Tuesday, February 21, 2012

USA Ice Team Daily Log

February 4th-Day 1 fishing complete. Everyone caught fish, not many. Size was slightly larger than we heard it was to be but not by much. Dinner and sleep tonight, full day of practice fishing time tomorrow.

February 5th- Day 2 Very rough day for Team USA today. Tried fishing in a few different areas to see if we could get on schools of fish to practice some ground baiting techniques and had no success even finding schools of fish. Total amount of fish caught by the whole team in 4 hours of fishing was in the teens I believe. It was a very cold wind today, windchill -5 or so. The Russian team has now arrived and the Kazakhstan Fishing Federation officially welcomed us to their country today with a nice speech and gift bag. We all hope tomorrow will be a better fishing day as we are not learning much only catching a handful of fish. I took no pictures today because it was so cold, and honestly I was concentrating on fishing. A few of us USA Team members are not feeling 100%, most likely due to the travel and 12 hour time difference, and demanding fishing conditions so far. Time to sleep (for me), and "party"for many others now. Wish for fish!

February 6th- Day 3 update- We found fish! Most of us anyway, still not many, and it doesn't truly matter cause they have not allowed us on the lake we are actually fishing for the Championship. We think we have learned a few things but its kinda like fishing Lake Michigan to learn how to catch fish on Lake Erie. Fishing is still relatively slow but as we learn the fish it has gotten better. The sun was out today, warmed all the way up to 11! Actually it was great with no wind, should be 35 by Thursday. Tomorrow starts the "Official" practice time (they will let us onto the lake we will be competing on) and opening ceremonies including a trip into Almaty to sight-see and shop. The competition between us USA team members starts tomorrow as well to find out who the 6 men will be that will actually get to fish in the Championship starting Friday. Everyone has acclimated to the change in time zones now,which makes it easier to push yourself to fish hard. There is 20-26" of ice we have to drill through by hand so you need all the rest and energy you can get. Time to re-rig then bed for tonight. Wish for fish! USA! USA! USA!

February 7th- USA Ice Team Update-Day 4- Finally! We were allowed to fish the lake we are fishing the World Championship on. Totally different than the practice lake of course. This lake has thick weeds in 0-10 feet of water and has a larger variety of fish sizes. We had only 2 hours that we were allowed to fish today. That time was spent competing with each other on the USA team for a spot in the final 6 that will fish in the Championship starting Friday. After day one Whiteside, Wilson, Burkart, Esbeson, McNett are the top 5. I caught 3 fish that all together weighed only 17 grams (.6 oz)!! Yikes! Tomorrows practice determines the final guys. The host country took us to the mountains near Almaty to a very nice ski resort to ride the sky lift. The lift took us to 2500 Meters above sea level. It was a 2 hour ride to the resort, the resort was a half hour then a 2 hour ride back to the hotel :) Fun. The food is still great here, though we are starting to ask what we are eating now and then, but its all delicious. Most teams have arrived now and its great getting to speak with other ice fishermen from around the world. Everybody is feeling great and ready to fish tomorrow. New pictures will be ready to view tonight in my 2012 World Ice Fishing Championship Album. Wish for Fish!!

February 8th- UPDATE- USA Ice Team Day 5- Team practice went well, it kinda flip flopped in standings between the team today. For full results go to the USA Ice Team page on Facebook. The top 6 fishermen from the USA team as determined by the competition between us will get to fish in the championship starting Friday. I started today in 9th position, I managed to find a super hot hole near the end of regulation time and managed 62 fish for over 500grams. With that I took 1st for the day and am now in 4th headed into the last day to fight for a spot. So I still need to fish hard tomorrow. The "official" opening ceremonies took place tonight, a wonderful event filled with speeches from local delegates and both traditional and contemporary dancing by local youth. LOTS of food tonight, that's one thing they do not lack here, food. Once again time to re-tie and go to bed. More pictures will be added to the 2012 World Ice Fishing Championships album soon. Wish For Fish!!

February 9th- USA Ice Team Day 6 UPDATE- Well the team is set, check out the USA Ice Team page for the details. I did not make it this year. I had a great day yesterday, but today I fell short. I will be a spotter for Ryan Wilson tomorrow. This has been a great experience and I am glad I have done this once in my life. The team is excited and ready to fight tomorrow. Very tired now, no re-tying to worry about tonight, time for bed. Wish for fish! USA! USA! USA!

February 10th- USA Ice Team- UPDATE- Day 6- What a day of competition. It was intense watching the rest of the world fish hard. I have seen our guys do it day after day, but with so many other world champions in once place it was awesome. What wasn't awesome was the fishing. It was rough for nearly every team. See results on the USA Ice Team page. I sat and spotted for Ryan Wilson today, 3 hours of watching something like 15 fish caught out of 11 guys and unfortunately none were from Ryan. We did all we could to try though, he drilled is heart out looking for fish. We will be working together tomorrow again, hope its a better day. Most of the team spent 3 hours in the Russian Bonya today. It's a great way to relax, a sauna that is hotter than blazes and as you walk out of it after 10 minutes or so there is a bucket hanging from the ceiling filled with water that is around 40 degrees you pull a cord and it dumps on you. Its so cold for only a split second. It felt great to do that 3 or 4 times, then there is a room off the side of the Bonya where we had all kinds of traditional Kazach food. What a truly amazing experience this has been for all of us. We have one more day to fight for a good spot, it will be tough to medal now, but with a little luck and lots of prayers we could still do it. Wish for fish!!

February 11th- USA Ice Team Day 7 Update- Wow! What an experience! This has easily been the highlight of my ice fishing life. Today was the final day of competition and we did much better than yesterday. (The zones had lots more fish in most of them) I had the chance to see how fast these other countries are once they are on fish, its amazing, in 6 feet of water I watched the Latvian catch almost 5 fish a minute at times. Thats super fast. We as the USA team have SOOOOO much to learn yet. We can catch fish, but we don't have the speed or the ability to keep fish in a hole actively feeding like these other countries do. The USA Ice Team finished 9th overall. This was yet another learning year for us and we did learn tons. The guys fishing gave it all they had, and us on the sidelines did all we could to help them. I will say this, I don't want to sit on the sidelines again though, I wanna fish. When it comes to the US next year, I plan to not only make the Team in the USA try-outs, but fish both days of competition in the World Championship. Having finished in a tie with less than 100 grams keeping me from fishing at least one day here, I am hungry to try again. As this event comes to a close, I want to thank the Country of Kazakhstan for treating us extremely well. I have a great respect for this country and its people and I would be honored to be invited back once again. I would like to thank my teammates for making this a trip I will never forget. I get the chance to see many of these guys nearly every weekend in the winter while fishing the North American Ice Fishing Circuit (NAIFC) but I have become so much closer to all of them. WE are the USA ICE TEAM and we are all damn proud of that flag that follows us. From all of us in Kazakhstan, thanks for following my posts, and we will be home soon. Many of us miss our significant others and our own beds. We start our travels home tomorrow. See you soon!