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  • Ice Fishing Half Moon Lake in Central Wisconsin

    I was invited to ice fish on Half Moon Lake, just South of Wausau Wisconsin. It was part of a Winter Wonderland Press Tour I had the pleasure of participating on. Half Moon Lake is essentially a flowage of the Wisconsin River. I'm not quite sure how deep it gets, maybe 15 feet, but we fished in about 6 to 8 feet of water with tip-ups and tip-downs. I've used tip-ups before, but tip-downs are new to me. I'll tell you more about that later.



    Here I am, I'm on this press tour, with nothing but women. The guides were men, but the press people were all women, how cool is that. These were not ordinary women though, they were very capable fisher-women. Many baited there own hooks, and they all pulled up their own fish. We had a great time fishing together, it was quite an experience. Although I was kinda surprised that no one really expressed any problem with being out on the ice, particularly being driven there in a truck. I guess they felt safe seeing all the other trucks and shanties out there too.



    So this is the setup, the guides have a shanty on wheels, with big glass windows on four sides, and they set up their tip-ups and tip-downs within sight of the shanty. They sit inside the shanty in the warmth of their wood burning stove until something tips up or down. They even have a TV in the shanty to watch football on. Not too shabby a plan if you ask me.



    Here's a picture of Kevin enjoying the warmth. It actually was so warm in there we opened the door to cool it down. But on those bitter cold days, I'm sure that door gets closed tight.

    A Tip-Down is nothing but an ice fishing rod balanced on a pivot so that when a fish takes the bait, the rod easily pivots down. Nice when calm, like it was this day, but they say when it is windy you get some false alarms.


    Here is a little video we did with guide John Sparbel of www.hooksetters.biz telling us a little about Tip-Downs. Turn it up a little, you should be able to hear him.



    Phil Schweik, also with www.hooksetters.biz, setting up a tip-down. Plus a couple of the journalists watching his every move.

    Pictured below; Phil is setting up a tip-up. A tip-up is simply a flag on a spring, set to pop up if a fish pulls on the line and turns the spool. The spool free wheels while the fish swims away so you have to be quick. When that flag pops up, you have to run to stop the line and set the hook. It's kinda weird how the spool is immersed in the water. But it's done that way so that it does not freeze up. You can see in the picture, the spool part is what is placed in the ice hole.

    They use small minnows (Rosy Reds) on the tip-downs for Crappie and Walleye and they use larger Shiners on the tip-ups to catch Northern Pike.



    Here's what I was talking about, Danielle baiting her own hook with a minnow, a real trooper.



    Polly with a tiny Walleye. Even though Polly is from Georgia, she had no problem with the cold weather. I told you these journalists were something else.



    Rebecca posing for the camera while she checks her tip-down. This was my second fishing trip with Rebecca, she really loves fishing.


    Although we did catch some small Walleye, we still did not have any eaters. Those Walleye were all released back into the water to continue to grow. Phil had an idea to find a brush pile under the ice where he had caught a limit of nice Bluegill the day before. The problem was, he could not find the spot because of all the snow that had come down overnight. Phil must have drilled 100 holes to no avail. He never did find that brush pile, but I did find this nice Bluegill while he was drilling holes. I caught it on a small ice fishing jig tipped with a Wax Worm.


    Here's a picture of Phil drilling those holes. He's got a propane powered ice auger and cut new holes in seconds flat. You can see an "on the ice" shanty there in the background. That's the kinda of shanty that I'm familiar with, where you fish though ice holes inside the shanty. You sure cover more water though the way Phil and John do it. And really, how many holes can you fish out of inside one of these shanty's. I like how our guides did it, a warm shanty with a big view of spread out tip-ups and tip-downs.

    Often times when you are on these press junkets you really don't have a lot of time to do real fishing. There is more focus on demonstrations, questions and conversation. We only spent a couple hours on the ice, we had lots of fun, but did not have a lot of meat for the table. Phil assured us that the fish were out there though. All kinds including Northern Pike, Walleye, Perch, Crappie and Bluegill. After I got home, he sent me some pics of catches made after we left.

    Now these are some jumbo Perch, and a couple nice Pike.



    If anyone was thinking about coming up to the North Woods, there's more to do here than just fish. You can go skiing at Granite Peak. My buddy Jeff owns a ski shop here in Illinois, www.scanskishop.com, and he told me Granite Peak Ski Resort was the best one in the Midwest. I've been to a few of them and I'd have to say I agree. Although I have never been out West, this has to be similar, and it's only 4 hours from my house. I'm sure I'll be coming back here, if not this year, maybe next.

    Here's a picture of the lodge while going up a ski lift. That's it in the distance. It really is bigger than it looks from up there. Good food, good drink and lots of friendly people.



    Look at that ski jump on the right! No way did I try that. I'd have killed myself, or at least broke something.



    Six wide high speed ski lift, and so few people on them. Of course, we were here during the week. I'd expect it to be more crowded on the weekend.



    Look at these toys they have for the snow boarders. I've never seen anything like it.



    This is more my style, see my heavy footed ski tracks. You can see moguls in the upper tight of this picture. No I did not try those either. I'm getting too old for that!



    What a beautiful view.



    This is a snow groomer. They were working on a snow maker, and drove this groomer up and down the hill about three times while I was skiing. It was so cool going down the mountain on a freshly groomed trail. It seemed like they were grooming it just for me, I loved it. Because it's groomed, you can ski down the hill and not have to concentrate so much on the conditions. You can literally fly down down the smooth face of the hill at rocket speeds, all while "almost" under control! lol



    Oh yeah, I can't forget this part of the trip. They have some great brewery's here in Wisconsin. We toured the Great Dane brewery. Pictured here is part of the brewery and the brew master, Pete. To say he was passionate about brewing was putting it mildly. I actually have dabbled in home brewing so I know a little about the process. This guy knows his stuff and makes some great beer. If you do get up this way, make sure you stop here at the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company and tell Pete that Slab sent you. But only do that if you have time, he's liable to tell you all about his latest beers and all the details about how he made them!

    www.VisitWausau.com
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    Comments 16 Comments
    1. SlabLapper4sure's Avatar
      SlabLapper4sure -
      Slab, I know you had a blast!!! Those yellow perch were monsters. I've never icefished but have always wanted to. Maybe some day!Great pics!!
    1. Special K's Avatar
      Special K -
      Very nice report Slab. That is some beautiful country with some great fishing (I'm sure) and the whole gambit of winter-time accomodations for skiers and other winter sport enthusiasts for sure. Thanks for the report and for sharing your great trip to Wisconsin.
    1. crappie4me2's Avatar
      crappie4me2 -
      Ed,Man that looks like a really nice place to take an Ice fishing trip. I have always wanted to try it but I would not be crazy about driving the truck on the Ice. I really like the video showing the set up on the Ice fishing. It is good to see women in the outdoors also!!! Great report and thanks for sharing.Lynn
    1. Billbob's Avatar
      Billbob -
      looks like a great time when do i get to go i know when you find them you can get them by the piles need more stuff like this in this time of year up north
    1. Slab's Avatar
      Slab -
      Thanks everyone.

      I know here in Illinois ice fishing has been tough. The ice is here one day and gone the next. At least in Wisconsin they have a little longer ice fishing season. Billbob, maybe we plan a trip for next year together, we'll get tomtom involved.
    1. creekslick's Avatar
      creekslick -
      Looks like a great time was had by all fishing that hardy water.
    1. yikess's Avatar
      yikess -
      Great story Slab, thanks for the report. Makes this southern boy get chills just looking at all that ice. Keep up the good work!
    1. Speck's Avatar
      Speck -
      Great report Slab!!!!! Those are some HUGE perch!!!!! never been ice fishing but would like to try some time!!!
    1. "G"'s Avatar
      "G" -
      I always thought I would like to try ice fishing.....now I know I would....a heated shanty and TV, yep, I think I could get into that.
    1. Crappiegirl1's Avatar
      Crappiegirl1 -
      Although I escaped the winter snow and ice of Illinois 30 years ago to fish in Florida, this article, Slab,makes winter fishing in Wisconsin sound very enticing.
    1. duckhunter's Avatar
      duckhunter -
      nice read, slab, and great pics! I love that kind of scenery, and would LOVE to try that one day! for now, though, I will have to stick with our ms crappie, lol. hope to see you again soon.
    1. jackb's Avatar
      jackb -
      Great report and pics! Use to ice fish a ton when I lived in Chicago, mostly in the chain o' lakes region. Loved it and miss it.
    1. bwillaub's Avatar
      bwillaub -
      I icefished a bit in NW Illinois when I lived up there. Had some good times and caught a lot of fish. Funny thing tho.........I don't miss it one bit.Nice read, Ed.
    1. blufloyd's Avatar
      blufloyd -
      Whoa icefishing near a ski area hmmm.... wonder if it still has ice.... I know a ski bunny... and ..... nevermind.
    1. Slab's Avatar
      Slab -
      Quote Originally Posted by blufloyd View Post
      Whoa icefishing near a ski area hmmm.... wonder if it still has ice.... I know a ski bunny... and ..... nevermind.
      Send Phil an email and ask him about the ice, mention Crappie.com if you do. I'm thinking there's ice, I plan to go out ice fishing later this week here in Illinois. Phil's email address is: [email protected]
    1. Joedog's Avatar
      Joedog -
      I grew up in WI and enjoyed ice fishing then. Still do when I get the chance! Great article and pics. Makes me want to go again! Enjoyed the report!
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