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Andrew R
ANDREW
RAGAS

Andrew's Adventures

The 2013 Wisconsin ice melt-off celebration

Tue, May 07, 2013

Prior to Saturday May 4, 2013, the entire state of Wisconsin and its residents were unsure whether there would be any open water present in its northern regions. Local guides and friends expressed little confidence. The day before the season opener, it appeared there would be no chance for much accessible open water thanks to the late winter and delayed arrival of spring.

The latest ice-out period in recent memory were the winters of 1996-97 as ice didn’t leave the lakes until mid-May. Pictured below is May 3, 2013, as I overlooked my small 23 acre lake in 30 degree weather. It typically goes out anytime in April.

It was a cold one. I think my lake was making ice again on Friday afternoon.

may4

Not only did this weekend signify the Wisconsin gamefish season opener, but it was also the weekend we opened our house for the 2013 season. For much of the remainder of May and most of June, the northwoods will be my home.

Due to snow, I couldn’t do much yardwork. Because it was also wet, I couldn’t burn and blow things up in the forest. I also couldn’t do much fishing due to the remaining ice cover. But I did get my boats ready for the season. At least that’s the most important thing.

Having worked on the project jon boat throughout the spring and finishing it, I worked exclusively on my fiberglass Lund this weekend and had all the time in the world for it on Friday and Saturday. I re-rigged it with new electronics; I purchased the new Lowrance Elite 7HDI and mounted it to the console. Then I moved my year-old Lowrance HDS 5 to the front casting deck. Both are equipped with gps cards and other extra features which is nice. Besides the re-rigging, I did the usual preseason maintenance such as re-lubing the lower unit, checking my hubs and wheel bearings, filling up the tires with air, charging up the batteries, and cleaning out the interior. Another extracurricular task I did was apply a fresh coat of fiberglass patch to the keel and prepare it for this weekend’s keel guard installation (photos on this one after this coming weekend). I will also get some photos of my jon boat in water, fully rigged with outboard, and me fishing in it. It’s truly a sweet boat.

With both boats finished and not much else to do on this opening weekend, my muskie tournament buddy Steve Peterson invited me to join him and his dad, Bob, for some fishing. The options were to fish the nearby rivers or flowages like everyone else, or go for the unpressured water. We elected to fish where there were only two other boats. We fished on the Sugar Camp chain Saturday afternoon into the evening hours. En route to meet up with Steve and Bob, a community of anglers were ice fishing the southern end of Big Arbor Vitae. Likewise, a few other brave fellows were atop the ice along the northern end of Little Arbor Vitae. These were hilarious sights for me to see during the month of May. Apparently a few guys fell thru on Big Arb, but were alright.

may3

Meanwhile, the fishing for us and the little open water we were able to work with was abysmal. But it sure felt nice to be out on what limited water we had, enjoy the 60 degree sunshine, hear the rapid melting of whatever remaining ice was left, enjoy some beers and engaging discussion, and be humored by local area guide Gary Myshak who allowed us to tag along for the sunset bite.

In four and a half hours of fishing we had caught nothing. But on a day like today it didn’t really matter. It felt good to finally be on a boat, and partake an activity that just feels right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the time we had to leave Sunday morning, much of my 23 acre lake had finally melted. Pike were observed sunning in the flooded shallows, waiting for their mates to find them for the impending spawn. Bluegills and bass weren’t far behind in slightly deeper water, waiting for a guy like me to finally catch them and enjoy the backyard they reside in.

may2

I will be back again Sunday morning. Till then I’m down here in Chicago finishing up my immediate work.

The good news is majority of my lakes will finally be open, with the exception some of the deep and clear larger ones I frequently fish (1,000 acres or larger). Walleye spawn will be quick and they should be finished by early next week. Same deal with the pike. As for my favorites the bass, it’s difficult to predict. The bad news is I’m worried the bass bite won’t be strong like it has been during the last few spring seasons. Regardless, I’m confident that we will catch them, as well as any walleyes, pike, and panfish we try for. The worst part is I don’t have any strategy or gameplans made yet.

Whatever stories I write and pictures I post these next several weeks will be done periodically through the internet cafes.

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