SPRING GREEN — Most ice anglers do not give much thought to scouting winter fishing holes, but Buddy Hynek of the Richland County community of Lone Rock planned ahead when he relocated from La Crosse to southwest Wisconsin.
He had moved into an unfamiliar area, at least as far as ice fishing went. When ice began to form on water this year, Hynek first returned to his familiar haunts in the La Crosse area, where he knew there would be safe ice and reasonably good fishing.
When small lakes and Wisconsin River backwaters began to freeze up, he started forgoing the two-hour drive northwest and added that time to his local outings.
“I get out as much as I can,” he said. “At least twice a week. This week it’s been four times.”
Open-water summer fishing has been Hynek’s best scouting method.
“I’m over 18 feet of water now, but the fish aren’t biting like they were yesterday afternoon,” he said on a recent day out on the ice. “I guess I was wrong to come this morning or maybe it’s just the fish. Over there where those guys are fishing it’s 27 feet deep. We’ve got just enough ice, about 3 to 4 inches. Anything less and I’m not going to be here.”
While Hynek is still learning where and how to fish the waters in Dane and Iowa counties, he’s ahead of the game when it comes to morel mushrooms. He found lots of them last spring, he said.
“I had a pretty good year this spring, but a lot of guys didn’t do so good,” he said.
On this December day the waxworms Hynek was using were attracting black crappies. As he continued to fish Hynek recalled ice fishing with his dad and being sent to find goldenrod galls, a poor-man’s panfish bait.
“If you buy right, most ice fishing gear should last a lifetime,” he said.
When Hynek’s brother, who works in the printing business, calls for assistance, all bets are off and Hynek heads to Spring Green or Richland Center to help instead of heading home to Lone Rock.
As Hynek continued to fish, so did Chris Hardy, who lives in the nearby community of Arena. He had landed one perch and four bluegills.
Hardy said he has two outdoors loves, ice fishing and bowhunting.
“I hunt and fish for the meat,” he said. “I took one doe this fall and that’s enough for the family, along with the fish I catch on the ice. Just fillet them and cook them, it’s that easy.”
Hardy processes his own deer, including making brats and bologna.
Most early ice anglers carry a spud and an auger and were not interested in close company, but were scattered across the lake. Travis Kaul, of Lone Rock, led a group of five anglers, but only two had their fishing gear with them.
The others seemed to be ready, if necessary, to make a quick exit in the event of hearing the ice talk back to them.
Davis is an outdoors writer who lives in Barneveld.