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TV Ice Fishing

A couple of days ago I told you that last week was a busy week, and I told you about one of the things that made it busy–the MidWest Fish & Widlife Conference.  During that conference I took a break to do an orientation session with a couple of our new commissioners here at the Game & Parks Commission, and then I headed out of town to help with another little project. . . .

I have referred to some of Jason Mitchell’s articles and other educational materials here on my blog a few times.  His tips and information on fishing equipment and tactics are spot on, excellent, and very well done.  Do not give me the line that all he fishes is North Dakota and other waters far from Nebraska–fishing is fishing, and the man knows his stuff.  A couple of months ago, Jason called me and we had a couple of very enjoyable phone conversations.  I love to talk fishing with just about anyone.

Recently, one of my Nebraska fishing buddies was contacted by Jason Mitchell because Jason wanted to come south and film some Nebraska ice-fishing!  My presence was requested and I told them I would do everything I could to fit that into my schedule.  I caught up with them in Valentine Tuesday evening last week.  When I met them for supper, the crew had been on a sandhill lake all day filming, had dried off some big bluegills and got video of them.  Apparently, there was one big crappie that got caught too, a 15-inch fish that they were talking about when I met them Tuesday night.  They were still talking about that fish when they left to go back home.  I am betting there is a big, Nebraska crappie that is going to be a movie star when the Nebraska ice-fishing episodes finally air.  I do not have a picture of that fish, but I can tease you with a bluegill picture that was posted on the Jason Mitchell Outdoors FaceBook page:

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Filming continued on Wednesday and Thursday.  We were back on the sandhill lake Wednesday morning, after 8 inches of snow fell that night!  I can tell you this, last week anyway, there were parts of Nebraska where spring was still a long ways away–8 inches of new snow on top of what was already there, temps. just below zero, and 18 inches of ice!

There are a lot of logistics to filming a TV fishing show and believe me, it ain’t all fun and games–there is a lot of work involved.  We had fishing gear and camera equipment for two camera guys and at least four guys fishing.  In the cold temperatures, wind, and snow, there were some challenges.  The camera guys were only able to get their drone in the air for a few minutes Wednesday morning; most of the rest of the time there was way too much Nebraska wind to do that.  Let me tell you, the two camera guys, Nate and Taylor, were excellent and darned hard workers!

They wanted to finish up taping on the sandhill lake Wednesday morning; we hit the ice there, scattered and started fishing.  Had to be quiet while they filmed Jason.

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Wanted some footage of trudging through virgin snow:

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A couple, three fish were dried off that morning, but mostly they just needed to finish filming a variety of on-camera interviews.  They even stuck me in front of the camera and I rambled for a bit.

After a quick lunch of some brats and chips on the tailgate of a pickup (thanks Dave!), they wanted footage of something different, some reservoir crappies.  So, then it was off to Merritt!

Again, there was some effort and logistics to get everyone and all their equipment out to where we could catch some fish.

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After the fresh snow, I expected that the bite would be tough and it was.  New holes might produce a handful of fish, and that was usually it.  Then it was on to the next spot, drill a bunch more holes, through 22 inches of ice on Merritt, and scratch a few more fish.  Rinse, repeat, drill, fish. . . . During actual filming, Jason and one, maybe two other guys would fish in front of the camera.  The rest of us had to be quiet and in fact might as well scatter to try to find more fish.  We were kind of the “scout team”, and we went far.

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Some flopped down for a quick power nap.

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Coyotes started howling up in those hills, and suddenly Don could not sleep anymore.

Late on Wednesday, I even managed to scout out one nice crappie.

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Don Cox photo. Thanks Don!

We were back on the ice Thursday, needed just a few more fish on tape!  The fishing/filming group went back to that spot where I caught the nice crappie Wednesday evening, but nothing going there Thursday morning.  We kept moving, kept drilling, kept fishing.

Then the wind kicked up and the snow started blowing.  It made everything just that much harder.

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Jason and the camera guys trying really hard to get a crappie to bite.

Finally, the wind and blowing snow got to the point where we needed to take a break, re-group, and figure out how they were going to finish taping.  It was back to the tailgate for some brats and dogs again!

Fortunately, the temperature climbed enough and the wind died just enough that the snow quit blowing, and the film crew was able to go back up-reservoir and get the taping done that they needed.  A couple of the “boys” and I got dropped off on a spot that had shown some promise, so we commenced to fishing hard.  It never was fast, but we managed to dry off a few, just not many of the crappies that were in demand for taping.

Oh well, Zack with a nice walleye.

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For a short period we marked some fish suspended way off the bottom.  Turned out they were channel cats.  I watched my depth-finder screen as this one came and ate my wax-worm-tipped spoon.

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Thanks for the photo, Tristen and Zack!

I would have felt pretty smart about catching that cat, if Tristen had not just dried-off one that was a lot bigger!

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32 inches. Caught and released!

We hooked and lost a couple more big fish, most likely more kitty cats.

I believe Jason and his crew were happy with the taping they got done, and I believe there may be enough for inclusion in a couple of episodes.  I was told that they will not run until next ice season, so we will have to wait to see them.  When I find out they can be viewed, you better believe you will see it here on my blog.  Until then, be sure to check out the Jason Mitchell Outdoors YouTube page in addition to the main web page and FaceBook page to which I have already provided links.  You will enjoy all of their media and learn something while you are at it!

It was a privilege that I was able to represent Nebraska and our fisheries with another outdoors TV program.  I was glad that I could help, and of course I am always up for doing some fishing!  I thoroughly enjoyed not only the time on the water with everyone, but also the time talking, and telling stories both on the water and in the evenings.  I hope we can get Jason Mitchell back to film some more Nebraska fishing!

If you hang around with a bunch of hard-core anglers, you will find that we are not big on posing for pictures unless we are holding a fish in our hands.  We ain’t a sentimental bunch.  But, on the last day, we got everyone to pose in front of some pickup lights for a quick photo op.

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Thanks for the photo, Don!  From left to right, Dave F., Jason Mitchell, Tristen C., Don C., Zack C., and well, me.  Not in the photo were the hard-working camera guys, Taylor and Nate.

After another beautiful day in paradise!

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About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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