—ice fishing.
As the mercury drops, many small lakes and ponds are gradually transforming into frozen landscapes. Undeterred by the frigid conditions on the coldest day of the year, a group of dedicated ice fishers ventured out, braving the elements with hopes of landing a substantial catch.
For enthusiasts like Jake Gabe, the prospect of reeling in a substantial fish is an irresistible draw. “It’s just cool that anytime one of these rods goes off, it could be 20, 30, 40 pounds, who knows,” expressed Gabe.
Silas Kirk and Jake Gabe, undeterred by below-freezing temperatures, chose the ice behind the Summerfest Grounds as the setting for their inaugural ice fishing expedition of the season. Kirk, reveling in the outdoor experience, remarked, “I just love being out here, outside. It’s just nice and peaceful, and there’s world-class fishing right here.”
Equipped with a shanty for warmth, Sam Kallas opted for a layered approach to combat the cold. “Just layering and being safe is the big thing, enough clothes, and enough layers to prepare yourself,” he shared.
While these icy conditions may send shivers down the spine of many, they translate to booming business for establishments like R&R Sporting Goods Fishin’ Hole in St Francis. Roger Stack, the general manager, recognizes the surge in demand, stating, “Ice fishing is a tremendous sport in the winter, it’s a lot of fun.”
Operating for over half a century, the store has already witnessed increased sales of ice fishing tackle as enthusiasts gear up for the season. “This will help a lot, sure, we’ve already been selling ice fishing tackle because people are always getting ready,” Stack noted.
As the ice attracts more enthusiasts, Stack emphasizes the importance of safety tools, including a spud bar to check the ice, ice cleats, ice picks for emergencies, and an SOS jacket with flotation to prevent sinking in case of an accidental fall through the ice.
Stack advocates for a buddy system and urges extra precautions, especially during the early and late seasons when ice conditions can be unpredictable. As the ice fishing season kicks off, enthusiasts remain undeterred, turning frozen landscapes into arenas of thrilling winter pursuits.