The warm weather over the weekend and the next few days are not doing anything to improve ice conditions, or the making of ice on the lake. As of this afternoon the northwest wind has pretty much destroyed what ice we did have… So we wait…work on fish house improvements and work on trucks.
In the last couple days social media became a vocal outlet for those that want to blame someone or a business, and even the sport of ice fishing with the deteriorating ice conditions in the wake of this warmer weather. After an “early” freeze in the first half of November. The saddest part is that lives were lost, family and friends suffer a tragic and unjustifiable reason for loss of life. My prayers go out to them.
In the 45 years I have been on the ice running this place I have seen alot of things happen. Seen and had some close calls, almost lost my Dad when he was in his 60’s to it when he dropped his snowmobile in and couldn’t get out of the water. (Fortunately there were two close by fishermen that came to his rescue.) The one thing that was instilled in me from all these years is that “ICE is NEVER SAFE”. Granted there are many times when everything goes good, usually by mid season with some snow cover on good ice it gets easier it becomes almost routine. But early ice is ALWAYS the most dangerous. And it seems that temperature changes in the late fall and early winter are different from what I experienced over the years. But early ice has always been and probably always will be the best fishing, or that idea for most.And after the waiting for it all fall, fishermen along with businesses that provide that service get anxious.
These comments following are my opinion. but I feel I can contribute my thoughts on what has happened to the ice fishing industry as a whole. Especially since I have been on the ice longer than most of all of you fishermen and business owners in the ice business. Through the years I’ve done this for a living alot of things have changed. Of all the changes I have seen is the “hype” for Ice Fishing. i was in at the beginning of the “fish trap” portables before they even became popular. I was in with the beginning of depth finders thru the ice. In fact, back when they had “paper” graphs I was experimenting with them out in the “tullibee hole” 35 years ago. I’ve seen it evolve into a “business” that company’s capitalized on with “portability” and early access to the ice before the “skid-houses” got out on Mille Lacs. I’ve had customers with custom built “wheelhouses” 25 years before “Ice Castles” were even thought about being built. I’ve have seen the effects of them on the ice roads, increased traffic, and the roads breaking up because of it. I seen fishermen’s and perspectives of “how to ice fish”for longer than most of you out there reading this. And to be brutally honest all of that has screwed up what “ice fishing” was supposed to be. The idea that you need to drill a hundred holes, or move into an area and screw up a good fishing spot because you are going to be there one night with your wheelhouse and have the wind drift snow around your house and on the road that the guy that plowed for you and others so you can get out to that spot…. All it shows it lack of respect for others, just like most open water anglers are becoming these days also. Except in the winter, you can screw up a spot when parking your rig and wheelhouse without thinking about the prevailing wind direction to minimize drifting, and you can potentially wreck an area for the rest of the season with your lack of knowledge. That is not even saying anything about the speeds most drive on the ice with the weight of your truck and wheelhouse on roads provided to you so you can get to where you can fish….and sadly most don’t even have a clue, our just plain don’t care. To all that I blame the “hype” brought on by businesses that promoting and are heralded as “revolutionizing” ice fishing. All bullshit in my book…sorry, but I’ve seen it…..
Upper Red lake has been over the last 20 some years since the “crappie” boon has been the “Wild West” of the ice fishing changes, with portables, wheelhouses, etc. My customers of over twenty years here and still good friends, Jerry and Joanie Barthel, got out of the “city life” and moved north and purchased Roger’s Campground. They both lived thru the Walleye closure years ago after they purchased it and when the Crappie boon started it saved their business. When the Walleyes came back they sold and still live up there. They both seen the changes as it happened up there and lived thru them. I highly doubt that if Jerry would have seen the conditions that the last week produced on the ice up there that fishermen would have been able to go out from his place after what he learned, but I can’t say for sure.. But though all these years even though I’m farther south I know what has happened up there. This last week will hopefully change some of the resort’s way of doing business, and hopefully had a “wake up call” and will think a little more about safety for their customers to the best of their ability, and be a little more cautious with all the hordes of fishermen that visit there… But at the same time it should always be each individual fishermen’s responsibility once they are on the ice for themselves and for their safety… despite how much the resort tries to make it as safe as possible..I’ve seen too many times that you can’t watch over everyone…
That’s all I can say, I’m just very sad for the people and families loss of life just to go catch a Walleye.. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing all these years and keeping it under control my way…after 45 years it’s still working…
Keep a Tight Line…Eddy