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Post Posted: 06:35pm - Mar 27,17 
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I am going to try to tell this

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Post Posted: 02:43pm - Mar 29,17 
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Where the Good Ice Ends

It is said, when events such as this take place, that it helps to talk about it.
So who do us three talk to that will make it better? That is not going to ever happen.
We are ice fisherman and we are late ice, last ice fishermen. It is the time of the season when safety is always a burden of concern. We discuss our intentions, our plans, our routes and the risks and we had just done all of that the evening prior, our third night into it. We went to Hayward to fish a particular lake on the Chippewa Flowage, which we knew held some pretty large average sized crappies but we hadn't as of yet and we never would fish it on this trip.
We decided not to walk and spud ahead of our machines for miles but better to take our hunt to thick locked in ice. Current is an unseen that we cannot factor in when calculating risk. So we sat in that beautiful old saloon, had a scrumptious dinner the four of us together, all the while discussing chance and came to the conclusion that we would not travel on the ice of the flowage and take our hunt for good crappies onto the solid ice of Lac Courte Oreilles.

So it will be.

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Post Posted: 02:21pm - Mar 30,17 
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I find myself staring into nothingness and distancing myself from my being at times over theses past days. I relive it and see it over and over again. Everything just the same as the evening light faded into the darkness of night.
Two others are doing the same.
It is with a heavy heavy heart that I tell you of this wonder-filled emprise which Al, Joe, Jim and I undertook within the beauty of the fragrant pine forests and upon the frozen lakes of Hayward, Wisconsin. It was so good.

12:00 am March 15th 2017
I pick up Al and we load his machine onto the trailer alongside my own 4x4, the yellow thunderbolt greaseslapper. We’re anxious and by leaving at this time, we can get ourselves some added ice time over leaving at 5:00 am. Jim and Joe would leave in the morning and meet up with us on the ice later in the day.
We were so joyous to be so fortunate as to be making yet one more trip to winter. Winter was gone here you know of course, gone for a long time already, like 2 years gone if you ask me.
We love it more than any other season you and I. We love to skate, we love to sled, (sometimes maybe where we shouldn’t, (hah, Mazonia’s WIlderness), love the quiet nights out shoveling heaps of snow and at times you and I will take to tracking rabbits just because we know that we can on maybe a crisp moonlit night over a fresh snowfall.
Winter brings joy and happiness to us all and yet…..
it can be so cruel.
Ya know, when I think about the long quiet ride home now, that ride up sure went fast and before we knew it, we were having a 7am breakfast in Perkins of Hayward. Moments before that we had made a quick visit to the in-town bait and tackle shop where we purchased a paper map of Lac Courte Orrielles.
While in Perkins at our breakfast table, we spread out the sheet and gave it a good gander. We had to find “the spot.”
The spot Jim told us about. It wasn’t on this map though he told. It wouldn’t be on my chart plotter’s map either yet he knew that it was there and he had coordinates for it. It was supposed to hold some fine crappie in it.
“It is a slot he says, a narrow slot of deep water in the middle of a large shallow flat.” Mmm hm. So how about those coordinates ole buddy? “Yeah, I’ll get them to you,” he says but I never got a promise on that and here we were, ready for the big dance and no means of knowing where the dance was taking place. Ain’t that a maggot for ya?

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Post Posted: 02:45pm - Mar 30,17 
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Lac Courte Orielles;
5,000 acres of ice covered lake that all looks about the same from atop a frozen surface with the exception of a couple pine covered peninsulas and bays bending the shorelines. There were tall bluffs holding beautiful log cabin homes and expansive flats holding not much more than cattails and dead bulrush.
Flats! That could be a hint that could lead to “the deep slot.”
So before breakfast is complete, we have a starting place, a large shallow flat that we see on the map.
Hmm hm. Acres it is, like hundreds of acres it is. We’ll find that slot!
And ya know what? We did! We did it, we found it on the first site we checked and we drilled our first holes right in the center of that skinny minnie little deep water slot. And ya know what?
There were good crappies waiting just for Al and me.
Oh boy.

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Post Posted: 06:23pm - Mar 30,17 
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The weather was perfect, sunny skies, 3 degrees to the plus and rising a bit. No wind at all and fish were abound and biting ok for us. We had picked up a few waxworms at the shop but quickly found none would be needed. Various plastics, scented or none pinned on little tungsten ice jigs would be all that was needed. I worked a Maki Jamei in the chartreuse green glow pinned on a 3mm glow jig. It worked.

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Al used a big brown bulldog I think it was and he had it hooked on as a trailer behind maybe a Suik Weagle. Crappies were lovin that thing whatever it was that he had tied on. Must have been that walk the dog he does with it at 15 foot under. That’s what I say anyways.
It worked.

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Ice was great, 13 inches of good hard clear from top to bottom.

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Post Posted: 06:26pm - Mar 30,17 
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What is that smell?
DO you smell anise?

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Post Posted: 08:47pm - Apr 1,17 
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Jim and Joe joined us in the early afternoon. I think Al caught the sound of that snow machine as it turned the point of the peninsula. He announced their arrival to me and I turned to see this little dot moving across the ice in the distance.
So glad to have their company and with them they brought a bunch a knowledge of this spot. They knew it well and suggested we move 50 yards down the slot where we might find a better average size to our fish, not that we were catching small ones. We made the little slide and in a minute Joe puls one up just to show us what we were in for.

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A gorgeous compliment to that Chitown Angler bump board.

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That was Joe for you. Each time we fished together he would always make a little bit of distance from the rest of us and find just the right hole to dip and twitch his plastic in. Then, he’d pull up the good-n. Never a man to use live bait of any kind and I don’t know, I wonder if he ever once did ever in all of his fishing years. He out fished us all each time we found ourselves on the hard surface together. The Chief is kind the same way sort of. He doesn’t get into much messing around ever like this guy. I’m all about finding fish. The Crappie Professor too, he’s all about the hunt. Al……
All Al ever needs is a hole. Just give the man a hole and he’s a happy dipper. Dipping and pulling up fish after fish. All he cares about is catching fish. As long as he is catching, he’s a happy fisher. Chas just reminded me yesterday of one afternoon a couple years ago in Sturgeon Bay during our last ice outing; Chas and I were off fishing away from Al and Scout. I think maybe we were tip-up fishing for pike and Al just wanted to catch some fish, so he and Mike went off to do just that. A couple hours later we found Al in his shanty with this enormous hole cut over some giant boulders in 3 feet of water. Ha had whitefish laying all over the ice around his shack. Sight fishing whitefish in 3 foot water and nailing them.
He was happy for sure, just catching fish.
I don’t give a hoot for those bloody whitefish Chief. I’d rather catch a wrist wrapping ling.

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Post Posted: 10:30am - Apr 2,17 
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Forgive me please for doing this in such a manner, making installments when I take a fancy to it and leaving that padlock and chain on it. It isn’t the easiest tale to tell and sometimes I just drift off into nothingness before I can even get started. When it is complete I may remove the shackle, maybe, if I can find a galvanized 30 gallon garbage can lid to shield myself with for surely there will be stones with wings flying at my head from know-betters. I could go underground and hide from the light of day for the rest of my life but I’m not going to do that. I won’t stop either, I have no intention of ever stopping doing what I love more than anything. If I had no other fishing that I could do. It would be ok, as long as I could fish late ice, last ice.


Thursday early morning, March 16th
Fun will be what it is all about, fun, merriment and amusement for sure an,
It’s been snowing!


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Post Posted: 11:55am - Apr 2,17 
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Jim Kopjo knows some of these lakes around Hayward and today we will fish one nearby, just minutes to the North of our inn. There was issue with the snowmobile’s electric shift on this morning. It will remain trailer bound for the remainder of it.
Basin fishing is what we are doing and Jim guides us to a mid-lake point, which drops off quickly into deep water, the deepest water around. Jim and I drill out the area with like, I have no idea how many holes but if I were to say, four score and seven, you could take that as being so. Maybe not that many. And you know what’s crazy? We only needed 4 holes to last us the whole day. Any four holes would have done just fine.

There were so many hungry crappie down there.
This is the first time that I ever fished within speaking distance to Joe out of the few times that we fished together. There was no need to get away unless it was to get away from that annoying sound of our mechanical counter clickers clicking away on our fish numbers seemingly nonstop.
Every fish bit. This one time, I watched on my sonar as I dropped my jig-n-plastic from the surface to maybe eight feet off of bottom, most fish were relating to bottom in what, 24 foot of water maybe? Anyway, this one fish swimming high in the water column must have seen that presentation on its drop and all of a sudden that bird came storming down from above and just slammed that jig. I have never ever had a fish do that to me before. They storm away from me most of the time.
Didn’t I tell ya? Fun. It’s just the kind of day it is going to be.

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Post Posted: 02:30pm - Apr 2,17 
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Ten days or so before the trip, Jim asked me to bring some tip-downs for kicks. I didn’t have any tip-downs other than the two that use of my own, so I set to work and managed to get seven of them done before our trip’s departure.

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We were so busy catching fish that I had not as of yet pulled a trap out of the bag. Fish were everywhere and we were getting hit with every drop of the jig. Not pigs but a good 10 inch average. At one point I asked Joe if he was going to have to start on another clicker. He said he was only at 86 on his digits. I was at 54 and I’d say Al was somewhere near Joe’s numbers.

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It was still morningtime when we quipped, hey, we’ve caught a lot a fish, how about we leave our fish to go find some fish somewhere?
So we did.
We reloaded the machines and left the lake for another.

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Welllllll….. that didn’t work out. We gave it a good shot but the only sizable fish caught was a sagging bellied walleye that Joe caught. Al was getting a few perch. Jim and I were keeping up a fruitless hunt.
Back to the morning spot on our day’s first lake.
Our fish were still there so maybe we should do something a little different. Jim grabs the tip-down bag and says, “Let’s do this.”
I walk a large circle making my footprints draw its outline over maybe a 50 foot diameter. Then, stand a tip-down at 12.00, one at 2:00, one at 4:00, 6:00, 8:00 and one at 10:00 on the rim. We start setting rods in the stands, baiting them with minnows and the first minnow goes down. The presentation hadn’t even settled in. A crappie takes the minnow on its way down. Jim lifts the rod from its stand, the rod loads up and Jim sets the hook in him. He brings the fish up, takes the hook out of the fish’s snoot, sends it back down and “Tip Downnnn!”

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Oh boy. Are we going to be able to get all six of these set?
Oh my gosh! This gets goofy and “Tip Downnn” is getting yelled over and over for the rest of the afternoon.
I have never been crackerjack at hooking up with tip-down fish. I miss most on the hookset but no more!
I learned and I’ll share with you.

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Post Posted: 07:08pm - Apr 2,17 
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The set up consists of a #6 or #8 red Tru Turn hook, a BB shot set 10 inches above the hook and that’s it. We set the minnow half way down in 22 foot of water in order to only target the aggressive fish. Most of the crappie were relating to bottom.
When the fish takes, the rod ever so slowly tips down toward the hole in the ice. Sometimes it stops half way into the tip and then continues a full tip. Sometimes they will tip half way down and then tip back up and then tip back down but the important thing is to be on the watch. When that rod begins to tip, we found that getting to the rod quickly, before the fish feels anything, we lift the rod from the stand and let the fish load up the tip before setting the wood to him. By this fashion, we caught most of the takers but if that rod bottomed out before we got to it and we snatched and set, the hook would pop right out of their mouth. The Crappie Professor is a master of the tip-downs.

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Post Posted: 12:11pm - Apr 4,17 
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Showboating.
Showboating…. I’m so sorry that you think that.
So it will end then.
It was not my intention to bring attention to myself by writing a burdening toilsome recollection of the days leading up to and to the evening of March 18th, 2017.
I wasn’t going to write it at all but was told that I had an absolute owing duty to each and every one of you to do this. If I could get even just one of you to don a life jacket when on the ice or at least wear your pics around your neck, not in your pocket, then there would be some service here.
We had the very best final day of it that we could have ever asked for and I would much have liked telling you of it as well but no. I’ll just let it go.
My wife too asked why I was keeping the thread locked. I said I didn’t want it fuscked up before it was complete and it has been taking time to write it.
I apologize to each of you for that and I won’t waist any more of your time.

Yes, we lost our friend Joe through the ice that night.
God bless you Joe.
God bless you all.
Goodbye

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Post Posted: 01:11pm - Apr 4,17 
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Mr. Luc,
I for one appreciate your telling the tale as you did, lock and all.

It saddens me greatly to see one of us perish doing something he loved so much. It is my wish that God has taken him into his arms where he will find eternal life,

So sad.......

Nuff said.
wsj.

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Post Posted: 02:12pm - Apr 4,17 
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I think i am talking for many of us here the story is written the way it should be, and please write the rest of the story the man you are praising deserves it, and i and all would love to read it taking your time writing it is the way it should be, that way all the facts get out the way they should be and nothing forgotten. Sorry about your friend but ice fishing is a big risk and we all know it PLEASE KEEP WRITING YOUR STORY

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Post Posted: 02:22pm - Apr 4,17 
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May he Rest In Peace... I for one have learned from many of you on this site about ice safety. I always wear my Auto inflate life jacket and picks in my pockets if not around my neck. sorry for you loss...

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Post Posted: 04:07pm - Apr 4,17 
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X2 for telling the story the way you want to tell it! May your friend rest in peace and may you find some peace with the events also.

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Post Posted: 04:34pm - Apr 4,17 
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So sorry to hear. Please finish your story the way you intended, too many good posters have left this site because of critics who post nothing but blather ! :respect

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Post Posted: 04:38pm - Apr 4,17 
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agree the tale should be told as you intend it because none of us were there. Maybe there's something to be learned here for a new icefisherman just starting out........ please continue!

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Post Posted: 07:02pm - Apr 4,17 
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Any, So sorry for your loss and the trauma you have endured - both then and now. It's your story and your process. Don't let a few impatient crass people take that from you. But if your process now needs to become private, I respect that as well. The beginning of your tale sounds about as safe as ice can get. Nothing crazy, 13".....I would think about going out. My last trip north was March 3-8, 1 week before yours at about the same latitude north. I fished an area with current my first day - 12 inches. The next morning the current caused water to rise and crush my access. That fast. I went to another lake. Day 2 done. 50 deg days and 35 deg nights with 30 mile winds benched me. Sat off ice for 2 days. The last day I went to a secluded lake protected and almost went out. Spudded and sat....should I, or should I not.....Float suit on....should I? Edge was soft, but the middle looked good. Sunny and 45 degrees. My last ice. I decided to end my season on the bank. I for one want to learn what happened, not for any other reason that we all learn and grow....... and safely enjoy the sport we love. May you find peace ice brother.

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Post Posted: 07:11pm - Apr 4,17 
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Who was Joe? I tried searching on the net but was unable to find the story.

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