SPRING GREEN — Most ice anglers do not give much thought to scouting winter fishing holes, but Buddy Hynek of Lone Rock, via La Crosse, planned ahead when he relocated.
He had moved into an unfamiliar area, at least as far as ice fishing went.
When ice began to form this year, Hynek first returned to his familiar haunts in La Crosse area where he knew there would be safe ice and reasonably good fishing.
When small lakes and Wisconsin River backwaters began to seal up, he started forgoing the two-hour drive northwest and added that time to his local outings.
“I get out as much as I can,” he said. “At least twice a week; this week it’s been four times.”
Open water summer fishing has been Hynek’s best scouting method.
“I’m over 18 feet of water now, but the fish aren’t biting like they were yesterday afternoon. I guess I was wrong to come this morning or maybe it’s just the fish. Over there where those guys are fishing it’s 27 feet deep. We’ve got just enough ice, about 3-4 inches. Anything less and I’m not going to be here, or at least not out this far.”
While Hynek’s still learning where and how to fish the waters in Dane and Iowa counties, he’s ahead of the game when it comes to morel mushrooms.
"I had a pretty good year this spring, but a lot of guys didn’t do so good,” he said.
Waxworms were working on black crappies and Hynek recalls ice fishing with his dad and being sent to find goldenrod galls, a poor-man’s panfish bait.
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“If you buy right, most ice fishing gear should last a lifetime,” he said, boasting.
When his brother, in the printing business calls, all bets are off and he heads to Spring Green or Richland Center to help, instead of heading home to Lone Rock.
Chris Hardy, from Arena, was fishing and catching nearby. His early catch was one perch and four bluegills.
He has two loves in the outdoors — ice fishing and bow hunting.
“I hunt, and fish, for the meat,” he said. “I took one doe this fall and that’s enough for the family, along with the fish I catch on the ice. Just fillet them and cook them, it’s that easy.”
He processes his own deer, including making brats and bologna.
Hardy’s day job is working at nearby Cardinal Glass. He just finished the third shift and headed straight to the ice on his “day off.”
Most early anglers carry a spud and an auger and are not interested in close company. Scattered anglers around seem to lessen the pressure on the ice and eases an angler’s mind, too.
Travis Kaul, of Lone Rock, led an entourage of five anglers, but only two had their fishing gear with them. The others seemed to be ready, if necessary, to make a quick exit in the event of hearing the ice talk back to them.