Submit your Email to receive the On Wisconsin Outdoors Newsletter.

Our Sponsors:

Daves Turf and Marine

Kwik Trip

Dick Ellis Blog:
3/8/2019
With Spring Turkey season just around the corner, Henry USA sent us a video now posted on our homepage that I know you’ll get a kick out of. The point is though, young hunters and smaller hunters won’t get a kick out of it at all. The wait for a gobbler can be too long to question whether or not you’re packing the right turkey load when he does show up (Dick Ellis Photo) Henry wanted to test the viability of their beautiful ...
...Read More or Post a Comment Click Here to view all Ellis Blogs

OWO

Waukesha Truck Accessory store and service, truck bed covers, hitches, latter racks, truck caps

Kwik Trip

OWO

Kwik Trip

OWO

OWO

OWO and Kwik Trip

OWO and Kwik Trip

OWO

OWO and Kwik Trip

OWO

/Content/files/Sponsors/Summer.jpg

OWO

OWO

Kwik Trip

Kwik Trip

Kwik Trip

/Content/files/Sponsors/BuckysBanner-nov-dec2012.png

Bob's Bear Bait

OWO and Kwik Trip

Kwik Trip

OWO and Kwik Trip

Kwik Trip

OWO

/Content/files/Sponsors/AdvertiseBrown.png

OWO

OWO

A Different Look At Fishing With The USA Ice Fishing Team

A whole new meaning to bringing home the trophy

It’s estimated that there are just shy of two million ice fishermen across the United States. Of those, only five will be part of the USA Ice Fishing Team that will compete in the Ice Fishing World Championship in Finland next February.

Open trials were held in Rhinelander during the third weekend in March, but this isn’t the type of ice fishing that most are used to. These guys are fishing with one-pound test line and palm rods … and without the luxury of power augers and shanties. If they don’t catch fish in a matter of minutes, or, sometimes seconds, they’re on the move. As coach Brian Gaber says, “It’s more than just fishing.” Twelve dedicated fishermen from all across the Midwest showed up to test their skills in hopes of representing the United States.

Gaber has been the coach since 2010 and coordinated the tryouts. With a background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), he does the tactical game planning for the team and is able to map lake bottoms and determine where the fish are. He also puts together a pretty intense tryout for the group each year.

It started with heats on Friday to determine physical ability. Cones were spaced out over 100 yards, and the competitors had to drill 10 holes on the way down and 10 on the way back through the three feet of ice that remained on area lakes. The fastest was cruising along at approximately 4.5 minutes. Brian cautions that “the physical side scares a lot of guys away from trying out.”

They then transitioned toward head-to-head fishing, where the fishermen competed one-on-one against each other in a designated location on the lake. Part of the challenge is that they have to move each time they catch a fish to get them on the move, similar to international competition.

Lastly, they held count heats, which are comparable to the actual international competition that they will see. All of the fishermen are turned loose in a zone marked by cones and they see who can catch the most fish. All fish count. They generally pursue panfish and catch them as small as one inch, using the finesse of their palm rods. This weekend they were mostly after perch. The coaches tally the fish and they are released. After one hour, the leader had 17 fish and the winner on Crescent Lake finished with almost 40 fish in two hours. Then they were off to Washburn Lake to do the same thing.

Another way this isn’t like your run of the mill fishing is that there are strict penalties. You can’t be within five meters of a competitor, leave a rod unattended and have to watch your auger placement. Any penalty will result in a yellow card and the fisherman’s catch will be zeroed out in that grid.

Countries involved in the Ice Fishing World Championships take it extremely seriously. Gaber says that countries like Russia and Poland often have over 100,000 fishermen try out for their teams. Some take it so seriously that even competitive ice fishing is prone to performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). According to Gaber, “The Lithuania bronze medal team from 2013 tested positive for PEDs and will have to forfeit their medals, making the U.S. team the bronze medal winners.”

When asked what the secret is to making the team, Brian says, “If you love to fish and love to compete, we’ll teach you the rest.” He goes on to say that “making the team is more than just being able to drill holes and catch the most fish. We’re looking for those that can live by the code of conduct, deal with adversity, think on their toes and make good team players.”

All of these fishermen have day jobs as well. Many are guides or charter boat captains. Others work in industry and several are parents. Most live a normal life, but they all have one thing in common: they want to be the best ice fisherman in the world. In order to do that, they will have to improve upon their 12th place finish in Belarus during the 2014 Ice Fishing World Championships. Gaber says they’ve already made adjustments and the guys that they have out here now “are already looking better at this point than we did last year at the same time.”

As soon as the ice conditions are ready in northern Wisconsin next winter, you can be sure they’ll be out there practicing and making plans to bring back a medal from Finland. If you want to track the team or try out next year, follow them at www.usaiceteam.com.

Jim Servi is an outdoor writer, educator, consultant and a Local Field Director for the US Sportsmen’s Alliance. He is currently serving in the US Army Reserves and is a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. This lifestyle gives him maximum time to hunt, fish, and trap everything that is fair game in Wisconsin. Jim lives in the middle of the woods on the family farm outside Wausau with his wife and two boys. Contact Jim at Jimservi10@gmail.com.


OWO

Perennial USA Ice Team member Myron Gilbert shows off his big catch.

OWO

Anglers compete to see who can catch the most fish within the designated fishing zone on Crescent Lake in Rhinelander.

OWO

Using the finesse of the palm rod, Bob Esbensen feels for the light bite.