• Wis Outdoor Explorer

Ice Camp for Kids

Ice Fishing...Wisconsin's Favorite Past Time

A few weeks ago, I did an interview with Jack Baker from the North American Ice Fishing Circuit. We talked about a lot of different topic that the NAIFC offers, but the one thing that stood out to me was the kids Ice Camp that they do with each tournament. They take the time to teach kids the basics of ice fishing and the get them on the lake to experience the thrill of fishing on a solid sheet of ice.

Honestly, I’ve never been ice fishing, I’ve been fishing varies other times but never ice fishing. Fishing has never really my thing, I enjoy being on the water and being around others who are fishing, but I’d rather have a camera in my hand instead of a fishing pole. However, my kids have enjoyed fishing the few times we’ve been able take them out, but they too have never experienced ice fishing. I thought the Kids Ice Camp would be a great opportunity to teach them a little bit about ice fishing and then let them try it first hand with some professionals guiding them.

The camp we attended took place on a Saturday afternoon in Menominee, Wisconsin on Lake Menomin. Before the camp, the NAIFC held a tournament for High Schoolers and when we arrived at the Dunn County Fish and Game Club, we were able to see the weigh in and my kids were able to hold some of the winning fish.

The class started promptly at 1pm with a group of about thirty kids ranging from 13 to age 5. Jack lead the class and with the way he taught the group, it didn’t feel like a class. He started with some safety lessons and show images of mishaps that took place on some of his not so fortunate fishing adventures. I thought it was a great way to humble himself in front of all the kids, letting them know that even with someone who had as much experience on the ice, he still made mistakes and that we can learn from his mistakes. He stressed how important safety is and made this the first and most important part of his presentation. He kept the kid's attention by asking questions and handing out prizes for correct answers. Then he talked about getting on the ice and fishing. He went step by step guiding these new ice fishers on how to care for augers, bringing up volunteers to demonstrate jigging techniques, and even passed around live bait for the kids to examine. The class lasted about an hour and the kids were more excited about fishing than they were before the class started. But before we left the Club house, each child was given a free ice fishing rod and reel.

Kids were able to get their first taste of ice fishing.

Then it was time for us to get on the ice and see if we could catch some fish. However, there were some difficulties finding a spot that was open and safe enough for all the kids to fish. Because of all the snow, finding and open spot near the Club proved to be too difficult, attempts were made to plow away some snow but it was just too much. After a few phone calls, the organizers were able to find a spot on the south end of the lake that we could take the kids and fish.

Once we drove through Menominee and got to Point Comfort Park, we walked a short distance onto the ice where a group of professional fishers were set up and waiting for us. All the pros were really friendly towards the kids and were eager to help them get their lines in the water. My three kids shared one pro and he was generous enough to let my daughter try one of his fishing rods and flasher. He would bounce back and forth to all three kids helping them with their jigging technique and he would use his flasher to show them that there were fish in their area. We didn’t catch anything but the girls and myself had a great time on a really beautiful day.

Kids were paired up with ice fishing pros, who taught them the finer points of ice fishing.

The Ice Camp was a great way for my kids to learn about ice fishing from people who are experts in the field. They learned in a setting that was fun and educational and then they were able to take what they were taught and try it out on the ice. We need more classes like this for our kids. More ways to teach out kids about the outdoors. I understand that we as parents are usually the teachers when it comes to the outdoors, but one thing I realized from this camp, is that we can all learn something. I found there was a lot of good information that I didn’t know. Plus, a camp like this, allowed my kids to try something new without a ton of investing on my part. We’ve all been there, our kid want to try something only to find out that they really don’t care for it all that much.

Don’t be afraid to do a little digging and search for educational camps and learning experiences for kids as well as yourself. I know the biggest thing we learned at the camp is that I now have three girls who like ice fishing and are looking forward to getting back out there and trying it again. Well done NAIFC, well done.

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