Crazy times on Little Bay de Noc

Melting ice that became thick enough to hold a truck pulling a trailer with an ATV in it, bitter cold, no fish, big walleyes, new friends and camping on the frozen waters of Upper Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc are what this week’s column is all about.

Friday, March 10

High 9, Low Minus-3

My 25-year-old stepson, Travis Dushek, is an absolutely go-for-it outdoorsman and as I would find out this weekend so is his girlfriend, Hannah Lindemann. Last night after work these two drove up to Gladstone, Mich., and arrived about 1 a.m.

The weather was brutal with an air temperature of about 5 degrees and, with an insane wind blowing, Travis and Hannah did some crazy stuff. Travis drilled holes from shore about every 25 yards until he was certain that the ice was good enough to drive their SUV on it.

This was a tricky deal but Travis and Hannah were hoping to catch a big walleye and they were hitting the ice at walleye primetime on this body of water.

These two had a large, sleeper ice shack to put up and a lot of trouble with the wind and only two people to put it up in brutal conditions in the dark.

Next, you have myself driving up to Gladstone to meet these two on a five-hour drive but during daylight hours. The big story was that we had a sustained 25-30-mph wind with gusts to 50.

My local informant told me when I hit the ice that we had to set up camp about 600 yards from where Travis and Hannah were, so we moved their camp and put up my sleeper shack as well and this job was a challenge.

Next to arrive was my buddy, Jeff Moll, for this 48-hour, go-for- it adventure. Naturally, Mr. Moll arrived when camp was set up, the propane lights were running and the shack was heated!

Just before dark we each had our three tip-ups out and were really excited when we met one of our weekend neighbors, Wayne Bingham. Wayne is from the DeForest area and as we would find out an incredibly avid fisherman and really fun guy.

Wayne was set up with his group of six, including Steve Patterson, Shane Patterson, Kelsey Kippert, Owen Trainor and Anna Toppel all of the DeForest area. Though their shacks were a good 400 yards away, we heard a lot of laughing, hooting and hollering, even though the first half of this weekend the walleye bite was nonexistent.

Like true “Ice Warriors,” most of us stayed up very late and Hannah seemed to have a blast under frigid conditions.

Saturday, March 11

High 6, Low Minus-14

All day today, the wind kept blowing, the thermometer did not hit 10 and the bite was nonexistent. That is until our neighbors moved their camp about 600 yards in the middle of the afternoon and we then heard lots of laughter and what appeared to be picture taking.

We went over to talk with them and would meet Kelsey Kippert who is a young lady who was having a blast and on a roll. I think she ended up with three walleyes and a 30-inch northern pike today. From about two hours before dark until an hour before it got light (5 a.m.) we all shared stories and laughs, and loved the brutally cold weather and comfort of our shacks.

Wayne and Steve are in their late 40s, early 50s and the leaders of this group. My guess is they are probably the best fishermen that I have ever met and I am saying that by the photos on their cameras and the many stories that they have.

Wayne likes to laugh and hoot and dance a little but let me tell ya these guys catch huge fish all over Wisconsin and lots of them.

We talked a lot about mentoring and how Steve helped Wayne become a hard-core outdoorsman, I helped Travis become a nut job, “I mean hard-core outdoorsman,” and how Hannah’s dad helped her to find the love she has for outdoor adventures.

All of us were sad to see winter coming to an end and my guess is that we will meet again!


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