Jim Bennett

Last week’s column was putting 2020 to bed so it makes sense that this week’s column will be looking ahead to 2021. Staying away from politics but still aware of the Corona virus I’ve already witnessed an increase of ice fishing pressure on area lakes which is simply a fun way to practice social distancing without wearing a mask. The worst part was to newer snowmobiles with their higher technology engines that roared like giant mosquitoes trying to blow your ears out. 

So how has fishing been so far? Early reports from local bait shops are fantastic but that’s to be expected! On the ice has been another story. On days friends and relatives have been out it’s been the Dead Sea on a handful of lakes both big and popular as well as secondary lakes. I’m not giving up but an old memory surfaced from years ago regarding a lady named Gen who once ran a bait shop on Hwy. 46 called Gens Bait Shop. I’d often stop there to get bait as I headed north and to get the best and most recent fishing information. She was the best ever for hot spot accuracy and her prediction that I witnessed annually.

She once told me that you could predict ice fishing success by comparing it to your summer fishing success. If you had a great summer fishing expect a bad winter on the ice. If you had problems catching fish during the summer then you can look forward to great ice fishing. I’ve found Gen to have been amazingly true over the years although there is no logical explanation for it that I can think of. Having been a former fishing guide and involved with fishery research with the Wisconsin DNR I know a bit about fishing adding over 60 years of personal time angling in the water and on ice.

So far Gen’s been right on because I had a fantastic summer. This year’s early first hand reports on a big time lakes popular crappie hole are that it’s dead. Not only were no fish being caught but electronics were not even showing any fish in the area. I watched people fishing along a 1000 yards of shoreline on another lake and not a single fish was caught on the cribs. I spent hours on another big time lake where I drilled enough holes to make it look like Swiss cheese while watching anglers all over the bay went fishless except for an occasional tip up pike and most of them looked small!

But let me state that this is just an “In General” statement. I do believe and know that I will have some good to excellent days on the ice. So far Gen’s been right on although her bait shop is long gone her theory is still hooked in my mind. That’s because so far after fishing 3 famous popular lakes I’ve only caught three small crappies, barely keepers and I’ve only been after panfish while throwing back a few tiny fish. I’m just about ready to hit the ice today and further test Gen’s Theory! Stay tuned.


Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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