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On the Ice, Mid-Winter 2023

Yep, I have still been on the ice, have been on it as much as possible.  I will give you a quick report of what I have been catching. . . .

I have been out in different parts of the state a couple of times.  Spent a couple hours one evening on a spot, and managed one of these!

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Then of course, I could only catch one.  Walleyes through the ice can be frustrating.  I would tell you that most of them I have caught have been like this fish–aggressive, not hard to trigger at all (many of you already noticed the bait, I know you did).  Then, you would think there would be another or three, but that was it.  For a moment though, it all came together.

I helped with our on-ice clinic at Ft. Kearny.  Let’s just say the trout were very cooperative.  I got on a couple of hot holes and for a while caught the put-and-take rainbows as fast as I could get my line back down the hole.  I know, I know, none of those fish were very big, but a couple were particularly purdy!

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Some of you are looking close at that photo.  Again, you can see exactly what bait I was using.

As I am typing this, I can tell you ice conditions in southeast Nebraska are deteriorating.  There may not be much more ice fishing in the SE corner of the state.  However, having said that, I have been around enough to know that you do not have to go very far north and west and conditions are a lot different.  I have seen some parts of the state where I am betting there are going to be anglers on the ice for some time yet.

I made a quick trip to one of those areas.  Had just an evening and one day to fish, but touched a few yellow perch!

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Whoops.  Looks like I showed my bait again.  Look close.

It appears that I am destined to not get a photo of a nice ice crappie this winter.  Oh I have caught some, but skipped taking pictures.  I dried off some nice crappies again last week, but the weather was so cold that I got those fish back down the hole ASAP.  So far I guess this is the best crappie photo I have, one I caught “live, on-air”!

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Then I have a bit of a sad story to tell. . . .

If you see anyone throwing rocks on the ice, please kick ’em in the butt for me.  I was drilling a hole on one of our heavily-used reservoirs here in SE Nebraska.  There had been rocks thrown on the ice near shore.  I looked close before I started drilling.  Unfortunately, the ice was cloudy and the ole K-Drill was a couple of inches in when it came to a sudden stop.  I quit drilling immediately suspecting what had happened.

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AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

I looked at the blades, they did not appear to have any damage.  Drilled a few more holes that day and the next.  It still drilled, but something just was not right.  Taking a closer look I saw the problem.

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Sheared that bolt right off.  The broken end was stuck in the shaft, and I could not get it out.

Talking to the manufacturer I decided to send it to them, and they quickly removed the broken end and returned it.  As soon as I find a replacement bolt, my electric drill will be back in action.

In the meantime, I was the guy starting up the old gas auger a couple of days!

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You might be able to tell; I was drilling 17+ inches of ice there.  I was glad to have the ole Jiffy running again!  But, man, is that thing heavy, especially lugging it around in the 4-8 inches of packed snow that was on top of the ice!  Those were some of the toughest conditions I have ice-fished in the past several years, but I still caught fish!

All fish mentioned in this blog post were caught and released (yes, even the put-and-take trout).

Do not think I am done ice-fishing yet.  Stay tuned.

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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