By: Raymond Tiffany
Ah summer, time for fun! Fishing, hiking, boating, swimming, and let’s not forget camping. Setting up the tent or camper, one with nature, the sounds, the smells….. Let’s not forget the bugs, the heat, and the crowds.
I wanted to introduce you to a different style of camping that is out there to enjoy. One most would never think of, yet can be just as, if not more fun than the traditional thinking when it comes to what camping is. Welcome to the world of the ice camp.
This past January, I had an idea to take our canvas wall tent, adjust the anchoring system, and set out to camp for an entire week in Northwestern Wisconsin. Not in a campground, field, or remote wooded area, but right there on the ice on Long Lake!
I had my schedule set, the truck was loaded, only a few more stops, and I’m on my way. At least that was what my plan was, and like every time I plan an adventure, I fell way behind schedule. By the time I reached my destination lake, it was dark, late, and a snow storm had moved in making the task of setting camp with an untested, unproven method a serious challenge, especially alone.
Two and a half hours later, the camp was finally struck, lanterns were glowing bright, wood stove was crackling and sharing it’s warmth, and I was ready to settle in to rest and plan the next morning’s fishing adventure.
I set my alarm to go off every three hours so that I could re-kindle and stoke the wood burner. There is nothing worse or that will suck the motivation out of you faster than to wake up to 20 degrees or colder outside of your sleeping bag.
The next morning, I was able to assess the quality of the camp that I had struck in the dark, in a snowstorm, having only the truck and two 4 wheeler’s headlights to illuminate my area. To my surprise, it was perfect! Some hot oatmeal and a couple cups of heated up, pre-made coffee; I was now ready to fish.
[A beautiful morning to assess the camp and head out in search of fish. Notice how secluded it was. Now I was camping!]
The fishing was incredible! Bass, perch, walleye, bluegill, crappie… They were all ready to bite what I had tied to the line. I had an incredible comfort in knowing at any given moment, if I got cold or for any other reason, camp was only minutes away. I strategically set camp on top of a primary hump in the lake also, that way if the weather got nasty, I didn’t miss fishing, and I only installed half of the wall tent’s floor so I could fish right inside the tent itself.
Fish fry every night, all the comforts of any summer time camp, secluded and left alone to enjoy what mother nature has to offer in her fullest extent. I was in Heaven. This was by far, one of the best ideas I had had in quite some time and has changed my perspective on not only camping, but camping “season” as well.
I don’t remember the last time I had a week of camping go by so fast. I mean, they all go by quickly, but this was over in an instant. Leaving me with many memories, some awesome photos, and a mindset of planning the following years ice camp. Now that the experimental trip is past and I have an understanding of what to expect, it’s time to invite other friends and family to join me in this adventure. I would recommend that any outdoor enthusiast, especially ice fisherman, give ice camping a try. I truly feel you will see that you have been missing out on some awesome get away time for yourself and quality time that could be spent with friends and family. Creating memories and experiences together that will last a lifetime and be handed down from one generation to the next.
Plan accordingly to the lake, time of winter, and situation you will be in and you will be as comfortable as at any summer time camp. Be safe out there and have fun! Maybe we will see you out there when; once again, it’s time to camp.
About the author: Raymond Tiffany is a professional ice angler and promoter. Part of the pro circuit ice team the HARD WATER MANIACS and also a part of the 2013 U.S.A. Ice Team. Dedicating his life to one simple motto: “Learn what you can, but teach what you know.” He represents some of the industry’s finest companies such as K&E Stopper Lures, HT Enterprises, Clam Outdoors, and Strikemaster Ice Augers. He is a Wisconsin native currently residing in central Wisconsin.