Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Upcoming Seminar! January 6th @ The Squirmin' Worm!

Squirmin' Worm
Seminar Series

Come see the premiere event! 

Tip-Down Tactics for Crappies

Blogger, Radio Host, and Tournament Angler Jeff Kelm will be here to discuss chasing tasty crappies.
He will talk about using tip-downs, where to position them, and different presentations that you can use.
Contact the store to register. Space is reserved for the first 30 people to register.

Thursday January 6th, 2011
6pm at your favorite bait shop

Squirmin' Worm Farm Bait & Tackle
N4991 Hillwind Rd.
Plymouth, WI 53073
(920) 893-BAIT
(920) 838-1399



I will have the new Jiffy Pro 4 propane auger for folks to start up and see how it runs, also a set of HT Enterprises POLAR FIRE clothing specifically designed for ice fishing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

NAIFC Championships

The results are in.... Our first championship was what I would call a success!

With a total weight of 7.71 pounds team #711 placed 30th overall. And with a big fish of 1.55lbs we took home the BIG FISH award for the weekend.

With very little pre-fishing done on Friday only we did not feel all that confident about our chances. But we are a positive team for the most part, we are willing to do some dirty work to find fish, not afraid to move at all.

On day 1 we found ourselves headed the to the complete opposite side of the lake from everyone else but one other team, looking to score on some crappies that I had found the day before. Now I had not found many, and most of the fish I did catch were little perch but I figured away from the crowd would be a good place to start. Once we started to fish we found it to be a very tough bite. The first fish of the day was a small perch but soon after that we found some bluegills, very tiny bluegills, like we are talking the size of your mouse bluegills, but they are one of the species we needed to register so in the bucket they went. We fished there for half the morning until we had our 8 we needed to register and we decided to move to find crappies. That was tough! We drilled many holes looking for any active fish, any sign of fish wanting to feed. We struggled for a while, Adam did get one in a spot we took a gamble on but we needed to find more and we were running out of time. We made one more move to an area we had seen people fishing all day, figuring the last hour of the day we had to gamble. It paid off. We found ourselves on the outside of folks, 20 yards or so away. Drilled our holes and within minutes we had crappies. We even found a little better gill, but still not a size I would even bother to keep while fun fishing. Within the last 20 minutes of the day we had our last fish we needed, we quickly marked our big fish and headed for the launch to weigh in. The end of day one found us with a weight of 2.55lbs of fish and in 40th place out of 57.

Day 2 begins with much anxiousness and anticipation. The lake we needed to fish was rumored to have nearly 2# crappies! Thats a monster! But we needed to find them in order to stay in the hunt for the championship. We found the spot we wanted to fish quickly and as we drilled the first holes the auger Adam was using started to leak gas very badly everywhere. So we quit using it for the day. Being down an auger is a bummer cause we normally can drill a ton of holes in a hurry and start to troll, but with one auger its much slower. We caught no fish in the first spot of the day. We decided to move about 200 yards and try again, as I pull the cord on my new auger the pull cord handle shatters, literally shatters into pieces on the ground, thinking immediately that we are now without a power auger I stare at my drill for just a split second. Fortunately there is still a nub from the handle to grab onto and start the auger. This is all with in the first hour of the day. Day 2 was tough to say the least, with multiple moves all over the lake we did not have a fish until almost noon when we moved to the outskirts of a large crowd. I drilled many holes and Adam began to fish, it was not long till he hooked up with his first fish. As he gets the fish to the top of the hole he leans over to move his Vexilar and falls over kicking slush into the hole and causing the hook to pop out of the fishes mouth. Needless to say he was not happy for a very short time. Once he up-righted himself he scooped out the slush and noticed the tail of the fish still in the hole! He still had the fish!! So in the bucket it goes, a nice crappie. We get on a bit of a roll at this point, catching a fish every 10 minutes or so. Then it happened, my fish story, the thing you look forward to when fishing anytime but especially when fishing a tourney, I hook up with a monster. I knew it to, as soon as I set the hook I could tell it was a good fish, a big fish. In fact when I did get it out of the hole another team commented on how nice of a fish it was, thats when you know its a good fish. We stayed in that area for the rest of the day, only making a small move to find crappies we could upgrade. Day 2 finished up with 8 crappies and one bluegill, one junk auger, and a broken handle on the other auger, and Adam lost his ice skimmer down a hole.

We had a great time, and can not wait to start the 2011 season over in Ludington , MI. This so much fun and the NAIFC is a great organization to be apart of. The fellow competitors are a great bunch and you can learn so much in a very short period of time. This is an absolute rush, and the quest for the 2011 championship begins soon!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fishing Report! 12-7-10

This fishing report is brought to you by - The Squirmin'Worm Bait Farm and Tackle

Woodlake- Kohler, WI

Ice Depth: 4"

Fished 7-10' of Water

Charturese and White plastics (Custom Jigs and Spins, Little Atom) caught the most fish. Not many fish to be had though. Crystal clear ice makes the fish very spooky.






Good Luck!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First Ice

The following is an article written for publication in the Squirmin' Worm December Newsletter. If you don't get the newsletter yet sign up now. Lots of great information every month and "Newsletter Only" coupons for the store.
First Ice

Covering thousands of square feet of water eight inches at a time where only weeks ago you covered the same thousands of feet with just a touch of a pedal? That is the joy of first ice!

First ice is a great time to fish, just keep in mind some very basic safety advice.

Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return, bring a spud bar with you to check for ice thickness in front of you and wearing a PFD is not a bad idea, at the very least have a throw rope in your sled or on your person. It may not be you that falls in and its a great tool to have in case you unfortunately need it.

There are few times in a year that fish are as accessible and hungry as first ice, and nearly all species at once can provide a great experience for a first time ice fisherman or kids.

There are many reasons for first ice being such an active time for fish and fisherman.

Shallow weeds are still green in the first 3-4 weeks of first ice which bodes well for panfish as they seek shelter from the very aggressive gamefish. The green weeds also mean available oxygen, just the same as you and I get it from the air, fish filter it through the water. Green weeds provide that oxygen
and as the weeds die off fish will seek deeper water where oxygen levels are higher, inlets to the lakes where oxygen rich water pours in or they will slow their metabolism down to the point of almost lifelessness.

In the same shallow water predators like Northern Pike are actively feeding on baitfish, making a set of tip ups a great way to catch them.

The panfish that reside in the shallow weeds are still hungry too, and presentation can be a bit larger than normally thought of when ice fishing. #10 jigs or larger are a great way to attract big gills and slab crappies wanting to add weight for the winter. Its a great time to try some small jigging spoons for panfish. Tip them with your favorite grubs and it may surprise you how much action such a large presentation can provide.

Maybe one of the best things about fishing first ice is the amount of untouched water. Many folks are still thinking about hunting, or the holidays and if you afford yourself some time in the early season there is a great chance you can have an entire lake to yourself. Fish have not been pressured since the boats left weeks ago and they are hungry.

You will want to learn to be mobile at this time of year. The weed growth will cause the fish to be spread out much like they would be in late fall, but with the ice being relatively “thin” it is still comfortable to drill many holes with a hand auger.

Of course the make up of the lake its self will have a lot to do with where the fish are and what they eat but as a rule of thumb first ice is a great time to fish. Please be careful and enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lake Research

I begin every fishing trip to a new lake the same way. I sit in front of the computer and research the lake like crazy. I want to find out the color and clarity of the water, whether or not there are artificial fish cribs placed in the lake, natural fallen timber, where weed lines maybe, if there is an inlet or outlet on the lake, stocking info of all species. There is so much information that can be found online these days, but it can be hard to find and it certainly is not in one spot.

First things first, a simple Google search of the lake to view any lake associations, and a aerial map of the lake. In fact the aerial maps on Bing seem to be of a better quality at this time. Then I begin to search for a lake map. Be it from the DNR or a map manufacture a lake map is absolutely vital to successfully pulling up to a lake and catching the fish you want to catch.

Calling the state DNR is a great way to find information as well, though many states or under budgeted and you may find it hard to talk to someone who really knows anything about the lake or find that there has been no recent creel surveys or updates on the lake.

After obtaining as many lake maps as I can for the lake I wish to fish I start to browse the online forum sites to see if I can notice a pattern on where people have caught fish before. Now it is well know that you can not believe everything you read online, but after searching enough sites and pages you should begin to develop a pattern deciphering the truth from the bull. Forum sites are a great way to find out if there is any obvious landmarks that you may want to reference. Restaurants, bridges, islands are all things most likely listed in on the sites referring to where fish may be caught. The search button on forum pages are your best friend when looking for information from scratch. Also don't be afraid to ask questions on the websites. 90% of the folks that will answer you will do so in a civil manner and be genuinely will to help you, though you will have a few that you may want to ignore.

Calling bait shops can yield some results but that can be sketchy at times, bait shop owners tend to be nice folks when your in the store purchasing something, but while talking over the phone they may sound a bit, whats the word, rude.

You may want to try to talk to fishing guides if through your search it reveals there are some that fish your lake. They may not part with lots of info but they are always willing to talk.

Many times while during a search on one lake I find others that I may want to try or others that may be a better choice for a day on the lake.

Google the lake, look at all the forums you can and call anyone who may know something about the lake. Of course you won't know how the fishing really is until you step out onto the ice that day, with all the GPS coordinates in hand and auger ready to go.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ice Report

Well it has been unfortunately warm here in South East Wisconsin the last number of weeks. From the looks of the ice and snow map provided by NOAA the ice is quite a ways away yet. The long term forecasts look good for the next few weeks so we just have to cross our fingers.

Please be careful if you decide to venture on to new ice. A spud bar, throw rope, or even a PFD is a great idea, and don't forget to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Make sure you can fish all season by keeping youeslf alive!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fishing Reports Thanks to Squirmin Worm

Fishing reports coming soon to Hardwater-Angler.com! Brought to you by Squirmin Worm Farm Bait and Tackle.  They have the largest selection of bait in all of Sheboygan county. Check them out online then stop in and say "Hi" to Dave. While you are there this winter check out the fishing reports and purchase exactly what we are using to catch those fish!

Directions to the store are HERE

LIVE BAIT they have IN STOCK:
Crappie Minnows
Fathead Minnows
Medium Golden Shiners
Nightcrawlers
(Dozens, Smalls, Large, 3 Dzn., 100 Pack, 1/2 Flats, Flats, & Tourney Flats)
Red Worms
Trout Worms
Leeches (Medium & Jumbo)
Wax Worms
Suckers
Hellgrammites

 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fishing Line

I have to be honest here, I feel I don't know much about fishing line. There are so Many choices lined up on the racks at bait shops and sporting goods stores. Hi-Vis, Lo-Vis, Mono, fluoro, braided, the list goes on and on.

I choose my line based on what I have used in years past and by the diameter of the line. If I can get a larger pound test with a smaller diameter then I am happy.

The last number of years I have had a rod with 1# FireLine Mirco Ice Fused. Its a superline and is tough as nails, there is one draw back, you must use a heavier presentation to get the line to straighten 100%. It kinks a little bit as you work with it and that is the only way to get it to straighten out.

I use Vanish 2# Fluorocarbon every year as well. Fluorocarbon sinks, when using super light jigs you want any help you can get dropping them back down to fish. Vanish stays limp in cold weather and again it is super tough.

This year I set out to the local sporting goods store and "tested" a number of spools of line from various companies. Wrapping line around each index finger and pulling apart till it broke, tying on a jig that had "fallen" out of the box and again pulling until it broke. All this silly testing did yield a few results.

I have decided to go with Sufix Ice Magic 3# test Mono. It held up extremely well to both the pull test and the knot test and the diameter is that of others 2# Mono.

Like I stated I don't know a lot about line, I use what works, I use what I have used, but one thing I will always do is get new line every season, yep, even the weekend warrior should too.

The new lines are in the stores now, get out and do your own test and bring on the ice!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Toys

As the season gets closer the prep work gets more intense.

This week I attached a front and rear rack basket on the atv, received a new Jiffy auger, purchased a lake map system for the GPS and finished assembling my new Clam Fish Trap Pro TC.

Lots of things yet to get ready before the NAIFC Championship December 17-19th.

Sponsorship searching is wrapping up and we have received GREAT support from the sponsors we currently have.

Truly, I have to take time and thank HT Enterprises, The Automatic Fisherman, Pemco Inc, and Clam Corp. They have all been awesome!

We have some great new products that Adam Schumacher, my tournament partner, and I will showcase on the ice throughout the season as well as attending a couple of stores and shows to help promotions.

Bring on the Ice!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good News!

This morning as I prepared myself for break I decided to check my phone for emails I may have received in the early morning. This morning I found this email waiting for me.....




     2010  CHAMPIONSHIP
Congratulations!

You and Your partner qualified and are invited to compete in the 2010 NAIFC Championship in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, December, 17-19 2010.   Your Quest for the 2010 NAIFC Championship Rings and share of the estimated $20,000.00 purse continues with the return of your 2010 NAIFC Championship Commitment Letter. 

The Mandatory Rules Meeting will be held in Rhinelander on the evening of Friday December 17th, 2010 at the Taj Bar & Grill/Northwood.  The Championship is a two-day-total-weight tournament: Day-One’s competition (December 18th) will be held on Lake Thompson.  Day-Two’s competition (December 19th) will be held on Lake George.  Hours of competition on both days will be between 8:00 am -2:00 p.m., with 8 crappies and 8 sunfish per day the targeted species.





It was certainly a double take situation.


Adam and I had a great time fishing the qualifier at Delavan Lake last season but did not finish well enough to fish the championship, but the rules for the championship state that you MUST FISH WITH YOUR QUALIFYING PARTNER. Fact of the matter there are a lot of teams that do not stay together every year, so we were bumped up in the ranks and invited to fish!


Love it! Gonna need things together a bit earlier than planned but its a good thing.

Bring on the ice!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are we there yet?

After another night of sitting in a tree stand and not seeing a deer I can't help but think about the upcoming ice season.

HT Enterprises and I will be working much closer together this year, that is going to be a great relationship. They will also be helping out with a sponsor for the NAIFC events.
I have teamed up with Vexilar and Clam Corp as well to help promote the brands and to answer questions folks may have about product.

The NAIFC season looks to be a busy one in the sense of traveling. I do wish I could make it to all events but making the swing from Michigan to Minnesota one weekend after the next will be exhausting, fun, but exhausting.

The Automatic Fisherman is giving us a hand this year again with a tournament sponsor, make sure you check this thing out! It really works! Great for drag and drop prone fish!

This weekend I will be with "my people". The type of people that have been planning their first ice fishing outing since the forth of July. Can not wait. The information for the event is listed in the previous blog post.

Monday, October 4, 2010

USA Ice Team Fundraiser

Please come support the good ol USA!! These guys are the best ice fisherman in the world and Team USA holds the world title right now.

$7.00 for a great dinner! Come join the fun



USA Ice Team Fundraiser

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Looking The Part

Ice fishing is a gadget sport, somewhat by necessity, but gadget sport nonetheless. These gadgets that have come to the foreground of the sport are what keeps driving more and more new anglers to seek its excitement.

Cold weather gear is nothing new, millions of sportsmen take to the woods in late fall wearing heavy parkas, insulated pants, and thermal underwear. All will keep you warm, few will keep you dry, even while deer hunting. Those same outfits were used for winter recreation on the ice as well, the problem, not waterproof, and many times not warm enough.

The major players in the Ice fishing industry have taken notice and in the last few years the amount of clothing directly marketed to the ice fisherman is substantial.

Clam Corp, known for the first "Flip" or Clam" style ice shelters introduced a line of clothing in 2003. Ice Armor was instantly the industry standard ice fisherman now had a way to stay 100% dry and stay comfortable while being in the elements. Thought of as a ice shelter you wear the Clam "Blue Suit" is the most popular ice fishing suit on the market still today. The 2010-2011 season brings new colors to the Clam Corp's Ice Armor line up, as well as an array of other ice fishing specific clothing including new boots, gloves, bibs and parkas.

Ice Armor "Blue Suit"
HT Enterprises has introduced a suit of their own for the 2010-2011 ice fishing season, Polar Fire will be available to ice anglers in late 2010. Warmth up to -60 and featuring a reflective strip visible for up to a mile away for safety.
 HT Enterprises "Polar Fire"

There are many companies that market ice fishing specific clothing every season. Get to a retailer and try some on yourself. If you see folks wearing some, ask them about it. Find out all you can about the equipment you arm yourself with and purchase with confidence.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Plastics

1/2 of my plastic tackle box
I sit here tonight staring at my box of ice fishing plastics, deciding what should be added to the box. Looking at the color choices I have, wishing I had a bigger box as well. I have also noticed there are many different brands of plastics in this box, Lindy, Little Atom, Custom Jigs and Spin, even some Northland.

I really start to wish I wrote a journal over the last few years, chronicling my successful days, that I think would make the decisions of what plastics to buy much easier.

At the end of last season the Custom Jigs and Spins "Finesse Plastic" #10/ Chartreuse worked really well for some nice crappies on a lake in upper WI.

One point mid/late season on a small lake in Sheboygan county rigging a Bubble Gum Little Atom "Wedgee" worked by just letting it sit motionless inches below the ice.

Yet early in the season a Northland Tackle "Bro Bug-Bloodworm" had to be aggressively jigged six inches off the bottom in 20 feet of water on another lake in Sheboygan County.

So many choices and decisions to make. Lol.

 Top- Little Atom "Teaser Tail", Bottom- Little Atom "Wedgee"

I do have my tried and true, go to, almost never lets me down (at least for a bite) which is the Little Atom "Wedgee" in Motor Oil. That is a standard in my box all season. The "Teaser Tail" worked well after I had stumbled upon it as well about half way through the season.

 Exploration is the key to success in ice fishing, and plastics, with their wide rage of colors and sizes and the durability of most, will make anyone using them happy.

Impatiently waiting for ice.......

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

AGLOW

AGLOW is an acronym for Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, of which I am a member of, for my work with the radio show. This week was the annual conference which I was unable to attend.

Every year they award members for their excellence in their specific class, photography, writing, TV, radio etc. Every year Dan and I enter the radio class with different segments from the past year.

This year I was awarded a 1st place in the Radio: Hunting category and a 2nd place in Radio: Fishing.

It is a great honor to receive these awards a be recognized by my peers. Dan Small has provided me with a great opportunity to realize and follow a passion and I thank him as well.

For more information about AGLOW please visit their website

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Outdoors Radio now on Hardwater-Angler.com!

I am thrilled to announce that every week along with broadcasting on 11 different radio stations around the Mid-west and several other on-line locations Hardwater-angler.com is another place you can listen to the radio show that Dan Small and I do every week.

Listen to the show in its entirety or feel free to skip around using the player in the upper left hand corner.

Enjoy the show and thanks for visiting Hardwater-angler.com!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Looking forward to the season..

I have had a bit of time to reflect lately on how I will approach this years ice fishing season. The though of just seeing the hard water gets my blood pumping, which for some reason my wife thinks is strange.

But seriously this may not be a bad time of the year to look at your equipment, for this reason alone...Time! The fact is most of us hunt as well as fish, and the hunting season is looming and once that gets here its going to be hard to find time to sit down and get ice fishing stuff ready.

Make sure you have what you want for the season, or at least write up a wish-list now. Figure out if there are any mods you want to make to your stuff, I will be making racks for the new 4-wheeler, and start gathering things for that.

Don't let time slip away, I will be in a deer stand in 3 weeks, but I will be ready to ice fish in 2.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hookin Up with Clam Corp!

I have been asked to be apart of Clam Corporations Pro Staff for the 2010-2011 ice fishing season.

This is a great opportunity to share with others the very best shelters on the market.

Of course while working with the Ice Team I was introducing people to Clam already, but now my efforts will concentrate on Clam.

Look for me at Cabela's in Richfield, WI the first three weekends of December!



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Outdoors Radio!

This week on Outdoors Radio With Dan Small:

Dan and Jeff talk to Mariko Izumi !! You can see her all weekend at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show There is a Red Green Look Alike Contest at the sports show, so get your flannel shirts and suspenders ready!

Greg Miller gives us a sneak peek at his seminar for the Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo happening in Madison April 9th through the 11th.

We hear about a wild boar hunt at Sunrize Acres (Ted Nugents place) from a good friend of the the show Shawn Clark .

Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo tickets are being given away this week, listen to find out how to win!

See you at the sports show!!

Jeff Kelm

Editor/Co-Host of Outdoors Radio With Dan Small

Ice Team PowerStick

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Outdoor Wisconsin

This is an episode of Outdoor Wisconsin where my father and I ice fish for panfish on a lake in Sheboygan County.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Payback

This morning I ventured out to a small lake in Sheboygan county with a couple of guys that helped me get started in bowhunting. Its a father and son, both of which worked to get me a private place to bow hunt on some land in Sheboygan county.

I honestly had no idea how I would repay them, and they were not asking for any payment, but my opportunity came to payback what they did today.

I took them out and although we did not get into a ton of fish, they did have fun, and I think they both learned a thing or two about ice fishing. I hope they did, I hope that anytime I fish with someone they take something away from the experience that they can use to catch more fish.

Had a great time, had some good food on the ice, and even caught a few nice fish..

Friday, February 19, 2010

Looking Ahead

Its finally Friday and I am looking forward to the weekend.

I know I am going to fish tomorrow with an old friend and his Dad on a lake I had real good success on early this year, I have a feeling though I will have to search for the fish this time.


I am also, dare I say it, looking forward to spring! Turkey hunting is coming up, and so is Whitetail deer antler shed hunting. Love them both and can't wait to get back out to the farm and see what kind bucks we got running around there yet.


Oh, I can not forget this spring is pretty important...I am getting married, that is very exciting and I am sure it will trump all other activities.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Braggin Board!

OK this does not happen often, but I beat a friend of mine at something, for once. LOL.

I don't ever think it's fair, I have noticed that he likes playing sports against me he is fairly good at i.e, darts, bowling, trap...Things like that.

Well tonight I got him at trap! It is winter league so no one is expected to do well, and trust me I didn't but I shot 17 and Eric (We call him Finch) shot 14...14!! That means I win!

It truly is the small things that get me excited these days. I do think I will stick to a sport I feel I am a bit better at.

Ice fishing is what I do best, and I will continue to do so.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It was a cool and cloudless night.

I finally was able to convince my fiance to hop on the snowmobile with me and take a ride on the trails. She said it was not her favorite thing to do afterwards, but it was a success just getting her to sit on it.

Her brother hurt himself on a sled, ironically just like mine, many years ago and since then she has be very apprehensive to jump on one.

The next step is to get her to drive it. I think she will enjoy that even more, since she likes to be in control.

Friday, February 12, 2010

NAIFC


It's not often that you sign up to do something and when it’s all said and done it not only met your expectations, but you actually sit back and say "Whoa."




The North American Ice Fishing Circuit or NAIFC for short is an organization out to teach children and adults alike the joy of modern and compeitive ice fishing. Started in 2007 Jack Baker and Mike McNett have created a competition that brings out the very best in each person that enters, The events happen throughout the ice belt and been such a success it has even become a hit reality television show called ICE MEN. Now I am no ICE MAN, but I do LOVE to ice fish and this past weekend I took the opportunity to try my luck against the very best in the industry, many of who I have looked up to and learned from over the years.



My partner and I took off last Friday to start pre fishing the lake for this event, having never fished here before we immediately looked for shanty towns to find where locals had set up shop to at least have a starting point. We no sooner drilled some holes in the ice and we were into fish. Not big, but fish none the less. I cannot help but look around and see if I can spot others doing what we are doing, prefishing. I am also watching the locals and trying to see if they are catching fish, what they are using, and how big the fish are. As I am doing this I notice some of the ICE MEN from the TV show fishing in close proximity to us. That makes me feel a bit better, these guys’ fish so often that I happen to believe you could nearly follow them and you would do well in competition. Now I do not suggest doing so, first and foremost, they will all tell you to find your own fish, nicely, but they will. They work hard, and have worked hard to get to where they are, they feel if they can do it, so can everyone else. So although I observed them fishing near us, I was not going to sit there all day and watch them. We moved to 4 different spots on the lake that first day of pre fishing, finding fish in most holes, nothing real big, but we were getting an idea of the makeup of the lake and what color jigs and baits we planned to use for the weekend.



The following day, Saturday, the weather changed, it was windy, cooler, and the snow coming across the lake found every part of your skin that was not covered. We found fish to be a bit tougher on Saturday, the colors we used the day before did not work as well, but the one thing we noticed is depth of the fish was the same from day to day. As we fished throughout the day we were in search of the all powerful 15 inch crappie, knowing that IF we found those, we could have a good chance of winning this thing and bring home some good money. Needless to say we never did find those nice big crappies. That night was the dinner and rules meeting, which my fishing partner compared to a room full of 5th graders. Some guys just have to complain, and that happens everywhere.



Sunday morning came and we were as ready as we were going to be. We loaded up the 3-wheeler with all the gear, the 2 shanties, auger, rods, buckets for fish, and me....I road in the shanty closest to the 3-wheeler while my partner drove the machine. At the start of the morning we took off for the south end of the lake which is 2.5 miles away, and the 3-wheeler was doing all it could to keep up with all the other guys on their much larger, more powerful machines. In fact it was quite comical at times as we were passed by the entire field of teams after starting in the 19th position. We made it to the end of the lake before the 8am start time, and we managed to punch some holes, get the lines out and rigged with the plastics of choice that morning. With high hopes we dropped the jigs down the hole right at 8 and I landed the first fish of the day, a very small crappie, and in the bucket it went. With the skunk out of the question we kept moving from hole to hole hoping the size of the fish we were catching was going to improve, and now and then it did. In fact within the first hour of the day, we had our 8 sunfish and 8 crappies that we were allowed to register, though I don't think we had 3 pounds of fish in that bucket, so we decided to make a move that would prove to be very good.



We moved to the outskirts of a small bay that we had fished on Friday, popped holes and within 30 seconds we had a nice large sunfish for the bucket, not long after that we started to upgrade all the sunfish in our bucket. We fished that bay for about an hour, upgrading all of our gills to nice healthy 7, 8, 9 inch fish. We needed to find crappies though so we started the process of moving back where we began the day drilling holes along the way hoping to stumble into fish worth tossing into the bucket. Eventually we made it back to where we started and this time we did not drill a single hole. There were so many open from others that had passed through that we scooped out the ice and started fishing. That was a wise decision; we were not fishing for more than 15min when my partner hooked into an 11 inch crappie, then another, and then a 10 inch. But it was getting late; we are slower than everyone else so we had to leave before everyone. We packed up our stuff and took off back across the 2.5 miles of ice. As we approached the "finish line" we stopped to sort our catch. Knowing we had some nice gills we felt good about what our poundage was going to be, but we had not seen anyone else’s bucket yet either.



We were the first ones across the line, and the first to get our bucket to weigh in, now it’s a matter of waiting for the results....in about an hour and a half. Being the first bucket in to the weigh was fine, the waiting for what seemed like forever to find out how much we had was killing me. One of the ten last buckets to be weighed, knowing it was going to be tough to compete, there were some very large fish, and big baskets weighed. Finally our turn came, "Team 711." Big fish was .49lbs, one of the crappies caught just minutes before we had to get off the ice. Total weight, 4.46lbs, and good enough for 36th place, not good enough for money, trophy or qualification for the nationals next December, but a lot of fun, and I would not have done anything differently.



This event taught me and my partner how to rely on another person for support, which is not something that comes naturally while ice fishing. I learned some from Tony Boshold during his Friday Night Seminar; I also learned I want to do this again, badly. Adam and I will be back next year, with just as much drive and confidence as we did this year, but the other competitors will have to put up with us a few times, we are planning to fish at least 3 events next year, Delavan of course will be one and I think the results may be slightly different, I think this time we will be ready for a trip to the nationals and buying a round for our friends when we get back home.



The NAIFC is one of the greatest Ice fishing organizations I have had the pleasure of being associated with and I am counting down the days till we can do it again.