Cold weather does not hamper ice anglers

It should come as no surprise for winter outdoor enthusiasts.
In the case for those who enjoy ice fishing - and that group is expansive, the timeless mantra hits home. The colder the better.
And it was cold on Lake Tomah this past Saturday for the Tomah Warrens Sportsmen's Alliance Fisharee. Single digits cold. Bone chilling cold. Countless layers of winter clothing cold.
But as Mike Brown, one of the event organizers pointed out, "This was one of our better turnouts. We set up a few more tarps (where fish were registered and food was served). We are running a few more (propane) heaters and we have three fire pits."
And they were popular spots the entire day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And as Brown quipped, they were selling warm beer. Compared to 2020 temperatures neared the balmy mark of 30 degrees. Plus less snow made for an icy, slippery Lake Tomah. Ice cleats were common footwear last year.
Not the case this year. There was certainly ample ice, but an equally ample snow pack. The reduced the need for cleats, but made for an ideal cardio workout walking through that snow.
But for one large group that featured nine ice shanties, grilled brats, plenty of warm and cold beer, a crackling fire and a little Fireball whiskey for additional warmth, they did not have to venture too far from their base camp.
The group was a mix of Tomah and Sparta residents/co-workers with friends from Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids and Neenah. As one of the group members pointed out, their numbers were down this year due to the cold.
In years past it is generally more inclusive for their children. Scattered around the "camp" just off the Lake Tomah shoreline behind the former Tomah hospital were several tip-ups.
For some additional visual assistance the tip-ups were marked with cattails, but any kind of stick would work just as well, according to Tom Palmateer of Tomah.
Chris Palmateer from Neenah said the group arrived on site around 7 a.m. to prep their spot. A long day? Not with the proper attire and camp preparation. They had a nice bonfire burning atop the ice and as was pointed out, there was no concern the warmth would radiate through approximately 17 inches of ice.
By some weird chance that did occur, the group joked they would possibly consider their own polar plunge event later in the day.
The fish biting was kind of slow around 11:30 a.m. at their site, it was noted. But they did not appear too concerned at the time. Plenty of stories to share and brats to eat.

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