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I haven't wrote anything for a while, but every now and then I do get some reader mail out of the blue that kind of drags me out of hibernation long enough to put a post together. I made my first trip out on the ice this past weekend, which isn't that surprising since I tend to get a later start than everyone else. If you know me from previous years, you can probably guess my target species. Need a hint? Rhymes with whitefish.

I was out there with my father and his friends saturday afternoon in about 25-30 feet of water give or take. There was shove ice just a little further than where we were that was creating a double-layer of ice underwater, so drilling a hole was a game of chance. Despite some exploratory holes in a little deeper water, we ended up sticking with the first set we drilled.

Now, whitefish can make you look like a much better fisherman than you are, or make you look terrible. There's only a few variables that really seem to make a difference as far as your tackle, so once you've had a little bit of experience it's easy to have the right selection of baits to try. Sometimes you just can't account for location, however. I've had days where I limited out but they guys 20 feet away weren't catching anything while doing the exact same thing. This weekend, we were those guys.

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A fisherman about 25 yards away was catching fish left and right until finally limiting out at 4 p.m. At this point, we had only caught maybe one or two between the four of us. It was rough fishing. I could tell my dad was considering packing things up before I finally got my first fish of the day. To say it was a small one would be an understatement, but sometimes when it gets a little later you hit a flurry of action. Over the next hour and a half, I added six more to surprisingly salvage the trip. Dad's buddies added another five but he himself was skunked. This is a rarity for sure, but it just goes to show you that you can be an expert one day and spend the next day staring at a hole for five hours.

I didn't take any photos, but trust me. Whitefish look exactly the same as they did last year, and the year before that, and so on...

If I don't get a chance to blog before my son is born, have a safe time out on the ice! Don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Brian Swagel blogs about fishing in Northeast Wisconsin. Brian is a born-again fisherman rediscovering the thrill of Wisconsinís waters and woods.

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