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Stories from the River

A Great Place to Take the Kids Ice Fishing

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Wisconsin now has safe water on all the major ice fishing lakes in the Madison Chain of Lakes and surrounding lakes. There’s not such a thing as 100 % safe. One of my don’ts for early ice fishing is not to take the children out fishing on “first ice and the first few weeks after because of the safety factor. I have always believed that you, besides being a fisherman, are also a father who should always have your children’s safety at the forefront. Wait until you are sure that the ice is safe and to me, safe is at least 5 or 6 inches. Besides having solid and thick ice, you should keep the children away from pressure creaks, any feeder creeks and streams, warm water discharges, and any moving water. Keep them close to you when fishing and try to make it as enjoyable as possible.

There’s a certain amount of responsibility when taking young kids on the ice. Don’t just set up your ice shelter and start fishing. Take the time to show the youngsters how you’re fishing and show them the proper use of the equipment that they are using and include a little talk about ice safety. Catching fish is one of the most important elements when taking kids ice fishing. This is why the first few outings with children should be to lakes and ponds where there are abundant fish that the kids can regularly catch. You can see the joy and excitement in your child’s face after they catch a few fish on their own.

One good spot to take the kids in southern Wisconsin is to Brittingham Park in downtown Madison’s Triangle area. The local fishing club, the Yahara Fishing Club, had an ice fishing jamboree every winter and this year it was a couple of weeks ago. The Club gives away fishing rods, buckets, and other gear to all the kids who came to learn and improve their ice99999999999 skills. It’s been proven time and time again that you have to start children when they’re young or they’ll be lost to fishing forever. Brittingham Park and nearby Monona Bay are locations where panfish, mainly bluegills and crappies, can be caught regularly by children. The fish are on the small side, but there are also some “good” keepers that would keep anyone satisfied and fit most frying pans. Most bluegills are in the 5 to 7 inch range with a few in excess of 8 inches, which I consider to be a decent or “keeper” bluegill. The crappies average 8 to 9 inches with the bigger fish around 10 inches. There’s also are the odd largemouth bass or northern pike that also can be caught. But, panfish are the most abundant species and bite most of the time, if you keep moving from hole to hole. There are so many holes that you can get by without an auger, just by fishing holes drilled by other anglers.

The nice thing about fishing Brittingham Park and Lake Monona is that; 1) there is a parking lot close to the ice and the walk is not too far for children. 2) There’s plenty of fish for the kids to catch and they usually bite consistently. 3) You don’t need any fancy equipment to catch these fish. A light and sensitive rod and reel with a spring bobber on the tip to detect light bites, an assortment of ice jigs for pan fish, wax worms or spikes for bait, and a 5 gallon pail to sit on is all that is needed to catch some fish. 4) You will catch some keeper fish, so the kids can eat some of what they catch and also something learn something about cleaning fish plus the important practice of catch and releasing fish.

No matter where you live, there are places like this where you can take the kids to catch some fish and learn something about ice fishing. Take the children to a place where they will have some fishing success and hopefully get hooked on fishing. Madison’s Lake Monona and the Triangle around Brittingham Park are the spots to take that child of yours on a nice sunny day. Make the day fun and enjoyable and you may have a fishing partner for life.


   Contacts; D and S Bait, Madison, Wi. (608) 241-4225

                     Wally Banfi (608) 644-9823

                     Gary Engberg (608) 795-4208

                     Wilderness Fish and Game store (608)-642-2433

                      True Value Hardware, Sauk City, Wi. (608) -3321.



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