65th Ice Fisheree

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Members of the McLenehan clan of Iowa and Janesville, Wis. hold up the lone finny that they had hauled in to that point on a warm Saturday morning on Gremore Lake, a largemouth bass caught on a minnow. Everyone on the lake was in good cheer throughout the event.



Warm temps greet large 

turnout for 65th Ice Fisheree

First event in 1951 gives historical perspective

By Ted Pennekamp


It was a nice weekend for the 65th Annual Ice Fisheree headquartered at the Lakeview Marina Bar on Gremore Lake north of Prairie du Chien. In fact, it felt downright balmy on Saturday with temps in the mid-40s, which had many an angler shedding some outer layers and enjoying the sunshine while jigging or watching their tip-ups.

Gremore Lake sported many more shanties and groups of smiling fishermen and fisherwomen than it has in recent memory. There were more than 200 participants on Saturday alone. 

The early board Saturday morning was adorned with several good-sized largemouth bass over three pounds, with a couple that tipped the scales above three and a half pounds, the largest of which was hauled in by a young girl. An assortment of northern pike, crappies, perch, bluegills, a walleye and a sauger were also on display. 

This being the 65th year of the Ice Fisheree, we will take a little look back at the one that started it all. The first fisheree was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and headquartered at Gremore Lake on Sunday, Jan. 28. There was a large turnout, but due to very cold temperatures and generally foul weather, the big event was extended to the following Sunday as well, giving the frozen water crowd an extra day not originally planned.

“Fishing, wishing and freezing are the big topics for the VFW fishing carnival Sunday, Jan. 28,” said a preview article in the Wednesday, Jan. 24 edition of The Courier. “Gremore Lake, site of the big affair, has excellent ice and the past snows make walking easier. Many fine awards have been obtained by the prize committee of the local Tyler-Portwine Post.”

“Competition will start at 10 a.m. central standard time and no cheating as during duck season will be allowed,” the story continued. “Holes may be opened any time before the signal gun sounds. No lines will be allowed until the official time. Fish will be weighed not measured so load them with shot and the judges will have to clean them for you to prove elimination. Don’t do it on the small ones though.”  

The story went on to say, “Hot lunches will be served in the warming shanty and river bottom anti-freeze for fish or man will probably be prevalent in the vicinity.”

“Awards for the heaviest game fish will be a rod and reel tackle box with assorted baits. Heaviest sunfish will take home a fly rod, reel and assorted flies. Catcher of the crappie tipping the scales the hardest will lug a minnow bucket, spud, hunting knife and some baits. Second places will be given in each division. The first fish pulled in will warrant a spud.”

The Jan. 31 article in The Courier stated, “A nice turnout braved the elements for awhile then headed for the warm-up shack for coffee and quarters next to the stove.”

“J.R. Hood of Patch Grove caught the first and biggest fish for the day. Nice fourteen inch largemouth bass of 1 lb., 7 oz. and not stuffed with shot either.”

“Dick Markham showed his dad George the right way by the use of the worm. His large sunny will take an award for sure unless they start bringing them up the size of plates.”

It was noted in the Feb. 7 edition that J.R. Hood took honors for the largest fish. Joe Costgriff of Interstate Power took several places in both game and sunny class. Chuck Kezel won the award for the nicest looking set.

In his regular column on Feb. 7, Bill Howe noted, “Luck was generally poor if you were one of those hapless chaps who chopped holes all day Sunday. Saturday the ice below the roller gates was opening up for a fair number of walleyes and sand pike. These Sabbath sportsmen worked hot and hard for the small catches taken anywhere. Gremore was poor and has been most of the season. Pickerel Slough was hitting on crappies though nothing to make headlines. The biggest congregation of men was at the dam as per usual. Counts ranged from 112 to 163 at different times during the day.”

All in all, the Sabbath anglers who partook in the first ever Prairie du Chien Ice Fisheree on consecutive Sundays in January and February 1951 obviously found it to be quite worthwhile, and thus, it has continued unabated for the past 65 years and counting. 

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