- Fun to catch fish through the ice in a new way: “FISH ON!”
- Ever use the ice as a live well? Learn why. Catch, Care, Release.
- Walking (running) on the ice to a raised Flag…an Adventure!
By Jason Houser
When you think of ice fishing for big trout, the last place you probably expect to drop a line in Milwaukee. If you haven’t experienced fishing with the Milwaukee skyline as a backdrop, you are missing out.
Getting the call from Pat Kalmerton, owner of Wolf Pack Adventures, stating he had a cancellation for a couple of days was all I needed to hear. I dropped what I was doing and pointed the truck north from my home in southern Illinois. My wife Lotte was quick to start packing, and my nephew Jordan Blair quickly jumped on board too.
Arriving in Wisconsin, the cold temperatures and snow on the ground screamed ice fishing. It was a restless night as we anticipated with hope what the following day would bring.
Winding our way through the streets of Milwaukee, we could only hope our GPS was taking us to where we were supposed to be. After a few stoplights, we spotted waves bashing against a rock wall. Then there it was, the marina had ice, and ice shanties were visible in the distance.
Parking the truck, we made the short walk to the Wolf Pack crew that already had their Frabill shacks in place, and the heaters were putting out enough heat to stay comfortable from the brutal elements outside. Tip-ups belonging to numerous anglers dotted the ice, all with the hopes of a flag-waving proudly to signal a bite in the near future.
With an explanation from Tyler Chisholm, Jordan Bradley, and Jerrad Kalmerton what to expect throughout the morning, we went to face Mother Nature to get our rigs baited. Our bait was going to be one of two things: shrimp or eggs that were milked from previously caught and released trout.
Having our bait lowered to the proper depth, it was just a matter of waiting. If you like to toss a football, there is no better time to do it than when you are waiting for a tip-up to spring to life. Or, maybe grilling a burger on a portable grill better suits your taste. Within 30 minutes, shouts of “FISH ON” came from our guides.
As they ran to the flag, we southerners gingerly made our way to the hole. Not wanting to lose the fish, they set the hook on a fish as they patiently waited for our safe arrival. I’m sure a few jokes were made on our behalf, but at least we didn’t fall.
My nephew Jordan was first up to bat. Having never ice fished before, he was anxious to pull a fish through the ice. Jerrad and Tyler did a great job coaching him as he worked the big trout to the surface. When they realized Jordan was a little too forceful with the fish, they got him to calm down. After a few minutes of reeling and lifting, a glimmer of silver showed right below the hole in the ice.
It was easy to realize that this was a nice trout. Within seconds, a nice Brown Trout emerged from the hole. The fish was quickly taken to a live well that had been chiseled into the ice. This would be done to allow us to get the fish in water and prevent the fins from freezing, a critical practice for catch and release intentions. Then, it was a simple task to take some fun photos of the fish, as time allowed, before releasing it back into the chilly depths of the big lake.
The action continued for the next couple hours as we caught brown trout and steelhead. By noon, we were ready to pull our lines to get someplace that was a little warmer. The shack was heated, but with all the action we were having throughout the morning, a seemingly permanent chill invaded our bodies. Our hands received the brute of the punishment from wanting to get first-hand instruction on baiting the hooks and holding big chilly fish.
Throughout the course of the day, we were able to witness eggs being harvested from big trout and then releasing the fish to be caught again sometime in the future. This practice is something I have never seen or even heard of before, but it is special. It is a sustainability practice. The care that was taken with the fish to ensure survival was something I will never forget. It was a great reminder that fishing isn’t about filling the freezer, but about enjoying the catch, keeping enough for a meal, and releasing the rest.
Wolf Pack Adventures is based out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and offers ice fishing for other species, including whitefish, walleye, panfish, and more. Fishing out of one of their many boats from spring through fall is another option for anglers looking to land walleye, trout, salmon, musky, and more. And, if turkey hunting suits your fancy, they do that too.