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Weekend Update

February 7, 2010

I’ve had a fun few days in town driving around and across the lake, talking to people about the upcoming season, and taking plenty of photos.  It has been mostly cloudy lately and it lightly snowed for part of the day today with temperatures in the upper teens and low 20s.  It looks like the sun might come out by the end of the week (after a bit of snow on Tuesday), but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Yesterday the lake was pretty busy with spearers hauling out shacks and starting to get set up.    I met a wonderful, friendly family out on the ice setting up their in ingenious “party shack” near the Quinney Quencher–I was very impressed.  I got to step inside to warm up a bit and watch the underwater camera.  I also got a chance to stop by their house to get some photos of shacks and such and saw some photos from past years.  After driving around Stockbridge and the surrounding area for awhile, I stopped by Don Ecker’s house in Stockbridge to take a look at his decoys for sale.  He had a colorful setup in his front yard and he invited me inside to take a look at even more.  He hand-carves the fish, paints and decorates them with bright colors, and adds shiny fins and a heavy weight to finish them off.  He makes a great variety of different decoys and they’re sure to attract the attention of any sturgeon swimming by–they would also make great decorations if you’re not fond of dropping yours in the water.  I would recommend stopping by for a decoy and a great story or two.   Check out this article about Don on Fox 11:  “The art of sturgeon decoys“.  Here is my new decoy, thanks Don!

The Sturgeon For Tomorrow Northern Half Chapter 28th Annual Banquet at the Darboy club was a huge success on Saturday with 423 in attendance as I noted earlier.  Many people and local companies were very generous in sponsoring the banquet and providing plenty of door prizes.  They gave away everything from spears, sturgeon clothing and accessories, and ice fishing equipment to diamond necklaces, gift certificates, and more.  The Darboy Club provided a delicious meal as always and there was great entertainment along with guests such as Ron Bruch, DNR Sturgeon Biologist.  If you missed this event, make sure you catch the next banquet coming up in March in Oshkosh.

Today was a little less busy in the areas where I was driving with my Dad and friend, but I’m guessing that had a lot to do with the weather and Super Bowl Sunday.  We came across the lake from Menasha, drove around a little, and headed up Harrison Hill.  We were told at the Calumet County boat landing that there are a few cracks splitting here and there to watch out for.  Apparently there are new ice bridges by Payne’s Point, so be careful on the ice as always and if possible, make a donation when using the bridges.  We stopped in the Fishtale Inn to get my own sturgeon spearing 2010 beer pint glass as well as get some photos of the huge sturgeon hanging on the wall.  Then it was off to the Harbor Bar to grab a bite to eat and watch the activity on the lake.  I also stopped by Vern Gebhart’s in Hilbert to take a look at some of the beautiful decoys he creates.  I found some great shacks to photograph along the way and am excited for spearers to start cutting their holes on Thursday and Friday.

The Post Crescent posted a new article today: “Sturgeon season is a religion to diehard Winnebago System sportsmen (and women)”, take a look.

I’ll be back in Milwaukee for a few days for class, but I’ll be back Friday for the start of the season with more photographers–I’m looking forward to seeing you out on the ice!  Check back for updates daily and of course photos, which I’ll be adding tonight and throughout the week.

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