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Walleyedan: Getting stuck and other lessons in ice fishing

The SnoBear attempts climbing a steep ice heave with mixed results. Submitted photo

Gotta blame it on something! I got the SnoBear stuck for the first time ever, and let me tell you, I've had it in a lot of crazy situations!

I was on the second of back-to-back full-day guide trips with Scott and Jim, two guys that road-tripped here from our neighboring state of Wisconsin. Scott had booked the trip because he wanted to see the SnoBear in action and do some run-and-gun fishing.

Day one was crappies and walleyes on the Gull Lake Chain. We started the second day in the fish house and after a nonproductive couple of hours, I picked the guys up in the SnoBear and we went on a little bit of an adventure.

As we approached the landing, I figured I better get out and do some chiseling of the earth that had rolled up from the ice push. That there was a heart-beating workout. I thought I had enough cleared to get over, so away we went. With a belt that needed to be replaced and a really steep climb, it was the wrong combination.

I did it! Something I really didn't think was possible, I got the SnoBear stuck! I was really hoping I didn't have to call Clarence, because he's been waiting years to pull me out. Really, I think he wants to pull it out of the water, but this would have made him happy too!

Instead, I flagged down a nice young man and he yanked us off the mountain with his pickup and chain.

We found a different access point and got on the ice, whew. But would we get back off? We'll deal with that when we're done fishing. We fished, and fished and scouted and scouted and fished some more. Just what Scott was looking for, to use this awesome machine for its purpose.

It was a good day of fishing. Two mellow dudes, some cooperative fish, and we were all pretty content to call it a day. So, should I change the belt before we head back off the lake? I'm not so mechanically inclined. Despite my gut telling me to change the belt, I didn't have a lot of confidence in the job, so I said "screw it."

We lifted the bear and headed for shore. I lined up to the gap that we came down and gave it a little snort! We made it up and off the lake, but as I accelerated there was that nasty noise—broken belt! Now it was time to get under the hood.

It was actually really basic. And boy did that belt ever do the trick. We were now able to go 22 mph and things were smooth as silk! Yep, we even caught some fish. A half bucket of perch and walleye, mixed in with some crappies from day one, and the boys from Title Town were content! Pretty sure we would have made it over the first cliff had I replaced the stretched out belt ahead of time. Another excellent adventure and hopefully a lesson learned.

P.S. Underwater cameras are really useful tools!

Enjoy the heat!