Minden Press-Herald

Tuesday
Sep 30th

Hard water fishing is not for wimps

I'm not sure of the pH reading of the water I fish here in Louisiana; it could be alkaline or acidic; "soft" or "hard".

I had my first experience a few weeks ago of trying my hand at real "hard" water fishing on the Bay of Green Bay in Door County Wisconsin. I went ice fishing.

My trip to the tundra was arranged by Geiger and Associates public relations firm to visit and sample all that Door County had to offer. Among the morsels dangled was the chance to try ice fishing and I was like the proverbial horse whinnying after the carrot. Ice fishing has been on my bucket list for awhile and when the offer came, I jumped at it.

Outdoors channels on the tube whetted my appetite for hunkering down on a frozen lake, dangling a lure down through a hole in the ice and pulling out fish. That was a fairly accurate picture except for the hunkering part. We sat on benches in a propane heater-warmed fishing shack instead of braving the elements outside.

Actually, the elements outside were not really bad since Wisconsin has seen an unusually mild winter with far less snow than usual. The heaviest snow that fell on our three-day trip occurred while we were cozy and comfy in the fishing shack.

Fortunately, the half inch or so that fell kept me from busting my rear end twice that day; it served to give a measure of traction whereas the lack of snow on the slick-as-glass ice on the way out to the shack sent four of us writers slipping, sliding and bustin' buns. It was like a pot of boiled okra had been spilled on the ice, only slicker.

Once inside the shack under the tutelage of guide J.J. Malvitz ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), three of us commenced to taking care of the task at hand, that being to catch some of the whitefish that Malvitz determined were in the area.

For the uninformed, whitefish are long slender light-colored members of the trout family and were feeding along the bottom in the 20 foot water under the ice.

Using short two-foot ice fishing rods and spinning reels, the bait – artificial wax worms – skewered on the hook of a small spoon with another on a hook a foot or so up the line, were dropped through holes in the 15-20 inch thick ice until a fish took the bait.

You seldom felt a bite; the line would feel heavy when a fish was on similar to what a bass angler feels when a bass picks up a jig. They put up a fairly good fight and when you caught one, there was no need for an ice chest; tossing them on the ice outside the door served the same purpose.

Later that day, our group gathered at White Gull Inn, made famous recently when CBS's Good Morning America dubbed the breakfast served there as the best in America. I didn't get to try their breakfast but the fish boil served up by the Inn would get five stars from me. (Check it out at www.whitegullinn.com/fishboil).)

A big pot of water is heated to boiling over an open fire in the courtyard of the Inn, small potatoes and onions and salt are added and when the veggies are about done, chunks of dressed whitefish are dumped into the caldron for a few minutes. The final procedure is to pour kerosene on the fire, causing it to blaze up consuming the oil from the naturally oily fish. Served with tartar sauce and slices of lemon, the fish was really good; I could have eaten more.

Two days after my ice fishing debut, I read where 36 vehicles parked on the ice for an ice fishing tournament near Oshkosh plunged through the ice on Lake Winnebago not far from where we were fishing. I wasn't worried because, to be honest, I never put all my weight down anyhow.

Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.

 

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